Wasilla, AK—The Mat-Su Health Foundation (MSHF) recently welcomed Melissa Kemberling to the foundation team. Melissa holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Tulane University and a Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University. She spent the last six years serving as the lead epidemiologist for the Alaska Tribal Health Consortium. In this capacity, she worked with a team of epidemiologists to map the regional health status of Alaska Natives.
In this newly created position at MSHF, Melissa will help to map the health status of Mat-Su residents, work with the board of directors to determine where an investment of MSHF resources would significantly improve health, and build evaluation into all of the grant programs and initiatives offered by MSHF. Through her expertise and analysis, MSHF will determine whether it is succeeding in reaching its goals and having the kind of impact the board envisions. Besides building an evaluation framework into the foundation’s work, she will help to create a data repository to store and access this data for public use, a theory of change for the foundation, and a strategy map to achieve a healthier community.
Elizabeth Ripley, Executive Director of MSHF, explains, “Melissa brings a unique combination of skills to the mission of the foundation. She marries a public health science background with the social and human systems expertise to help us benchmark and measure population health and also work with community members on the human side to devise ways to improve health that we can carry through to real change. To our knowledge, there has never been an epidemiologist that has just focused on the Mat-Su Borough population. So she is a real gift to this community, and we’re thrilled to have her join our team.”
Initially, Melissa will oversee a contract with the McDowell Group to conduct the first phase of a Community Health Assessment. This phase will determine which indicators best measure the health status of Mat-Su residents over time, include an analysis of all the secondary data available from many different sources, and begin to paint a picture of the health status of Mat-Su residents and the areas the community might focus on to improve the health of all its citizens. Melissa will work with a group of stakeholders and funders of the project that include the Mat-Su Borough, State of AK, Southcentral Foundation, Providence Hospital, Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, the Alaska Mental Health Trust, Denali Commission, Rasmuson Foundation, United Way of Mat-Su, Mat-Su Health Services, the Coalition of Mat-Su Senior Centers and others.
The Mat-Su Health Foundation is the official business name of Valley Hospital Association, Inc., which shares ownership in Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. In this capacity, the MSHF board members and representatives actively participate in the governance of Mat-Su’s community hospital and protect the community’s interest in this important healthcare institution through board oversight. The MSHF invests its assets into charitable works that improve the health and wellness of Alaskans living in Mat-Su.