Krista Brinly Hensel '00

A Healthy, Happy Life

Known at Trinity as ‘Sleepless in Prassel’ for her penchant to stay up all night, Krista Hensel has harnessed that energy to help others navigate our very complicated health care system.  Focused on exceptional hospice care and improved patient-physician communication, Krista’s niche in life is putting others before herself. 

By Donna Parker

Krista Brinly Hensel, who received double bachelor degrees in marketing and in communication from Trinity in 2000, paid close attention to a favorite quote of Coleen Grissom, department of English: “Figure out what you care about and live a life that shows it.”

Krista’s one of the fortunate few who hops in her car each morning knowing she’ll love what’s on the other end.

“I’ve recently started a new position as vice president for sales optimization for UnitedHealth Group (UHG), and I am so blessed to love what I do, which is to help people live healthier lives,” says Krista enthusiastically.

“You know, it’s funny—I started Trinity as pre-med, but I was miserable spending nights in the lab, realizing that I needed interaction with people.  Since then, I’ve discovered that you don’t have to be a clinician to make a difference in the health care industry—you just have to be passionate.”

This passion led directly to Krista being honored with the UnitedHealth Group Living the Mission award in May.  Ever humble, Krista says she sees many people living the mission, but co-workers pay tribute to her for bringing passion to all she does, which results in inspiring others to team up with her and accomplish the mission of helping others both in her work and in her community.

Krista says she loves the fact that UHG’s mission is “helping people live healthier lives,” which enables her to stay focused on people and improve their health care experience.

This industrious leader who earned her MBA at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University also just completed an executive development program on the job, where she worked with a team to solve an internal organizational problem before presenting the solution to the CEO.

She jokingly explains that this “on the go” behavior was hatched when she was an RA in Prassel dorm for two years, earning her the nickname “Sleepless in Prassel.”

“The residents always knew they could come see me because they knew I’d be up!”

Although she is often quite busy, Krista and her husband, Drew, do find time to indulge their love of travel—something she jokingly calls “forced relaxation.”

Because her husband has consulted across Europe, they’ve traveled extensively in Paris, Brussels and other countries, but find themselves delighted to live in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes.

“I live six blocks south of a lake and routinely jog with my dog around first thing each morning.  Then it’s onto a UHG telesales call before spending the rest of my day developing strategies and resolving problems.  In the evenings, I relax with my husband, go to a church leadership meeting or an Allina Hospice Foundation Board meeting.”

Krista was an active contributor while still a Trinity student, volunteering with TUVAC and also working at Tiger TV and for fun—participating in Hallympics.  She always found time to visit San Antonio’s Alamo Café for the world’s best warm tortillas.

“The truth is that I’ve used so many skills I learned as a Trinity student.  I fell in love with the finance courses that Dr. Daniel Walz, department of business administration, taught.  In addition, I didn’t understand the value of my management classes under Dr. Rita Kosnik, department of business administration, until joining the work force which demanded those organizational skills that I learned.”

This self-described energetic optimist is on a mission—following her passion for improved health care.  And, even though married to a dedicated Aggie, says her future children will one day walk the same halls at Trinity that she did.

You may contact Krista at:  khensel2006@kellogg.northwestern.edu

After reading this story if you feel strongly about any Trinity alumni who the Alumni Office should profile in future AlumNet issues, please submit your suggestions.  We are looking for suggestions in these four categories:  1) recent grads, 2) grads who innovate, 3) grads in business, and 4) grads who serve the world. Feel free to nominate yourself if you fall in these categories. -- AlumNet Moderator