Anna Kinder 2023 Distinguished Alumna

By: Lisa S. Icenogle
Photo of Anna Kinder.

(Casper College photo/Christopher Lorenzen)

Anna Kinder, Casper-Natrona County Health Department director, has been selected to receive the Casper College Alumni Association’s 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award.

In 2020, everyday life changed with COVID-19. Darren Divine, Ph.D., president of Casper College, wanted the college open to students for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. He relied on many people to help him accomplish that goal. Anna Kinder was one of those.

While other schools were struggling with reopening their campus for the fall semester, Divine was determined to have Casper College return to normalcy. He announced in an email to employees in July “… our final reopening plan for the fall 2020 semester,” adding, “… we have worked with the Natrona County Health Department on this plan.”

It was Divine who nominated Kinder for the Casper College honor, saying, “The leadership and assistance she provided the college and the community during COVID was a huge inspiration to me! She always went above and beyond her job and tried to balance controlling the disease while allowing the college to stay open and function. She was always helping us put the needs of our students first,” he added.

“The first interaction that I had with the college, in the beginning, was Brandon Kosine, vice president for academic affairs, reaching out to see if we could figure out a way for paramedic students to complete their testing so that they could enter the workforce,” Kinder recalled. With the shortage of health care providers, Kinder wanted to try and figure out a solution for the college. “I worked with the county health officers to develop a way for them to take their test safely for the students and the faculty,” said Kinder

Around this time, Kinder began working with a team pulled together by former Vice President of Student Services Kim Byrd and Rhonda Franzen, director of human resources. Kinder brought her health department team to several in-person meetings at Casper College, and they participated in several Zoom meetings. “We discussed everything from cleaning processes in classes, the dorms, and the current guidelines and recommendations. It was in one of those meetings that I first met President Divine. His presence really requested keeping the semester going,” she said.

According to Kinder, it was Divine who “… helped move mountains by giving us access to the college fire house for drive-thru testing. It was a very giving partnership; he always asked what he could do.” The Casper College Firehouse location opened in September 2020. While the CNCHD no longer uses the firehouse, Kinder noted it was “ … a great asset where we did COVID testing and flu shots.”

Dr. Mark Dowell, Natrona County health officer and infectious diseases specialist agreed with Kinder to do “… what was possible to help the college because he knew they were working to follow the guidelines,” said Kinder. “We, the employees of the CNCHD, did mass testing in the dorms, worked for athletics to continue or to travel, and then worked with vaccines. We also used college nursing students to help with vaccinations,” Kinder said.

“I could babble on and on, but there are a lot of memory blocks because it was a horrible time — it is tough for me to put things into words about that time — I can’t describe it sometimes,” Kinder concluded.

The Distinguished Alumni Award winners are nominated by their peers and chosen by the Casper College Alumni Association board of directors.

Media contact: Lisa S. Icenogle

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