Debra Berns Joins Memorial Sloan Kettering as Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer

Debra Berns

Debra Berns has been named as MSK’s Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) has announced that Debra Berns has been named as MSK’s Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer following an extensive national search.

Ms. Berns will oversee MSK’s compliance, conflict of interest, and internal audit functions. She will also work closely with other MSK leaders to manage areas of critical organizational risk as MSK embarks on the development of a new, multiyear strategic plan.

“Deb’s deep healthcare experience coupled with a broad business career that has encompassed roles at major US corporations make her ideally suited for this new and expanded role,” said Kathryn Martin, Chief Operating Officer at MSK. “She combines a highly collaborative and collegial style with a reputation as a disciplined thinker who actively seeks out different points of view.”

Ms. Berns has filled several key roles at Minnesota-based United Health Group, where she was the chief privacy officer and chief compliance and ethics officer, and oversaw the corporate security, employment, and benefit legal functions.

“I am honored and delighted to be part of such a distinguished and legendary institution” said Ms. Berns. “I look forward to joining my new colleagues in their unwavering commitment to excellence and the advancement of MSK’s critical mission.”

A Connecticut native, Ms. Berns is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and received her law degree from the University of New Hampshire Law School. She also received a master’s degree in tax law from New York University School of Law. She started her career at a Hartford-based law firm.

She joined Pillsbury (now part of General Mills) in 1999 and served as employment and benefits counsel until joining Towers Watson in 2002, where she led a compliance team focused on employer benefit plans. She became a vice president and in-house counsel for CBS Corporation in 2006 before joining United Health Group at the end of 2008.

During her decade at United Health, a company that ranks sixth on the 2018 Fortune 500, Ms. Berns advised on matters related to compliance, reputational, business, cyber and other risks.