Wasilla, Alaska — The Mat-Su Health Foundation (MSHF) has hired Karen Koenemann as its new vice president of programs. Koenemann began her new position on January 11, 2021. She reports to Elizabeth Ripley, MSHF president and chief executive officer.

“After a nationwide search, we are confident we made the right choice in welcoming Karen Koenemann to the Mat-Su Health Foundation team,” said Ripley. “We are especially grateful to tap into her extensive experience with the public health framework on which we operate and are excited about her commitment to ensuring health equity for everyone in the community. She comes from the front lines of Colorado’s COVID-19 response and will inform our work in that arena as well.”

Koenemann leads the foundation’s program team and is responsible for grant making, strategic planning, the convening of local and statewide partners, and supporting the policy and systems change that will lead to lasting impact in the community. She will help the foundation innovate and grow so that it can better serve the community, resulting in measurable improvement in the health of Mat-Su residents. Koenemann leads a growing, high-performing program team and will help deepen a culture that aligns with the core values, team principles and commitments of the MSHF. In addition, she will help redefine what change and success mean for the foundation by better connecting the strategic vision, focus area goals and programmatic strategy.

“I’m thrilled to be returning to Alaska and to becoming part of the Mat-Su community,” said Koenemann. “As they say, you can leave Alaska, but it never really leaves you. An opportunity like this comes along only once in a career, and I am ready to go all-in supporting our mission of improving the health and wellness of Alaskans living in the Mat-Su and our vision of a community where all persons have the opportunity for a healthy life.”

Koenemann was previously the public health director for Pitkin County Public Health in Colorado, where she served as the COVID-19 Response and Recovery chief health strategist and provided crisis leadership through strategic and tactical methods in the face of the pandemic. Prior to that she worked for Eagle County Public Health as the healthy communities manager and as the executive director for the Red Ribbon Project. She holds a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Alaska, a master’s degree in geography from the University of Wyoming and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Alaska.


About Mat-Su health Foundation: 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 healthymatsu.org.