Karen S. Rohan

Karen S. Rohan
Posted on 05/04/2015
Karen S. Rohan Class of 1980

Karen S. Rohan - 1980 graduate of Ware High School,  President of the nation’s third largest health insurer, Aetna

The lessons I learned while growing up and attending school in Ware shaped so much of who I am today. I was raised by my aunt, and her guidance, coupled with the lessons I learned at Ware High, formed many of my defining values. Together they molded my competitive and collaborative spirit and helped me to appreciate how focus, determination, discipline, accountability, ongoing development and giving back can lead to extraordinary results.

I’ve regularly relied on those early lessons to give me the inspiration and courage to set increasingly higher goals and volunteer for new opportunities—and the teachers at Ware were among some of the most influential.  I fondly recall studying under one particular teacher at Ware High. He always pushed me to strive for excellence, and when I’d reach a particular goal, he’d encourage me to raise the bar higher. He even helped steer me toward Boston College where I obtained my undergraduate degree in Accounting. Shortly thereafter I began my career as a certified public accountant for Ernst & Young while also earning an MBA from Boston University.

From there, I chose to branch out and began a vibrant and rewarding career in health care. As opportunities presented themselves along the way, I would regularly raise my hand and volunteer for new roles and assignments. Although change can be difficult, the growth and development that comes from challenging yourself is unsurpassed. As a result, I was able to quickly climb the ranks and move into leadership roles with diverse and increasing responsibilities in business strategy, operations, and profit and loss management.  

In 2012, I joined Aetna, the nation’s third largest health insurer and a Fortune-named “most admired company.” In my first year at Aetna, I was tapped to lead the biggest acquisition and integration in the company’s history. As a result of my work leading the acquisition, I earned the distinguished President role in early 2015—the first woman to hold the position in Aetna’s 150-year history. It is an honor to work alongside 50,000 of the industry’s most talented professionals to lead the transformative work of improving the affordability, convenience, and access to quality health care for the 40 million members Aetna serves.

In my opinion, the key to success in life is never giving up. Challenges and setbacks will happen, but they also present an opportunity for growth. It’s important to not lose focus or perspective.  Hard work is important to me, but so is making time for my personal passions. Outside of work, I make time to for physical fitness, and running is one of my favorite past times. Running helps me to unwind and clear my mind—many times my greatest ideas come from an exhilarating run. I also make time to give back to the community by serving on the advisory board of NEADS/Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, a nonprofit organization that provides independence to people through canine assistance. Additionally, I participate on the board of directors for the Bushnell Theater in Hartford, CT and as a member of the Boston College Women’s Council. This June I’m proud to serve—for my third consecutive year—as an Honorary Chair  of the Komen Connecticut Race for the Cure.  

Although my life’s journey has taken me in many directions since cheering on the Indians from the sidelines, I still credit my aunt and the strong educational foundation I received at Ware for setting me on a solid path for the future. The critical-thinking and problem-solving skills I learned at Ware, along with the notion that anything is possible through hard work and determination, have been invaluable to me again and again. I’m proud to call Ware High my alma mater.