Donna M. Hughes

Servant Leader and Agile People Strategist
"When you get, give. When you learn, teach."
Dr. Maya Angelou


Donna is EmblemHealth’s first Enterprise Chief People Officer. EmblemHealth is one of the nation’s largest non-for-profit healthcare insurers, serving more than 3 million members in New York City and the tri-state area, and employs 4,500 people.  The Enterprise is made up of various brands, including affiliate, Advantage Care Physicians, a primary care and specialty practice.

I am a human resources executive, organizational leadership coach, and accomplished attorney with more than 25 years of experience, spanning the healthcare, life sciences and retail industries.  I am passionate about developing the next generation of leaders, so in turn, they may invest in their teams, and positively shape their communities.  

Human Capital Expert and Executive Coach

Culture is key.  I believe that if companies exercise a growth mindset, drive inclusive practices, and empower employees to share innovative thoughts without regard to hierarchy, they will benefit from a more engaged workforce and higher performance.  

I break down organizational barriers through inclusive leadership and coaching.  I coach executive leaders to be more self-aware and intentional about their leadership styles, in order to advance their goals and their teams.  Self-aware leaders are better equipped to engage, nurture and invest in talent, resulting in diverse, high performing teams.  

Over the years, my approach has proven successful in aligning teams, attracting and retaining key talent, positively evolving cultures, and improving business outcomes, particularly during times of growth and rapid transformation. 

Lawyer with Strong Business Acumen

Before becoming a Chief People Officer, I held a variety of executive and leadership roles in my capacity as an attorney. I’m known as an agile business partner with a keen ability to design legal strategies that ensure business objectives are met without delay or business disruption. 

My legal experience in global public companies and private law firms affords me a useful wide-angle lens in addressing enterprise risk management. 

Public Speaker and Community Supporter

As a human capital expert, executive coach, and lawyer, I’ve been a guest speaker for many business organizations, institutions of higher education, and leadership podcasts.  I’ve presented on various topics, including global post-merger workforce integration, servant and conscious leadership, diversity equity and inclusion in the workplace and delivering culturally competent healthcare, and effective leadership strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am committed to supporting my community and underserved populations.  My previous non-profit board positions include the boards of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (addresses prejudices in all forms to improve academic improvement and workplace productivity), Roots & Wings of New Jersey (provides life skills, education, and mental health resources to youth aging out of foster care), and the National Employment Law Council (educates, mentors and supports the professional growth of the minority labor and employment defense bar).

Next, I look forward to bringing my passion, diverse background and knowledge to service as a corporate board member.

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