Aetna executive Karen S. Lynch will become CEO of CVS Health – Hartford Courant

Written by Kenneth R. Gosselin and Stephen Singer

Karen S. Lynch, Aetna’s top executive in Hartford, will take over as the next president and CEO of CVS Health Corp., placing her among the most high-profile female leaders not only in health care but in the business world.

Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS announced Friday that Lynch will assume the company’s top post, just a few weeks shy of the second anniversary of CVS’ blockbuster, $69 billion acquisition of Aetna Inc., the Hartford-based health insurer with a history in the city dating back to 1853.

Lynch, 57, will succeed Larry J. Merlo, who has led CVS for a decade. Lynch will take the reins of a health care giant with a market value of $80 billion, with aspirations to play a key role in the transformation of the country’s health care system.

“This leadership transition comes at the right time for CVS Health. This month marks the two-year anniversary as one company, with our foundation clearly established and significant positive momentum across the company,” David W. Dorman, chairman of CVS Health’s board of directors, said, in a statement Friday.

Business leaders in Connecticut Friday praised the selection of Lynch, noting she is not only a strong role model for young women but all leaders. Lynch blends her business sense with a strong ability to connect with employees at all levels of the company, they said.

“She’s got the business acumen, that’s a given when you get to that level,” said Chris DiPentima, president and chief executive of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, the state’s largest business group.

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