A health policy think tank staffer will be taking the reins at a health insurer’s nonprofit affiliate.

Aetna Inc., Hartford, has named Dr. Anne Beal to lead the Aetna Foundation.

Aetna and the foundation contributed about $25 million in grants, sponsorships and social investments in 2008.

Beal has been an assistant vice president for health care disparities at the Commonwealth Fund, New York. Beal directed fund efforts to improve health care quality for low-income and minority patient populations.

Beal has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Brown University, a medical degree from Cornell University, and a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University.

Before she began working for the Commonwealth Fund, she was an attending physician at the Harvard Medical School and, before that, at Massachusetts General Hospital.