North Carolina advocate for poor, children named new Colorado Health Foundation CEO

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon

A North Carolina woman with a track record in promoting better health among low-income people and early childhood education will become the new president and CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation.

The foundation’s board announced the selection of Karen McNeil-Miller on Friday. She replaces Anne Warhover who left the foundation in January after 10 years at the helm.

Karen McNeil-Miller will become the president and CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation on Sept. 1.

Karen McNeil-Miller will become the president and CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation on Sept. 1.

The Colorado Health Foundation is the third-largest health foundation in the U.S. with about $2.3 billion in assets. The largest is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with over $10 billion in assets and the second-largest is the California Endowment with about $3.7 billion in assets.

McNeil-Miller is slated to start at the Colorado Health Foundation on September 1. She is currently the president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Under her leadership, the Trust developed and launched Healthy Places NC — a decade-long, $100 million initiative to improve the health of people living in the state’s low-income, rural communities. The Trust also helped promote Medicaid expansion.

McNeil-Miller also developed the Trust’s long-term $30 million initiative — Great Expectations — to invest in Forsyth County’s financially disadvantaged children to ensure they are successful in life and school. A former special education teacher and head of the Piedmont School, McNeil-Miller pushed for increased investments in education, stemming from her belief that a robust early childhood education program can help close the gap in access to opportunity.

“We chose Karen because of her significant experience leading a philanthropic organization and deep technical expertise in issue areas comparable to the foundation’s,” Dr. Donald Murphy, chair of the Health Foundation’s board, said in a press release Friday.

McNeil-Miller said she was “humbled” to have been chosen as the steward for the Colorado Health Foundation.

Among her other accomplishments in North Carolina, she is credited with:

• Expanding the number of federally qualified health clinics throughout the state to ensure financially disadvantaged residents, especially those in rural areas, can access quality health care.
• Rallying local funders when a computer glitch resulted in hundreds of local families being unable to access food assistance. The partnership spawned a new coalition of local food funders to examine better ways to provide food to families in need.

Prior to joining the Trust, McNeil-Miller spent 16 years with the Center for Creative Leadership, an international leadership development and research nonprofit organization headquartered in Greensboro, N.C. During her tenure with the Center, she spent six years at the organization’s Colorado Springs office.

“Karen’s background and proven track record in successful nonprofit leadership and strategy, research and education make her an exceptional fit for this role. She impressed us as someone integrally involved with the staff and in the communities that are served through her leadership,” Rahn Porter, interim CEO at the Health Foundation, said in a written statement.

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