Foundation Welcomes New and Returning Board Members


Missouri Foundation for Health is proud to welcome the four newest members of its Board of Directors. Alan R. Barnette, Donna E. Checkett, John Hickey, and Vetta Sanders Thompson were nominated and voted into the 15-member group, effective January 1, 2019.  Hickey previously served on the Foundation’s Community Advisory Council. In addition, incumbent Janet Gooch was reelected to the Board. All five members will serve terms of three years.

Dr. Alan Barnette is a neonatologist at Saint Francis Healthcare System in Cape Girardeau, where he cares for critically ill infants in the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Barnette earned an engineering degree from Washington University, a medical degree from the University of Mississippi, and a pediatric residency and a neonatology fellowship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He has worked with Missouri Foundation for Health to reduce infant mortality through Bootheel Babies and Families since 2013. Continuing to partner with caregivers throughout southeast Missouri, Barnette is cultivating projects to optimize infant vitality and save infant lives. Current projects focus on safe-sleep education, baby Boxinette distribution, and systematic improvements in vaccine administration.

Donna Checkett is a nationally known expert in Medicaid programs, insurance coverage, policies, and reimbursement with more than 30 years of experience in this complex field. Over the course of her career she has held a variety of senior positions, including serving for eight years as the Missouri Medicaid director. In addition, Checkett started and, for seven years, directed Missouri Care, a Medicaid health plan. She has also held several executive positions with Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies, where her work focused on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Currently she is a vice president at Health Management Associates, a national consulting company focused on publicly funded health care.

John Hickey is the Missouri chapter director for the Sierra Club, the nation‘s largest grassroots environmental organization. He is a native St. Louisan who has worked as a community organizer for over 30 years, working with a range of organizations that advocate for greater health care access for low-income people and for cleaner air and water to promote public health. Hickey earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and is the proud father of two sons.


Vetta L. Sanders Thompson is the E. Desmond Lee Professor of Racial and Ethnic Studies at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. She is committed to research, interventions, and engagement to support community efforts to achieve equity in health and well-being. She is a noted researcher in the areas of racial identity, experiences of discrimination, psychosocial implications of race and ethnicity in health promotion and the social determinants of health, and mental health services utilization. Sanders Thompson serves as a co-director of the Institute for Public Health Center for Community Health, Partnership and Research. An associate member of the Siteman Cancer Center, she also works closely with the Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities. At Washington University, Sanders Thompson is a faculty affiliate of the department of African and African-American studies and the interdisciplinary program in urban studies.

The Board of Directors’ Executive Committee also changed, reflecting the new elections. Janet Gooch is the new chairperson, Andwele Jolly is vice chairperson, Connie Cunningham is secretary, Tim Shryack is treasurer, and Joan Bray is member-at-large. To learn about the backgrounds of the Executive Committee and other Board members, click here.

About the Board of Directors: Board members must have demonstrated an ability to contribute perspective in either health care access for the poor and uninsured; affordable care for the poor and uninsured; health promotion in underserved communities; health care quality and outcome improvement; health care needs of women, children, the elderly, low income, ethnic, and cultural minorities; health education; or general issues of public health. Prospective Board members are identified, screened and nominated by the Foundation’s 13-member Community Advisory Council. Applicants must be Missouri residents and live within the Foundation’s service region of 84 counties and the city of St. Louis. Learn more and see a full list of Board members by visiting the Board of Directors page.