News release: MDH honors public health advocates with 2014 Community Health Awards

News Release
September 17, 2014

Contact information

MDH honors public health advocates with 2014 Community Health Awards

Community Health Awards honor Minnesota health professionals for leadership, impact, service

The Minnesota Department of Health today honored seven individuals and one group for outstanding contributions to Minnesota's public health system. The Community Health Awards were presented at the department's annual Community Health Conference in Brainerd.

The Community Health Awards are given each year to public health professionals for their leadership, impact on reducing health inequity, dedication to serving clients, and more. Awardees are nominated by their peers, chosen by a workgroup of the State Community Health Services Advisory Committee, and presented with their awards by Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger at the conference. For more information on the Community Health Awards, please visit the Community Health Services Awards website:

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

The 2014 Community Health Award recipients include:

  • Pete Giesen, Director, Olmsted County Public Health - Giesen received the Jack Korlath Partnership Award for bringing public health and other professionals together to work on a wide range of issues in southeastern Minnesota. Giesen is dedicated to ensuring that all voices are heard and he seeks out "win-win" solutions.
  • Ann Stehn, Director, Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services - Stehn received the Commissioner's Award for Distinguished Service in Community Health Services for her commitment and forward-thinking leadership in public health policy discussions. Stehn is an effective leader and well-respected advocate for public health.
  • Diane Thorson, Director, Otter Tail County Public Health Department - Thorson received the Jim Parker Leadership Award for leadership in developing local data systems and promoting effective health information exchange across multiple entities. Thorson is known for developing high-impact solutions to public health issues.
  • Dr. Vacharee Peterson, CEO, Community Dental Care - Peterson received the Lou Fuller Award for Distinguished Service in Eliminating Health Disparities for leadership in ensuring access to dental care among low-income and minority groups. Peterson leads a nationally recognized non-profit dental center with three Minnesota locations.
  • Nancy Schouweiler, Commissioner, Dakota County - Schouweiler received the Award for Outstanding Dedication to Local Public Health to honor her leadership on public health issues in Dakota County. Schouweiler has been a leader on issues including tobacco, methamphetamine labs, mental health, and child maltreatment.
  • David Stroud, retired Director, Minnesota Center for Health Statistics, Minnesota Department of Health - Stroud received a Certificate of Recognition for leadership on data issues, especially data on populations of color and American Indians. Stroud led development of many major reports on issues tied to health disparities.
  • Wendy Kvale, Public Health Nurse Consultant, Minnesota Department of Health - Kvale received a Certificate of Recognition for her consistent, compassionate, and constructive presence in county and tribal public health. Kvale is a trusted and long-term member of the Northwest community, bringing needed attention to public health issues and promoting community-led solutions.
  • The Smoke-Free Housing Collaborative, City of Minneapolis - The collaborative received a Certificate of Recognition for passing a strategic plan to require all public housing high-rise buildings to be smoke-free by October 2015. The plan includes education and referral services for residents seeking to quit smoking.


Media inquiries:

Michael Schommer
MDH Communications