Karen Hein

“I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world. I may not complete this last one but I will give myself to it.” – Maria Rilke


Haikus are a form of Japanese poetry characterized by their brevity and depth, consisting of three lines with a syllable count of 5-7-5. Traditionally, they emphasize nature, the seasons, or ephemeral moments, capturing profound emotions or contemplative insights. These poems aim to convey a vivid impression in few words, often invoking a specific emotional response or a reflective thought. While rooted in Japanese culture, haikus have gained global popularity, adapting to various themes and languages while maintaining their distinctive concise format.

Indigo Shibori Dyeing

Indigo Shibori dyeing is a Japanese dyeing technique that produces beautiful colors using a special indigo dye. There are many ways to create these patterns, but the three used in my projects are Arashi, Katano and Shashiko”

Fiber Art

Beginning in the season when the maple sap is flowing in early spring, hand-combing each of my 12 Cashmere Goats with a long-tined comb I got from the Central Market in UlaanBaatar (Mongolia). After a process of dehairing and cleaning, I hand spin yarn from pencil rovings into single ply cashmere yarn. My goats’ cashmere (soft undercoat separated from the rougher guard hairs) is either white, grey, or cinnamon colored. It is said that “Wearing cashmere is like wearing smoke” ….so light, warm, nourishing. My mentor, Katharine Cobey changed my life by demonstrating the power of knitting as a sculptural art. Garments and pieces that are statements of power, connection and meaning.


I always carry my iPhone. I walk over 6 miles each day open to what will appear in thought, image, and inspiration as I wander. There is always a surprise—an owl or red-tailed hawk suddenly entering my line of sight. A sunrise or storm or reflection that I want to be able to share. So far, I have 65,000 photos in I-Cloud—-16,000 “favorites.” I edit to get the image to transmit what I see in my mind’s eye.


“Be water” advises Bruce Lee.  I try to honor that idea in my watercolor small paintings of what catches my mind’s eye.

Humanitarian Work

I have traveled to programs in Africa, South America, Central, and East Asia as well as within the USA and Europe to improve their policies and help them better serve those who need assistance.


Over 5 decades, I have been part of efforts to improve health systems internationally, nationally, and locally. This work has been from a variety of settings including academia, state & federal government, ‘think tanks,’ philanthropy and not-for-profit organizations both domestic and global.

Youth Development

Originally trained as a pediatrician, my specialty fellowship training was in Adolescent Medicine.  This phase of life, characterized by rapid growth and change in body, mind, abilities, and societal role combines the medical and behavioral sciences, and was a new discipline when I was trained in the 1970’s. My research, program development and policy work focused on the unique considerations and contributions of young people, often in partnership with those most affected.


Working to create programs to address the unmet needs of underserved communities, we were able to elevate their plight and improve their circumstances to improve their health, bring more resources to support them and even act as inspiration for others to replicate model programs to prevent as well ameliorate these circumstances.

Ralph Dell – Living and Dying as Part of Life’s Cycle

Ralph Bishop Dell, 84, a research scientist, physician and biomathematical modeling expert; a lifelong outdoorsman and craftsman; and devoted husband, father, and grandfather, died in the loving embrace of his wife, Karen Hein, MD, and his children and grandchildren, at his home on February 11, 2020, from progressive dementia.


We blended our families into the Hein-Dell clan over the 4 decades we were together, our redheads (Molly Hein & Ethan Hein) and our blonds (Laura Dell and Kenny Dell) now expanded to include grandkids (Bernadetta and Milo Pomykala-Hein, Ramona Hein-Griffin, Olivia and Zoe Barker-Dell.)


Awards, Honors, Visiting and Named Lectureships

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