St. Louis County Board presents Public Health Achievement Awards

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Public Health & Human Services Dept. • 320 West Second Street, Suite 605 • Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: (218) 726-2096 •

Linnea Mirsch




April 2, 2024

CONTACT: Dana Kazel, Communications Manager

218-725-5049 (office) • 218-591-2219 (cell)


St. Louis County Board presents Public Health Achievement Awards

The goals of public health include preventing disease and injury, promoting healthy communities, and protecting against health threats. Achieving these goals takes the support of individuals, families, communities and the public health field. On Tuesday, the St. Louis County Board recognized two groups and two individuals for their work to improve health in our region. Honorees this year include Divine Konnections Inc., Teri Morrison, the Youth Mental Health Day Committee, and Mallory Cummings. 


Divine Konnections Inc. provides housing and wrap-around services to un-housed and displaced young mothers in the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. It operates Annie's House of Refuge and Restoration in Duluth, a home that provides a communal-style sanctuary for moms and their babies to live safely and securely. With the goal of ending the cycle of childhood trauma, staff work with moms to connect with health care providers that match individual values, securing childcare, furthering their education, and eventually help them attain long-term housing. Honorees include Deyona Kirk, Tatianna Kirk and Tatiana Bergum. 


Teri Morrison is the Community Health Program Manager at Bois Forte Health and Human Services. In that role, she collaborates with state, county and tribal entities to protect the community and build a sustainable public health system. She and her staff work to educate people on services available including nutrition education and food sovereignty, family spirit programs, and Diabetic Prevention Programming. Last year they developed a new Community Food shelf for Nett Lake that offers many local, culturally driven foods such as Bison, wild rice and red lake walleye and serves enrolled members and non-members in near-by communities. 


The Youth Mental Health Days Committee was started by concerned individuals who were seeing the need both personally and professionally to address the youth mental health crisis affecting the community. Among the committee's initiatives: Youth Mental Health Night, where local mental health and healthy lifestyle vendors were invited to a fun, family event to share their resources in an inviting, stigma-free setting at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm. They also established a Youth Mental Health Ambassador Program within schools. The partnership has grown to include representatives from Minnesota Discovery Center, Fairview Range, Essentia Health, St. Louis County Public Health, the Northeast Service Cooperative, Project Aware, school districts in northern St. Louis County, Now Matters Now, the St. Louis County Family Services Collaborative and the Regional Suicide Prevention Coordinator.


Mallory Cummings is a registered Nurse at St. Luke's, working in Women and Children Services. Her work has ranged from increasing immunization rates to strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of perinatal care within the St. Luke’s hospital system. She is partnering with public health on a pilot project to work with women with elevated risk of hyper-tension. Most recently, she secured grant funding to increase access to doula services regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.


The Public Health Achievement Awards are given out as part of National Public Health Week, which is the first full week of April each year. St. Louis County presents these annual awards as a way to highlight the broad role of its Public Health staff, and the importance of the many partners they work with to improve the health of both individuals and larger groups as they seek to create community- or system-wide change.


"Public health is more than just health care," said Amy Westbrook, Public Health division director for St. Louis County. "It's the steps we take to make sure our neighborhoods have access to healthy food, quality streets, and a well-maintained environment. It's making sure our food and water are safe to eat and drink. It’s working in community to prevent substance misuse, prevent suicide, and promote harm reduction strategies. It's also the relationships we foster in our communities." 


As part of her remarks, Westbrook highlighted some of the work the Public Health Division completed in 2023:

  • Coordinated care for more than 1,500 adults over the age of 65 years 
  • Made nearly 3,000 home visits to young families
  • In response to on-going HIV outbreaks, worked alongside native American-focused organizations to support a culturally-specific HIV prevention campaign, as well as with other organizations to assure testing and treatment were available to residents who may not typically access traditional healthcare
  • Served nearly 3,000 young families in nutrition programs
  • Followed-up with 51 young children to address lead toxicity
  • Brought the theatrical Lion Heart Experience to multiple schools for the purpose of infusing a strong sense of self-worth into their students and educators.

St. Louis County Public Health is a division of the Public Health and Human Services Department. Public Health nurses, educators, planners, social workers, nutritionists and other staff work through a variety of programs to help pregnant moms deliver healthy babies, and at-risk families to give young children a better chance at positive development. They also help elderly clients maintain independent living, and work with community partners to address factors - such as environment, income and education level, lifestyle and genetics - that affect health and well being. Public Health also plays a key role in disaster preparedness planning. To learn more, call (218) 725-5210 or visit


Public Health Achievement Awards 2024

The St. Louis County Board presented Public Health Achievement Awards to two organizations and two individuals. Honorees include Divine Konnections, Teri Morrison, the Youth Mental Health Day Committee, and Mallory Cummings.

Divine Konnections

The County Board presented a Public Health Achievement Award to Divine Konnections Inc. for it's work providing housing and wrap-around services to un-housed and displaced young mothers in the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. Shown above are Commissioner Patrick Boyle, Tatianna Kirk, Tatiana Bergum. and Public Health Division Director Amy Westbrook. Divine Konnections Exec. Director Deyona Kirk was unable to attend, but joined virtually and is shown on the phone screen.

Teri Morrison

The County Board presented a Public Health Achievement Award to Teri Morrison, the Community Health Program Manager at Bois Forte Health and Human Services. She is shown above (center) with Commissioner Patrick Boyle and St. Louis County Public Health Division Director Amy Westbrook.

Youth Mental Health Day Committee

The Youth Mental Health Day Committee was honored by the County Board with a Public Health Achievement Award. Shown, L-R, are (front row) Cassie Liubakka, Jessica Schuster, and Sierra Napoli-Thein; and (back row) Commissioner Patrick Boyle, Alicia Dick, Aubrie Hoover, Amy Westbrook, Susan Degnan, and Ray Jobe.

Mallory Cummings award

Mallory Cummings from St. Luke's was honored with a Public Health Achievement Award for her work with pregnant and post-partum individuals and families in the region, improving health outcomes. Cummings was unable to attend Tuesday's Board Meeting.