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Maurice Smith Named Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois President

Maurice Smith

Maurice Smith

CHICAGO, IL- Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) today named Maurice Smith as President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL). Smith succeeds Karen Atwood, who was promoted to a new position over service and technology for HCSC’s multi-state operations.  He will report directly to Colleen Reitan, Executive Vice President and President of Plan Operations, HCSC.

“Maurice brings to this role a broad perspective and deep understanding of our business and operations rooted in more than 20 years of experience across corporate finance, treasury, business development and subsidiary management,” said Reitan.  “His track record of leading multi-stakeholder teams, along with his strong connection to the Illinois business and civic community will help position BCBSIL for continued success in this fast-changing health care environment.”

Smith previously led HCSC’s treasury department and corporate development initiatives, including mergers, acquisitions and the formation of strategic partnerships.  He focused on capital deployment initiatives in support of the company’s overall strategy, including the acquisition of two health plans in other HCSC states.   He also oversaw HCSC’s subsidiaries, and served as the chairman of the board of directors of Dearborn National Life Insurance Company, HCSC’s largest subsidiary.

“Expanding access to affordable health care coverage is an imperative,” said Smith.  “I look forward to working with health care providers, employers, and communities in our state to make a difference for our members.”

Smith is the Chair-elect for the Chicago Sinfonietta and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from Roosevelt University in Chicago.


Mitla Restaurant Brings Classic Live Music Back to Route 66

Mitla Restaurant

By Anthony Garcia

Live music on Route 66 at The Mitla, one of the most authentic Mexican restaurants in the Inland Empire going back to the “hey days” of Route 66, one of my favorite restaurant’s. Great food, great service, family oriented restaurants also something new is a great Sunday Brunch. Tom Penn, a local promoter has been promoting at the Mitla since 2007 along with co-owners of the restaurant Steve Oquindo and Michael Montano.

On Valentine’s Day, the feature artist was Dave Garfield, world class musician, keyboardist, music director for George Benson, Smokey Robinson, and Natalie Cole. Dave and I played in a group together called Caldera many years ago, which included local legend saxophone, Steve Tavaglione and Brazilian trombonist, Raul De Souza. I caught there second show, I had an early gig that night. To be quite honest they caught me off guard. Dave Garfield is one of the most creative musicians I’ve ever met or heard. I was expecting to hear a creative jazz performance, yet I was in no way disappointed. Dave Garfield and the Katz are one of the best dance bands I’ve heard in a very long time. Excellent repertoire, great band, high energy dance music, with a little help from some of the members of the Earth, Wind & Fire. Band Drummer John Perris, Horn Player, Gary Baez and vocalist Lamont Dozier whose father just got inducted to the Hollywood walk of fame.

Dave had great control of his band, great conducting by the master keyboardist. In the past they have promoted the e Banda Bros from the Poncho Sanchez Band bassist and drummer Ramon Banda and Tony Banda has their own Latin jazz band. Also on the show was the Delgado Bros Blues Band.

I’m impressed and proud of these three young business men and what they are planning for the future of live entertainment on Route 66. Speaking with Steve Oquindo and Michael Montano, I asked them how it felt to be co-owners of one the most popular successful authentic Mexican restaurants in the Inland Empire they both laughed and said that 50% of the time it’s cool. So if they both have 50% then it must be 100% cool. The two young men are cousins and are glad to keep the business in the family.

“Music is the Silence between notes, between rhythm and between the silences you’ll find music that tells a story, a musical story that never lies!!!! This is music that touches your heart!”

777 Community Warehouse and Event Center

777 Community Warehouse

By Sonya Muhammad

777 Community Warehouse, a 501(c) (3) Non-profit Public Benefit Organization is located at 777 South Allen Avenue, Suite A., in San Bernardino, California. The CEO/Director of Operations, Mr. William C. Walker, Sr., one cold winter day in 2012, stood outside an empty and completely bare 5300 sq. ft. warehouse and had a vision of this warehouse being developed into a community resource center. There is a large photograph sitting on a tripod at the entrance to the warehouse that verified these humble beginnings to be true. Mr. Oscar Easley, businessman and business partner at that time, joined Mr. Walker in this vision which is also reflected in the photograph at the entrance, with both men wearing heavy overcoats and sitting on wooden crates, as they discussed the future potential of the warehouse.

We are living in a new day and it requires new mindsets and new ways of being in this world. And through the graces of Omniscience God, the team at 777 Community Warehouse understands this and is committed to contributing to the expansion of community peace, cultural awareness, artistic expression, educational enlightenment, and consciousness building for personal and collective growth.

To date Mr. Walker has transformed the warehouse into the community resource and event center that he envisioned, presenting to the community a beautifully furnished art deco environment for community members to experience and enjoy. 777 Community Warehouse is designed to accommodate conferences, meetings, business and social mixers, performing arts presentations, visual arts presentations, religious services, educational seminars, musical concerts, wedding receptions, quinceaneras, and other events that support the needs of the community in a spirit of excellence.

Every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Food and Clothing Ministry of 777 Community Warehouse is open to the homeless population and anyone in the community who is in need of clothing and food. This service is also available during other days of the week based on emergency needs and county agency referrals. Other family support services are available upon request.

Members of the community are encouraged and welcome to stop by and visit the facility at any time by call (909) 567- 5824 for an appointment. We look forward to serving you.