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Honoring Bernadette Christiansen, Our Friend and Colleague

With heavy hearts, we share the news that our beloved friend and former colleague, Bernadette Christiansen, has passed away. Bernadette was a long-serving vice president of operations at McKnight who retired in 2019 after receiving a diagnosis of advanced cancer.

Bernadette, as a leader and friend, was incredibly generous, fair, trustworthy, and kind. She had a lasting impact on McKnight and all the lives she touched. In her time at the Foundation, she fostered a high-trust, high-performance work culture, and championed diversity, equity, and inclusion—working to grow our team’s intercultural competency. We deeply appreciate her devoted and diligent service to the Foundation, and how she performed her duties with care and compassion.

Bernie was an avid reader, a traveler, and a talented textile artist. She loved the arts and walking in nature. And she always had treats at the ready for our office canine family. Here are some of the words her colleagues used to describe her when she retired:

Caringly candid. Always looking out for people.

One of the most open and honest listeners I’ve ever met.

Deeply compassionate, hilarious, with a big heart.

A relationship builder extraordinaire—everyone feels connected to her and knows they can rely on her.

A great warrior—courageous, warm, wise.

We carry forward our great gratitude to Bernadette, and we send our deepest sympathies to her family and the many people who loved her.

November 2021