Kathleen Annette, a physician and longtime administrator of federal Indian Health Services programs, will become the new CEO of the Blandin Foundation next month.

She will succeed Jim Hoolihan, who has led the foundation since 2004. He plans to return to his family business.

"I was looking for a change,'' said Annette, currently the deputy director of field operations for Indian Health Services, overseeing 238 health clinics and 48 hospitals around the country.

"I've essentially lived in rural Minnesota my whole life,'' said Annette, of Bemidji. "This is near and dear to my heart.''

Annette is a familiar face at Blandin. She served on the board of directors for 12 years, ending in 2003, and chaired the foundation's American Indian Advisory Committee since 2004.

She holds a medical degree from the University of Minnesota.

Hoolihan, meanwhile, will return to the business that his family has run for 40-some years, Industrial Lubricant Co., based in Grand Rapids. With a new generation of family members coming on board, Hoolihan said, "I wanted to be there for them.''

Hoolihan, a former mayor of Grand Rapids, had held leadership roles at the foundation for nearly two decades, serving 12 years on the board and seven as CEO. He said that when he became CEO in 2004, the expectation was that it would be for a limited tenure.

"That gave a sense of urgency to the work,'' he said.

During his leadership, the foundation approved nearly $100 million in grants. Hoolihan said he's most proud of the partnerships Blandin developed and nurtured in communities.

He's particularly pleased with the "Invest Early'' initiative, a 10-year, $1.5 million collaborative to reach children at risk of not being kindergarten-ready.

Hoolihan said he will continue working at Blandin through September, when Annette comes on board, to help with the transition.

JEAN HOPFENSPERGER • 612-673-4511