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Minnesota Public Health Association

Since 1907, MPHA has been dedicated to creating a healthier Minnesota through effective public health practice and engaged citizens. 

MPHA Statements

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  • February 10, 2021 9:14 AM | Anonymous

    Access PDF of the statement here.

    The Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA) denounces the insurrection on January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol. Insurrectionists and domestic terrorists’ action was a bid to stop the electoral college from certifying a new president and the peaceful transfer of power.

    None of us will forget the abhorrent sight of insurrectionists scaling the walls and breaking windows of the U.S. Capitol, clutching symbols of hate and racism.1 This was yet another affront to people of color and American Indians in this country.2

    As public health professionals, we condemn the 45th President and legislators who continuously endorsed and disseminated falsehoods and misinformation, and who worked to overturn the results of the Presidential election. The 45th President has sown doubt, mistrust and promoted voter suppression in the democratic process and the United States’ electoral process for years. This rampant dishonesty and division is especially concerning considering the evidence base connecting democracy and fair elections, and improved health.3 4 The link between democracy and public health must be founded in social justice to be successful.

    Trust in government is crucial for compliance with health measures, which is particularly important during COVID-19 to ensure uptake of prevention measures.5 It is this same epidemic of distortion that has fueled the inferred spread of COVID-19, infecting over 26,523,297 and killing more than 454,209 Americans to date6 ––especially in communities of color and American Indians.7

    The Capitol security response to the insurrection was in stark comparison to the police response to Black Lives Matter advocates across the country and contrary to Minnesota’s calling for an end to the police killings of Black people and systemic racism, a public health crisis in our country.8 The insurrectionists, who attempted to overthrow our legitimate government were predominately white, faced comparatively little resistance from police. They were able to breech and occupy the Capitol building easily—some carrying Confederate flags and anti-Semitism signage—despite the apparent danger they presented to everyone inside.

    These actions, as well as the weak response that the insurrectionists received from police and capitol security, highlight the racial inequities that contribute to this significant public health crisis. As then President-elect Biden stated, “No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol. We all know that’s true, and it is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable.”9

    The disgraceful and violent insurrection will no doubt stand as one of the darkest moments in American history—one that left five dead and shook the very foundation of our democracy. However, we celebrate democracy because it was also this day when the will of the voters ultimately prevailed.

    Democracy is resilient but requires involvement and active participation by all citizens who cherish justice and equity for all. As the National Congress of American Indians has stated, “No nation should tolerate a leader who obstructs or brings harm to the peaceful democratic process and the citizens we are sworn to protect. We also understand that as leaders we have an obligation not only to our citizens today, but also to the future generations.”10

    With fresh awareness of these challenges before us, we must commit to eternal vigilance, racial justice, inclusion and protecting the Voter Protection Act in our democracy. By acting together in community, we can make the world a healthier and more just place for all. As coined by the late senator from Minnesota, Paul Wellstone, we all do better when we all do better.11

    1. Capitol insurrection displayed many of the symbols of American racism. Accessed 02/09/2021.
    2. Insurrection Was A Product of Racism. Accessed 02/09/2021.
    3. The Lancet. “Relationships between democratic experience, adult health, and cause-specific mortality in 170 countries between 1980 and 2016: an observational analysis." Accessed 01/28/2021.
    4. BMJ Publishing Group. “Social Justice as a Foundation for Democracy and Health.” Accessed 01/28/2021.
    5. National Library of Medicine. “Public Health and Public Trust: Survey Evidence from the Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic in Liberia.” Accessed 01/28/2021.
    6. Centers for Disease Control. “COVID 19 Data Tracker”. Accessed 02/5/2021.
    7. U of M COVID-19 study finds greater impact on communities of color. Accessed 02/09/2021.
    8. U of M COVID-19 study finds greater impact on communities of color. Accessed 02/09/2021.
    9. Statement by President-elect Joe Biden. Accessed 01/17/2021.
    10. National Congress of American Indians Statement on U.S. Capitol Storming by Trump Supporters. Accessed 01/17/2021.
    11. Star Tribune. “We All Do Better When We All Do Better." Accessed 02/05/2021.
  • January 14, 2021 9:09 AM | Anonymous

    The Honorable Joe Biden
    Presidential Transition Office
    1401 Constitution Ave., NW
    Washington, DC 20230

    Dear President-Elect Biden:

    On behalf of the Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA), we urge that, upon your inauguration, you move swiftly to rescind Executive Order (EO) 13950, Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, which was signed by President Trump on September 22, 2020.  The chilling effect of EO 13950 on our collective efforts to advance our nation’s public health has been swift and alarming. We stand with the Safe States Alliance, American Public Health Association, and other signatories in calling for this public health action. Our organizations have long worked to ensure the health, well-being, safety, and prosperity of all people in our nation, and we share the belief that the goals of EO 13950 are misguided.

