Minneapolis, Minn. – The Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA) presented the 2022 MPHA Awards during the group’s Annual Business Meeting on June 23, 2022. The MPHA awards are presented each year to leaders across Minnesota who are passionate advocates for public health and greater health equity. This year, two new awards and a certificate of appreciation were presented.
The Laura Waterman Wittstock Racial Justice & Health Equity Award was presented to Mary Manning, the Assistant Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health. “We are thrilled to be presenting for the first time the Laura Waterman Wittstock Award to Mary Manning, Assistant Commissioner of Health,” said Ann Zukoski, DrPH, MPH, MPHA Leadership Committee co-chair. “Manning has demonstrated a commitment to advancing racial justice and health equity for American Indian, African American/Black, Latinx/Chicano Latino/Latino(a), Asian American, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities as well as individuals that are low-income, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and those with disabilities.”
Tracy Gilsvik, Public Health Supervisor at Lake County, Minnesota, was presented the Dr. Harold 'Hal' Leppink Scholarshipfor extraordinary public health service during COVID. Gilsvik started her public health career in March 2020 and became a leader who substantively advanced the development of her public health department by creating strong partnerships between local public and local health systems, and partnerships and positions where there were none.
A Certificate of Appreciation - Outstanding Service to the Minnesota Public Health Association’s (MPHA) Racial and Health Equity Initiatives was presented to Morgan Mulhern, MPH, Project Manager of the Racial Equity and Advocacy Initiative at MPHA. Mulhern has successfully spearheaded a leadership development program for early-career professionals of color and/or American Indians and has shepherded an internal assessment of MPHA policies and practices and a membership poll on racism as public health.
The B. Robert Lewis Award, which honors an elected official who has championed public health, was presented to Andrea Jenkins, the Minneapolis City Council President. Jenkins is the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to public office in the US, has advocated and secured the first full-time Transgender Equity Coordinator at the City of Minneapolis, and is committed to Racial, Economic, and Gender Justice.
Maria Veronica Svetaz, the Medical Director for Aqui Para Ti, was presented with the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Public Health Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to public health. A visionary and inclusive leader and advocate for racial justice and health equity throughout her career, Svetaz wears many different “hats” (physician and healer, leader, researcher, mentor and educator, and advocate) to advance racial equity for all youth with a special focus on Latine, low-income, and immigrant youth and families.
This year’s Harvey G. Rogers Environmental Health Leadership Award recipient was Virginia ‘Ginny’ Yingling, a Hydrologist at the Minnesota Department of Health. Yingling has set herself apart during her distinguished career in environmental health by contributing to developing the state’s approach to PFAS contamination in Minnesota groundwater, co-leading the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council PFAS workgroup, and speaking in many national forums.
The Albert Justus Chesley Award, which honors those who have made outstanding contributions to MPHA, was presented to Julie Myhre, retired from the Minnesota Department of Health and a Carlton, Cook, Lake, St. Louis Community Health Board member.Myhre is a mentor to many MPHA staff, an active memberof local, regional, and state organizations including LPHA, MNPA, and SCHSAX, a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow, and has long service to the public health field serving at local and state levels.
Sabrina Wema Kubisa, a BA and MPH Student in Public Health at St. Catherine University, was the recipient of this year’s Student Achievement Award. Kubisa is part of the Young Women’s Initiative Cabinet through the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, was appointed to Governor’s Office in 2021, and advises on developing programming and distributing grants that address community-specific challenges and creating solutions that advance equity.
The awards, which would typically be presented in person at the Annual Business Meeting, were announced over a video call. Those interested in learning more about MPHA’s awards and the nomination requirements can find more information on mpha.net.
MPHA represents over 350 public health professionals from a range of organizations across the state including government, nonprofit and for-profit businesses. For more information on MPHA, please visit the Minnesota Public Health Association website.
About the Minnesota Public Health Association
The Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA) represents over 350 public health professionals across the state of Minnesota who champion the health of our people and communities. The mission of the MPHA is to create a healthier Minnesota through effective public health practice and engaged citizens. For more information, visit www.mpha.net
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