Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer | Mansa Capital
CORNELL UNIVERSITY & HARVARD UNIVERSITY
By Teresa Dovalpage // Photography by Webb Chappell
Ruben King-Shaw Jr. is proud to be Panamanian—and that doesn’t make him any less proud to be American. He is a dual citizen of the Republic of Panama and the United States, and he credits Panama’s cultural tradition of inclusion with his ability to connect with his Latino hermanos and hermanas from all parts of the Americas. “Panamanians can have ancestral roots in China, the West Indies, Europe, Israel, North America, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the indigenous Kuna,” he says. “More likely, each of us is a combination of two or more of these. I can be anywhere in the world—Cape Town, Sevilla, Barbados, Mexico City, or Atlanta—and feel as if I’m among family. That’s the Panamanian way.”
King-Shaw had worked in health care for several years when the governor-elect of Florida, Jeb Bush, asked him to become secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which is responsible for the state’s Medicaid program. The invitation took King-Shaw “totally by surprise.”
King-Shaw had been building community-based management companies for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and employed workers. “But I never expected that opportunity to come my way so early,” he says. The appointment came just thirteen years after he completed his master’s degree in health services administration at Florida International University. He studied there immediately after graduating from Cornell University with honors. “When given the chance to step up, how could I refuse?” he asks. “Beyond that, Jeb can be extremely convincing, and an enduring friendship was born out of the experience.”
King-Shaw spent five years in the public sector. He worked in several roles to advise and oversee Medicare and Medicaid and eventually worked as senior advisor for health care tax policies to the secretary of the US Treasury.
King-Shaw is proud of his work to expand the chronic care management program within Medicare. “Hispanics and African Americans have higher rates of diseases like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and obesity than the general population,” he says. “Our communities depend on services such as nutrition support, health literacy, health education, and routine monitoring to continue to thrive. My work improved the lives of millions of Americans I will never meet. But I know I helped them. That’s enough for me.”
King-Shaw was the chief operating officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid under President George W. Bush at a crucial time in Medicare’s history. He encouraged negotiations that culminated in the inclusion of prescription drug benefits into Medicare coverage.
“The then-Democratic [US] Congress and the Bush administration were deadlocked over the enabling legislation,” he recalls. “So my dear friend, the late Senator Ted Kennedy, invited my wife and me to the Kennedy compound in Hyannis [Massachusetts] for a day of sailing. The senator was the leader of the Democratic health-care caucus. By the end of the day, we were able to restart the dialogue at a critical time in the negotiations. Sometimes, it is the little things in the critical moments that make all the difference.”
When King-Shaw left public service, it was a lifestyle choice. “All these years in the public sector had taken a toll on my family,” he says. “Our daughters were young, and my wife was missing her man.”
When he reflected on his career, experience, and skill set, his next step was obvious. “Having a deep insider’s understanding of government policy—in combination with my health-care operating experience—prepared me well for investing in innovative health-care companies,” he says.
King-Shaw’s private advisory firm opened in 2003. Eight years later, it was established as a fund: Mansa Capital.
“At Mansa, we use our keen understanding of the US health-care economy to find solutions that deliver superior value to patients and providers—and, therefore, generate superior returns to our investors,” he says. “We are very proud that well over one-third of our capital comes to us from Hispanic Americans of Cuban, Puerto Rican, Panamanian, and Dominican descent, as well as investors from Mexico, Columbia, Venezuela, and Spain. Hispanidad is part of our firm’s DNA.”
That’s more than a catchphrase for King-Shaw and Mansa. The fund works to ensure the Hispanic community receives the health care it needs. “Approximately ten million Hispanos are expected to gain insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, yet half of all Hispanos don’t have a regular doctor,” he says. “So, at Mansa, whenever we make an investment, we are also investing in cultural competence.”
“Ruben personifies the international, sensitive, and culturally diverse individual who is increasingly in demand in a connected global world.” —Mick Lopez