Minnesota Public Health Association

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

Policy forums

2022-2023 MPHA "Public Health Matters" Policy Forum Series

Safety is No Accident:

Public Health Approaches to Injury Prevention

We are pleased to announce that we will be back to in-person forums at the New Brighton Community Center!  Additionally, all forums will be broadcast on Facebook Live. To view the live stream, click here.

Check-in and a light breakfast begin at 7:30am. Forums begin promptly at 8:00 am and conclude at 9:30am.

Our four forums will bring together thought-leaders and public health advocates working to address safety issues that surround us.  Click here to view the 2022-2023 series flyer 

Register for January 20!

January 20, 2023…at Work

Workplace and worker safety are growing concerns. Panelists at this forum will examine safety measures and training programs designed to keep where we work and who we work with safe.

Moderator: Annie Halland

UCare, County, Tribal and Public Health Manager

MPHA Past Policy & Advocacy Committee Co-Chair

Panelist: Robert Servian

Robert Servian works for MNOSHA Workplace Safety Consultation (WSC) as a Safety Consultant Principal.

OSHA Workplace Safety works with employers and employees to solve safety and health problems before they occur. It offers free on-site consultation service s, upon request, to help employers improve their safety and health record and lower accident costs. MNOSHA WSC consultants help employers recognize hazards, make recommendations for solving problems and suggest other sources of help that are available.

Robert consults mostly around construction safety and provides safety training for the construction employees often in both English and Spanish.

Panelist: Peter C. Raynor, PhD, FAIHA


Director, Industrial Hygiene Program

University of Minnesota School of Public Health

Environmental Health Sciences

Panelist: Jeff Bender DVM, MS DACVPM

Dr. Jeff Bender is a Professor in the School of Public Health and an adjunct professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. He is currently the Director for the NIOSH funded Upper Midwest Agriculture Safety and Health Center (UMASH), a Center focused on improving the health of agriculture workers and their families. His primary teaching and research interests include infection prevention, disease surveillance, emerging zoonotic diseases, occupational safety, food safety and antimicrobial resistance.

Jeff’s career has spanned a 30-year period first as a practicing veterinarian in Wisconsin and Minnesota. After obtaining a Master’s degree in epidemiology, he worked for the Minnesota Department of Health in the Acute Disease Epidemiology Unit focusing on zoonotic and foodborne outbreak investigations. He worked with the MDH surveillance team to implement routine PFGE surveillance of foodborne pathogens documenting the utility of combined epidemiologic and laboratory molecular methods. When Dr. Bender moved to the University of Minnesota, he continued his close collaboration with Industry, State and Federal Agencies. This included human-animal interface studies through the Centers for Excellence Influenza Research and Surveillance and CDC funded Influenza Cooperative agreements studying viral transmission between poultry, pigs, and humans. In addition, he served as the Director for the USAID funded One Health Workforce Project, a workforce development program focused on preventing, detecting, and responding to emerging pandemic threats. During this time, he has had the privilege to work with a number of exceptional students, residents, and faculty.

March 24, 2023 …in our Communities & Schools

Are our community spaces becoming more violent? Is anywhere safe? This forum will examine the initiatives that have emerged to change the narrative about community safety and the community environments where we live, learn, work and play.

Moderator and panelists to be announced.

May 12, 2023…on the Move

Minnesotans are always on the move – in cars, on motorcycles, on bikes, using public transportation, and on the water, too. From road safety to water safety, how are public health initiatives working to keep us safe while we are on the go?

Moderator and panelists to be announced.

We are looking for some friends -- will you be one?

A “Friends of the Forum” $50 sponsorship ensures the continuation of this yearly series. Sponsorship includes your participation in all four of the forums. Your name will be listed as a Friend of the Forum and displayed on the ZOOM screen at the start of each forum and again when the forum closes. 

There are two ways you can sign up to be a Friend of the Forum:

  • Register at the "Friends of the Forum" level for the October 28 Policy Forum Event. Please note that you will only have to register once, as we will automatically register you for the additional 3 forums in the series. 
  • Make a donation and make a note that states "policy forum." We will process it accordingly and automatically register you for all forums at the "Friend of the Forum" level. 

 Thank you for your support!

Sponsorship opportunities!

Past 2022-2023 MPHA "Public Health Matters" Policy Forums

October 28, 2022…at Home

October 28th Agenda

Our homes are havens but keeping them that way is no accident. Our panelists will explore the world of policymaking, safety codes, and more to making living in our homes safe.

Moderator: Kenneth Bence, MHA, MBA, Past MPHA President 

Kenneth Bence is the Director of Research, Analysis and Policy for the Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota (ARRM), a non-profit association of nearly 200 providers, businesses and advocates dedicated to leading the advancement of home and community-based services supporting people living with disabilities. In this role, he is responsible for creating and maintaining data systems that support ARRM’s legislative agenda and advocacy efforts on behalf of its members. With over 30 years of experience in healthcare and related sectors, he has worked with managed care organizations, state and local public health departments, coalitions, community health improvement partnerships, and non-profit foundations. He has served on several Boards of Directors for non-profit organizations, and is a past president of the Minnesota Public Health Association. Finally, with over 20 years as a paid-on-call firefighter and current Battalion Chief with the Golden Valley Fire Department, he brings a unique public safety perspective to his work.

Panelist: Lisa Smestad

Lisa Smestad has worked for the Minneapolis Health Department for over 25 years and is currently the manager of the Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes unit. She has run multiple Federal grants for lead hazards, healthy homes and asthma and participated in several research projects on asthma.

Panelist: Dawn Simonson

Dawn Simonson has more than 20 years of experience in the field of aging, healthcare and advocacy, Dawn is recognized for her leadership as an innovator and collaborator. She is the current chair of the Minnesota Leadership Council on Aging and is past president of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, currently serving on their Mission Forward Committee. Dawn has a Master of Public Affairs degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. She was named one of the 100 most influential healthcare leaders in 2020 by Minnesota Physician magazine.

Panelist: Amanda Swenson

Amanda Swenson has been a part of the Minnesota fire service for the past 13 years as both a volunteer firefighter and in her current role as Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal. She is dedicated to prevention and safety education to keep Minnesotans safer from fire. She has a master’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota. When not at work, she enjoys life on the farm with her husband and two Dalmatians.

Past MPHA "Public Health Matters" Policy Forum Series Themes

Challenges in Education, Maternal and Child Health, Food and

Nutrition, and in a Coordinated

Global Response

Continuing where we left off at the beginning of 2020, we will continue to explore the intersection between environmental health and health equity in the water we use? In the places we live? For our vulnerable populations? And in our public health response?

How have we been working?; Can we work smarter?; Can we work better?; Where are we headed?


Who Can You Trust?

In making health care decisions; To deliver health care messages; When thinking about food, drugs & nutritional supplements; In your community

Mental health and the healthcare system; Community planning & development; Our changed and changing society; Climate change & public health

For newborns; For early childhood; For the world around them; For safety & well being

Where we Work; Play; Learn; and Eat

For the Children; For Aging Parents; For Kinship & Grandparenting Roles; For the Silver Tsunami

What’s healthy about it?;What’s new beyond the birds and the bees?; (Addictive behaviors) What are our teens getting into?; (Sports participation) Are the risks and benefits in balance?


What Plagues Our Children? …

Healthy Children/Healthy Schools—Who’s Playing in the Sandbox?; What are we (or aren’t we) doing about childhood obesity?; Are we winning (or losing) the battle on teenage mental health?; What chemicals are our children eating, drinking and breathing?

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