Community Health Conference Planning Workgroup

State Community Health Services Advisory Committee (SCHSAC)

ImageCommunity Health Conference Online


This workgroup will select the theme, format, and speakers for the Community Health Conference, and will assist Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) staff in hosting the conference.

Workgroup activities include:

  • Review evaluation results from the previous year's Community Health Conference and modify the conference format as appropriate;
  • Select a conference theme and learning objectives;
  • Generate ideas for and giving input on the selection of the keynote and plenary speakers;
  • Review and selection of the concurrent sessions;
  • Moderate a concurrent session(s) during the conference;
  • Serve as a "goodwill ambassador" to all attendees by meeting and greeting attendees as they arrive to the conference, assisting attendees in navigating the conference site, and engaging attendees in conversation


The Community Health Conference is a long standing, annual event for Minnesota's public health community. It is attended by upwards of 350 people, and provides an opportunity for public health leadership and local elected officials, from around our state, to come together and reflect on our accomplishments; learn about emerging public health issues; and continue to strengthen our unique state-local public health partnership.

Traditionally, it is a two-day conference (all day Thursday, and half day Friday), with ancillary meetings occurring on the day before the conference (Wednesday). It is generally held in the fall at a resort in the Brainerd Lakes area. The conference format includes a keynote speaker, several plenary sessions, and 16-18 concurrent breakout sessions.

This event is designed to build skill and capacity in Minnesota's local public health system, while also providing an opportunity for "locals" to share the innovative work occurring in their communities. Networking is also a key component to the conference; conference participants consistently list "networking" as one of the things they like most about this conference.


This workgroup will hold two in person meetings in early spring to make theme, format, general session speaker and concurrent session presenter decisions. The remainder of the workgroup's charge will be carried out via phone/webinar meetings and email communications.


Local Public Health and Community Organizations

  • Larry Kittelson, Chair, Horizon CHB (Pope County Commissioner)
  • Karen Ahmann, Polk-Norman-Mahnomen CHB (Norman County Commissioner)
  • Kenneth Bence, Minnesota Council of Health Plans
  • Bill Groskreutz, Faribault-Martin CHB (Faribault County Commissioner)
  • Ardis Henriksen, Southwest Health and Human Services CHB
  • Helene Kahlstorf, North Country CHB
  • DeeAnn Pettyjohn, Dodge-Steele CHB
  • Theresa Evans Ross, Annex Teen Clinic, EHDI grantee
  • Central Representative: Vacant
  • Northeast Representative: Vacant

MDH Division Representatives

  • Deb Burns, Office of Performance Improvement
  • Xiaoying Chen, Office of Minority and Multicultural Health
  • Jackie Dionne, Tribal Health Director
  • Dee Finley/Kathy Wick, Community and Family Health
  • Ann Kinney, Health Policy
  • Allison Heinzeller, Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives
  • Amy Kenzie, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease
  • Dan Locher, Environmental Health
  • Deb Radi, Office of Emergency Preparedness
  • Jacob Zdon, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control

Conference Staff

  • Liz Arita, Office of Performance Improvement
  • Becky Buhler, Office of Performance Improvement
  • Peggy Malinowski, Office of Performance Improvement


The Office of Performance Improvement is responsible for holding the conference and will provide staff support to this workgroup.

Conference Staff

  • Becky Buhler, Office of Performance Improvement
  • Peggy Malinowski, Office of Performance Improvement