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Canvas Health's strong leadership team guides the agency with a deep passion for fulfilling our mission of providing hope, healing, and recovery to the people we serve.
Chief Executive Officer
Khu Thao, PsyD, LICSW, LP, was selected as Canvas Health’s Chief Executive Officer in 2022.
Dr. Thao is a highly respected leader in the mental health care community and previously served as Vice President of Community Mental Health as well as Senior Director of Operations at Touchstone Mental Health in Minneapolis. Prior to that, her professional roles have included Clinical Manager at Amherst Wilder Foundation, Clinical Psychologist Fellow at the Indian Health Board of Minneapolis, clinician at Washburn Center for Children, and child protection social worker for both Hennepin and Ramsey Counties.
Thao has an Executive Leadership Certification for Nonprofit Management from University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business, a Psy.D. from Minnesota School of Professional Psychology, a Master of Social Work from the University of Minnesota, and a BA from Gustavus Adolphus College. She is a recipient of the prestigious Bush Fellowship and a Title VI-E Welfare Fellowship.
Chief Financial Officer
As Chief Financial Officer of Canvas Health, Hilke is responsible for all accounting services, financial services, human resources, information technology, property management, procurement, billing and receivables, and transportation for the parent company as well as all subsidiary companies.
Hilke has 20 years of leadership experience in the fields of accounting, finance, information technology, and senior management working for Fortune 500 companies as well as 5 years of experience as CFO of two nonprofit mental health organizations in the Twin Cities. Hilke completed her undergraduate degree in Accounting at the University of Texas at Austin and her MBA in Finance at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. In addition, Hilke holds an active CPA license and is certified as a CMA.
Chief Operating Officer
Thomas is Canvas Health’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). In this role, Tom provides executive leadership in service development and organizational management and is responsible for strategic leadership, financial management, operational management, staff management and community relationship management.
Tom spent over 15 years with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) at the State of Minnesota, most recently in the role of Director of Operations for Community Supports Administration. Tom has spent most of his career working with direct care services and designing public policy programs that serve persons with disabilities, mental illness or substance dependency. Tom has often been called upon to facilitate complex projects, including leading major transitions, restructures, mergers, and closures.
Tom most recently has been credited with helping to shift discussions between DHS and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to focus on creating a state-wide strategy for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and supports in Minnesota. Tom was instrumental in assembling and building community support for the $39 million in new mental health appropriations authorized by the Legislature in 2015.
As Director of Operations for the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration at DHS, Tom provided executive leadership and management to all internal operations, including communications, legislation, and Olmstead implementation.
Prior to assuming his current role, Tom was Director of Operations Support for State Operated Services, another division of the Department of Human Services. In this role Tom provided leadership to the areas of administrative services, learning and development, health information management, and physical plant.
Tom has over 15 years of experience leading strategy and coordinating legislative initiatives, managing governmental, public relations, and operations, creating communications and collaborating with others to establish public policy for populations with disabilities. He holds a mini-MBA (2005) in Healthcare Administration from the University of St. Thomas University and has a M.A. in Public Administration (1999) and B.A. in International Management (1995) from Hamline University. Tom is a 2009 graduate of the State of Minnesota’s Emerging Leaders Institute. He has served on the board of directors of a number of community non-profit organizations, including the Minnesota State Retirement System, the organization responsible for administering $20 billion of assets for all retirement plans, health care savings plan, and the Minnesota Deferred Compensation Plan for over 160,000 current and former public employees. Tom serves as the Audit Committee Chair for this organization. Tom is also a past Moderator of the Twin Cities Area Presbytery and chairman of the Presbytery Leadership Team.
Chief Marketing & Development Officer
As Canvas Health’s Chief Marketing and Development Officer, Julia Yach is responsible for the agency’s fundraising, marketing, communications, and special events efforts.
Julia finds joy in spreading the word about Canvas Health’s mission of hope, healing, and recovery. She’s proud to serve alongside Canvas Health’s talented mental health and substance use clinicians, who carry out that mission each day.
Julia has over 20 years of experience in the marketing and communications field, including serving as Director of Marketing at the Autism Society of Minnesota. She holds her BA in Public Relations and Electronic Publishing from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Jayne Conley Braun has 30+ years of experience working with mental health and substance use disorders with both adults and children. Her experience includes providing direct care services, clinical supervision of professional teams, and creating new programs and systems that are meaningful for all people. Her experience also includes working across the continuum of care from intensive in-patient programs to services provided in the community and in a persons home. Jayne’s clinical expertise includes diagnosis, treatment, and understanding of severe and persistent mental illness, PTSD, effects of chronic pain and illness on mental health, geriatric mental health, and co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.
