In high school trying to get a date with a beautiful cheerleader across town. Four years later I finally got my first date with her and four years after that we married.
When you graduated from high school, what did you think you wanted to be as an adult?
I had no idea.
Was there an event in the last 20 years that had a great impact on your aspirations and/or career path?
During my senior year in college, my best friend and roommate Bill Keedy was diagnosed with brain cancer and died that year. Our talks during that six months have kept me focused on what’s most important in life and put me on a service-oriented career path.
Have you been mentored by (or had any significant interactions with) previous Forty Under 40 honorees?
Neil Pickett, Ron Stiver and I worked together at Eli Lilly and Co., the Daniels transition office, the Governor’s Office, and now at IU Health.
Where/what do you want to be 20 years from now?
Teaching something, somewhere, if anyone will take me.
President, Indiana University Health Plans
Ryan Kitchell didn’t expect to be overseeing health plans for Indiana University Health and its 80,000 members. But he’s found himself in unexpected places before—with good results.
After he finished his MBA at Dartmouth College and started in finance at Eli Lilly and Co. in 2002, a friend named Joe Bill Wiley contacted him to say he had a friend who was thinking of running for governor.
“I didn’t know much about this Mitch Daniels guy,” Kitchell said, “but it sounded interesting.”
Starting in December that year, Kitchell began doing research to help Daniels identify key issues in the campaign. He found the campaign to be “as much of a meritocracy as any place I’d ever been.”
Daniels “didn’t really care where I came from or what I looked like,” Kitchell said. “If you were delivering, he would continue to give you responsibilities.”
When Daniels won, he asked Kitchell to be part of the transition team, and before Kitchell knew it, he was helping cement the Lucas Oil Stadium deal and the lease of the Indiana Toll Road. Then, when the director of the state Office of Management and Budget left, Kitchell took over. He stayed with the state until September 2010, when he joined IU Health as treasurer.
Four months into the job, he took on the responsibilities of handling corporate real estate transactions—overseeing the buying or selling of land, buildings, all of its 1,000-plus leases statewide, physician offices and other space. In November, he added the role of president of health plans.
Kitchell said work is important, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of his life. When he’s not in the office, you’ll likely find him with his wife, Molly, and their four children, ages 3-8.
“If I think about what’s important in my life,” he said, “faith, family and friends come first.”•