March 20, 2015

Felicia Norwood to deliver Jeanne Simon lecture

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Felicia F. Norwood, recently appointed as director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, will visit Southern Illinois University Carbondale for the Jeanne Hurley Simon lecture series. 

Norwood will present her lecture at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 26, in the Student Center Auditorium. Admission is free and the public is welcome. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is sponsoring the event. 

Norwood will discuss the state’s health care delivery system and the impact of policy changes in managed care, said Linda Baker, an institute and university professor. Baker noted that Jeanne Hurley Simon was a trailblazer and worked on health care policy, as did her husband and institute founder, the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon. 

Norwood’s story is a “formidable story of faith, educational, professional and personal attainment which will resonate deeply with young people, women and the community at large,” Baker said.  

David Yepsen, institute director, said Norwood is an experienced business and political leader. 

“After a successful career at Aetna, she has now signed on to run a large, complex state agency for a new governor during a budget crisis.  She could be off enjoying something simpler in life but she agreed to get back into public service to try to make a difference in the lives of real people,” Yepsen said. 

“We are excited to have her take time to deliver  the  Jeanne Hurley Simon lecture because she represents so well the values and the hard work that Jeanne represented.  Her lecture will be a good one for students interested in business, politics or both to attend,” he said. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed Norwood, who has more than 20 years experience in health care, health business operations and health care delivery, to the post in January. Prior to her appointment, Norwood was president of the mid-America region for the Aetna insurance company. She began with the insurance company in 1994 as government relations counsel. From 2006 to 2010, Norwood was CEO, President and COO of ActiveHealth Management, before returning to Aetna. 

The appointment is Norwood’s third tour with state government in Illinois. She was a senior policy adviser on Health and Human Services to then-Gov. Jim Edgar, and chaired the governor’s Human Services Cabinet. She also was a policy adviser for human services for then-Gov. James R. (Jim) Thompson. 

The Jeanne Hurley Simon Lecture Series honors Public Policy Institute founder Paul Simon's first wife, Jeanne, who died in February 2000. The series brings in prestigious speakers in the field of politics, government and other vital issues to campus. 

For more information on this or any other institute program, contact the institute at 618/453-4009 or visit