Director of Quality, Risk Management & Compliance
Sarah Brown is Canvas Health’s Director of Quality, Risk Management & Compliance, since December 2022. She oversees the organization’s quality and compliance programs, serves as the HIPAA privacy officer, and oversees all grievance responses. Sarah has over 10 years of experience as a healthcare compliance professional and is a licensed attorney in the state of Minnesota.
Ed Frickson has been involved in the mental health field for over 30 years, providing a range of services from client facing to executive leadership roles. He has experience with program development, contracting with state and county services in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, insurance contracting, compliance, budget oversight, vendor relationships, operations, and overseeing outpatient and community based clinical services.
Prior to coming to Canvas Health, Ed has held leadership positions with Ramsey County Human Services, Family Innovations/Life Stance Health and Ellie Mental Health. Early career experience included community outreach counseling, in-patient child psychiatric services for children ages 4-12, and outpatient youth and family therapy services. Ed has areas of clinical interest in supporting youth with trauma exposure, anxiety disorders, and family/couples therapy.
Ed received his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter Minnesota, and his Master of Science Degree in Counseling Psychology from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud Minnesota. He has been licensed with the Minnesota Board of Psychology since 1994.
Director of Child and Family & Adult Intensive Services
Katie Pape has been with Canvas Health since 2005. She currently serves as the Director of Child and Family & Adult Intensive Services at the agency, which focuses on program development, grant writing, and building collaborative relationships with community partners.
Katie has more than 20 years of experience as a clinical social worker within behavioral health programs serving children, adults, and their families. Her work includes direct practice with clients and their families as well as providing program and clinical supervision.
Prior to serving in the director role at Canvas Health, Katie was a clinician at Family Focus and Volunteers of America Minnesota. She then served as Program Manager in Canvas Health’s Child & Adult Mental Health Case Management and MCHN Blue Program.
Katie received her Bachelor of Science in Social Work and Human Relations from St. Cloud State University and her Master of Social Work from the University of St. Thomas and College of St. Catherine.
Director of Outpatient Clinics, Administrative Services, Quality Management, and HIPAA Compliance
Jay Theisen has been at Canvas Health since 2009 and has held the role of manager and was promoted to Director in 2015. In his current role he is responsible for clinic based Outpatient Psychotherapy, Mobile Crisis, HIPAA compliance, and Quality Management. He provides oversite of these programs and also manages client complaints/grievances.
Prior to his director position he was overseeing outpatient psychotherapy, CTSS, ARMHS, and Functional Family Therapy at our Richfield location. At that site he was also providing some supervision at Crisis Connection. Prior to this position he was the director at Generations: Community Support Services. He also has experience at Catholic Charities and Wilder Foundation. Jay completed his Master’s Degree at the College of St. Catherine’s and University of St. Thomas Master’s of Clinical Social Work joint department in 1998, and has been a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker since 2000.
Director of Human Resources
Lina joined Canvas Health in 2021.
Lina’s most recent role was in a nonprofit setting serving dairy farmers across nine and a half states. She has her BA from the University of St. Thomas in Business Management and MA in Human Resource Management from Concordia University.
Lina believes in Canvas Health’s mission and vision. She has a passion for evaluating staffing resources and recruiting strategies.
Outside of work, Lina enjoys reading, lawn care, and watching documentaries (anything on NatGeo). Her family of six includes her husband, three children, and chocolate lab. She’s looking forward to traveling again and making memories with family and friends.
Karna Peters is a business owner and retiree from 3M Company. She joined the Canvas Health Board in 2017. Karna is also on the Board and a founding member of the Minnewaska Laker Foundation, which was started to keep activities available and affordable in the arts, athletics and music at the Minnewaska Area School. Karna also is a past Chair of the Board of Minnesota CLE (continuing legal education) and past President of her church council. Karna received her J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School and her bachelor’s degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she was inducted in the Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame as an individual (for golf) and as part of the 1982 AIAW Div. III Women’s Basketball Championship team. She has adult children and a grandchild and enjoys playing golf with her better half George.
Board Vice Chair
Karen Dodson has served over 30 years in health care, most recently as the CEO of a small biotech company and the COO of NMDP/Be The Match. Karen joined Canvas Health as a member of the Fundraising Committee in 2020 and as a board member in 2021. She has also previously volunteered for the Jeremiah Program, Minneapolis Regional Chamber and Be The Match Foundation. Karen received her BA in Biology from the University of California, Riverside and a Master’s in Leadership from Augsburg University. Karen and her husband Dean live in Lake Elmo and have two adult children and five grandchildren.
