CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. The board of directors of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has elected DeWitt Ezell as its chairman. Ezell, former president of BellSouth Tennessee, succeeds Herbert Hilliard as chairman.

A member of the board of directors since 1999, Ezell brings decades of leadership experience and community involvement to the position.

"DeWitt has been an active and engaged board member since his appointment six years ago, and becoming chairman is a natural transition for an individual who possesses so much business acumen and community spirit, said Vicky Gregg, president and chief executive officer for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. "Our company prides itself on successfully combining business strength with service to our customers and outreach to our community, and DeWitt will help us make sure we maintain that balance.

Ezell, a native of Nashville and a graduate of Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tenn., started his career with South Central Bell in 1962 and assumed the role of president in 1990.

Ezell said that he looks forward to working with the entire board to continue to build on the strengths of the company. "We’re focused on increasing the value of our products and services and bringing the best in 21st Century technology to our customers, and we’re doing just that," he said.

In addition to commending the board for selecting Ezell as the new chairman, Gregg also applauded the appointment of Lamar Partridge to serve as board vice chairman. Partridge is President of Valley Capital Corporation in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Board of Directors is comprised of 14 members, including Gregg.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.