Nichole June Maher, Tlingit Expert in Health Equity, Named as CEO of Group Health Foundation

Nichole June Maher, a member of the Tlingit Tribe of Southeast Alaska, will lead Group Health Foundation as its president and CEO. Group Health Foundation is the third largest foundation in Washington and among the 50 largest in the United States.

An expert in the field of health equity, Maher was selected to advance the organization’s aspirations for a vibrant, healthy future in communities across Washington state.

“The board of directors has outlined a compelling vision for health, with a commitment to authentic community engagement and true partnership,” Maher said. “It’s a vision that Washingtonians deserve, and one I’m excited to help achieve.”

“We chose Maher from candidates across the nation because of her outstanding track record advocating for health equity,” said Susan Byington, Group Health Foundation’s board chair. “Her leadership is grounded in two decades of work focused on building more equitable communities.” Maher’s first day with the Foundation is October 1.

Prior to joining Group Health Foundation, she served as president and CEO of Northwest Health Foundation starting in August 2012. Northwest Health Foundation champions communities to improve health by building power, serving Oregon and Southwest Washington. During her tenure at Northwest Health Foundation, Maher was recognized as the youngest president of a major foundation in the Northwest. She led the organization through a significant transformation, becoming a leader in equity nationally and a model for how a foundation can leverage all of its resources beyond grant making to influence long-term positive health outcomes.

Before that, Maher was executive director of Native American Youth and Family Center, widely recognized as one of the most effective and innovative wrap-around family service models for Native American communities in the United States. During that time, she also co-founded the Coalition of Communities of Color, which has grown into an influential advocacy group in the state of Oregon and regionally.

Group Health Foundation aims to shape and accelerate efforts to improve health equity and advance community aspirations for a vibrant, healthy future in Washington. The Foundation was funded in 2017 with the proceeds from Kaiser Permanente’s acquisition of Group Health Cooperative. The Foundation has more than $1.8 billion in assets.

Group Health Foundation spent its first year in learning partnership with community members and organizations across the state. Maher will lead the development of the Foundation’s long-term vision and strategy over the course of 2019, and the Foundation expects to ramp up grantmaking and advocacy efforts in 2020.

Maher has longstanding connections to the Pacific Northwest. She was born in Ketchikan and raised in rural southeast Alaska, the Olympic Peninsula, and on the Siletz Indian Reservation. She holds a master’s degree in public health from Portland State University and has completed the Robert Wood Johnson Minority Medical Education program at Yale Medical School as well as a fellowship at Harvard Medical School. She has served on the boards of Grantmakers in Health, Philanthropy Northwest, the National Urban Indian Family Coalition and several other organizations.

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