2019 TRUST Awards
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TRUST Forum Awards Trust Forum - Courage

Congratulations to Our 2019 Award Recipients

Collaboration and Partnerships:

This award honors a woman who is building partnerships within an organization or forging collaborative external relationships that address a common goal where both parties benefit.

Maria Christu
Children's Minnesota

Learn more about Maria...

For Maria, a conversation with a physician underscored an unsettling health crisis. The doctor had spent his afternoon advocating for an infant patient to receive a specific type of baby formula because the insurer initially denied the claim. The fact that a physician had to attend and advocate at an administrative trial for a basic need — proper food to nourish a small baby who struggled to gain weight and thrive — made Maria realize firsthand how better health requires more than medicine or the care people receive in a hospital or clinic. She set out to create the Children’s Healthcare Legal Partnership to bring legal assistance to help resolve concerns not directly related to clinical care — like nutrition, housing and transportation. This is the only pediatric-specific program in Minnesota and serves patients who are often the youngest and most vulnerable.

Susan Gunderson

Learn more about Susan...

Susan consistently seeks out of innovative partnerships to increase organ/tissue donation. In 2016, LifeSource heard from donor hospitals and donor families that they would be better served by working with one donation agency. In response, Susan led an expansion of LifeSource programs to include eye donation. LifeSource is currently providing eye donation services at 59 hospitals and has cared for more than 200 eye donors and their families. LifeSource partnered with Hennepin County Medical Center to receive a grant from the State of Minnesota to increase donation in the state’s Native American community. The resulting campaign, created in partnership with the Twin Cities Native American community, has led to increased conversations and support for donation. LifeSource partnered with the Department of Natural Resources to pass legislation allowing Minnesotans to register as donors on their hunting and fishing licenses. We’re the first state with a partnership between a state agency focused on natural resources and an organ donation agency.

Jennifer Dixson Hoff & Susan Jeska
Children's Minnesota

Learn more about Jennifer & Susan...

Susan and Jennifer’s collaboration has resulted in a groundbreaking, best practice academic/service partnership. Capella’s revolutionary FlexPath online learning format has empowered UnitedHealth Group learners to set their own pace for course completion, making the dream of higher education a tangible reality for employees already balancing full work and personal lives. Susan and Jennifer created an academic platform customized to achieve not only industry standards, but also UHG’s values-based competencies and desired program outcomes. Tailored field experiences aligning with UHG strategic initiatives, continuous quality improvement through dedicated learner support systems, course evaluations and ongoing collaboration enable UHG employees to maximize their educational opportunities and rise to the challenges presented by the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environment called health care.

Katy Kirchner

Learn more about Katy...

When Katy was given the challenge of starting a Correctional Care program with the local jails and a clinic where inmates could be seen after incarceration, she implemented a community approach to create a larger impact — on the inmate population and the community. She leveraged partnerships with local law enforcement, social services, community mental health, probation, NAMI, Veterans Affairs and more. She helped create a Community Multidisciplinary Team. This team collaborates daily for case review and to share information. Katy understands one agency can’t be everything to everybody, and she’s been successful in helping those involved understand the value of collaboration and innovation. Local law enforcement has seen in-custody holds related to mental health decrease by an average of 25 percent in one year. The Coordinated Care Clinic has seen cost of care for patients decrease by 30 percent and patients’ perception of their health has increased by 33 percent in nine months.


Health and Well-being:

This award honors a woman who advances the health and well-being of individuals, organizations and communities.

Marna Canterbury
Lakeview Health System – HealthPartners

Learn more about Marna...

To address the root causes of the obesity epidemic, Marna has been developing programs to promote good health. Since 2011, she has developed programs that help create an environment where the healthy choice is the easiest choice. One key program is the PowerUp School Challenge, a fun-filled, three-week program to get students in kindergarten through fifth grade excited about trying for five fruits and vegetables every day. The PowerUp School Challenge has grown from 32 schools in 2012, to 61 schools in 2018. About 25,000 students participated in 2018. In a survey, the majority of staff (82 percent) and families (71 percent) said that as a result of the School Challenge, students are or are trying to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Shanda Demorest
University of Minnesota School of Nursing

Learn more about Shanda...

Climate change has been called “the world’s largest public health threat” by the Lancet Commission and other leading international health organizations. Human health is drastically impacted by climate change in multiple ways. Dr. Shanda Demorest works as a cardiac staff nurse at Abbott Northwestern, where she consistently encourages her colleagues and leaders to adopt environmental practices in their roles. She led her floor in launching a unit-wide recycling initiative and waste sort to evaluate their output and work together to make changes to improve their recycling patterns. At the University of Minnesota, Shanda is co-developing an interdisciplinary AHC Climate Change Curriculum with faculty from each of the AHC schools (Dentistry, Medical, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, Veterinary Medicine). She leads the student-practice session of the curriculum. These are just two examples of many that Shanda takes to save our planet.

Chris Freytag
Get Healthy U

Learn more about Chris...

Chris has been motivating women of all ages to make exercise and “movement” accessible, affordable and fun. In particular, Chris focuses on women in their 40s, 50s, 60s and above to realize that they can — and should — move their bodies for better health. Chris also educates on eating healthy (not dieting) and living your most fit life. Chris speaks to corporate groups about wellness and healthy living. Her website, www.GetHealthyU.com, and social media reach over 2 million women each month with free healthy living tips, advice and recipes. Her membership website, www.GetHealthyUTV.com, has over 10,000 members and is growing. She realized that so many women don’t have the time, access or money to spend on a gym membership and feel defeated. She wanted to create workouts that “felt like the gym right in your own home.”

