President & CEO, Blandin Foundation
Dr. Kathleen Annette, president and CEO of Blandin Foundation, leads Blandin Foundation in standing with rural Minnesota communities and leaders as they design and claim ambitious, vibrant futures.
In her travels throughout the state, Kathy is witness to the power of local, rural and inclusive leadership on issues most important to communities. And in her role as CEO, Kathy has become part of many partnerships highlighting the possibilities for philanthropy to better serve rural communities and peoples.
A lifelong resident of rural Minnesota, Kathy is enrolled with the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. She earned her medical and undergraduate degrees from the University of Minnesota, the first Minnesota Ojibwe woman to become a physician.
Kathy retired in 2011 from federal service after 26 distinguished years, having served as Acting Deputy Director of Field Operations of Indian Health Service. She was tapped by Blandin Foundation seven years ago to take the helm of the state’s largest rural-based private foundation and one of only a handful nationally focused exclusively on strengthening rural communities.
Blandin Foundation was founded in 1941 by Charles K. Blandin. The Foundation awards grants in rural Minnesota, trains community leaders and engages communities on public policy issues such as the 2020 Census, broadband access and early childhood education.
While the rural population in the United States comprises 19 percent of the total population, the level of giving focused on rural communities has been less than 7 percent of all grantmaking from foundations, according to Foundation Center. The current political moment has underscored the alienation felt by many in rural communities, as well as the tendency of “coastal elites” to under-appreciate the distinct challenges rural communities face. This session will explore how to define, scope, and address the unique challenges and opportunities in serving rural communities.