Topeka, Kansas — The Kansas Health Institute (KHI) has welcomed a new leader for its Strategic Communication and Engagement Team and promoted another team member to a leadership position.
On March 27, KHI welcomed Theresa Freed as the new director of strategic communication and engagement. Freed brings nearly 25 years of public relations and journalism experience to the role.
Freed previously served as a communications leader within several state agencies, including the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Department for Children and Families and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. She most recently served as communications director for the National Scleroderma Foundation, and prior to that, managed digital communications for Johnson County Government, in the County Manager’s Office.
“Theresa joins KHI as we are exploring ways to enhance meaningful engagement with stakeholders and reach out to communities across the state to improve the health of all Kansans,” said Kari Bruffett, president & CEO. “Her experience with innovative communication strategies will help us open new doors to reach more people.”
Freed leads a team that includes four other communications professionals. The group manages the KHI website, social media, audio/video production, convening logistics, publications process and promotion, and media relations, along with other responsibilities.
“I’m excited to continue my career with such a well-respected organization that supports health through public policy research and education,” Freed said. “As a communications professional at several state agencies, I had the opportunity to work closely with KHI on a number of projects and always appreciated the organization’s professionalism and work to promote the use of evidence in policymaking.”
Effective March 16, Cathy McNorton was promoted to a new role at KHI. In her new role as Senior Communication Specialist and Publications Strategist, McNorton joins the KHI leadership team and manages the publication process, including by developing and implementing strategies to improve the process, and by leading the assessment of current product types and development of new publication formats.
McNorton brings significant experience with KHI and its partners to her new role. In her previous role at KHI, McNorton also served as the Communication Coordinator for the Center for Sharing Public Health Services, a national initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and helped develop internal KHI guidance for equitable and inclusive communication.
“In her new role, Cathy will challenge us to be more effective communicators in all of our publications,” Bruffett said. “She has a passion for the KHI mission and deep knowledge of our state.”
McNorton has been a KHI employee for 19 years, and before joining KHI had worked in communication, development and membership for a professional association.