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Image: Image for News Item: Long-time partner named Blandin Foundation CEO

Long-time partner named Blandin Foundation CEO

Board selects rural Minnesota leader, former Blandin Foundation trustee and nationally recognized physician Dr. Kathleen Annette

GRAND RAPIDS, Minnesota – Trustees of Blandin Foundation have selected Kathleen Annette, M.D.—a recognized local, regional and national leader with deep roots in northern Minnesota—as its new president and CEO.

Dr. Annette is a lifelong resident of rural Minnesota who grew up on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, is enrolled with White Earth Band of Ojibwe, and is currently acting deputy director for field operations of Indian Health Service, based in Bemidji, Minn. 

Dr. Annette has extensive knowledge and a long-time working relationship with Blandin Foundation. She served as a board member from 1991-2003, and has chaired and participated in the Blandin Foundation American Indian Advisory Committee since 2004. 

Dr. Annette emerged from a six-month local, regional and national search conducted by trustees with assistance from KeyStone Search, an executive search firm experienced in recruiting non-profit and foundation executives. 

In announcing the decision, Marian Barcus, chairman of the Foundation’s board, said, “Kathy has deep appreciation for the mission of this foundation and has been a long-time partner in our work.” Barcus continued, “She will be an excellent guide for the Foundation’s continued journey—contributing to the vitality of the Itasca County area, investing in rural community leaders statewide, and expanding opportunity for rural Minnesota residents through education, economy and inclusion.”

As acting deputy director for field operations of Indian Health Service, Annette has responsibility for supervision and leadership of Area Directors across the United States including 48 hospitals, 238 health clinics serving 1.9 million American Indian patients, and 15,000 federal employees. She will retire from federal service Sept. 1 and join the Foundation immediately.

“The Blandin Foundation has a strong mission, goals and values and makes a tremendous difference in the state, especially the Grand Rapids area,” Annette said. “This is a real honor, and I look forward to continuing the Foundation’s journey of partnering with communities to strengthen rural Minnesota.”

Annette succeeds Jim Hoolihan, who has served the Foundation as CEO since 2004 and who returns, as long expected, to the private sector Oct. 1.

“We certainly will miss Jim and his leadership,” Barcus said. “We are thankful for his steady hand and his passionate service. During Jim’s tenure the Foundation has seen broadened impact and stability despite difficult economic times. We very much appreciate that the Foundation is healthy and prepared for this change, which is a real credit to Jim.” 

Between 2004 and 2011, Jim Hoolihan’s years as CEO, the Foundation approved $99.7 million in grants, provided $5.8 million in scholarships for Itasca County area students (through 2010), engaged 140 Itasca area residents in student success initiatives, trained 1,920 rural community leaders statewide through its leadership programs, and leveraged $40 million in forestry investments with its own $15 million Vital Forests/Vital Communities grants and programs, and leveraged nearly $9 million in community match and other resources through its $352,500 investments in rural broadband.


Blandin Foundation strengthens rural Minnesota communities by investing in community leaders and working with partners to expand opportunity for all rural residents, especially in the Grand Rapids area.  Located in Grand Rapids, Minn., it is one of only a handful of foundations in the U.S. focused exclusively on rural communities and the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota.  Information on Blandin Foundation grant-making, leadership development programs and public policy initiatives are at

Note to editor:  Dr. Annette’s biography and high-resolution photograph are available in the Media Files section of the Newsroom: Foundation Leadership Media Files



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