News release: MDH announces winners of 2013 Community Health Awards

News Release
September 26, 2013

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MDH announces winners of 2013 Community Health Awards

Awards honor public health partners for service on behalf of Minnesota's public health

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) this week announced the winners of the 2013 Community Health Awards, honoring six individuals and two groups for outstanding contributions to the state's public health system.

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Edward Ehlinger presented the awards at the annual Community Health Conference in Brainerd. He praised the award winners for their dedication and effectiveness.

"Public health is a crucial but sometimes underappreciated field of work," Commissioner Ehlinger said. "We know healthy people and healthy communities are a cornerstone of our state's quality of life, and we thank you for your hard work to protect, maintain and improve the health of all Minnesotans."

The Community Health Awards are presented each year to recognize public health professionals around the state for significant contributions to public health in Minnesota. Recipients are nominated by their peers and chosen by the State Community Health Services Advisory Committee. The 2013 Community Health Award recipients are:

    • Lowell Johnson, Director, Washington County Public Health and Environment
      Johnson received the Jim Parker Leadership Award for passion and creativity in public health education. Johnson brings a great depth of knowledge and understanding to his work in public health, uses a collaborative approach to leadership and problem-solving, and builds a fun, collegial atmosphere for solving problems.
    • Laura Waterman Wittstock; Author, Host, and Producer, First Person Radio (KFAI-FM, Minneapolis)
      Waterman Wittstock received the Lou Fuller Award for Distinguished Service in Eliminating Health Disparities for leadership and advocacy on behalf of the region's American Indian community. Waterman Wittstock speaks to a wide and diverse audience, from youth who read her children's books, to readers of her newspaper columns, to listeners of her weekly radio show, "First Person Radio."
    • Carol Schefers, Public Health Nurse Director, Wright County Public Health
      Schefers received the Commissioner's Award for Distinguished Service in Community Health Services for persistence in communicating the importance of public health, and commitment to community partnerships and collaboration with clinics, hospitals, schools, law enforcement, faith communities, and nonprofit organizations.
    • Karen Nordstrom, Councilmember, Bloomington City Council
      Nordstrom received the Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health for her dedication to strengthening tobacco policies, especially those preventing youth tobacco use, and for her determination to making Bloomington a better, healthier place.
    • Stefan Saravia, Coordinator, Chemical Threat Preparedness, Minnesota Department of Health
      Saravia received the Jack Korlath Partnership Award for his commitment to partnerships at the local, state, and national level, leading to a stronger system that is better prepared to address emergencies.
    • The FATHER Project Team of St. Joseph's Area Health Services Community Health
      The team received a Certificate of Recognition for its innovative work in promoting responsible parenting and healthy marriages, by engaging with fathers.
    • The Raise it for Health Coalition
      The coalition received a Certificate of Recognition for its success in raising prices on tobacco products in Minnesota as a means to deter tobacco use and raise community health.
    • Kathy Bystrom, Community Health Outreach Coordinator, Fairview Lakes Health Services
      Bystrom received a Certificate of Recognition for her work in inspiring and fostering creative, innovative partnerships to support healthy youth and families, and her leadership and energy in serving as a champion for the youth of Forest Lake.

    For more information on the Community Health Awards, visit:


Media inquiries:

Michael Schommer
MDH Communications
651-201-4998 (office)
651-373-8271 (mobile)