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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. 

Laura Waterman wittstock
racial justice & Health equity AWARD


This Laura Waterman Wittstock award is presented to a person or team who has demonstrated their 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. Nominees are to reflect the expansiveness of the field of public health itself and come from a variety of areas ranging from occupational and environmental health to health policy, epidemiology, and community health. Nominees may also have a primary career that is not directly within the field of public health. 

In this light, the award is a tribute to and named in memory of Laura Waterman Wittstock. She was an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, Heron Clan, and was born on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation in New York State. Her extensive work spanned from journalism to youth development education to organizer. As an award-winning journalist, Waterman Wittstock authored numerous books—documenting and teaching about American Indian history—including the following: Changing communities, changing foundations: The story of the diversity efforts of twenty community foundations (1998); We Are Still Here: A Photographic History of the American Indian Movement (2013) and Ininatig's Gift of Sugar: Traditional Native Sugarmaking (1993). Waterman Wittstock also co-founded the Minneapolis non-profit, MIGIZI, that trains American Indian youth and young adults in media as a means to develop tools to tell their own stories and promote green jobs. Her body of work is inspiring and reflects the intricate ways that her passion to support American Indian youth coalesced with her love of writing and her deep commitment to education to forge positive change in Minnesota and across the United States.


Guidelines for Nominees:

  1. May or may not be a current or past member of the Minnesota Public Health Association (MPHA).
  2. Nominee may or may not be a citizen of the United States. 
  3. Must be thirteen (13) years of age or older.
  4. Should have made a contribution that exemplifies MPHA's goal to promote racial justice and health equity.
  5. Should have made a contribution to intentionally transform internal systems (government, reservation government, nonprofit/for profit or labor unions), practices, and policies to address power imbalances that create health and racial inequity.
  6. Should have worked across government(s), including tribal and Minnesota government agencies, to re-envision government so that it supports the needs of people most impacted by inequity and racism.

Laura Waterman Wittstock Racial Justice & Health Equity Award Recipients

2022    Mary Manning

2023    Vayong Moua

2024    Kris Rhodes

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