    MPHA is a volunteer-driven professional organization made up of over 430 public health professionals throughout the state of Minnesota. Our mission is to create a healthier Minnesota through effective public health practice and engaged citizens.

    MPHA recognizes that at its core, racism and social injustice of any kind is a public health crisis. Today, our country is in the grips of a global pandemic of historic proportions. Each day, the pandemic inflicts disproportionate damage on communities that have been historically disenfranchised and marginalized. The need to support systemic efforts to bolster diversity, equity and inclusion has never been greater. This EO presents a very real barrier to evidence-based diversity programs and equity-related initiatives across all federal agencies, their grantees and contractors.

    Many of our society’s systems and structures have created unjust barriers that limit opportunities for people based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, and country of origin. These systems and structures reinforce racism, sustain social injustices, and violate the most basic of human rights. As a result of these structural inequities, many people in our country lack job opportunities and living wages, access to quality education, healthy food, safe neighborhoods, quality housing, or basic healthcare. Additionally, these circumstances can create or exacerbate many adverse issues, including child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and community violence. We believe that these systemic and structural barriers undermine our collective efforts to advance the health, well-being and prosperity of all people.

    Racial equity conversations serve as a catalyst for change, moving diverse communities in a unified approach toward achieving equitable opportunities and health outcomes for all marginalized groups. Thoughtful trainings in the workplace help build awareness and dialogue, produce transformative ideas, and implement sustainable solutions that improve our nation’s public health. MPHA has begun a concurrent journey to have similar conversations to better serve the people of Minnesota in efforts to advance the health, well-being and prosperity of all people.

    Governments, local, state and federal must work to ensure that everyone – regardless of their race, orientation, nationality, or country of origin – has an opportunity to achieve economic, educational, and personal prosperity throughout their lifetimes.

    We look forward to working with you to rescind EO 13950. Furthermore, we offer ourselves as a resource on many other policies that have the potential to significantly improve our nation’s health and quality of life. For more information, or to discuss this issue in greater detail, please feel free to contact Merry Grande, Executive Director of the Minnesota Public Health Association, at


    Merry Grande, MPHA Executive Director

    Kathleen Norlien, MPHA President

    Jaime Martinez, Erica Fishman, Melanie Peterson-Hickey, MPHA Health Equity Committee Chairs

    Annie Halland, Laura Klein, MPHA Policy and Advocacy Committee Chairs

    CC to Minnesota Congressional Delegates: 

    Senator Tina Smith

    Senator Amy Kloubuchar

    Representative Jim Hagedorn

    Representative Angie Craig

    Representative Dean Phillips

    Representative Betty McCollum

    Representative Illhan Omar

    Representative Tom Emmer

    Representative Michelle Fischbach 

    Representative Pete Stauber

    Minnesota Governor Tim Walz

    Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan

  • July 15, 2020 4:51 PM | Anonymous

    The Honorable Tim Walz

    Governor of Minnesota
    130 State Capitol
    75 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55155

    RE: Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis

    Dear Governor Walz:

    We are writing today to ask that you to join other governmental bodies1 in declaring racism a public health crisis in Minnesota. The Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA), a professional association comprised of public health workers, health care providers, advocates and students, is dedicated to the health of all people who live in Minnesota.

    The recent killing of George Floyd underscores the need for rapid changes to address the health inequities that exist within Minnesota. A growing number of cities, counties and states throughout our nation have already declared racism a public health crisis, and followed those declarations with an allocation of resources and strategic actions to drive needed changes to move toward health equity. The same, swift action should be taken here in Minnesota.

    According to data from the United Health Foundation, Minnesota has ranked in the top 10 healthiest states in the nation for the past three decades. But this ranking does not tell the whole story. Too many people in Minnesota are not as healthy as they could and should be, and the health disparities that exist are significant, persistent and cannot be explained by genetic factors. Minnesota’s disparities are manifested in our population’s unequal health outcomes and mortality rates. The opportunity to be healthy should be equally available everywhere and for everyone, but the data reveals otherwise.

