Remembering Steve Coen

The Kansas Leadership Center mourns the loss of Steve Coen, former president and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation and visionary co-founder of the Kansas Leadership Center, who died on February 25. A proud native of St. John, Kansas, he studied law and set up practice in his home town, serving as legal counsel for the hospital, school and city. Steve went on to become state director and legislative assistant to Senator Bob Dole. Joining the Kansas Health Foundation in 1987, he spent the next 33 years there, including 10 as CEO, working to improve the health of all Kansans.*

Upon his retirement in 2019, the Sedgwick County Commission honored Steve with a Lifetime Commitment to Public Service award. Among his many contributions to the state, the Kansas Leadership Center is especially grateful to Steve for his pioneering role in the creation of a unique leadership development center to benefit all Kansans in 2007.

When sharing Steve’s passing to staff, KLC President and CEO Ed O’Malley noted, “Steve was an incredible champion for the Kansas Leadership Center. Over the years he became an amazing, personal friend as well. His faith in me inspired me to push our organization ever higher. I am thankful for his dedication to KLC and his unwavering belief in us. He knew we could and would accomplish great things. He empowered us and knew that doing so would enable us to create something without precedent in Kansas, if not the world. Let’s keep at it, friends. There’s much to do and our friend Steve knows we can do it. Onward!”

KLC paid tribute to Steve at its first annual meeting in October 2019. This video excerpt from the Big Tent Main Event features Ed presenting a special scrap book to Steve on that occasion. Steve said, “The Big Tent that this has all become is simply an amazing thing. We had no idea it would ever be this big and so successful.”

Rest in peace, Steve. 

*Details of Steve’s career come from the obituary for his memorial service.