Real Wives of Sacramento - Katy Carlsen, MD FAAP

Article Michele Giacomini | Photography Steven Hellon

Mother, wife and foster care advocate, Katy Carlsen is a pediatric doctor who shows that there’s more to life than just “giving at the office.”

Over 30 years ago, Katy met the love of her life, founder and past CEO of Sleep Train, Dale Carlsen. As for her marriage to the Sacramento State alumni, she recounts, “(It) occurred after quite some time apart while I pursued a career in medicine and he grew his business.” She reminisces, “We were friends first during a six year period but, I knew the minute I met him that he was the man I wanted to marry. It took him those six years to figure it out!”

That time was well served while Katy pursued her career as a general pediatrician. But life as a doctor has not been status quo for her. When she returned to Sacramento in 1991, the following decade would see a whirlwind of changes for her. She started a pediatric practice, gave birth to her two children and took a position at Kaiser Permanente. Life was running at full speed for Katy and she knew something had to change. She explains, ”I loved being a general pediatrician and caring for children, but by 2001, my own children were ages three and five, and Dale’s career had really taken off with expansion of the business into the Pacific Northwest. So I made a significant career path change at this point to be able to spend more time home with my own children.” She continues, “I resigned my position with Kaiser and began increasing my volunteer clinical faculty work at UC Davis Medical Center teaching pediatrics to resident doctors in training.”

Little did she know this decision would spark something extremely meaningful in her life. Katy shares, “I was approached by California Children’s Services (CCS) in Placer County to become their medical consultant and took this very flexible part time job in the middle of 2001.” She says, “(My) career now focuses on the public health realm through a county based program which serves children with special health care needs and who qualify for the CCS program due to economic and residential criteria.”

Though she enjoys golfing and reading, you’ll most likely find Katy spending her spare time volunteering for the foster care committee with the American Academy of Pediatrics. (She also serves on two charitable Board of Directors). Further, she was president of the Ticket to Dream foundation board from 2008-2015.

This busy lifestyle of volunteerism and advocacy for foster youth has attributed to Katy being a recent recipient of the local Sacramento Children’s Museum Inspire Award, which is given to a someone who has been a significant contributor to the community. She says, “ I believe the Inspire award was based on my work as President of Ticket to Dream foundation. This foundation was established in conjunction with the Sleep Train foster kids program.” She humbly remarks, “I was President but cannot claim credit for founding this wonderful organization, as it was really the hard work of the employee owners of Sleep Train, as well as my husband, and his top team of executive leadership that instigated the founding of Ticket to Dream.”

Katy has grown to appreciate her community-oriented lifestyle here in the Sacramento area for the past 25 years. “I like the Sacramento region, which I have watched grow into a much more vibrant community with improved outreach to underserved communities. I do find Sacramento to be exciting with its location at the heart of the legislative body/governing circle of California. I also like its proximity to many wonderful areas including the mountains, and the Bay Area.”