    MPHA is acutely aware of the significant and longstanding disparities in health outcomes among African Americans, American Indians and other populations of color in Minnesota and elsewhere. These disparities are an indication of deep systemic inequities that exist to prevent some communities from thriving and achieving optimal health. The landmark report from the Minnesota Department of Health Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota2 identified the social determinants of health (e.g. poverty, income, and housing) as well as systemic issues such as structural racism, discrimination, and conscious and unconscious racism that are deeply engrained in all of our systems and benefit some populations, while having an adverse impact on others. These inequities and health disparities are evidenced in health outcomes, and most recently seen in the higher rates of illness and death in our American Indian and populations of color due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Racism manifests itself in institutional and structural ways (e.g. laws, institutions, schools, justice system, media and culture) that deeply harm the health and well-being of our communities. In Minnesota, African Americans, American Indians and other populations of color, particularly Black and Indigenous populations, experience higher rates of nearly every adverse measure of population health. These populations have higher rates of infant and maternal mortality, cancer, diabetes, pulmonary and heart diseases, and have shorter average lifespans than whites.3 American Indians and other populations of color have less access to homeownership and other economic opportunities, and are less likely to reach grade-specific proficiency in math and reading or graduate high school. Additionally, these populations are exposed to more pollution than their white neighbors.4

    As the premier public health association in Minnesota, with over 100 years of history, the Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA) thanks you for your outstanding leadership. We ask that you declare that racism is a public health crisis that affects both our state and the entire country. We urge you to commit to making Minnesota a place of racial equity and justice for American Indians and communities of color.


    The MPHA Governing Council

    Kristen Ackert, Donna Anderson, Michelle Brasure, Donna DeGracia, Erica Fishman, Matt Flory, Jessica Flotterud, Nancy Franke Wilson, Merry Grande, Annie Halland, Cindy Kallstrom, Laura Klein, Holly Kostrzewski, Jaime Martinez, Elizabeth Moe, Kristin Moore, Julie Myhre, Kathy Norlien, Melanie Peterson-Hickey, Kalli Plump, Ellen Saliares, Cherylee Sherry, Claire Flemming Sivongsay, and Ann Zukoski

    4. g report.pdf?la=en, disproportionate-burden-air-pollution
  • May 30, 2020 4:42 PM | Anonymous

    Dear MPHA Members and Supporters,

    On behalf of the Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA), we would like to extend our sincere con- dolences to the family and friends of Mr. George Floyd who lost his life in Minneapolis police custody on May 25, 2020. We know that many of you have seen the video that was shared widely via social and other media formats. Many of us are angry and heartbroken at the death of Mr. Floyd and the subse- quent violence in our communities.

    As public health professionals, students, advocates, and health providers we are acutely aware of the significant and longstanding disparities in health outcomes among African Americans, American Indians and other Populations of Color (POC) in Minnesota and elsewhere. These disparities are a symbol of deep systemic inequities that exist to prevent some communities from thriving and achieving optimal health. The landmark report from the Minnesota Department of Health “Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota” identified the social determinants of health (e.g. poverty, income, and housing) as well as systemic issues such as structural racism, discrimination, and conscious and unconscious racism that are deeply engrained in all of our systems and serve to benefit some populations while having an adverse impact on others. We see these inequities clearly through disparities in health outcomes, most recently through the higher rates of illness and death due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    We grieve with all Minnesotans for the disturbing and unnecessary death of Mr. Floyd. At this time, we also implore our MPHA membership and all Minnesotans to join with us to create more just and equitable systems and institutions, unravel systemic inequities such as racism and discrimination, and promote equitable distribution of resources and services that can reach communities that are most vulnerable. Civic action, education, and advocacy have a successful history of bringing about change in our country and contribute to constructive dialogue. We can use these tools to advance health equity for all Minnesotans. The health, safety and security of Minnesota depends on it.


    Minnesota Public Health Association Acknowledgment of Ancestral Lands Statement:

    Minnesota Department of Health

    Discrimination Helpline

    If you have experienced or witnessed an incident of discrimination or bias call Minnesota's Discrimination Helpline at 1-833-454-0148 or submit this online form at inquiryform/. The helpline is staffed by investigators from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

    Translation/interpretation services are available. This information is available in other languages at

    American Public Health Association


    Racism: The Ultimate Underlying Condition. Tuesday June 9, 2020; 1-2:30 CT. Register here:

    COVID-19 and Health Equity — Exploring Disparities and Long-Term Health Impacts. Watch the Webinar:

    Web pages

    COVID-19 and Equity disease/coronavirus/equity

    Racism and Health

    Article and Report

    Minnesota Department of Health. (2014) Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota: Report to the Legislature.

    Health Equity: Racism and Its Impact on Public Health; Rivard Report – 2017.

    Anti-racism resources for white people bilebasic

    Voices for Racial Justice: Voter

    Voter Information for Requesting an Absentee Ballot:

  • April 08, 2020 4:57 PM | Anonymous member

    Access PDF of the statement here.

