When Humanitarian Values = Career Aspirations

Kim Rivera fuses a career in law with a passion for healthcare at DaVita Inc., the country’s top kidney-care provider

Aside from maintaining its kidney-care business, Kim Rivera says DaVita Inc. is "focused with equal intensity on trying to influence (healthcare) reforms that have not yet been written or finalized, with an eye to making sure our patients are able to receive great care in the future."

Under Kim Rivera’s legal expertise is a humanitarian spirit. “My job is wonderfully rewarding and incredibly demanding and difficult,” says Rivera, vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary for DaVita Inc., the country’s top kidney-care provider. “Because what we do touches so many patients every day, whatever I can contribute to help protect, grow, and sustain it makes a difference.”

Rivera’s path to DaVita began while attending Harvard Law School. “HLS gave me the critical thinking, negotiating, and advocacy skills that every lawyer and business executive needs to be successful. Of course, it was just a foundation,” she says. “Those skills have to be developed and grown during an entire career.” Rivera began that journey after graduation when she joined Jones Day as a litigator. In 2000, she snagged her first in-house job as assistant general counsel at Rockwell International—a move that convinced her that being the general counsel of a Fortune 500 company was the right path.

She then served as vice president, associate general counsel, and chief compliance officer for The Clorox Company in 2006, before joining DaVita—Italian for “giving life”—in January of 2010. “They were looking for a new general counsel, and it was a great fit for me from a mission and values perspective as well as a career-aspiration perspective,” Rivera notes. “I had been working hard and purposefully to prepare for that opportunity.” Her duties now include overseeing the company’s legal and governance affairs, in addition to providing legal advice and counsel to the CEO, senior executives, and board of directors. She also recruits development and manages the company’s internal legal department as well as its network of external lawyers.

career milestones

1994—graduates from Harvard Law School

2000—Assistant General Counsel, Rockwell International

2004—VP of Law & Chief Litigation Counsel, Rockwell

2006—VP, Associate General Counsel & Chief Compliance Office, The Clorox Company

2010—VP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, DaVita Inc.

Through her position, Rivera works to develop DaVita’s corporate social-responsibility and leadership initiatives. “Promoting, enhancing, and protecting the company’s reputation as a good corporate citizen is at the core of what in-house lawyers do,” she says. “It’s about helping steer decision making and strategy to ensure decisions look at the bigger picture and that we do the right thing.” She provides the company’s top executives with invaluable advice while also ensuring that they stay focused on developing leaders that are equally focused on capitalistic goals and the fundamentals of integrity and good citizenship.

As the company is centered on healthcare—providing different forms of dialysis and education to patients with kidney failure and end-stage renal disease—it’s also focused on ensuring that it is able to conduct business and deliver great care amidst the new and rapidly evolving requirements and changes that healthcare reform presents. “We are focused with equal intensity on trying to influence reforms that have not yet been written or finalized, with an eye to making sure our patients are able to receive great care in the future,” Rivera explains.

DaVita is also dedicated to further defining its international business. Still, the company remains in the very early stages of much of its international-development work. On June 2, 2011, the company provided care to its first international patient in Singapore. “Our hope is to be able to expand our ability to deliver high-quality care to patients across Asia and other parts of the world,” Rivera says. DaVita is also actively engaging these efforts in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. She adds, “Our goal is to create the greatest healthcare community the world has ever seen.”

Thanks in great part to Rivera’s guidance, DaVita is able to help tens of thousands of patients daily and reaches more than 34,000 employees. Rivera hopes to continue to use her legal expertise to make a difference in kidney patients. “My goal is to make sure we are about to help patients and provide jobs to thousands of teammates for decades to come across the globe,” she says.