Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

North Shore Health Care Foundation Announces New Strategic Directions and Executive Director

May 13, 2019 04:04PM ● By Editor

Incoming Executive Director Valerie Marasco (left) and outgoing Executive Director Karl Hansen.  Photo: North Shore Health Care Foundation

Media Release from the North Shore Health Care Foundation - May 13, 2019


The North Shore Health Care Foundation today celebrated a significant leadership change and announced strategic directions it will focus on. After 18 years with the organization, current Executive Director Karl Hansen and the Foundation’s Board passed the reins to incoming Executive Director Valerie Marasco. Marasco is coming to the Foundation from Cook County where she serves as the County’s Director of Emergency Management & Public Information. 

“This is a bold move for the Foundation. We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Marasco’s leadership and skill-set, and to take a decisive next step in the implementation of the Foundation’s strategic plan,” said Board President Jerry Lilja. “We also are proud to recognize Karl Hansen’s years of service with the Foundation. We wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement; he can certainly feel proud of the many accomplishments achieved during his tenure and for getting us to this significant milestone of being able to implement a quality strategic plan.” 

The Foundation underwent an intensive strategic planning process over the course of the last two years. With this transition in leadership to a full-time Executive Director, it is ready to implement its newly focused priorities. The NSHCF proactively identifies opportunities to expand equitable health care and healthy living in Cook County and champions solutions through funding, education, and advocacy. From 1995 – 2018, the Foundation has awarded over $1,000,000 through grants and other health-related program activities.

 Valerie Marasco.  Photo:  North Shore Health Care Foundation 

Since fall 2016, Ms. Marasco has served as Cook County’s Emergency Manager, Emergency Services Conference Chair and the public relations and communication director for the Sheriff’s Office and County Government. She chairs the Pigeon River International Emergency Management Committee which brings together all emergency services agencies including law enforcement, fire, EMS, Homeland Security & Emergency Management, public health and border services between Grand Marais, Minnesota and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Prior to taking on her position with Cook County, she served with the City of Thunder Bay as the Supervisor of Corporate Communications, media relations trainer, communications official for the Emergency Operations Control Group and a member of the City Manager’s leadership team for more than a decade. Marasco co-founded the private firm Firedog Public Relations & Marketing in 2003 after she immigrated to Canada from Minneapolis and has managed more than 5,000 media events in her career – including 14 declared emergency events. She is a public speaker, writer and Incident Command Structure/Public Information Officer trainer and specializes in strategic marketing communication planning and program development. Marasco is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and La Universidad de Guadalajara Mexico. She holds a double BA in Communications & Public Relations and Spanish.

The North Shore Health Care Foundation is an independent non-profit organization whose vision is “A healthy Community for all in Cook County”.  Three key issues have been defined for 2019: 

·     Support for elders in the community

·     Mental health and substance misuse needs in children, and

·     Travel and lodging for healthcare needed in Duluth.  

Over its history, the Foundation has provided support to The Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and North Shore Health (Hospital). It has formed Care Partners of Cook County (now an independent organization), and currently operates the Oral Health task Force, which makes dental care readily available to all youth in our community. The Foundation is presently funding projects with Emergency Services (local volunteer Fire Departments, First Responders and EMTs) and Cook County Higher Education.

The NSHCF was established in 1993, by a group of committed residents dedicated to improving the health and wellness of the Cook County community. The original six- member board assumed a leadership role in supporting projects that have had a significant impact on the health of our community. Commitment to responsible stewardship, compassion, and integrity continue to be core values. 

“With the implementation of the new Strategic Plan, we are aiming to make an even bigger impact in the community through collaborative partnerships, new events and programming opportunities to build on solid foundation – pun intended,” said Lilja. 

The Foundation is a private, not-for-profit grant making organization which serves as a liaison between the individuals, businesses, and organizations involved in health care and our family of generous donors. It has traditionally engaged in its own fundraising activities as well as soliciting donations to continue to build an endowment fund (managed by the Minnesota Community Foundation).

“This is bittersweet,” said Karl Hansen, outgoing Executive Director. “I’ve been with the Foundation since 2002, first as a Board and Committee Member and for the last 11 years, as the Director. I couldn’t ask for a better person to take over for me and continue this important work. I know Valerie is as passionate about this work and the partnerships involved as I am, so I can confidently step back and ease into my new chapter.”


Jerry Lilja
Board President 
North Shore Health Care Foundation
218-663-0039 or [email protected]
Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here