Karen Odegaard

Associate Researcher


(608) 265-6486

Karen Odegaard, MPH
UW Population Health Institute
610 Walnut Street, 530 WARF
Madison, WI 53726

Karen is an Action Learning Coach on the Robert Wood Johnson funded County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program. Karen’s role is to provide strategic guidance to communities that wish to put the County Health Rankings into action to improve health and advance equity. She is part of a team that develops online tools to connect communities to evidence-informed strategies and community change resources, fosters peer learning and connections, delivers knowledge and skill-building session, and recognizes and celebrates health improvement.

Karen’s professional experience prior to joining the Population Health Institute has included work at various levels within non-profit, local and state government, and university settings, to help communities address and improve their quality of life. This has involved work addressing multiple health factors including access to health care, physical activity and nutrition, social support, and physical environments. Karen began her career as a journalist for a mid-sized newspaper in Wisconsin. Her experience outside the newsroom includes work with neighborhood-based organizations in Green Bay to improve low-income communities, with school districts and a state-wide coalition to ensure that Wisconsin families and children are able to gain access to health insurance programs, and with a variety of local community coalitions and statewide organizations to create policy and environmental changes related to physical activity in schools and child care centers. These diverse experiences have fostered her expertise and passion for empowering communities to utilize existing assets in tandem with evidence-informed practices to meet stakeholder needs and improve community health.

Karen received a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in print journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.