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How the Women of Independence Associate Group Has Helped Me Grow

By March 29, 2019May 18th, 2023Community Employees
Kaphesia Jones, Karey Cain, Dr. Marianne T. Ritchie of Thomas Jefferson University, Ashley Millhouse, and Danielle Fennell at the 2018 #BeCancerAware with Preventative Care Event

The Women of Independence hosted the 2018 #BeCancerAware with Preventative Care Event. Pictured left to right: Kaphesia Jones, Karey Cain, Dr. Marianne T. Ritchie of Thomas Jefferson University, Ashley Millhouse, and Danielle Fennell.

In 2015, I moved from my role in the Independence Blue Cross customer service department to my current role in our sales department. When I took on my new role, I wanted to focus on my professional development, so I decided to join Women of Independence (WOI). Women of Independence is an associate resource group whose mission is to empower and support purpose-driven women in identifying and cultivating their talents through professional development, community engagement, and health and wellness.

Shortly after I joined Women of Independence, the group was trying to increase the number of events they held annually as well as the value the events brought to its members. When the opportunity arose to serve as one of sixteen committee members, I applied and was accepted!

Health and Wellness Events for Women

As a newly minted WOI committee member, I was asked to coordinate an annual health event for the group. In 2017, we decided to hold a cancer awareness event that focused on preventive care. More specifically, the event centered around helping women get in tune with their bodies and making their health a priority. We invited Dr. Marianne T. Ritchie, an associate professor at Thomas Jefferson University and a faculty member in Jefferson Gastroenterology and Hepatology, to be our keynote presenter. As a vocal advocate for preventive care, Dr. Ritchie has made it her mission to increase awareness and access to life-saving screening tests.

From Professional to Personal

As one of the event organizers, I truly believe in the messages we were promoting. In fact, the event spoke to me so much, I felt inspired to make my own health a priority. After the event, I scheduled a BRCA gene test for breast and ovarian cancer, which was a point of discussion at the event. I have a family history of breast cancer and, as a childhood cancer survivor, I felt it was important to talk with a physician about my risks after the event. This year, our health event in May will focus on mental health.

A Multitude of Professional Development Seminars

One of the things I really enjoy about Women of Independence is the professional development seminars that they offer. They focus on everything from resume workshops to healthy cooking demonstrations for busy working mothers. One of my favorite professional development sessions was the Choose Your Own Adventure seminar. We identified personal strengths and skills that are transferable from role to role. For example, my strength in problem-solving served me well as a Premier Account contact and as an associate support rep. As an associate account executive, I also use my problem-solving skills to construct creative sales solutions for unique clients.

Giving Back to the Community

Collecting and organizing toy donations with my fellow IBX Blue Crew volunteers at People’s Emergency Center.

One of the other things I enjoy about the Women of Independence is the community service they participate in. This past holiday season, our group worked with People’s Emergency Center, a shelter for women and children. We played Santa’s elves for their Christmas party, collecting supplies for them and organizing the toy donations.

Being active in the community that I serve and that I live in allows me to aid, encourage, and inspire individuals in need. It also gives me an opportunity to reflect on how much I have to be thankful for, especially during the holiday season.

As a woman and an Independence Blue Cross associate, I am proud to be part of a group that empowers and supports female associates as well as women and families in the community.

See what the Women of Independence associate group is up to by following the Twitter hashtag #womenofibx.


Ashley Millhouse

Ashley joined Independence Blue Cross in 2010, beginning her career in the Customer Service department. In 2015, she transitioned to the National New Business Team and continues to support many of Independence’s largest national accounts. She is also licensed in PA Health and Accident Insurance.