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Don Graham: My Experience as a National CooperativeRx Board Member

Photo of office chairs

As National CooperativeRx is member-owned and member-governed, it’s important its objectives align with those of its members. To ensure that, the Board of Directors is elected by Cooperative membership. Applicants go through a vetting process performed by a committee of current board representatives, and member voting occurs online leading up to the Annual Meeting.

I began my journey as a National CooperativeRx Board member in November 2017 when I was elected to fill the position of a departing Board representative. My organization, ISAS Group Benefits Trust, (the ISAS Trust), has been a member of the Cooperative since 2015 because we wanted to gain more control over our pharmacy spend and data. We had a carved-in benefit with our medical claims provider and insight was focused mostly on medical. Since our size prevented us from contracting directly with CVS Caremark, this was our access point. Having another set of eyes focused on pharmacy spend and programs, in addition to just the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), was a great benefit to our organization. The clinical insight and guidance that National CooperativeRx provides was also a major selling point.

In 2020, the Cooperative Board of Directors elected me as its vice chair. With my new responsibilities, I enjoy helping their membership manage pharmacy benefit costs and offer input into best practices.

Growing professionally and personally have been two major developments of my four years on the Board. Being from Texas, it has been great working with the leadership team at National CooperativeRx and getting to know other Cooperative members. I also felt it important to provide geographic diversity to an organization that has mostly Wisconsin-based Board members. Personally, I relish being able to learn about and understand some of the nuances that go into working with PBMs, as well as gain insight into why strategies are executed in specific ways.

If your self-funded organization is currently a member of National CooperativeRx and you are contemplating serving on their Board of Directors, I would encourage you to do so. The time commitment is minimal, and you have the chance to interact with a group of unique, like-minded individuals. In pre-pandemic days, I was also guaranteed two annual trips to the beautiful state of Wisconsin for the Board of Directors meetings, which was a nice perk. You will also likely expand your pharmacy benefit management knowledge and skillset, while being able to relay how and why you believe things should work to the betterment of all Cooperative members.

If you are a member of National CooperativeRx and interested in serving on our Board of Directors, please let us know. We are always accepting applications to be considered by our nominating committee for future openings.


About the Author

Don Graham has served as the Executive Director of the ISAS Trust since 2007. The ISAS Trust was formed in 1989 and is a MEWA/VEBA comprised of 22 private and independent secondary schools in Texas and Oklahoma, providing health benefits to 3,300 employees and 5,700 total lives. As the sole employee of the ISAS Trust, Don wears multiple hats daily and thrives on multi-tasking.

Prior to the ISAS Trust, Don worked for two educational nonprofits as their Vice President of Finance. He has 27 years of experience in key administrative positions working with nonprofits and boards of directors.

Don holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Louisiana Tech University.

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