Helena, Mont. – Governor Steve Bullock announced today that Mary Lynne Billy-Old Coyote has been hired to lead the state’s new Office of American Indian Health. She will start her new position April 11.
“Too many American Indians families and communities are losing their elders a generation too early,” Bullock said. “I am honored to announce the Mary Lynne will be leading the State of Montana’s effort to address health disparities. Her experience, enthusiasm, and vision are a perfect match for this important work.”
The average lifespan of American Indians in Montana is 20 years shorter than non-Indians, and American Indians are significantly more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory illness. The current health care system in Indian Country limits access to preventative care and quality health care services and providers.
At the request of the Tribal Health Directors, Bullock created the Office of American Indian Health through an executive order to work together to address these disparities. The position will reside in the Director’s Office at the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
Billy-Old Coyote will coordinate work with Tribal health stakeholders and DPHHS staff to identify key health-related issues and develop strategies to address them. She will also help identify existing state resources that may assist Tribes in their efforts to improve the health of their members.
Billy-Old Coyote brings over 20 years of experience working with American Indian health programs at both the state and federal level. Currently, she’s the Chief Operating Officer and interim Chief Executive Officer for the Rocky Boy Health Board and Rocky Boy Health Clinic. She also has extensive experience in the healthcare industry working previously for New West Medicare Health Services and Health Care Service Corporation (HSCS)/Blue Cross Blue Shield Montana (BCBSMT), as well as KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Billy-Old Coyote is looking forward to this opportunity. “I am eager to get started to help support and foster quality health care solutions, delivery and partnership for Montana’s Native people,” she said. “I look forward to working collaboratively with our state’s Tribal leaders, urban communities to build partnerships that will be vital to our success.”
She said her work will embody several core values, including respect for sovereignty, collaboration, equity, integrity, and accountability. “The American Indian people residing in our state are not only citizens of the state, but they are also citizens of tribal nations,” she said. “Each nation possesses unique culture, beliefs, value systems, and history as sovereign nations. I am committed to strengthening collaboration with the Tribal nations of Montana and key stakeholders so we can move forward to create a healthier and safer community for American Indian people.”
She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Montana State University-Northern, a master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, and is currently pursuing a Health Transformation graduate certification from Arizona State University.
On a personal note, she is an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, where she was born and raised. She currently resides in Helena with her husband Wesley Old Coyote. She was inspired to pursue her professional career and work with Tribal nations by her parent’s Lloyd and Madeline Billy.