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Robert D. Ray
Former Governor of Iowa, NCHC Co-Chair

Robert D. Ray was recently presented with the Des Moines Register’s first Iowa Star Award in recognition for outstanding community involvement. He was named “Most Influential Iowan” at the turn of the century. He has also been the recipient of the “National Volunteer Award”.

An Iowa native, Ray served an unprecedented five terms as Governor of Iowa, from 1969 to 1983. He was Iowa Republican State Chairman, Chairman of the Republican State Chairmen, and a member of the Republican National Committee. He was Chairman of the National Governors’ Association, Midwestern Governors’ Association, Republican Governors’ Association, President of the Council of State Governments, Chairman of the Educational Commission of the States, and a number of other national organizations. In addition, Ray has been a U.S. Representative to the United Nations.

Following his career as Governor, Ray became President and Chief Executive Officer of Life Investors, Inc., now known as AEGON, Inc., a major insurance and financial services company. He next joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, nka Wellmark, as President and CEO. An attorney, Ray was a partner in a Des Moines law firm, Lawyer, Lawyer, Ray and Crouch, for fourteen years before being elected Governor. At one time, Ray and his wife, Billie, were owners of KILR and WMT Radio Stations.

An Army veteran, Ray earned degrees in Business Administration and Law from Drake University. He holds the Order of Coif distinction and is the recipient of honorary degrees from seventeen colleges and universities. He is a trustee for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library. Ray was a member of the Iowa Business Council and served on the boards of directors of The Maytag Corporation, AEGON USA, Norwest Bank (nka Wells Fargo) and Alliant Energy. He also served on the national board of the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA) and NASDA Corporate Board.

Ray was Chairman of the Board of Trustees and then became President of Drake University. Previously, he filled an interim term as Mayor of Des Moines. Ray is actively involved in national health care issues, continuing to serve as co-chair of the National Leadership Coalition on Health Care. He was a member of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Task Force on Mental Health and is on the Carter Center’s Mental Health Advisory Board. Ray chaired the Advisory Committee on Rural Health for the DHS and Congress and was a member of the President’s Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry.

Ray was Chairman of the Iowa Sesquicentennial Commission. He is currently Chairman of the Institute for Character Development, focused on civility and character development in Iowa, and Chairman of the Iowa Child Project. He is also a member of the boards of Keep Iowa Beautiful and Iowa Games. In addition, he serves on the Des Moines Public Arts Commission and the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. He has received numerous awards for charitable and civic activities, including the Variety Club of Iowa’s Humanitarian Award, the Meredith Willson Heritage Award, the Central Iowa Philanthropy Award, and Drake University’s Distinguished Service Award. He has been inducted into the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame and the Business Hall of Achievement.

He was a leader in the United States in the resettlement of refugees. He is credited with the founding of the Iowa Peace Institute, Sister States, and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, among a number of other organizations. He and his wife, Billie, were honorary chairs of the 2002 Variety Club Telethon.

Ray and his wife, Billie, live in Des Moines. They have three daughters and eight grandchildren.

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