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Karen Burden, WHF Vice-President of Finance

Ten Questions with Karen Burden, Williamsburg Health Foundation


Stephanie Sabin  April 1,2024 

HISTORIC TRIANGLE — “Ten Questions with” is a series that allows readers to get to know local business leaders, volunteers and community members in the Historic Triangle.

This week, meet Karen Burden.

What is your job title and description?

I’m the Vice President of Finance for the Williamsburg Health Foundation (WHF) and am responsible for the foundation’s investment, finance, audit, tax, and human resource functions.  

Who do you interact/work with regularly?

I oversee the foundation’s accountant and work closely with the foundation’s CEO and Chair of the Investment/Finance Committee. I routinely meet with the foundation’s Program Team to ensure we are on track to have the necessary funding for grantmaking.

How do you/your organization interact with the local community?

The foundation provides grants and other resources to 45 partner organizations in the area whose missions align with our purpose, improving the health and well-being of those living in greater Williamsburg. The foundation also serves as a convenor, networker, and technical assistance provider. 

What is something about your job most people wouldn’t know about?

Most people assume that as a nonprofit, that WHF staff and board members are responsible for fundraising. WHF is a healthcare conversion foundation that was formed when the Williamsburg Community Hospital merged with Sentara Healthcare in 1996. It became a private foundation in 2002. Per IRS regulations, as a private foundation, WHF is required to distribute 5% of its assets for charitable purposes each year. The foundation’s intent is to earn enough from its investments each year to exist in perpetuity. In the 27 years since its establishment, the foundation has invested over $106 million into the health and well-being of our community through partnerships with 193 organizations. 

How do you define success?

When I think about success, I envision having done something that I was passionate about so that in looking back I can honestly say that I am happy and proud about how I chose to spend my time.

What is your most successful accomplishment to date?

Of course, I think my children are my biggest accomplishment, but I also find great satisfaction in how I came to be in my current role with WHF. After graduating from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Finance, I worked full-time and completed the College of William and Mary’s Part-Time MBA Program. I advanced in my career for years after that but chose to take on part-time roles once I had my children. I spent over 15 years working part time, volunteering and raising a family before I returned to work full time. Being VP of Finance at WHF is a perfect blend of my education, work experience and my desire to give back to others and I feel lucky to be a part of it.

How long have you lived/worked in the Historic Triangle?

I moved to Williamsburg in 1997 when I married my husband, Parker Burden.

What is your favorite part of being in the Historic Triangle?

I like the variety of outdoor activities such as walking on DoG Street, going to the farmers market, hiking on trails, and relaxing along the Colonial Parkway.

What do you do for downtime/to relax?

I enjoy exercising and spending time outside with friends and family.

What is the next step in your journey?

I’m in the empty nest stage of my life with my daughter at James Madison University and my son having graduated from Virginia Tech. I completed the LEAD Greater Williamsburg class in 2023 and it was extremely rewarding, so I’m looking for more ways to give back to the local community. 


The Williamsburg Health Foundation (WHF) is a non-profit private legacy health foundation with the mission to collaborate, innovate, and invest to impact systems that improve the health and well-being of individuals living in Greater Williamsburg. The Foundation was established in 1996 when the Williamsburg Community Hospital and Sentara formed a merger that included a provision for a new, locally organized, and managed Foundation to benefit community health. Since inception, WHF has awarded over $106 M in grants to improve community health and well-being.