Karen Waldbillig Kasich

Karen Waldbillig Kasich became First Lady of Ohio in January 2011 when her husband, John R. Kasich, was sworn in as the state’s 69th governor. Married in 1997, Mr. and Mrs. Kasich have two daughters, Emma and Reese.

Born and raised in Upper Arlington, Mrs. Kasich earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from The Ohio State University. Before beginning her most important role as mother to her children, Mrs. Kasich's career spanned nearly two decades in healthcare, public relations and marketing. She last served as a vice president with GSW Worldwide, a health care advertising agency.

Being a passionate mother to her children is Mrs. Kasich’s top priority. That said she is honored as First Lady of Ohio to have the opportunity to increase awareness on topics that are near and dear to her, including children’s wellness and women’s heart health. As part of those efforts, she serves as statewide ambassador for After-School All-Stars Ohio, a program that provides at-risk students with after-school academic support, mentoring, and fitness activities in a safe environment. Both Mrs. Kasich and her husband have toured the state to raise awareness about Ohio’s youth drug prevention program, Start Talking!, which encourages parents, teachers, and other adult authority figures to have open conversations with adolescents about choosing a substance-free life.

Having served as honorary co-chair on the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force, Mrs. Kasich continues her involvement with this issue by promoting the ABCs of infant safe sleep, along with other steps that can be taken to help ensure every Ohio baby celebrates its first birthday.

A family history of heart disease drives the First Lady’s commitment to raise awareness about the importance of heart health. An avid runner, Mrs. Kasich notes that heart disease is largely preventable through diet and exercise. She has supported efforts of the American Heart Association and is currently working with The Ohio State University’s College of Nursing and the Million Hearts Campaign to promote health screenings that aid in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

Mrs. Kasich is a tireless advocate for teaching children at an early age about having healthy eating habits and regular exercise. She is proud of her partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to create Time for 10!, an exercise video that encourage physical activity in Ohio’s elementary-age students.

As a life-long lover of the arts, Mrs. Kasich was inspired to create Spotlight: Featured Artists at the Ohio Governor’s Residence, which promotes the wealth of artistic talent in Ohio. The program, developed in partnership with the Ohio Arts Council and launched in September 2013, features the works of one selected Ohio artist each quarter in the foyer of the Ohio Governor’s Residence.

Over the next four years, First Lady Kasich will continue to focus on these and other initiatives that promote the overall health and well-being of Ohio’s children and their families.

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Healthy Hearts

With a strong family history of heart disease, heart health is a very personal issue for Ohio's First Lady. The recent loss of her mother to complications of congestive heart failure left Mrs. Kasich more committed than ever to empowering women to learn more about heart disease.

The majority of heart failures are largely preventable. Given the right tools and support, we can make a difference—not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of those we love.

Healthy Starts

Our children deserve a healthy start. The benefits of good health affect every facet of a child's life, from his or her ability to learn to the prevention of illness and disease—both early in life and later as an adult.

We want to encourage our children to make healthy choices whenever possible, while recognizing that many children aren't afforded the choice. That's why we work closely with a number or organizations across the spectrum, all dedicated to providing Ohio's children with better beginnings and a better future.


Is there an organization in your community dedicated to women's heart health or children's wellness? We'd love to learn more about it! Please contact us.