About Us

Foundation Leadership & Staff

JoAnn Birkholz

Executive Director, Medica Foundation

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JoAnn Birkholz has been with Medica since 1999 and is the director of the Medica Foundation. In 2003, when Medica separated from Allina Health System, JoAnn built the Medica Foundation from the ground up.  During this re-establishment of the Medica Foundation, she led the development of infrastructure and processes which have paved the way for today's growth.

JoAnn is an active member with the Minnesota Council on Foundations and Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. She served on the board of the Minnesota Council on Foundations from 2013 – 2018, where she was Board Secretary and chair of the Membership Committee.  She is currently a member of the MCF Governance Committee.

JoAnn volunteers for a variety of nonprofit organizations, and has served on several nonprofit boards. She is past board chair for the Wayzata Lake Effect Conservancy, and past board member for Bolder Options.

After earning her undergraduate degree in Nursing from the University of Tulsa, JoAnn went on to obtain her master's degree in Business Administration from the Keller Graduate School of Management. Before joining the Medica Foundation, Ms. Birkholz held several positions in the health care industry, including managed care, home care consulting and direct hospital nursing. Her background as a registered nurse has been invaluable in connecting with the work of the Medica Foundation to improve the health of our communities.

Elyse Coleman

Senior Program Manager, Medica Foundation

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Elyse joined the Medica Foundation in 2023. As senior program manager, Elyse oversees behavioral health grants as well as supports the Wisconsin community giving council.

Elyse carries nearly 15 years of experience in nonprofits, community groups, and philanthropy. She began her career in grant writing, program development, and evaluation, helping open a shelter for youth facing homelessness. She went on to work in large and small nonprofits, leading capacity building efforts and co-chairing coalitions to address housing stability and anti-human trafficking. Prior to Medica, Elyse worked at the Otto Bremer Trust, where she supported grantmaking in rural and urban communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Montana.

Elyse holds a degree in English from the University of Northwestern St. Paul, but attributes her greatest lessons to the community leaders she has met in her personal and professional journey. When she is not working, Elyse is often found adventuring (hiking) with her daughter, dog, and friends.

Heather Craig

Senior Grants Specialist, Medica Foundation

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Heather Craig joined Medica in 1998 and has been with the Medica Foundation since 2006. As the Sr. Grants Specialist Heather is responsible for the grants management and reporting processes at the Medica Foundation. In her role, she also supports the volunteer committees that make grant making decisions and provide grant oversight.

Heather is a long-standing member of the Grant Partnership Committee and enjoys working with grantees that support children, families and LGBTQ issues. She has served on the steering committee of PEAK Grantmaking and has been the regional chair for PEAK. Heather earned her BA from Macalester College and worked at United HealthCare before coming to Medica.

Shelly d’Almeida

Senior Program Manager, Medica Foundation

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As a Sr. Program Manager, Shelly d’Almeida leads community giving in Nebraska, and manages the Early Childhood Health and Rural Health grant opportunities in Minnesota. Shelly has a strong background in both nonprofit development and corporate philanthropy, and enjoys working to support nonprofit organizations that are making a difference in communities across the country. She joined the Medica Foundation team in 2019.

Shelly has her undergraduate degree in English and Communications from the University of Minnesota. After teaching English in Japan for two years, she started her career in international philanthropy working in New York City for an organization supporting pediatric healthcare in Cambodia. Shelly attained her master's degree in International Relations from Webster University in Geneva, Switzerland and continued to work to support international nonprofit organizations around the world.

After returning to Minnesota in 2012, Shelly took the opportunity to work in corporate philanthropy, viewing her work from a different lens. Prior to working at the Medica Foundation she was a Community Affairs Consultant for the Wells Fargo Foundation, managing philanthropy in three states, including charitable giving and volunteerism. She has a long history of volunteering for and supporting a number of nonprofit organizations, and enjoys working with a variety of organizations that support community health.