Karen Lis, R.D.

Karen Lis succeeds at Minneapolis VA by earning the respect of her staff.

Why Selected?

Tonia Dockter, director, nutrition and food services, says: Karen has taken on her position with a flurry of activity that has been seamlessly implemented despite union presence. Karen supervises a staff that is about 95% more senior to her in years. She has earned the respect of all through learning her position while getting to know the staff. She willingly covers supervisor shifts and line positions just because the job needs to be done.


Operations Manager, Minneapolis VA Medical Center, Minneapolis
Age: 28
Education: Dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout; master’s from Ashford University
Years at organization: 6

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

2011 was a really busy year. We really implemented a lot of changes. We started a new meal delivery system. We expanded our nourishment and snack offerings to patients. We developed a new training program to improve our employee satisfaction as well as prepare for some succession. We procured lots of new equipment.

Q. What would you say you excel at over more seasoned colleagues?

My flexibility and adaptability in handling situations. I tend to look at many different possibilities to find the best solution before being set in a way or saying this is the way we’ve always done it.

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

Making decisions isn’t always going to be easy, but as long as you go home knowing you’ve considered all the different options and you’ve given it your best effort, it will all work out and fall into place.

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

Developing myself professionally in a relatively new career path and at the same time trying to help others find their niche in their own careers.

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

Looking back and realizing how much we have accomplished, I’ve always been so impressed with our staff. We really have rolled out so many new things and made changes and they take it in stride and focus on serving the veterans.

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

I’m really looking forward to taking some time and going back to the basics and strengthening the bones of our department.

Q. What can you look back at now and laugh at?

All the time I spent worrying about things and planning things down to the very last detail. I’m very much a type A personality. I sometimes forget how resourceful the staff really is. Sometimes things will fall into place naturally and everything doesn’t have to be perfect and planned from the get-go.

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