A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Fred Karnas

Senior Fellow, The Kresge Foundation

Funders Together Vice-Chair


Fred Karnas joined The Kresge Foundation staff in 2013. He is a Senior Fellow in the Executive Office of the foundation, where he serves as a senior adviser to the foundation’s Human Services and Health teams, and supports the executive team in special initiatives and cross-program collaborations. He brings a long history of work on issues related to the intersection of housing, health, and human services, with a special focus on addressing the needs of vulnerable populations.

Prior to joining Kresge, he served as president and CEO of St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, a foundation based in Phoenix. Fred provided leadership for grant-making, policy analysis, capacity building and community development work, all focused on creating healthy communities.

Fred has been a senior adviser to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan in the Obama administration, serving as HUD's liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services on issues affecting homeless persons, older Americans and persons with disabilities. Previously, he served as deputy assistant secretary for special needs at HUD, director of the Office of AIDS Housing, and acting executive director of the Interagency Council on the Homeless in the Clinton administration. He also served as Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano’s policy adviser on urban affairs and in her cabinet as director of the Arizona Department of Housing and executive director of the Arizona Housing Finance Authority.

His nonprofit work has included service as executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, a Washington-based advocacy group, the Central Florida Coalition for the Homeless in Orlando and the Community Housing Partnership in Phoenix, as well time at Area Agencies on Aging in Arizona and Virginia, He holds a bachelor’s of city planning degree from the University of Virginia School of Architecture, and a master’s of social work degree and a certificate in gerontology from Virginia Commonwealth University. He earned a doctoral degree from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech.


We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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