Dave has over thirty-five years experience as a mental health clinician and as an administrator in mental health settings and is a retired licensed independent clinical social worker. He started his career with the Wilder Foundation in St. Paul serving families and children, and over the years held administrative positions at UnitedHealth Care and Medica. Most recently, Dave was the CEO at Zumbro Valley Health Center in Rochester, MN, until he retired in July 2017. He served as the President of the Minnesota Association of Community Mental Health Programs for two years and is passionate about securing adequate funding for mental health services in Minnesota.
Dave lives in Bloomington with his wife Debbie and enjoys reading and attempting to play golf.
Polly Kruse is currently a Group Brand Director for Profero Group, LLC, a biopharmaceutical market access agency designed to help patients get access to complex therapies. Prior to this role, Polly spent 14 years at J&J in Behavioral Health where she worked with community mental health entities, hospital systems and payers providing products and services to help patients with severe mental illness. She also spent 4 years at J&J as a Sr. Strategic Account Manager in the Orthopedic Sports Medicine division. Polly has a BA in Clinical Laboratory Science from The College of St. Scholastica as well as an MBA in Marketing from the University of St. Thomas. Polly and her husband Pat live in Stillwater and enjoy spending time with their five adult children and five grandchildren.
Board Immediate Past Chair
Eileen McMahon, retired President/CEO of the Saint Paul Convention and Visitors Bureau, joined the Canvas Health Board in 2016. An Oakdale resident, she has been active in social service and educational nonprofit organizations in the St. Paul area, most recently The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, Neighborhood House, Family Tree Clinic, and Alums & Friends & Families. Eileen received her B.A. in Journalism and Social Work from St. Catherine University and her Certificate in Organizational Management from the College of Charleston. Eileen and her husband, Steve Karbon, have two adult children and two grandsons.
Mike Boldenow joined the board in 2016. Mike has been involved in healthcare design for more than 30 years with BWBR. Over the past decade, a focus of his healthcare projects have been working with various institution’s behavioral and mental health programs. Mike’s experience within a large, healthcare focused, architectural firm has put him in a position of leadership. Mike’s been on BWBR’s Executive Committee since 2014. He leads multiple teams of architects, interior designers and engineers on a variety of healthcare projects, including mental health and substance dependency programs. Mike and his wife Kelly reside in Lake Elmo with their triplets.
Kirby Dembele earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Biotechnology and Bioinformatics from the University of Minnesota. He resides in Oakdale and works as an investigator for the FDA. In 2016, he retired from the army after numerous deployments throughout the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. He worked as a rater and then as a health benefits manager at the VA Medical Center. He is an active member of the Military Officers Association of America and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Kelly Fenton served two terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives, representing the people of District 53B in Woodbury. She was an Assistant Majority Leader and Vice Chair of both the Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee and the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety and Respect. She also served on the Rules and Legislative Administration, State Government Finance, and Government Operations and Elections Policy committees.
Kelly brought extensive experience to the Minnesota Legislature as a former educator and school administrator for the fourth largest school district in the country. She also helped train educators receiving alternative certification through programs including Teach for America.
Kelly’s education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Marquette University and a Master of Education from the University of Houston. Additionally, she is a graduate of University of Virginia Darden School of Business State Legislative Leadership Foundation and the Bowhay Institute of Legislative Leadership Development.
Kelly and her husband, Greg, live in Woodbury where they raised their three children.
Mike works for 3M Company where he is the Vice President & General Counsel for the Consumer Business Group. In that role he leads a global legal team that advises on legal, regulatory, compliance, and related risk issues for manufacturing and selling consumer, safety, and professional products. Mike’s previous legal experience includes working for a large Midwest-based law firm and for the United States federal court system. He is a graduate of Wake Forest University, with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and History, and a Juris Doctor from the Wake Forest University School of Law.
Mike joined the Canvas Health Board of Directors in 2023 and serves on the Finance Committee. He also works with and supports several other community, charitable, and legal services organizations. Mike and his wife Dee live in Woodbury with their two children.
