Kathryn Roberts was named president and CEO of Ecumen in 2003. In that time, she has led the Shoreview-based non-profit company’s transformation from being a nursing home provider to a diversified senior housing and services company working to shape the future of aging and living. Under her leadership, Ecumen has become known for innovation, bringing new empowering technologies to seniors and their families; developing initiatives such as "Awakenings," which is reducing the use of antipsychotic medications among people with Alzheimer's; expanding housing options to new markets, creating a national senior housing development business; and shaping a workplace culture that has led to Ecumen being named 8 years as one of the "Best Places to Work" by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.
Kathryn has a distinguished career in public service and leadership and is one of the few people to be appointed to leadership positions by a Democratic, Republican and Independent Governor. The Minneapolis Star Tribune once called her "state government's #1 management doctor." She led the transformation of several Minnesota state agencies, including the Minnesota Zoo, which she was appointed to lead at age 34. Kathryn, who had no prior zoological experience, became the country’s first woman to lead a major zoo. Through entrepreneurial approaches, the zoo’s attendance and revenues reached all-time highs. One of several innovative partnerships that occurred under her leadership was the creation of the only environmental studies high school located within a zoo.
As chairwoman of Minnesota’s professional sports agency, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, she led efforts to sue Major League Baseball and successfully stop contraction of the Minnesota Twins. In 2008, Kathryn was appointed by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty to a five-year term as chair of the Minnesota Veterans Health Care Advisory Council. She also served on the Governor’s Veterans Long-Term Care Advisory Commission. She was recognized by the University of Minnesota’s College of Education as one of its "100 Distinguished Alumni" for the College's first 100 years. She also was named in 2008 as one of the Twin Cities’ "Best Brains" by Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine. Kathryn serves on the boards of LeadingAge in Washington, D.C., and will become chair in 2016, and VocalEssence in Minneapolis. Prior to joining Ecumen, Kathryn served as vice president of the Minneapolis Foundation, where she administered a $30 million annual grant program.
Kathryn earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota, her M.S. in Special Education from Mankato State University and her Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Minnesota.