Bils to be heard pic

Following a contentious annual membership meeting last month, the Mat-Su Health Foundation board of directors wants to hold “dialogue” sessions with its members, many of whom are increasingly frustrated over the organization’s support for leftist social issues rooted in critical race theory and LGBTQ activism.

The heated June 12 membership meeting was marked by a growing divide between the rank-and-file membership and the governing board of directors. At one point, a group of conservative members attempted to bring the entire meeting to a halt by calling for a vote on whether to approve the evening’s agenda. The vote was taken, and the board said a majority wanted to proceed with the meeting. They did not, however, announce the final tally.

In a July 11 notice sent to members, the MSHF addressed the vote and lack of transparency.

“We wanted to take a moment to address important matters that arose during our recent Annual Membership Meeting and to share some news regarding our commitment to open communication and inclusivity,” the statement noted. “It came to our attention that we did not announce the vote count to approve the consent agenda at the Annual Membership Meeting. The vote tally was as follows: 67 votes in favor and 49 votes against. We apologize that the numbers were not announced at the meeting. We are grateful the consent agenda was approved because if it had not been, we would have had to end the meeting without hearing presentations by guest speakers or member comments.

In order to “facilitate open dialogue,” the board will host a series of “Community Listening Sessions” in September and October.

Controversy over the consent agenda was sparked by the fact that the board of directors refused to include an agenda item that would have allowed the members to vote on whether to change the way board members are elected.

Current bylaws state that only sitting board members can select and/or replace fellow board members. The larger membership has absolutely no say in the matter. Furthermore, in order for members to get a chance to amend the organization’s bylaws, the board of directors must first approve putting the change up for a vote of the membership. In the lead up to the June 12 meeting, the board of directors adamantly refused to allow members to vote on how board members are selected.

While 25% of the members can call a special board meeting, they have no authority to set the agenda. Only board members can do so. Given these circumstances, the board enjoys immense power over the foundation and its agenda.

It’s unclear how holding a few listening sessions will address this dispute or the controversial social issues pushed by the Mat-Su Health Foundation. Nevertheless, the July 11 email to members claimed the board is “deeply committed to hearing more from our members and the wider Mat-Su community and will be seeking greater insight and depth regarding your reflections on our work.”

In order to “facilitate open dialogue,” the board will host a series of “Community Listening Sessions” in September and October.

“We genuinely value your input and believe these sessions will provide an ideal platform for members and community stakeholders to share their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions,” the board stated. “We will make every effort to ensure these sessions are inclusive, engaging, and respectful spaces for open dialogue.”

Founded to promote the health and wellbeing of Mat-Su residents, the foundation has ballooned its assets to almost a quarter of a billion dollars by capturing 35% of the annual profits from Mat-Su Regional Hospital. Much of this money is redistributed to myriad nonprofit and educational groups that align with the health foundation’s philosophy and ideology.

In addition to funding noncontroversial scholarships and community programs, the health foundation also backs critical race theory workshops for educators, funds LGBTQ advocacy events and works with hard leftist organizations in an attempt to undercut the largely conservative social environment of the Mat-Su.  

The Mat-Su Health Foundation’s official membership consists of about 360 members, comprised of Mat-Su residents, ages 18 and older who fill out a one-page form and pay a $5 annual fee. Many of these members have only just recently joined with the hope of steering the organization in a direction that reflects the values of the majority of the largely conservative Mat-Su.


— Click here to become a voting member of the Mat-Su Health Foundation.

— To contact Mat-Su Health Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Ripley, email or call (907) 373-2805

— Click here to contact other members of the Mat-Su Health Foundation administration.

— Click here to see who serves on the Mat-Su Health Foundation Board of Directors.

— Click here to apply to serve on the Mat-Su Health Foundation Board of Directors.

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Mat-Su Health Foundation to hold ‘listening sessions’ amid criticism over leftist activism

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.