Robert Hughes, PhD
President and Chief Executive Officer
Robert (Bob) Hughes, PhD, is president and chief executive officer of Missouri Foundation for Health. Having joined MFH in 2011. Hughes has nearly 30 years of philanthropic leadership, public health and health policy experience. He previously served as a visiting research professor in the Center for State Health Policy, Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, at Rutgers University in New Jersey. From 1990 to 2010, he worked at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in New Jersey, serving most recently as vice president and chief learning officer.
A native of Illinois, Hughes has his doctorate in behavioral sciences from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Hygiene and Public Health; a master’s degree in student development from Ohio State University’s College of Education; and a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and religion from DePauw University. Prior to RWJF, Hughes was an assistant professor of health administration and policy at Arizona State University, and a Pew Postdoctoral Fellow in health policy at the University of California-San Francisco. He has published extensively, focusing mostly on philanthropic learning, the effect of grantmaking on improving health and health care, and health policy issues.
He is a member of the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s advisory board and a board member of Grantmakers in Health, Gateway Center for Giving, St. Louis Regional Health Commission, and Missouri Health Connection.
G. Joseph McCarthy, MBA
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Joseph McCarthy joined Missouri Foundation for Health in 2002, bringing significant senior management experience. He directs MFH’s general business processes including the management of finance, grants and contracts, information technology, investments, planning, facilities, risk management and tax. His experience includes work with for-profit and nonprofit corporations in the areas of strategic and operational planning, financial management, new business development and performance improvement. Early health care experience includes establishing one of the first health maintenance organizations in St. Louis, and business planning for the nation’s largest provider of managed health care to inmates. Prior to MFH, McCarthy served in several key positions at Saint Louis University, including the development of strategic and operational planning of SLUCare, the faculty practice plan and tertiary care hospital. He also served for two years as assistant executive vice president, supporting the executive vice president and chief operating officer in strategic and operational planning for the institution. He has an undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a master’s degree in business administration from Southwest Missouri State University.
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.
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 Stinger Hessel, MSW
Program Director, Childhood Obesity
Amy Stringer Hessel is a program 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 and a Terrance Keenan Institute Fellow at Grantmakers in Health. Stringer Hessel is 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. She holds a master’s of social work degree, from Washington University in St. Louis.
Kathleen Holmes, RN, MPH
Program Officer, 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.
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.