News release: Commissioner of Health appoints community members to health equity advisory council

News Release
November 14, 2017

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Commissioner of Health appoints community members to health equity advisory council

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger recently appointed 25 Minnesotans to a newly created advisory council that will provide guidance on how to advance the health of communities across the state that are most impacted by persistent health inequities.

The Health Equity Advisory and Leadership (HEAL) Council was created as part of a broader effort by the Minnesota Department of Health to address Minnesota’s disparities in health status – particularly those persistent disparities across various ethnic, racial and regional groups. The HEAL Council represents the voices of many communities most severely impacted by health inequities across the state, including racial and ethnic minority groups, rural Minnesotans, Minnesotans with disabilities, American Indians, LGBTQ community members, refugees and immigrants.

The council will assist the Minnesota Department of Health in carrying out the efforts outlined in the department’s strategic plan and its Advancing Health Equity report, including advising on specific MDH policies and programs. The council will also assist MDH in developing strong performance measures related to advancing health equity. By Feb.15, 2019, and annually thereafter, the council will prepare and submit a report to the Commissioner of Health that summarizes the activities of the council and specific objectives the group will pursue during the upcoming year.

Members represent multiple communities and organizations that work to advance the health of those most impacted by health inequities in Minnesota. They bring both expertise on a range of health topics and the lived experiences of their respective geographic/cultural communities. The knowledge and wisdom of council members will enhance the work of MDH in advancing health equity for all communities in Minnesota.

The newly appointed HEAL Council members include:

  • Abiola Abu-Bakr, Minnesota Black Nurses Association
  • Sameerah Bilal, African American Babies Projects and Coalition
  • Camille Cyprian, Twin Cities United Way
  • Jokho Farah, People’s Center Clinics and Services
  • Dylan Galos, Wilder Research
  • Therese Genis, YWCA Minneapolis  
  • Alexandra Griffin, The Aliveness Project
  • Carlos Guereca, Centro Tyrone Guzman
  • Rachel Hardeman, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health
  • Malissia Jones, Northwest Indian Community Development Center, Bemidji
  • Migdalia Loyola, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota
  • Samuel Moose, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa's Human Services Division
  • Tamiko Morgan, Hennepin Health/MHP
  • Billy Moua, Genesys Works
  • Houa Moua, University of Minnesota
  • Laurelle Myhra, Catholic Charities
  • Jennifer Nguyen Moore - Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Environmental Justice Advisory Group
  • Melanie Plucinski, American Indian Cancer Foundation
  • Darin Prescott, Lower Sioux Indian Community
  • Ruth Richardson, Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Cassandra Silveira, University of Minnesota Extension
  • Bonnie Smith, Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities
  • Felicia Sy, Reclaim
  • Joann Usher, Rainbow Health Initiative
  • Va Yang, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota


Scott Smith
MDH Communications