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Keynote Speakers

Commissioner Edward Ehlinger, MD, MSPH
Keynote Speaker

Edward Ehlinger, [el-ing-gur] MD, MSPH is Minnesota's Commissioner of Health and past President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). As commissioner, Ehlinger is responsible for directing the work of the Minnesota Department of Health - the state's lead public health agency, dedicated to protecting, maintaining and improving the health of all Minnesotans. Prior to his appointment as health commissioner by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton in January of 2011, Dr. Ehlinger was director and chief health officer at Boynton Health Service at the University of Minnesota. From 1980 to 1995, Ehlinger served as director of Personal Health Services for the Minneapolis Health Department. Dr. Ehlinger is also an adjunct professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the U of M School of Public Health. He is board certified in pediatrics and internal medicine.

Spotlight Speakers

Maggi Adamek
Maggi Adamek is CEO of Terra Soma. She is nationally recognized for her unique, impact-oriented approach to helping people and partnerships create healthy communities. Her longstanding experience with food systems change – from production to consumption – provides clients with clear, strategic counsel and support as they launch initiatives to improve local economies, public health, and agricultural systems. Maggi designed, managed, and led the execution of the Minnesota Food Charter, a statewide, integrated policy and systems change initiative designed to reduce obesity and diet-related disease across the entire state. She has also conducted numerous assessments, provided coaching and training, and guided implementation of policy and systems change initiatives create healthier food environments at municipal, county, and regional levels.
Kenneth Adams
Kenneth F Adams, Ph.D., is an epidemiologist at the Minnesota Cancer Surveillance System, the State of Minnesota’s central cancer registry. His day-to-day work is focused on estimation of cancer rates to support Minnesota Department of Health cancer surveillance and prevention programs, data linkage, and colorectal cancer screening research. He was formerly a postdoctoral fellow at the US National Cancer Institute and a research investigator at HealthPartners Institute.
Kenneth Bence
Chair, MN Cancer Alliance

Ken Bence, MHA, MBA is the Chair of the Minnesota Cancer Alliance Steering Committee. He is also currently the chair of the state’s Maternal and Child Health Advisory Task Force, serves on the leadership board of the American Lung Association in Minnesota and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Alumni Society, and is a past president and current communications chair of the Minnesota Public Health Association. In his “spare” time, he serves as a Battalion Chief on the Golden Valley Fire Department and is the reigning top individual fundraiser for the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb. A current interest is the synergy between public health and public safety in the emerging awareness of increased cancer risk among firefighters.
Anne Blaes
Associate Professor, Hematology & Oncology, U of MN
Masonic Cancer Center

Dr. Anne Blaes is an Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the University of Minnesota. Anne has a special interest in cancer survivorship, the late effects of cancer therapy, and medical education. Her research interests, funded as a BIRCWH K scholar through the NIH, include quality of life, cardiac complications of cancer therapies, and secondary malignancies in cancer survivors. She was co-chair for the Cancer Survivorship committee of MCA and is a member of ASCO’s Cancer Survivorship committee.
Seanne Falconer
ED & Assoc. Cancer Center Director for Administration
Masonic Cancer Center

Seanne Falconer, MBA, is the Executive Director and Associate Cancer Center Director for Administration for the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. She leads the administration of one of the nation’s 47 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers. Ms. Falconer holds a Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Non-Profit Management from Yale University and a Bachelors of Business Administration with majors in Accounting and Management & Human Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to her role at the University of Minnesota, she held leadership positions at Harvard Medical School served in the U.S. Peace Corps, and worked for General Mills, Inc.
Matt Flory
Health Systems Manager
American Cancer Society
Matt Flory has worked for the Minnesota chapter of the American Cancer Society for more than 15 years. In his current position as the Minnesota State Health Systems Manager, he is responsible for increasing cancer prevention and screening through strategic collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Health Insurance Plans and Quality Improvement Organizations such as ICSI, Stratis Health and Minnesota Community Measurement. Matt is the Chair of the MN Cancer Alliance Colon Cancer Network and the Colon Cancer Provider/Practice Recognition Project team. He has been active with the Minnesota Cancer Alliance since it was founded in 2005.
Jerri Hiniker
Program Manager
Stratis Health

