BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT
Lesleigh Irish-Underwood becomes fi rst Chief Brand and External Relations Offi cer for MetroPlusHealth
TIMESLEDGER | QNS.COM | FEB. 26-MARCH 4, 2021 9
BY DEAN MOSES
Lesleigh Irish-Underwood is looking to take
MetroPlusHealth to an even higher level as its new
chief brand and external relations officer.
MetroPlusHealth is a leading health coverage provider
who prides themselves on offering affordable
yet high-quality protection for New Yorkers. This
five-star rated company has been in operation since
1985, but despite its longstanding history, those at the
organization are also looking to the future with the
appointment of Irish-Underwood in this key role.
Growing up in Brooklyn from a modest family
background to becoming the first Chief Brand and External
Relations Officer, Irish-Underwood is hoping to
serve as a bridge between the public and MetroPlusHealth.
Describing herself as the “brand czar,” she will
be making certain to inform communities of the work
the company is doing. But perhaps most importantly
of all, she says she yearns to help tell the stories of New
Yorkers, making certain they are served in the correct
“Business moves at the speed of relationships.
Whether it is working with people in the communities
we serve or my own colleagues on a Zoom
call later today, it’s about building those strong relationships,”
she said. “Part of my strength is that
I am a native New Yorker. I went to those same
high schools, I walked those same streets, my mom
taught in those same neighborhoods, my dad grew
up in those same areas—my family is mostly still
here. You may see this fancy suit now but there were
jeans and Pro-Keds 20 years ago.”
As a woman of color born and raised in Brooklyn,
it is her priority to help ensure the underserved is
served. As MetroPlusHealth takes a strong leadership
role in the health insurance space part of this process
is to ensure everybody has access to the plans available.
Irish-Underwood believes that the New York City
healthcare system is unrivaled and that MetroPlusHealth
is not only at the forefront, but also the top choice
in her mind when it comes providing policies to those
who need coverage thanks to their partnership with
New York City health and hospitals.
Irish-Underwood underscored that this is such a
unique position to hold but, unfortunately, not everybody
is informed of the choices afforded to New Yorkers.
“We have 11 public health hospitals, the closest
market is L.A, which only has two,” Irish-Underwood
But she herself admits that she was initially unaware
of the distinctive opportunities the health system
and the insurance company can provide for communities
who are struggling. She affirms that more
people — including those in leadership — need to know
the position the city has to care for those in need.
“There is a real leadership role of addressing the
inequities of health as it relates to Black and Brown
communities across New York City. There is a leadership
place I think Metro in partnership with New York
City health and hospitals should be taking,” Irish-Underwood
She shared that she has noticed over the years the
many disparities and underlying conditions Black
and Brown, and low-income communities face. These
conditions have been exacerbated by the COVID-19
pandemic, and Irish-Underwood hopes to be a catalyst
for change in her new positions, bringing awareness
and support to those in need.
Irish-Underwood is looking forward to both serving
the community she came from and the health care
providers to create a union through which countless
New Yorkers can receive quality healthcare.
New Chief Brand and External Relations officer Lesleigh
Irish Underwood Photo courtesy of MetroPlusHealth
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