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

Fred Karnas

Senior Fellow, Richmond Memorial Health Foundation


Fred Karnas is a Senior Fellow at the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation (RMHF) where he supports the organization’s efforts at the intersection of health and housing. He brings a long history of work in the areas of housing, health, and human services, with a special focus on addressing the needs of homeless persons, older Americans and persons with disabilities.

He joined RMHF from The Kresge Foundation where he served as an adviser to the foundation’s six program area teams on issues related to housing.  Prior to joining Kresge, Fred was president and CEO of St. Luke’s Health Initiatives (now the Vitalyst Health Foundation) based in Phoenix focused on creating healthy communities.

Previously, Fred was appointed by President Obama to the role of senior adviser to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, where he served as HUD's liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services and as the department’s liaison to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.  He also served in the Clinton Administration as deputy assistant secretary for special needs at HUD, director of the Office of AIDS Housing, and executive director of the Interagency Council on the Homeless (now USICH).

Prior roles include serving in Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano’s cabinet as director of the Arizona Department of Housing and the Arizona Housing Finance Authority. He also co-chaired the Arizona State Interagency and Community Council on Homelessness. Before joining Gov. Napolitano’s cabinet, he served as a policy advisory to the governor, staffing the Arizona Council on Medical Education and Research which the governor chaired, and serving as Acting Director of the Governor’s Council on Aging.

Fred’s nonprofit work has included service as executive director of several housing and human service organizations including the National Coalition for the Homeless, a Washington-based advocacy group. He currently serves on the boards of Funders Together to End Homelessness, Charlottesville Habitat for Humanity and the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care. Fred holds a bachelor of city planning degree from the University of Virginia School of Architecture, an MSW from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a PhD 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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