Jerri Hiniker is the Program Manager at Stratis Health where she leads the organization’s work in the area of prevention. For the past 11 years she has worked with healthcare providers to plan and help incorporate the latest and most appropriate care for patients. Her expertise is broad and ranges from health information technology and tobacco cessation to shared decision making and quality/risk management. In addition to graduate training in Nursing Informatics and Health Informatics at the College of St. Scholastica, Jerri has years of experience as a registered nurse who has worked in surgical care, critical care, home care and hospice. For the past 8 years she has led the Stratis Health Prevention Collaborative which focuses on tobacco cessation, colon cancer, and breast cancer.
Barb Kunz
Alliance Steering Committee member
Certified Genetic Counselor, Independent consultant

Barb has been a genetic counselor for three decades, and was a cancer genetic counselor through North Memorial for the last 18 years. She is past chair of the Minnesota Genetic Counselor’s Association and just completed six years of service on the Minnesota Cancer Alliance’s steering committee. Through MCA, she is part of a campaign called SuperYou, to increase awareness of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and also worked to obtain state licensure for genetic counselors, which passed in 2016. She is currently a private consultant with a special interest in providing genetic education to healthcare professionals and the public.
Karen Laumb
Independent Consultant
Laumb Consulting LLC

Karen Laumb, MPH, is a cancer survivor and an advocate, serving as a volunteer Legislative Ambassador with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). She is proprietor of Laumb Consulting LLC, providing consulting services related to public health research and practice, grant writing, program operations, and conference planning nationwide. Previously, she served for 10 years as Deputy Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research national program. Other prior experience includes serving as a Program Coordinator in the Center for Community-Based Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and as Assistant Program Director at Education Development Center.
Annie-Laurie McRee
Deputy Dir., Healthy Youth Development
U of MN Prevention Research Center

Annie-Laurie McRee, DrPH, MPH, is faculty in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota and is the Deputy Director of the Healthy Youth Development Prevention Research Center. Her research focuses on adolescent preventive services and vaccination. Over the past decade, she has conducted multiple studies on HPV vaccination among diverse populations. Current studies examine mobile health approaches to increasing HPV vaccination among sexual minority youth, and provider communication strategies to address parental vaccination hesitancy.
Kris Newcomer
Executive Director
Firefly Sisterhood

Kris Newcomber is the executive director at the Firefly Sisterhood. In the short time since Firefly Sisterhood’s inception, she has learned the immediate and powerful value of talking to someone who has “been there.” For their participants, the Sisters who request the guidance of one of their peer mentors, the conversations are critical to their well-being. This year alone, the Firefly Sisterhood will serve 350 women with breast cancer. This is her passion project; she was interviewed to establish the organization the same month her sister-in-law underwent a bilateral mastectomy.
Francisco Ramirez
Community Health Worker Fairview Southdale

Francisco Ramirez is a family physician trained in Guadalajara, Mexico. Mr. Ramirez moved to San Francisco in 2004, where he worked as a clinic-based health educator. He moved to Minnesota in 2012 with his family. Francisco was hired in 2013 as Fairview Health Service’s first community health worker. Since then, he has educated thousands of Minnesotans on chronic disease prevention in person, over several radio stations and on the local Univision TV channel. Mr. Ramirez believes that partnership is key to health improvement and works to build relationships and trust with underserved communities.
Gay Lynn Richards
MN Dept. of Health - Sage

Gay Lynn Richards is a clinical nurse specialist for the Minnesota Department of Health Cancer Control Section. Richards received her baccalaureate degree in nursing from Dominican University of San Rafael, California, Masters Degree in Public Health from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from St Catherine University, St. Paul in 2012. Her background has been in Oncology Nursing with advanced certification as a Breast Health Specialist from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her work in the cancer field.
Kris Rhodes
CEO/Executive Director
American Indian Cancer Foundation

