Paul Kuehnert is a director leading the Foundation’s efforts to build connections between health, social sectors and health care to address the multiple factors—social, environmental, economic, behavioral and clinical care—that shape our health. Coming of age in the 1960’s with parents who were faith-community-based activists for peace and justice, it wasn’t that big of a surprise to anyone in his family when Paul decided to flout gender norms and become a nurse. What started as a bit of a dare and a way to make ends meet transformed into a vocation when he became a public health nurse early in his career. Serving children and parents in St. Louis’ Head Start Program ignited his passion for community-focused health promotion and advocacy—a passion that just won’t quit.
As an executive leader for the past twenty years, Paul has led both governmental and community-based organizations in order to help people lead healthier lives. In the late 1980’s he was a founder and later CEO of Community Response, Inc., one of the Chicago-area’s largest housing, nutrition and social service providers for people living with HIV/AIDS. He moved to Maine in 1999 and served in the state health department, leading the development of a regional public health system and becoming deputy director of the department in 2005. Most recently Paul was the county health officer and executive director for health in Kane County, Illinois, a metro-Chicago county of 515,000 where he initiated and led "Making Kane County Fit for Kids," a public-private partnership to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity.
Paul is a pediatric nurse practitioner and holds the Doctor of Nursing Practice in executive leadership as well as the Master of Science in public health nursing degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow in 2004.
True to his St. Louis roots, Paul is an aficionado of the World Champion Cardinals. When there is no baseball to be had he enjoys watching old westerns starring the likes of James Stewart, a hero who can resolve social justice issues in two hours or less.