Health Equity Staff and Contact Information
General Office Information
625 Robert St. N.
PO Box 64975
Saint Paul, MN
|Center for Health Equity
Office of Minority & Multicultural Health
If you're looking for a Center for Health Equity speaker, consultation, representative on your committee, etc., please complete our request form with the details of your request. We will get back to you within 2-3 weeks.
If you're looking for a student internship, please visit our Internships page for more information.
Meet the Staff
Bruce Thao, Director
As Director, Bruce works across MDH to provide consultation and training on how to integrate equity into policies, programs, research and grant-making. Externally, Bruce engages with the community, health partners and policy makers to advance health equity for communities most impacted by health inequities. Bruce brings over 15 years of experience working within diverse communities, across sectors and across the country. He holds graduate degrees in psychology (St. Joseph’s University) and social work (University of Chicago) and is a 2013 Bush Fellow and a 2014 White House Champion of Change.
Sara Chute, Assistant Director
Sara Chute has worked at MDH since 2006. In 2017, Sara became Assistant Director for the Center for Health Equity and the Center for Health Data. She has been a champion for communities impacted by inequities throughout her career and values the importance of building trust and developing action-oriented approaches to addressing complex public problems in partnership with community. Sara holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School and a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College. Sara’s hobbies include playing transformers and building rocket-ships with her 3-year-old son Race and husband Frank.
Darwin Flores Trujillo, Health Equity Analyst
Darwin has worked at MDH since 2013. He grew up in Quito, Ecuador, where his parents were very involved in community work on the neighborhood level. As a young child, this made a lasting impression on him and shaped his life and the way he views communities. He has always been passionate about working with people and in improving the social and economic wellbeing of all communities, while also enjoying working with numbers. When he immigrated to the U.S. and started college, his interests led him to pursue degrees in both social work and accounting. Darwin has since worked in the private, nonprofit and now the public sector, always seeking to join his dual passions for working with communities and working with numbers.
Mohamed Hassan, Grant Manager
Mohamed joined MDH in 2016 and completed his master’s degree in Health and Human Service Administration at St. Mary’s University in 2017. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Development and Business Marketing Education from the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining MDH, Mohamed worked for the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM), the largest Somali community organization in North America, where he served as a youth coordinator and advanced to employment and human service coordinator. After CSCM, Mohamed worked at Dugsi Academy Charter School in St. Paul as the dean of students.
Betty Hiller, Health Equity Specialist
Betty is a wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend. Her family and her faith are the two most important things in her life. Betty enjoys working on health and racial equity issues and has worked at MDH since August 1994. She is willing to help put in the work that it takes to make a difference in the way the systems in place perpetuate inequities in our communities. "Let’s change institutional racism because it affects every aspect of the lives of people of color and American Indians from birth to death, and not in a good way. We must find a way to offer a level playing field (EQUITY)."
Helen Jackson Lockett-El, Community Engagement Planner
Helen Jackson Lockett-El is a community engagement planner and is currently working on a project to address infant mortality among U.S.-born African Americans in Hennepin County through a health equity lens. Using a community-based model, Ms. Lockett-El has recruited and engaged over 20 community members for the project’s Community Voices and Solutions (CVAS) Leadership Team, which has established a shared decision-making approach in addressing infant mortality within the community. Ms. Lockett-El has an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Minnesota and a master's degree from Luther Seminary with over twenty years of experience working in the community on issues of health disparities.
Christy Nguyen, Administrative Coordinator
Christy joined MDH in 2015 to provide administrative support for CHE. She supports everything and everyone, and we couldn't get our work done without her! Christy is a University of St. Catherine graduate with a nursing degree. Prior to her position at MDH, Christy worked at a pediatric clinic providing patient care for ten years. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, walking and spending time with her husband and their five children.
Mia Robillos, Research Scientist
Mia joined MDH in 2014. She leads the reporting and evaluation for our grant programs and provides evaluation technical assistance to grantees and local public health departments. Previously, Mia worked as a research associate at Rainbow Research, Inc. Mia has over 25 years of experience in research and evaluation in the areas of health, education, social services and organizational capacity building for a range of entities including community-based nonprofits, government, foundations and schools. She holds a master’s degree in agricultural and applied economics and has completed coursework and preliminary exams in the applied economics doctoral program at the University of Minnesota.
Bridget Roby, Grant Manager and Communications Specialist
Bridget joined MDH as a health educator in 2013 and then as a grant manager for CHE in 2016. Prior to joining MDH, Bridget lived in Burkina Faso, West Africa for two years where she worked as a Community Health and Development Agent with the Peace Corps. She also worked as a program assistant for the Resilient Communities Project at the University of Minnesota and as a writer, editor and designer at two local newspapers. Bridget has a master's degree in public health from the University of Minnesota and bachelor's degrees in journalism and international studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bridget brings a passion for health and racial equity and several years of experience as a communicator, organizer and project manager.
Shor Salkas, Health Equity Planner
Shor graduated from the University of Minnesota-School of Public Health with an emphasis on LGBTQ health and community health promotion. Shor works with communities to harness their strengths and build on them through strategic capacity building and coaching. In their coaching work, Shor centers collaborative leadership, equity, strengths-based approaches and elevating the voices and needs of those most impacted by systemic oppression. Shor believes that communities already have the wisdom to make big change. In their role at MDH, Shor coordinates the Internal Health Equity Advisory and Leadership Team Hub (I-HEALTH) Council, the HEAL Council and the MDH Health Equity Community of Practice.
Madison Olmsted, Health Equity Fellow
Madison joined the Center for Health Equity team through the CDC Public Health Associate Program in the fall of 2018. She graduated with a degree in biological science from the University of Chicago, where she also worked as a sexual health education coordinator in the office of Health Promotion and Wellness. She is dedicated to bringing an intersectional and inclusive approach to her work in advancing health equity. Outside of the office, Madison enjoys rock climbing, reading and exploring the Twin Cities.
Ramya Palaniappan, Student Worker
Ramya is from Boulder, Colorado and is currently studying for her Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health at University of Minnesota. Before graduate school, Ramya did a year of service at a day shelter for women, children and trans individuals and also worked at a Title X reproductive health clinic. Ramya loves all things purple, being outdoors, cooking and listening to podcasts. She is passionate about racial justice and intersectional feminism.
Staff Video Highlights
Meet Helen Jackson Lockett-El, a community engagement planner for the Center for Health Equity.
Meet Mohamed Hassan, a grant manager for the Center for Health Equity.
Meet Bridget Roby, a grant manager for the Center for Health Equity.