Wasilla, AK— Betsy Smith has been selected as the new director of R.O.C.K. Mat-Su (Raising Our Children with Kindness). R.O.C.K. Mat-Su is a collaborative of community members – including individuals and organizations – joining together to promote family resilience and reduce child maltreatment. It works to build social supports, eliminate silos, and influence systems that affect kids and families throughout the Mat-Su Borough, all in support of achieving the goal of ending child abuse in Mat-Su. The Mat-Su Health Foundation (MSHF) provides ongoing staff and financial support to the collaborative, and R.O.C.K. Mat-Su has also received additional funding from local, regional and national philanthropic organizations.

“We’re thrilled to see Betsy Smith move up to the director role at R.O.C.K. Mat-Su,” said MSHF CEO Elizabeth Ripley. “After an extensive hiring process, a statewide search, and several rounds of competitive interviews, the R.O.C.K. Mat-Su Hiring Committee unanimously chose her as the best candidate. She brings experience, a dynamic leadership style, solid professional relationships, and the vision needed to lead R.O.C.K. Mat-Su into its next chapter of mission-critical work.”

Since its founding in 2014, R.O.C.K. Mat-Su has grown to be a collaborative of over 30 cross-sector partners engaging in 18 strategies spanning the public health prevention spectrum.R.O.C.K. Mat-Su strives to achieve its goals by changing the systems that influence the lives of children and families in the Mat-Su Borough. The collaborative embraces a spectrum of strategies that impact families both universally and through targeted interventions. Some highlights of the work of R.O.C.K. Mat-Su include developing the Palmer Families with Infants and Toddlers (FIT) Court, partnering with the Mat-Su Borough School District to bring trauma-informed practices to 30 schools, and collaborating with the Office of Children’s Services to improve the experience of family contact for parents with children in foster care.

Smith began her work with R.O.C.K. Mat-Su in 2017 and most recently has been serving in two part-time R.O.C.K. Mat-Su positions: Upper-Su Community Coordinator and Trauma Sensitive Schools Fellow. She served as executive director of Northern Susitna Institute from 2014-2018 and prior to that held a variety of positions in program management and environmental education. Smith earned a Master of Education degree in environmental education from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Arts in biology from College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University.


Mat-Su Health Foundation (MSHF) is the official business name of Valley Hospital Association, Inc., which shares ownership in Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. In this capacity, MSHF board members and representatives actively participate in the governance of Mat-Su’s community hospital to protect the community’s interest in this important healthcare institution. The MSHF mission is to improve the health and wellness of Alaskans living in the Mat-Su and the tools it uses include grantmaking, convening of local partners, and policy change. The foundation’s work has resulted in significant improvements in systems that support the health of Mat-Su residents in areas such as behavioral health, child welfare, crisis response, community connections, workforce development, transportation, housing, and senior services.More information is available at