President/CEO, Health Forward Foundation

Qiana Thomason

Qiana Thomason, a life-long Kansas Citian, has dedicated her career to the improvement of health and well-being across the region, with a special focus on powerful and resilient communities experiencing health injustices and people living in marginalized conditions. Thomason serves as the president and CEO of Health Forward Foundation, an independent purpose-led foundation with assets just under $1 billion serving urban, suburban, and rural communities in the Kansas City region.

Thomason, a visionary leader and pathfinder, is leading the foundation through a myriad of transformational pursuits spanning its leadership, advocacy, and resources. Under Thomason’s leadership, Health Forward established an organizational purpose: “Every day we work to build and support inclusive, powerful, and healthy communities characterized by racial equity and economically just systems.” In this journey, she has led Health Forward to operationalize racial equity and economic inclusion in all areas of the foundation, including governance, grantmaking, policy and advocacy, investments, human resources, and procurement. Thomason has also worked to authorize the foundation’s power and voice by centering solutions around community voices and expertise.

Nationally, Thomason serves on the board of directors for Grantmakers in Health, the National Rural Health Resource Center, and the National Academy for State Health Policy. Regionally, she serves on the boards of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and William Jewell College and is a member of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City. Qiana’s leadership has been recognized nationally and throughout Kansas City. In 2022, she was one of two Kansas City women recognized on the inaugural national BizWomen listing of women making an impact in their local business communities. She was also honored with the 2022 Race, Place, and Diversity Community award from Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey and in 2024 with the Difference Maker award by the Urban League of Kansas City.

Thomason came to Health Forward from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC), where she formerly served as vice president of population health and community health. During her tenure at Blue KC, she led development and implementation of new care delivery and payment models, to include building innovative payment models for social care, in partnership with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and primary care providers throughout Kansas City. She was also a successful champion for including health equity and the social influencers of health in Blue KC’s corporate strategy.

Thomason also spent eight years at Swope Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center, as program manager of a regional Mental Health Court and as the director of clinical operations, behavioral health. Qiana also served as deputy director and health and human services liaison for the late United States Senator Jean Carnahan.

She received her undergraduate degree in Social Work from her beloved Florida A&M University and has a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Kansas. In 2023 she was bestowed an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Kansas City University, the sixth largest medical school in the nation.

Proudly, Qiana shares that her real “gig” is chief encourager, often in no uncertain terms within the Thomason home and among family. Her most cherished roles are wife, mother (of two phenomenal daughters), sister, and daughter.