Kris Rhodes is the executive director of the American Indian Cancer Foundation. Kris Rhodes is enrolled Ojibwe (Bad River & Fond du Lac). Over the past two decades, she has worked to improve the health of American Indian communities. She has conducted community-based research in a variety of areas: breastfeeding promotion, ear infections, teen pregnancy prevention, and is most passionate about finding solutions to the complex tobacco issues among American Indians. The Foundation continually advocates for American Indian specific data and goals within all efforts so that it can better understand the inequities to get to sustainable cancer solutions for all communities.
Margaret Rothstein
Public Health Planner
Aitkin-Itasca-Coochiching Community Health Board

Maggie Rothstein is the Public Health Planner for the Aitkin-Itasca-Koochiching Community Health Board, “up north.” She has the wonderful opportunity to work in the community and culture where she grew up in and to try bridge the equity gap of rural Minnesota. While pursuing her Masters in Public Health degree she had the great honor to work with the Minnesota Cancer Alliance through a student position at the Minnesota Department of Health. She went into the job and her studies with an interest in promoting the consumption of nutritious foods, and left with passion for eliminating indoor tanning!
Cathy Skinner
Vice Chair, MN Cancer Alliance; CEO & Founder
The Art of Well

Cathy Skinner is an expert in exercise and wellness for cancer survivors. She was the first certified American College of Sports Medicine Cancer Exercise Specialist in Minnesota. Skinner saw need to reach more survivors with diverse, customizable services. In 2015, she founded Thrivors™ a mobile-technology platform with cancer-specific exercise, nutrition, mindfulness, and community support. Skinner serves as the Vice-Chair of the MN Cancer Alliance.
Pat Stieg
Sr. Health Improvement Mgr., Center for Prevention
BlueCrossBlue Shield of MN

Pat Stieg has been a member of the Minnesota Cancer Alliance Steering Committee for five years, as well as a member of the policy committee – where he has served as chair for the past four years. Pat has worked in the primary prevention of chronic diseases – including cancer, for more than 30 years at the local, state and national levels. He currently works in the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota as a senior health improvement project manager. As a major cause of cancer and other chronic diseases, tobacco prevention and control has long been a part of Pat’s professional work.
Nancy Torrison
Executive Director
A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation

Nancy Torrison has worked at A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation as ED since 2012 fighting for their mission: To fight lung cancer by funding innovative research, raising awareness and supporting patients and their families. It has been her privilege to work alongside hundreds of families, many never smokers, who face a 17% survival rate while dealing with a society that doesn’t value preventative screening and has been taught to blame patients. The sense of injustice, surprise and devastation these families feel motivates her to fight hard for change.
Dan Tranter
MDH Indoor Air Unit

Dan Tranter is the Minnesota Department of Health’s indoor air program supervisor. His unit conducts education, research and enforcement of indoor air hazards. Radon is one of the most significant indoor air hazards because it causes thousands of cancer deaths per year. It is largely preventable through testing and mitigation. Yet there is a great lack of awareness and far too little testing and mitigation occurring in MN. Reducing radon exposure is a Cancer Plan 2025 objective, and conducting education campaigns is one of the strategies.
Lindy Yokanovich
Founder & Executive Director
Cancer Legal Line

Lindy Yokanovich, Esq. is the founder and executive director of Cancer Legal Line, a non-profit organization providing free legal care to Minnesotans affected by cancer. Recognizing that the social determinants of health are often legal issues, Cancer Legal Line works both within, and in alliance with, health care systems to provide whole patient care. Compelled to bring Cancer Legal Line to life after witnessing first hand the many legal questions and difficulties cancer survivors in her own family have faced, Lindy counts her work with Cancer Legal Line as the most profound and gratifying of her legal career.