Minnesota Public Health Association

Since 1907, MPHA has been dedicated to creating a healthier Minnesota through effective public health practice and engaged citizens. 

MPHA Press Releases & LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

  • June 24, 2022 8:27 AM | Anonymous

    Minneapolis, Minn. – The Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA) presented the 2022 MPHA Awards during the group’s Annual Business Meeting on June 23, 2022. The MPHA awards are presented each year to leaders across Minnesota who are passionate advocates for public health and greater health equity. This year, two new awards and a certificate of appreciation were presented. 

    The Laura Waterman Wittstock Racial Justice & Health Equity Award was presented to Mary Manning, the Assistant Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health. “We are thrilled to be presenting for the first time the Laura Waterman Wittstock Award to Mary Manning, Assistant Commissioner of Health,” said Ann Zukoski, DrPH, MPH, MPHA Leadership Committee co-chair. “Manning has demonstrated a commitment to advancing racial justice and health equity for American Indian, African American/Black, Latinx/Chicano Latino/Latino(a), Asian American, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities as well as individuals that are low-income, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and those with disabilities.”

    Tracy Gilsvik, Public Health Supervisor at Lake County, Minnesota, was presented the Dr. Harold 'Hal' Leppink Scholarshipfor extraordinary public health service during COVID. Gilsvik started her public health career in March 2020 and became a leader who substantively advanced the development of her public health department by creating strong partnerships between local public and local health systems, and partnerships and positions where there were none.

    A Certificate of Appreciation - Outstanding Service to the Minnesota Public Health Association’s (MPHA) Racial and Health Equity Initiatives was presented to Morgan Mulhern, MPH, Project Manager of the Racial Equity and Advocacy Initiative at MPHA. Mulhern has successfully spearheaded a leadership development program for early-career professionals of color and/or American Indians and has shepherded an internal assessment of MPHA policies and practices and a membership poll on racism as public health.

    The B. Robert Lewis Award, which honors an elected official who has championed public health, was presented to Andrea Jenkins, the Minneapolis City Council President. Jenkins is the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to public office in the US, has advocated and secured the first full-time Transgender Equity Coordinator at the City of Minneapolis, and is committed to Racial, Economic, and Gender Justice. 

    Maria Veronica Svetaz, the Medical Director for Aqui Para Ti, was presented with the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Public Health Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to public health. A visionary and inclusive leader and advocate for racial justice and health equity throughout her career, Svetaz wears many different “hats” (physician and healer, leader, researcher, mentor and educator, and advocate) to advance racial equity for all youth with a special focus on Latine, low-income, and immigrant youth and families.

    This year’s Harvey G. Rogers Environmental Health Leadership Award recipient was Virginia ‘Ginny’ Yingling, a Hydrologist at the Minnesota Department of Health. Yingling has set herself apart during her distinguished career in environmental health by contributing to developing the state’s approach to PFAS contamination in Minnesota groundwater, co-leading the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council PFAS workgroup, and speaking in many national forums.

    The Albert Justus Chesley Award, which honors those who have made outstanding contributions to MPHA, was presented to Julie Myhre, retired from the Minnesota Department of Health and a Carlton, Cook, Lake, St. Louis Community Health Board member.Myhre is a mentor to many MPHA staff, an active memberof local, regional, and state organizations including LPHA, MNPA, and SCHSAX, a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow, and has long service to the public health field serving at local and state levels.

    Sabrina Wema Kubisa, a BA and MPH Student in Public Health at St. Catherine University, was the recipient of this year’s Student Achievement Award. Kubisa is part of the Young Women’s Initiative Cabinet through the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, was appointed to Governor’s Office in 2021, and advises on developing programming and distributing grants that address community-specific challenges and creating solutions that advance equity.

    The awards, which would typically be presented in person at the Annual Business Meeting, were announced over a video call. Those interested in learning more about MPHA’s awards and the nomination requirements can find more information on mpha.net.

    MPHA represents over 350 public health professionals from a range of organizations across the state including government, nonprofit and for-profit businesses. For more information on MPHA, please visit the Minnesota Public Health Association website.

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    About the Minnesota Public Health Association

    The Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA) represents over 350 public health professionals across the state of Minnesota who champion the health of our people and communities. The mission of the MPHA is to create a healthier Minnesota through effective public health practice and engaged citizens. For more information, visit www.mpha.net, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
  • April 06, 2022 10:06 AM | Anonymous

    The Minnesota Society for Public Health Education and Minnesota Public Health Association encourage celebration of National Public Health Week.

    Governor Tim Walz has issued a proclamation to designate April 4-11, 2022 as Public Health Week in Minnesota. The theme across the country is “Public Health Is Where You Are.” Where we live impacts our health and wellbeing. Together, we can make our communities healthier, stronger, and safer. When we have support within our communities, it can contribute  to a positive effect on both our physical and mental health.

    Over 400 members of the Minnesota Public Health Association and Minnesota Society for Public Health Education are partnering to educate the public about the value that public health brings to our state; acknowledge, lift and elevate our public health workforce who continues to mobilize communities for the protection and improvement of the public’s health, and inspire the next generation of public health workers in Minnesota.

    “Public health touches all parts of our lives,” says Elizabeth Moe, MPHA President, “The pandemic has taught us that. Public health workers monitor the air we breathe, the water we drink, the patterns and conditions that determine our health and well-being. Public health is about all of us.”

    Public health has played a key role to protect and improve the health of all Minnesotans by:

    • Working to immunize people against diseases and identifying factors that contribute to environmental health.
    • Improving the health of mothers and children.
    • Promoting health behaviors including increased physical activity, good nutrition, and smoking cessation
    • Developing strategies to detect and control disease
    • Sustaining healthy communities through regulation and promoting health equity
    • Being at the forefront of the pandemic response

    About the Sponsors

    About the Minnesota Society for Public Health Education (MN SOPHE)

    Minnesota SOPHE is 100% volunteer professional society; the state chapter of the National Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE).

    The purpose of MN SOPHE  is to provide a forum for health educators to network in their respective fields, to promote the professional growth of health educators and to stimulate communication and collaboration among health educators and to identify opportunities for collaboration between health education and other disciplines on issues of mutual public health concerns.

    About the Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA)

    Established in 1907, MPHA is a volunteer-driven organization representing a broad spectrum of community and health professionals on behalf of the public. It is an organization where public health workers from multiple disciplines and sectors come together around shared values and goals. MPHA engages and develops its members to mobilize the community to protect and improve the public’s health.

    Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA) works in partnership with other organizations and groups of organizations to achieve our mutual public health policy goals.

  • April 07, 2021 11:45 AM | Anonymous

    This article was published in MinnPost on April 7, 2021

    This week is National Public Health Week – an annual time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation. The field of public health may have been a bit overlooked in the past, but if there’s been any upside to the past year, it’s been the increased awareness and appreciation for public health professionals around the world.

    Public health professionals have been nothing short of heroes this past year, from the essential workers putting their lives on the line to keep us safe to others who have pivoted to working remotely while ensuring important health resources were still offered. Our public health workforce continues this hard work as the COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out across Minnesota.

    Without a doubt, the job of a public health professional is never easy. With a seemingly insurmountable list of issues, tight budgets, and limited resources, it can be overwhelming. Add to that a pandemic and the ongoing public health crisis of racism, and it’s easy to see why public health workers are so fatigued right now.

    The good news is public health programs across the country have seen a surge in students amid the pandemic. Schools using the common application – a universal application form that students can send to multiple schools — cited a 20% increase in applications to master’s in public health programs for the 2020 academic year. With this fresh vigor, we have a great opportunity to rebuild our workforce and ensure we’re ready before the next public health emergency inevitably crosses our path.

    Lessons learned

    There are a few lessons we can take into this next phase of rebuilding the workforce for public health. First and foremost, we need to rebuild with an emphasis on diversity. Public health is designed to serve the whole public, and that means having a workforce that represents the people we’re advocating for. If we want to address the disparities in our communities, we first need to do so in our workforce.

    Schools across our state — like St. Catherine’s University, St. Mary’s University, and the University of Minnesota — are taking some intentional steps to do just that. They are formalizing programs and strategic plans focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, this year the U of M’s School of Public Health has announced plans to establish the Center for Antiracism Research and Health Equity, which will advance racial equity through research and community-centered action. Within the Minnesota Public Health Association we are finalizing an Emerging Leaders Cohort focused on advancing health equity in public health practice. With these intentional actions, we’re all trying to do better at representing those who have been underrepresented in our field for far too long.

    Another important lesson we’ve learned from this pandemic is how easy it is to burn out – both in the public health profession and in others. While we continue to remain apart, public health professionals need to find ways to come together. From virtual coffee breaks with other public health professionals to special events that provide fresh perspectives, professional organizations like the Minnesota Public Health Association have never been more needed to refresh and recharge our worn-out workforce.

    As all of us, especially public health professionals, begin to emerge from the fog of this last year, it’s critical that we keep the spotlight shining on public health – and not just during National Public Health Week. The unfortunate reality is that it’s not a matter of if the next public health crisis will come, but when. And if we work together, we can ensure our public health workforce will be ready to tackle it – stronger than ever.

    Merry Grande is the executive director of the Minnesota Public Health Association. Kathleen Norlien is the president of the Minnesota Public Health Association.

  • July 21, 2020 11:32 AM | Anonymous

    Minneapolis, Minn. – The Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA) presented the 2020 MPHA Awards during the group’s Annual Business Meeting on July 21, 2020. The MPHA awards are presented each year to leaders across Minnesota who are passionate advocates for public health and greater health equity. 

    The B. Robert Lewis Award, which honors an elected official who has championed public health, was presented to Peggy Flanagan, Minnesota’s Lieutenant Governor. Lt. Gov. Flanagan has repeatedly distinguished herself as she pursues health equity for children, families, communities of color, American Indians, LGBTQ+ people and low-income and working people in Minnesota.

    CoCo Villaluz, associate director of health equity programs for ClearWay Minnesota, was presented with the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Public Health Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to public health. With more than 20 years’ experience in promoting health equity, Villaluz’s demeanor and talents have contributed to a strong, vibrant, and successful tobacco control movement in Minnesota’s Indian Country.

    This year’s recipient of the Harvey G. Rogers Environmental Health Leadership Award was Helen Goeden, Ph.D., epidemiologist for the Minnesota Department of Health. Goeden has set herself apart as an advocate for environmental health, advancing the field of toxicology and risk assessment in Minnesota, most notably related to the protection of infants and children from drinking water contaminants.

    The Albert Justus Chesley Award, which honors those who have made outstanding contributions to MPHA, was presented to MPHA’s policy forum organizers - Angeline Carlson, Ph.D., Lindsey Fabian, MPH, Jean Streetar, MS, CHES®, and Lia Burg, MS, CHES®. Thanks to their tireless efforts over the past nine years, MPHA’s quarterly forums continue to build excitement around important public health topics and increase MPHA’s visibility.

    Winnie Lindstrom, Ph.D. candidate for epidemiology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, was the recipient of this year’s Student Achievement Award. Lindstrom is currently a student intern for the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders group at the University of Minnesota and continues to prove herself to be a rising leader in the world of public health.

    “It is always exciting to honor Minnesota public health leaders who work tirelessly to advance health equity and improve the health of our communities,” said Ann Zukoski, DrPH, MPH, MPHA leadership committee co-chair. “These awards provide an opportunity to recognize people who have made great contributions to our state in the fields of environmental health, legislative policy and equity, and also to honor students who are future leaders."

    The awards, which would typically be presented in-person at the Annual Business Meeting, were announced over a video call. Those interested in learning more about MPHA’s awards and the nomination requirements, can find more information here.

    MPHA represents over 350 public health professionals from a range of organizations across the state including government, non-profit and for-profit businesses. For more information on MPHA, please visit the Minnesota Public Health Association website.

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    About the Minnesota Public Health Association

    The Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA) represents over 350 public health professionals across the state of Minnesota who champion the health of our people and communities. The mission of the MPHA is to create a healthier Minnesota through effective public health practice and engaged citizens. For more information, visit www.mpha.net, or connect with us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram.

  • April 12, 2020 11:41 AM | Anonymous
    MPHA's letter supporting the extension of Governor Walz' stay-at-home order was printed in the Mankato Free Press on April 12, 2020, and in the Brainerd Dispatch on April 15, 2020. 

    Thank you for your coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand that some state senators oppose the governor’s stay-at-home order.

    The Minnesota Public Health Association is a professional association representing a broad range of professionals dedicated to the health of all people who live in Minnesota. MPHA distinguishes itself from other organizations in that we are driven by science and the best public health practices.

    Political parties and personalities are never an aspect of our work. Based on all science and evidence since the pandemic began, we fully support the actions of the Gov. Tim Walz and his cabinet, including the Minnesota Commissioner of Health.

    We are fortunate in Minnesota that our leaders are providing phenomenal direction in an effort to save lives as evidenced by recent reductions in the growth of new cases and deaths. The governor has demonstrated keen attention to the advice of experts and a willingness to balance their concerns with other stakeholders. The very idea that this pandemic poses little threat to rural Minnesota is ridiculous and dangerous.

    Relaxing the stay-at-home order would threaten lives and discussion of it could discourage rural residents from following it.

    Too many leaders avoid making tough calls in an effort not to upset others or for immediate gratification. In fact, hard decisions often get more complicated when they’re deferred.

    We urge elected officials to reconsider their position and defer to public health experts to mitigate COVID-19 in our state.

    Merry Grande

    MPHA executive director

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