Beth Leindecker has nearly 30 years of experience in county government, including her current role with Hennepin County as Business Information Officer. Previously, she worked in Contract Administration with Ramsey County where she worked on the County’s national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). She has also worked for Canvas Health in an on-call capacity in ESS/Child Protection Crisis Response and served on the Washington County child services citizen review panel. Beth has a BA in Journalism from the U of M, an MSW from MSU-Mankato, a mini-MBA from the University of St. Thomas and is a Licensed Independent Social Worker.
Beth lives in Woodbury and is married with 3 college-age children, 2 of whom have served in the US military.
Chief Brian Mueller is currently the Chief of Police for the City of Stillwater. He began his law enforcement career in 1998 with the White Bear Lake Police Department. Shortly after he accepted a position with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Mueller has spent the majority of his 25-year career working in narcotics, investigations and SWAT. In 2017 Brian was appointed by Sheriff Dan Starry to be the Chief Deputy, overseeing all Sheriff’s Office Operations.
Chief Mueller graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a BA in Criminal Justice, minor in Business Administration and an MA in Police Leadership and Education.
Chief Mueller serves on the Executive Board of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and is the Past-President of the Special Operations Training Association of Minnesota (SOTA), Past-Treasurer for the Lakes Center for Youth and Family in Forest Lake and Past-Chair of the Minnesota Violent Crime Coordinating Council (VCCC). Chief Mueller lives in Stillwater with his wife Lori and 5 children and is a strong believer in providing services for those living with substance use disorders and mental illness.
Chris Navin is Sr. Director of Finance for Andersen Corporation. He joined the Canvas Health Board in 2019. Chris has over twenty-five years of corporate finance experience within treasury and financial planning and analysis, starting his career at ING and Securian Financial Group and for the last twenty years, in various finance roles at Andersen Corporation. Chris obtained his B.B.A in Finance from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He grew up in Washington County and lives in Stillwater with his wife and kids.
Conrad Nguyen joined the Canvas Health Board of Directors in 2021. He is the owner and president of Kortech, a facility management and contract staffing firm. He pursued his dream of entrepreneurship after spending 20+ years in various business leadership roles in corporate.
Difficult challenges in his early life — poverty, addiction, and violence — have made Conrad passionate about helping others. He joined the Canvas Health Board because he believes in the mission to bring hope, healing and recovery to the people we serve.
Dr. Taiwo joined the Canvas Health Board in 2020. He is responsible for the development of 3M’s global health strategy, as well as the leadership and management of the medical organization.
Dr. Taiwo serves on the board of directors of American Cancer Society (ACS) and Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI).
Prior to joining 3M, Dr. Taiwo was Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Occupational & Environmental Medicine Fellowship Training Program at Yale University School of Medicine. He also served as Corporate Medical Advisor to Alcoa Inc. in a unique academic/private partnership for 17 years.
Dr. Taiwo received his medical degree from College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Nigeria and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Alabama, He completed residency training in Internal Medicine at Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee and fellowship training in Occupational & Environmental Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine.
Bode is married with 3 daughters. He enjoys traveling and playing electric bass guitar.
True Thao has a BSW and MSW from Rhode Island College. He came to the US as a refugee in 1976, lives in Cottage Grove and is the founder of True Thao Counseling Services. He has had clinical consulting relationships with the Hmong-American Partnership, Goodwill-Easter Seals, Lao Family Community as well as many other organizations/governmental entities and has provided presentations and trainings to Ramsey County Children’s Mental Health Collaborative, the Minnesota Hmong 18-Clan Council, the St. Paul Public Schools, Amherst Wilder Foundation, United Way and numerous other organizations. Until recently he was the owner of Cedarhurst Mansion in Cottage Grove.
Adam Wahlberg has a BA in Mass Communications from St. Cloud University and a Masters in Public Affairs from the U of M. An entrepreneur, he lives in Minneapolis and is the founder of Think Piece Publishing which is dedicated to mental health books where he published Julie Barton’s memoir, Dog Medicine, which became a New York Times bestseller. He has served in editor positions for Twin Cities Business Magazine, Super Lawyers and Minnesota Law and Politics and currently is the publications and web editor at the League of Minnesota Cities. He has a wide skill set in communications on mental health, messaging, running events and raising awareness.
Kris Young is the Vice President of Digital Banking at Lake Elmo Bank. Kris has over 24 years of experience in the financial industry working on research and development of digital banking products. As a member of Lake Elmo Bank’s management team, Kris has held many leadership positions including roles in strategic planning, technology steering, and overseeing bank operations and compliance. With a passion for helping others with substance abuse and mental illness, she joined the Canvas Health Board in 2023. Kris and her husband reside in the Town of St. Joseph.