    Statement by the MPHA Health Equity Committee, April 8, 2020

    The Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA) opposes the deportation of Hmong and Lao individuals from Laos who are legal, permanent residents in Minnesota. Minnesota is home to 82,000 Hmong residents, the largest concentration in the United States, and 17,800 Lao residents, the fourth largest population in the country. These communities have made a profound impact on Minnesota's economy, culture and leadership. Uprooting this community is unjust, immoral, and a betrayal of our country's patriotic duty to these refugees. MPHA stands in solidarity with these communities.

    Lub Koos Haum Minnesota Public Health Assocation (MPHA) tsis pom zoo muab Hmoob thiab Nplog cov muaj xam xaj, muaj npav ntsuab nyob Minnesota xa rov qab mus Nplog Teb. Minnesota yog lub lav uas muaj Hmoob coob tshaj plaws rau ib lub nroog haum teb chaws me kas. Hauv Minnesota no Hmoob coob txog li 82,000 tus tib neeg thiab Nplog muaj txog li 17,800 tus tib neeg, coob zeeg 4 nyob rau teb chaws me kas. Hmoob thiab Nplog muaj txiaj ntsim pab tsim kho thiab ntxiv kev lag kev luam, txheej txheem kev cai thiab kev coj noj coj ua rau hauv Minnesota. Yog rhuav tshem cov haiv neeg no, nws yuav siv tsis tau, tsis ncaj ncees thiab rov taw tuam ntuj rau kev uas yuav los pab tiv thaiv cov neeg tawg rog khiav teb chaws no. MPHA muaj kev koom siab thiab yuav tuav tes nrog haiv neeg Hmoob thiab Nplog ua ke.

    Seeking asylum is a human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (“Refugee Convention”) and its 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (“1967 Protocol”) prohibit the United States from returning refugees to persecution, and the 1980 Refugee Act set up a formal process for applying for asylum in the United States. However, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) created a barrage of new barriers to asylum. These impediments have blocked many refugees from accessing asylum in the United States and inserted additional layers of technicalities, screening, and processing, undermining the effectiveness of the US asylum system.1

    Minnesota is home to 82,000 Hmong residents, the largest concentration in the United States, and 17,800 Lao residents, the fourth largest population in the country.2 These are strong and vibrant communities that have made a profound impact on Minnesota's economy, culture and leadership. 

    In 2018, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the United States would begin imposing visa restrictions on Laos as a means to pressure this Southeast Asian nation into a deportation agreement with theUnited States.3 IIRIRA allows for the deportation of legal permanent residents in the United States who have committed a crime at some point in their lives, even though many of them have completed their sentence and gone on to be productive members of society. Individuals who made mistakes, accepted the consequences, and have gone on to be valuable, contributing members of our community are the model of success for our justice system. Yet, under IIRIRA, these individuals are vulnerable to deportation, an act whereby they would be stripped of their homes, communities, and lives as Americans; this is a disproportionate level of punishment.4

    The individuals facing deportation under IIRIRA are legal permanent residents of the United States. They are Americans who sought refuge here with their families as a result of American geopolitics in Southeast Asia. Inthe shadows of the Vietnam War, the CIA organized a secret war in neighboring Laos to prevent communism from spreading deeper into Southeast Asia. The Hmong fought for the U.S. — and for themselves— to keep Ho Chi Minh’s regime from destroying their way of life.5 These very groups fought on behalf of the United States during the Secret War. After Laos fell to Communism in 1975, these allies of the United States had to flee in order to escape persecution. Many of these refugees settled in Minnesota.

    Minnesota Hmong and Lao people are business owners, combat veterans, elected officials and judges who fought alongside American soldiers, and passionate people who have enriched Minnesota's culture into what it is today. Most of the Southeast Asian Americans with a deportation order have never lived in those countries or no longer have ties there. Uprooting this community is unjust, immoral, and a betrayal of our country's patriotic duty to these refugees.6

    The Minnesota Public Health Association joins Minnesota Governor Tim Waltz and the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans in opposing the deportation of legal, permanent residents in Minnesota. We stand in solidarity with these communities who lost their homelands in aiding the United States in Southeast Asia and have become part of the rich tapestry of Minnesota. 

    1. Center for Immigration Studies. 
    2. Minnesota Compass. Minnesota’s Cultural Communities. Accessed 2/21/2020. 
    3. DHS Announces Implementation of Visa Sanctions, July 10, 2018. Accessed 2/21/2020. 
    4. Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans Statement regarding the potential deportation of certain Lao and Hmong Americans. Accessed 2/21/2020. 
    5. America's Secret War: Minnesota Remembers Vietnam. Twin Cities PBS. Accessed 2/21/2020. 
    6. Minnesota Governor Tim Waltz letter, February 18, 2020. Accessed 2/21/2020.
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