Robert Hughes, PhD
President and Chief Executive Officer
Robert (Bob) Hughes became the president and chief executive officer of Missouri Foundation for Health in January 2012. Before joining MFH, he was a visiting research professor in the Center for State Health Policy at Rutgers University and served in various leadership positions for more than 20 years at The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in New Jersey. Since joining MFH he has enhanced the strategic direction of the organization and positioned it to be a catalyst for change throughout the region. Under his leadership MFH focuses on fostering a culture of learning, exploration and collaboration that promotes improvements in the health of underserved Missourians. A native of Illinois, Hughes received his doctorate in behavioral sciences from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. Hughes serves on the boards of Grantmakers in Health, St. Louis Regional Health Commission and Missouri Health Connection, and on the Advisory Board of Center for Effective Philanthropy.
JoAnne LaSala, MBA, MPA
Chief of Staff
JoAnne LaSala joined MFH as chief of staff in 2012. She serves as a strategic advisor to the president and oversees diverse staff and administrative responsibilities across the organization. LaSala formerly served as budget director for the City of St. Louis and president of St. Louis 2004, a major civic revival initiative. She has done consulting work for nonprofits in Boston, St. Louis and India on executive leadership, strategic planning, outcome measurement, post-merger integration and communications. LaSala has a bachelor’s degree in American History and Literature from Harvard University; a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University; and a master’s degree in public administration, also from Harvard.
M. Ryan Barker, MSW, MPPA
Vice President of Health Policy
M. Ryan Barker joined Missouri Foundation for Health in 2002 and assisted in establishing and growing its Health Policy area. As the Vice President since 2013, he is responsible for coordinating the team’s work and providing leadership on the direction and content of the area’s work. At MFH, Barker has developed expertise on Missouri’s Medicaid program, health equity, federal health reform issues, and policy options to provide health coverage for the uninsured. Previously, he worked at the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, where he focused on program evaluation, mental health parity, and grantmaking to address severe mental illness. He also previously worked as a case manager and harm reduction specialist with runaway and street youth at social service agencies in Cincinnati, OH, and Portland, OR. Barker obtained a bachelor of science degree from Xavier University, holds a master’s in social work from University of Cincinnati, and received a master’s degree in public policy administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He is an Adjunct professor at Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work-Institute of Public Health and at St. Louis University’s Aquinas Institute for Theology.
Courtney Z. Stewart, MA
Vice President of Strategic Communications
Courtney Z. Stewart joined Missouri Foundation for Health in 2014 as vice president of
strategic communications. At MFH, she is responsible for leading Foundation-wide communications and providing
direction and support for use of communications tools in program
implementation. Before joining the Foundation she served as associate vice president of university relations at
Harris-Stowe State University. Stewart has a bachelor of journalism from University of Missouri-Columbia and a master of arts from Webster University.
Web Brown, MSW
Program Director, Oral Health
Web Brown joined Missouri Foundation for Health in 2006 as a program officer, and was promoted to his current position in 2011. He is responsible for coordinating and supervising several MFH funding activities. He previously served as director of programs and interim executive director of Saint Louis Effort for AIDS. Additionally, he is an adjunct professor at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Brown received a bachelor of arts degree in history at Franklin & Marshall College and a master’s degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis.
Amy Stringer Hessel, MSW
Program Director, Childhood Obesity
Amy Stringer Hessel is a program director and has been with Missouri Foundation for Health since 2003. She currently manages the Foundation’s five-year initiative to prevent childhood obesity in the service area. She has served as team lead for one of the Foundation’s largest funding programs, Healthy & Active Communities, which has supported dozens of projects to combat obesity in Missouri. She also served as project director for MFH’s Social Innovation for Missouri (SIM) effort, a federally funded program to reduce obesity and tobacco use. Before joining MFH, Stringer Hessel served as director of community economic development for the United Way of Greater St. Louis. She is a founding member of the Missouri Convergence Partnership, a leadership coach for the Missouri State YMCA’s Pioneering Healthier Communities effort and a childhood obesity subcommittee member of the Missouri Children’s Services Commission. In 2010 she was named a Terrance Keenan Institute Fellow by Grantmakers
in Health. She holds a master’s of social work degree, from Washington University in St. Louis.
Kathleen Holmes, RN, MPH
Program Director, Infant Mortality
Kathleen Holmes joined Missouri Foundation for Health in 2007, and was promoted to her current position in 2011. She previously spent four years as a research coordinator at the Saint Louis University Center for Cultural Cancer Communication Research. She began her career at Alton Memorial Hospital, working as a registered nurse, and coordinating a parish nurse program. She received a bachelor of science degree in nursing from McKendree University in Lebanon, IL, and a master’s of public health degree from Saint Louis University.
Nancy Kelley, MA
Program Director, Expanding Coverage
Nancy Kelley joined Missouri Foundation for Health in
2014 as Program Director for Expanding Coverage. She is a leader in the areas
of advocacy, health reform, and nonprofit services. Before joining the
Foundation she served as director of engagement and advocacy for Saint Louis
Effort for AIDS. There she managed their Expanding Coverage Through Consumer
Assistance grant. She possesses more than 14 years of leadership experience and
served as executive director for the Center for Women in Transition and Phoenix
Matthew Kuhlenbeck, MHA
Program Director, Responsive Portfolio
Matthew Kuhlenbeck joined Missouri Foundation for Health in 2002 as a program associate and became a program officer in 2005. From 2005-2013, he led MFH’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Initiative. He is currently responsible for coordinating and supervising MFH’s Responsive Portfolio. The portfolio is focused on implementing strategies to respond to community generated opportunities and strengthen Missouri’s heath sector. Kuhlenbeck is adjunct faculty at Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice. He was a founding board member of Tobacco Free Missouri, a statewide coalition of advocates dedicated to reducing the harmful effects of tobacco on Missourians. He currently sits on the St. Louis Regional Youth Violence Prevention Task Force focused on preventing area youth violence, the Missouri March of Dimes Program Services Committee, and Gateway Center for Giving’s Programs & Services Committee. Kuhlenbeck graduated cum laude from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor of science degree in community health, and holds a master’s of health administration degree from Saint Louis University.
Thomas McAuliffe, MA
Director of Health Policy
Thomas McAuliffe joined Missouri Foundation for Health in 2005, after serving as government relations associate for the United Way of Greater St. Louis. At MFH, he is responsible for communicating MFH’s work related to health policy research, evaluation and analysis. He also has served as a lecturer at Webster University in St. Louis. He has a master’s degree in political science from Purdue University, and has completed course work for a doctorate in public administration and political science.