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Christie nominates Michele Brown to replace Mary O'Dowd on Horizon BCBSNJ board

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Michele Brown, head of Choose New Jersey.
Michele Brown, head of Choose New Jersey. - ()

Gov. Chris Christie has nominated Michele Brown, the head of Choose New Jersey, to be the public member of the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey board of directors, the Office of the Governor announced Friday.

If confirmed, Brown would replace the current gubernatorial appointee to the board, Mary O’Dowd. Her nomination to the Horizon board is subject to approval from the state Senate.

Christie in recent months has battled with the state’s largest health insurer over his idea to tap into its reserve funds to funnel money into mental health care and the fight against drug addiction.

Brown, the CEO and president of the organization promoting the state’s business interests, has been a longtime member of the state’s business community.

She has led Choose New Jersey since 2015, and before that was the head of the state Economic Development Authority from 2012 to 2015.

A lawyer by trade, she served as an assistant U.S. attorney for nearly 18 years, including eight serving under Christie during his time as U.S. attorney for New Jersey.

Mary O'Dowd.
Mary O'Dowd. - ()

Earlier this year, she opted against a nomination to the state Superior Court.

Brown has been a regular on the NJBIZ Power 100, the list of the most powerful people in business in the state. In 2014, Brown and EDA President Tim Lizura shared the top spot in the NJBIZ Power 50 Real Estate List.

O'Dowd, too, has been a regular on NJBIZ lists, most recently ranking No. 42 on the Power 50 Health Care for 2017. She is currently executive director for health systems and population health integration for Rutgers Health, the clinical arm of Rutgers University.

Horizon declined to comment on the nomination. The Office of the Governor as a matter of policy does not comment on nominations.

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