Conference Planning Workgroup (SCHSAC) - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Community Health Conference Planning Workgroup


This workgroup selects the theme, format, and speakers for the annual Community Health Conference and assists Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) staff in hosting.  

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 give input on the selection of the general speakers;
  • Review submitted proposals to select concurrent sessions;
  • 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
    • 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 400 people yearly, 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 meeting(s) occurring on the day before the conference (Wednesday). It is generally held in the fall at a conference center in the Brainerd Lakes area. The conference format includes a keynote speaker, several plenary sessions, and 20-25 concurrent or "break-out 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.


The MDH Center for Public Health Practice is responsible for holding the conference and will provide staff support to this workgroup.


Membership includes local elected officials, CHS administrators and public health directors representing each region. MDH divisions engaged with local public health send representatives to the workgroup as does the MDH Center for Health Equity. Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative grantees participate in the workgroup.

  • Chair: Sheila Kiscaden, County Commissioner, Olmsted
  • Kelsey Andrews, Des Moines Valley
  • Dawn Beck, Olmsted
  • Natty Bibiana Hels, Centro Minnesota
  • Barbara Burandt, County Commissioner, Sherburne
  • Mark Campbell, YWCA, Minneapolis
  • Amy Caron, Dodge-Steele
  • Tarryl Clark, County Commissioner, Stearns
  • Mayra Davila, CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio)
  • Karla Decker-Sorby, MDH Child and Family Health Division, Tribal Health
  • Jackie Dionne, MDH American Indian Health
  • Matt Flory, Minnesota Public Health Association
  • Laura Guzman-Corrales, MDH Child and Family Health Division
  • Bobbie Harder, County Commissioner, Meeker-McLeod-Sibley
  • Mohamed Hassan, MDH Center for Health Equity
  • Chelsie Huntley, MDH Center for Public Health Practice
  • Ann Kinney, MDH Center for Health Statistics
  • Joan Lee, County Commissioner, Polk-Norman-Mahnomen
  • Dave Lieser, County Commissioner, Countryside
  • Moses Moe, Karen Organization of Minnesota
  • Bonnie Paulsen, Bloomington
  • Maggie Rothstein, Aitkin-Itasca-Koochiching
  • Liana Schreiber, MDH Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives
  • Stan Shanedling, MDH Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Division
  • Amy Smith, MDH Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response
  • Christine Smith, MDH Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives, Tribal Health
  • Duzong Yang, MDH Environmental Health Division

MDH Workgroup Staff

  • Liz Arita, MDH Center for Public Health Practice
  • Becky Neudecker, MDH Center for Public Health Practice
  • Becky Sechrist, MDH Center for Public Health Practice