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Rhiana Menen, 2019 Accomplished Under 40

Rhiana Menen

37 • General and breast cancer surgeon •

St. Luke’s Hospital • Boise

Rhiana Menen draws energy from being involved in big projects and solving problems, and it shows. Her penchant for active engagement in good causes shows up in every part of her life.

Menen has worked for a variety of causes, ranging from environmental stewardship to elementary school education and international health care.

“The more things I get done, the more energy I have,” she says.

Her biggest community contribution, however, has been in her role as general and breast cancer surgeon at St. Luke’s Hospital. The work keeps her on the forefront of cancer research, and it allows her to help women during some of the most difficult moments of their lives.

Menen’s work as a surgeon also has impact hospital-wide. She is one of only two fellowship-trained breast surgeons in Idaho, and is working with Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI) to create an innovative multidisciplinary breast cancer care environment that rivals any city in the country. She is also on the board of Expedition Inspiration, a breast cancer research foundation with a stated goal of finding a cure in our lifetimes.

In addition to being a full-time surgeon, Menen spends time volunteering at Garfield Elementary School in Boise. The Title I school serves a significant refugee population, and 21% percent of students are learning to speak English as a second language. Menen’s two boys, ages 7 and 8, attend the school, and its diversity is an important part of the reason why, she explains.

“I think my main job as a parent is creating good citizens,” she says.

In addition to weekly visits to the school, Menen is working to win grants and public and private funds so the school can build an exercise track.

“Such a project enriches the lives of school children, the elderly, and families with a focus on outdoor health, combatting obesity, and increasing outdoor community space for an often-overlooked population,” she writes in her application.

Recently, Menen has added yet another cause to her philanthropic efforts: Days for Girls. As a 2019 ambassador, she has been trained to provide sexual and health education as well as menstrual kits to developing nations.

Menen’s work with women, and on their behalf, has become a theme in her life, she says.

“I have become such an advocate of strong women and a strong woman myself because I have such amazing female mentors, like my grandmother and my mom,” she says. “I never felt like I couldn’t do something, because they always told me I could.”

If all that weren’t enough, Menen also travels to Kenya once a year with the Matibabu Foundation to both perform surgeries and train local doctors, and she is a founding board member of Idaho Business for the Outdoors (IBO), a nonprofit coalition of businesses committed to preserving and enhancing the quality and accessibility of Idaho’s outdoors.

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