Minnesota Health Equity Networks
The Minnesota Health Equity Networks work to connect, strengthen, and amplify health equity efforts and community issues using a regional and relational approach. The networks are a community of support for local public health, tribal public health, and community organizations to address long-standing health equity issues. For monthly updates, subscribe to the Minnesota Health Equity Networks email list.
At a glance
Learn more about our approaches, core functions, and the resources that guide us in our work: Minnesota Health Equity Networks (PDF).
About the networks
How will the networks work? Network coordinators will work alongside partners to build relationships; support existing work and activities that build capacity; provide a space to share expertise, provide resources; and influence policy, structural, and system changes to provide the best health and wellness outcomes for all.
The Minnesota Health Equity Networks work to connect, strengthen, and amplify health equity efforts and community issues using a regional and relational approach. The networks are a community of support for local public health, tribal public health, and community organizations to address long-standing health equity issues.
- Connect: The networks are a hub—connecting and strengthening relationships and connections of local public health, tribal public health, community organizations, and health equity partners across Minnesota communities.
- Strengthen: We strengthen communities' capacity to work on health equity through training, technical assistance, and leadership development in advancing health equity across Minnesota communities.
- Amplify: We amplify the interconnected work of communities and public health systems. We support the regional and tribal public health systems to prioritize community solutions and engage with communities as a part of public health practice.
Why are these networks vital to Minnesotans? While local, state, and tribal public health departments and community-based organizations worked to reach all Minnesota communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, deep disparities in health were revealed across Minnesota. The pandemic disproportionately impacted communities of color, American Indian communities and tribal nations, the LGBTQ community, rural communities, immigrant and refugee communities, aging people, low-income people, and people with disabilities. As response activities continue and recovery activities ramp up, our public health partnerships will need to build on our successes and address the clear inequities that have long existed in all our communities.
How can I stay in touch? If you'd like to receive updates about current and future network activities, subscribe and sign up for the Health Equity Networks newsletter.
What is health equity?
Achieving health equity is important for all people and requires a systemic approach to making sure that people and communities have access to what they need to be healthy and well. Often people and communities are prevented from being as healthy as they can be by unjust or unfair barriers, and these are called health inequities.
We can only achieve health equity when, for example, all children get a loving and healthy start, when we can all get a good education and good jobs, when we can all take part in the decisions that shape our communities, and when we all have good living conditions. These are examples of changing social determinants of health.
Addressing health equity and the social determinants of health is needed in order to have large and sustained improvements in health outcomes and eliminate health disparities. This involves examining structures, policies, practices, norms, and values, as well as creating social and physical environments that promote good health for all people and communities.
Every region, community, and tribal nation experience different inequities and require different solutions.
Join a network!
Network coordinators will work alongside partners to build relationships; support existing work and activities that build capacity; provide a space to share expertise; provide resources; and influence policy, structural, and system changes to provide the best health and wellness outcomes for all.
There are six regional networks in the state. The regions are not strictly defined, so please connect with the coordinator in the region with which you identify.
To learn more about the regions and coordinators, jump to: Meet network coordinators and staff.
Events and training opportunities
Statewide virtual gathering
- February 22 (2:00-4:00 PM): Statewide gathering
Join us for the Minnesota Health Equity Networks Statewide Gathering! We will be bringing the regional networks together to discuss how we can advance health equity in Minnesota, as well as a short training on how to practice cultural humility.
- March 14 (10:00-11:30 AM): Navigating Power
Learn how to navigate power in more intentional and equitable ways! During this training you will learn how to navigate power in relationships, how power dynamics influence communication and conflict, and create understanding about what dynamics exist within a team or community.
- March 29 (10:00-11:30 AM): Federal Indian Policy, American Indian Health, and Government to Government Partnerships
Join Health Equity Network members and staff for a training on federal Indian policy and American Indian health: Government to government partnerships, facilitated by Jackie Dionne, MDH's Director of American Indian Health, and the MDH Office of American Indian Health.
Regional gatherings are free and open to all. Participate in one region, or more than one!
All regional gatherings below are virtual.
Southwest with Anna:
Monday, January 9
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Central with Fa:
Thursday, January 12
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Northwest with Mary:
Thursday, January 19
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Metro with Lil:
Tuesday, January 24
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Northeast with Colleen:
Wednesday, January 25
9:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Southeast with Lyndsey:
Thursday, January 26
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Meet network coordinators and staff
Watch on YouTube:
Meet the Minnesota Health Equity Network Coordinators (1:58)
Contact Mary (she/her)
Thursday, January 19, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
What do you love about living in Northwest Minnesota? I love the easy access to lakes, rivers and woods, and enjoy kayaking, hiking, fishing and mushroom hunting.
What excites you most about the networks? Minnesota has some of the biggest health disparities in the nation. I am excited about the opportunity to work in community with other advocates to find new and creative ways to help everyone in our state be healthier.
If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would you choose and why? The news anchor Walter Cronkite, because he was such a nightly presence in my home growing up, and would have so many interesting stories to share.
Contact Colleen (she/her)
Wednesday, January 25, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.
What do you love about living in northeast Minnesota? My childhood memories come back to me every time I am near Lake Superior or anywhere in the northeast region. I also love spending time in the woods and learning more about wild plants that are used for food and medicine.
What excites you most about the networks? I look forward to meeting people from the entire northeast region, and helping to build upon existing equity efforts. I enjoy working toward creative solutions, and am happy to have the opportunity to help make health equity connections that benefit everyone in the northeast region and throughout Minnesota.
If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would you choose and why? I'd pick Dolly Parton, because she is a person who has come from rural roots and, despite her fame, remains genuine and works to make the world a better place.
Contact Fa (she/her)
Thursday, January 12, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
What do you love about living in central Minnesota? I love the abundance of nature and diversity in central Minnesota. I am now discovering new trails with my bike during weekends at Lake Wobegon Trail, which crosses Stearns and Todd Counties and connects ten communities.
What excites you most about the networks? I am most excited to bring a network of leaders together to advance health and racial equity in the public health system, and consistently ensure that all communities in central Minnesota experience equitable benefits.
If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would you choose and why? I would choose David Attenborough, because who would not want to hear his voice?
Contact Lil (she/her)
Tuesday, January 24, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
What do you love about living in Saint Paul? I love that I am not far from anything by living in St. Paul. I love that I get diverse experiences because of my location. I am a foodie, so the fact that I can be a few blocks from Thai food, Kurdish food, Irish food, Ethiopian food, El Salvadorian food (and the list goes on), is so amazing. I love the revitalization of the area, the pride people have that they are from Saint Paul, and the ability to learn so much from the access to events in the community.
What excites you most about the networks? I am very much a people person, so I am definitely excited about the building of relationships with and between people. To be a part of something that has the ability to make such a positive change, knock down barriers and build equity for people of our region is just so exciting.
If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would you choose and why? Harriet Tubman, because of so many reasons, but at the top is because I want to be in the presence of such an exceptionally brilliant woman and simply have discussions.
Contact Anna (she/her)
Monday, January 9, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
What do you love about living in southwest Minnesota? Southwest Minnesota has been home most of my life. Throughout the years I've been able to see how our rural communities truly care about supporting one another.
What excites you most about the networks? I am most excited to bring people together that are passionate about changing the inequities faced in southwest Minnesota—to make strides towards putting words and ideas into action, to keep our communities healthy and thriving!
If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would you choose and why? Michael Scott, because there would not be a single dull moment.
Contact Lyndsey (she/her)
Thursday, January 26, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
What do you love about southeast Minnesota? Southeast Minnesota is a beautiful area where I spent many years throughout college and some of my career. Throughout the years I've developed a love for the growing, diverse communities in southeast Minnesota, and look forward to getting to know each community on a deeper level.
What excites you most about the networks? I am most excited to bring people together and develop lasting relationships as southeast Minnesota works to tackle the inequities seen throughout the communities.
If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would you choose and why? I would have dinner with Caroline Myss, an author. The dinner would be full of deep authentic discussion regarding whole wellness!
Contact Shor (they/them)
What do you love about health equity and community engagement? I love how much I learn everyday about the people and communities around me. This constant learning keeps me curious and humble, and it allows me to look for solutions in creative ways alongside people. I love that I am a small part of that bigger picture to create thriving communities and doing health equity and community engagement work.
What excites you most about the networks? I know that relationships are the core of communities creating long lasting change and to advancing health equity. This approach centers relationships and moves at the pace of trust, and sometimes that means we don't know what will emerge, but I know that some things that will emerge are belonging and brilliance.
If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would you choose and why? Yotam Ottolenghi, world renowned chef specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine, and we wouldn't just have dinner… we would cook dinner together via a hand-picked menu that highlights dishes that tell the story of his cultural cooking journey.
Contact Heather (she/her)
What do you love about health equity and community engagement? I think health equity is core to public health, and community engagement provides opportunities to connect with and learn from others as we strengthen our capacity to advance health equity.
What excites you most about the networks? I'm most excited for the networks to reenergize existing relationships, as well as facilitate new relationships to improve and create systems that advance health equity.
If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would you choose and why? Ruth Bader Ginsburg, United States Supreme Court Justice. She notably and passionately fought for the advancement of gender equality, women's rights, and true equality for all. I would love to hear her perspective on the progress she saw in her lifetime as well as her thoughts on where things are currently. She was the voice of many inspirational quotes, but one of my favorites is: "Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time."
Contact Susan (she/her)
What do you love about health equity and community engagement? I think health equity is inherent in the mission of public health. Our past commissioner, Ed Ehlinger always referred to the landmark Institute on Medicine report, The Future of Public Health, that defined public health as "what we as a society do collectively to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy." This definition didn't say it was only for high-income people or for insured people or for white people. This definition includes all people. In order to meet this purpose, public health practitioners (including me) must focus our work on the social, economic, environmental, and political conditions that shape the health of all people. I love that we are openly talking about those conditions and how the systems and structures need to change so everyone has the chance to reach their full health potential.
What excites you most about the networks? I am excited about the health equity networks because they will build relationships and connections between those in the state that are working on health equity. These connections will build upon each other and potentially reach others who are working tangentially. And all of these connections will build power to influence social change.
If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would you choose and why? If I could have dinner with someone famous, I would choose…this is so hard because there are so many, but I just finished reading The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois. I am ashamed to admit it, but I had heard that name before and knew it was an author, but really knew nothing else. Love Songs includes many references to Du Bois' books, which sounded like they could have been written in current times. I really don't know much else about him but would love to have dinner together and talk.
Contact Jeannette (she/her)
What do you love about health equity and community engagement? Working on health equity and authentic community engagement allows me to express my beliefs that everyone is valuable and that everyone brings wisdom that can inform practical and elegant solutions.
What excites you most about the networks? I'm most excited by the networks' potential to connect passionate people who want to create systems that serve all people no matter who they are and where they live.
If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would you choose and why? Lucretia Mott, an 18th century Quaker abolitionist and women's rights advocate. Besides the fact that Lucretia is my middle name and that I am from the same faith tradition, I would love to talk with her about what kept her going in the face of incredible challenges and how she engaged with people that were against the changes she sought. I'd also be interested in her reflection on current conditions—what would surprise her? What would be disappointing? What would she celebrate?
Request for proposals (RFP)
Resources and reading
More information coming soon.
Funding for this project is provided by the CDC OT21-2103 COVID-19 Health Equity Grant.