Newsroom | 27 November 2012

Columbia University Graduate Students Compete in 6th Annual Health Care Management and Delivery Case Challenge on Teen Suicide Prevention


Cigna Corporation
Mary Engvall, 860-226-2098


  • 12 teams comprising 47 students across five Columbia graduate schools vied for top honors in health care case challenge sponsored by Cigna and The Hay Group
  • Students formed consulting teams, prepared and presented comprehensive analysis of 'real world' health care case

BLOOMFIELD, Conn., November 27, 2012 - Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health recently hosted the 6th Annual Health Care Management and Delivery Case Challenge, sponsored by Cigna and The Hay Group. The student teams tackled challenges posed by "The Timothy Fund" case written by current Executive MPH student, John MacPhee.

Kirk Drees, National Account Executive, Cigna; 1st place Team "The Gang of Synergy;" John Winkleman, Mt. Sinai Board Member, and Mailman Professor. (Photo: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health)

Drawing on expertise from five graduate schools (Public Health, Physicians and Surgeons, Business, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and School of International and Public Affairs), teams of 3-5 students examined the strategic, operational and financial challenges of the family foundation, The Timothy Fund. The mission of The Timothy Fund is to reduce the prevalence of emotional distress and the rate of suicide among college and university students.

An expert panel of judges, playing the role of the Fund's Board, listened to teams' presentations and asked tough questions regarding proposed solutions, alternatives and implementation plans. Senior Judge John Winkleman, a Mount Sinai Medical Center Board member and Mailman professor, presided over the judging panel composed of Case Challenge benefactors from Cigna and The Hay Group as well as other faculty and alumni:

  • Kirk Drees, National Account Executive, Cigna
  • Ian Wilcox, Global Managing Director, Life Sciences, The Hay Group
  • Howard Tarre, Practice Leader, Mercer Management Consulting
  • Michael Geiger, Cooper University Hospital and Mailman alumnus
  • Angela Profeta, Gold Health Strategies and Mailman alumna
  • Gati Dharani, Draftfcb and Mailman alumna

The winning case study proposed The Timothy Fund, which is debating merging with a suicide prevention non-profit, remain independent and implement organizational changes to create a path for financial sustainability by creating Development and Social Marketing teams.

Professor Tom Ference, of Mailman's Department of Health Policy and Management, announced the top three team awards:

  • FIRST-PLACE TEAM: $250 gift card per team member
    • "The Gang of Synergy," advised by Prof. Fred Hyde (Mailman)
    • The winning team, led by captain, Yu Wang, includes fellow full-time Mailman School Health Policy and Management students: Ruchit Kumbhani, Saloni Mayekar and Yao Wu
  • SECOND-PLACE TEAM: $150 gift card per team member
    • "Team HealthBusters," advised by Prof. Sarah Holloway (School of International and Public Affairs)
    • Second place team, led by captain Swami Ganesan, includes fellow School of International and Public Affairs MPA students: Nancy Widjaja and Surabhi Chaturvedi
  • THIRD-PLACE TEAM: $100 gift card per team member
    • "Team Palatine," advised by Prof. David Rosenthal (Mailman)
    • Third place team, led by captain Arin Kim, includes students from both Mailman and Physicians & Surgeons schools: Sophia Cedola, Zoe Sansted, Bryant Shannon and Matthew Thomsen

For more information about the case challenge or other professional development activities in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Mailman School, please contact Professor Paul Thurman at

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Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has approximately 71 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit