Community Health Awards - Minnesota Dept. of Health

ImgCommunity Health Awards

"It is inspiring to hear the stories of these creative, dedicated people. There is so much good work taking place in public health, and it's important to take time to celebrate the accomplishments."
--Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger

The annual Community Health Awards recognize and acknowledge individuals or groups who make significant contributions to public health in Minnesota.

Recognition of these accomplishments by elected officials and local and state public health staff is a long standing and honorable tradition of the annual Community Health Conference.

Recipients of the awards are nominated by their peers. Nominations are received for review and selection by the SCHSAC Awards and Nominating Workgroup. Awards are presented by the Commissioner of Health at the conference.

2016 Community Health Award Recipients

Jim Parker Leadership Award

Laurel Hoff, Director of Anoka County Community Health and Environmental Services, received the Jim Parker Leadership Award for her commitment to public health and leadership in improving public health in Minnesota. Laurel has spent 38 years working in the field of public health, including leading two local health agencies in Minnesota. She is a strong advocate and distinguished leader in the field and is highly regarded by her colleagues as a true public health leader, mentor, and friend.

Learn More: Jim Parker Leadership Award

Jack Korlath Partnership Award

Karen Swenson, Director of Brown-Nicollet Environmental Health, received the Jack Korlath Partnership Award for her dedication to building and maintaining partnerships in the work she does. Karen has worked for Brown-Nicollet Environmental Health for 29 years. She has worked tirelessly for partnership between state and local environmental health programs through involvement in several committees and other efforts aimed at achieving better partnerships. Karen is well-respected and seen as a resources for state and local public health and environmental health professionals.

Learn More: Jack Korlath Partnership Award

Commissioner's Award for Distinguished Service in Community Health Services

LuAnn Reif, Professor, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, received the Commissioner's Award for Distinguished Service in Community Health Services for her dedication to advancing the field of public health and the public health workforce. For over 20 years, LuAnn has instilled her passion for public health in students and professionals both nationally and internationally. She was instrumental in revolutionizing the nursing curriculum at her institution so that students leave with an understanding of the value of public health and how it impacts the community. LuAnn’s peers and students say her spirit for public health is contagious.

Learn More: Commissioner's Award for Distinguished Service in Community Health Services

Lou Fuller Award for Distinguished Service in Eliminating Health Disparities

Nate Sandman, Associate Director of the Human Services Division of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, received the Lou Fuller Award for Distinguished Service in Eliminating Health Disparities for his work in eliminating commercial tobacco-related health disparities in the American Indian community over several decades. Nate’s thoughtful, strategic, and collaborative approach is the key to his success on the Fond du Lac Reservation. His achievements have led to the development of a culturally appropriate tobacco cessation curriculum and commercial tobacco policies, among other things.

Learn More: Lou Fuller Award for Distinguished Service in Eliminating Health Disparities

Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health

Rosemary Schultz, Jackson County Commissioner, received the Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health for her commitment and support of improving the health of citizens of all ages in Cottonwood and Jackson Counties. She has served on numerous local and state committees working on public health issues.  She is known as the “public health hero” of Des Moines Valley Community Health Board and has been active in a number of initiatives, including getting Main Street in Lakefield, MN walkable for all ages.

Learn More: Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health

Certificates of Recognition

Chris J. Johnson, Minnesota Department of Health, received a Certificate of Recognition for her leadership of a local public health driven records management project. Her expertise, project management, and facilitation skills were instrumental in the development of a quality product. She went above and beyond identifying and developing more items that contributed to the best product possible.  

Stearns County Health Protection and Promotion Unit received a Certificate of Recognition for their dedication to maintaining and improving the health of their community. Their passion for their work and compassion for their clients has helped them truly connect with the community and see success in their work.  

Sara Chute, Minnesota Department of Health, received a Certificate of Recognition for her dedication and leadership in countless community organizations and efforts. Her longstanding awareness of health equity issues has driven her to create a variety of programs and strategies in thoughtful, collaborative, and culturally relevant ways.

Learn More: Certificate of Recognition

Nominations Open for 2016 Awards

Nominate someone deserving for a 2016 Community Health Award:

2015 Community Health Award Recipients

ImageClick image to enlarge and view names.

Jim Parker Leadership Award

ImageBill Groskreutz, Faribault County Commissioner, received the Jim Parker Leadership Award for his commitment to public health and leadership in improving public health and human services in Southern Minnesota. Groskreutz is well-known throughout state and local public health for his innovative, collaborative approaches to public health issues. He has served on a number of State Community Health Services Advisory Committee (SCHSAC) workgroups and has chaired SCHSAC. Groskreutz's work on the SCHSAC Local Public Health Act Workgroup has been especially important and his keen understanding of the state-local public health partnership helped strengthen Minnesota's local public health statute.

Learn More: Jim Parker Leadership Award

Jack Korlath Partnership Award

ImageMarty LaVenture, Minnesota Department of Health, received the Jack Korlath Partnership Award for his dedication to promoting health informatics. LaVenture has advocated for a disciplined approach to information systems that supports improvements in public health practice, programs and outcomes. LaVenture helps to build an informatics-savvy public health workforce through frequent presentations that bring together state and national participants from across the care continuum.

Learn More: Jack Korlath Partnership Award

Commissioner's Award for Distinguished Service in Community Health Services

ImageShannon Bailey, Dakota County Public Health, received the Commissioner's Award for Distinguished Service in Community Health Services for her dedication to adolescent health issues in Dakota County. For over 20 years, Bailey has developed and implemented innovative and creative strategies to address a range of health issues including adolescent brain development, suicide prevention and early intervention, parenting, and reproductive health. Over the past five years alone, she has given more than 200 presentations to more than 7,000 people at schools, homeless shelters and the Dakota County Juvenile Service Center.

Learn More: Commissioner's Award for Distinguished Service in Community Health Services

Lou Fuller Award for Distinguished Service in Eliminating Health Disparities

ImageMaoHeu Thao, St. Paul-Ramsey Public Health, received the Lou Fuller Award for Distinguished Service in Eliminating Health Disparities for her work to build bridges between the Twin Cities' Hmong community, and metro health care and public health professionals. Thao currently serves as chair of the Hmong Health Care Professionals Coalition, which trains health practitioners to improve their understanding of, and response to, Hmong traditions and beliefs. Her achievements have led to great advances in trust and understanding within the Hmong community, and to also significant growth in cultural understanding and skill among public health and health care practitioners.

Learn More: Lou Fuller Award for Distinguished Service in Eliminating Health Disparities

Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health

ImageBev Bales, Douglas County Commissioner, received the Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health for her advocacy of policy, systems and environmental changes for improved health. She has also served as a member of the State Community Health Services Advisory Committee (SCHSAC) for over 10 years, including as SCHSAC chair and as regional representative to the SCHSAC Executive Committee. Bales is a true "servant of the people," advocating on behalf of mental health, domestic violence, tobacco cessation and more. She serves on one national, two state and 23 local committees.

Learn More: Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health

Certificates of Recognition

ImagePatrick Hanlon and the Minneapolis Green Business Matching Grant Program received a Certificate of Recognition for their work to reduce emissions in the city by providing grants to high-emitting business sectors including dry cleaners and vehicle services. Under Hanlon's attention, the program will more than quadruple the amount of air emissions reduced—from 5,000 lbs. of emissions in 2014, to 25,000 lbs. in grant requests in 2015 thus far.

ImageThe Wright County Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council (pictured at right: Council Chair Denny Bobrowske) received a Certificate of Recognition for the group's dedication to public health-related emergency issues long before federal grants were available for this work and before public health departments had established requirements. The council includes representatives from fire, emergency medical services, police, the sheriff's department, hospital emergency departments, county emergency management, county nuclear emergency management, county commissioners and public health.

ImageCarol Meissner, Horizon Public Health, received a Certificate of Recognition for her dedication to her clients and to the community. Meissner started with Douglas County Public Health 38 years ago and now leads the Child, Family and Community Health Division within Horizon Public Health.

Learn More: Certificate of Recognition