Deneen Vojta
UnitedHealth Group

Learn more about Deneen...

Today, over 100 million American adults have diabetes or prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. By 2020, half of the population could have diabetes or prediabetes (meaning a 40 percent increase for a disease already raging across the country). These alarming statistics drove Dr. Vojta to devote a lifetime to diabetes and obesity prevention for the people UnitedHealth Group serves as well as the Minnesota community she calls home. Dr. Vojta helped develop UnitedHealthcare’s Diabetes Health Plan and was one of the chief architects of the community-based Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance, which includes the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Y-USA. She also was instrumental in creating the JOIN For ME childhood obesity program to improve health and wellness among children and teens — and helped develop Real Appeal, a science-based, internet reality TV weight loss program that has helped participants lose nearly 2 million pounds to date.


Innovation and Technology:

This award honors an innovative woman who is leading technological advances in health care that improve health outcomes, patient care and/or business impact.

Kimberly Hansen

Learn more about Kimberly...

We know that patients are frustrated when they get a new prescription to fill, but only realize when they get to the pharmacy that it is really expensive, or not covered by their benefits. They sometimes leave the pharmacy without the prescription due to the cost, or they spend a lot of time working with their physician to get the prescription changed to an equivalent drug that’s covered.
Kimberly’s project intervenes at the point of care. While the patient is in the provider’s office, the EMR asks the provider to get both pre-authorization and to understand the cost of the prescription. If there is an alternative lower-tiered drug, it is identified — as well as the cost — so that the physician can determine, right then if they should prescribe an equivalent lower tiered drug. It means the patient has the right information for the right medication with pre-authorization and understands the costs.

Susan Jepson
Hennepin Healthcare

Learn more about Susan...

Susan and her innovation team at Upstream Health asked, “How might we reduce the ‘no show’ rates to medical appointments at Hennepin Healthcare?” HCMC has 170,000 “no show” appointments annually — and 43 percent were simple visits. Just under 50 percent of these “no show” patients live within 2 miles of the clinics. In Spring 2016, Upstream Health partnered with Hennepin Healthcare to begin prototyping for the best solution. Providing transportation to clinic appointments is not a new idea, but involving human centric design to determine an efficient solution was unique for Hennepin Healthcare, its patients and transportation partners. A proactive automated product knows there is an appointment and automatically sends an SMS text asking the patient if they want a ride. The patient simply texts “ready” when they are ready to go home. All this is done without an app because these patients cannot afford data plans.

Through APIs from the electronic health record, Hitch Health can request the necessary data to dispatch rides, manage cancellations and adjust transportation based on appointment rescheduling.

Anne LaFlamme
M Health – Fairview

Learn more about Anne...

A specific example of Anne’s IT innovation is her redesign of the clinical informatics function at M-Health and Fairview to support a newly organized health care system. She built a unique and modern informatics function for Electronic Health Record/Health Information Technology Continuous Improvement. This team optimizes electronic clinical content and associated tools for ten diverse specialty service lines and the full spectrum of care domains across the system. The addition of a Continuous Improvement Informatics team and program managers focused on clinical content standardization and clinical technologies provide the system with informatics functions aligned to organizational priorities. Anne is the founding leader of the Technology and Innovation Nursing Council that is part of the system Nursing Council structure. This nurse-led council engages frontline nursing staff in shared decision-making for technology and innovation improvement initiatives. For instance, Anne gathered a team of nurses to attend Microsoft training to define nursing-specific use cases for use of the new operating system, gives nurses early access to applications before system deployment and ensures nursing and clinical staff participate in equipment and vendor selection, testing and deployment.

Rajni Shah

Learn more about Rajni...

MyMeds is a new innovative technology company focused on helping patients to manage and understand their medications through digital tools to stay engaged in their health and connect with their human care teams. Recognizing that the modern medication experience is more than just receiving reminders, the MyMeds Digital+Human approach was designed to provide users access to a variety of educational resources to learn more about their medications, how and why they are taking them, and secure communications with pharmacist-led patient care teams, so they’re never alone in their medication-taking journeys. This was determined by meeting with patients, pharmacists and physicians to understand their needs before fully building the platform. In order to bring MyMeds to the market, Dr. Shah had to learn to navigate the system and overcome the hurdles that come with entering a new space, while recognizing her limited human and financial capacity. In her role at MyMeds, Rajni was instrumental in creating buy-in and keeping the partners at the table throughout long procurement processes.



This award celebrates the woman who is viewed by her team, peers, superiors and business partners as an exceptional leader (e.g., she is imaginative, creative, resourceful, encouraging and results-oriented.

Kay Greenlee

Learn more about Kay...

As a leader, Kay is not satisfied with the status quo. She continually looks for opportunities for improvement. Just one example of many…The creation of a clinical utilization program started in ICU, where CentraCare Health evaluated how to reduce clinical variation, increase quality and ultimately reduce the cost to deliver care. Success here led to development of the Clinical Utilization program at St. Cloud Hospital. The program has achieved a return of $80 million over ten years. Kay’s ability to influence has been central to the success of CentraCare. She has the ability to navigate, lead and inspire improvement throughout the organization. The challenges she has faced have been numerous, but Kay persists because she is truly dedicated to improving the care provided to patients, families and communities.

Helen Kim
Hennepin Healthcare

Learn more about Helen...

Dr. Helen Kim is a true visionary, and does not compromise her vision despite any barriers she encounters. The outcome of her fortitude is the Mother Baby Program at Hennepin Healthcare. Launched in 2013, it remains the only program in Minnesota and the fourth in the nation to focus on perinatal women and their attachment to their babies. Convincing such a large and complex institution as Hennepin Healthcare to invest in a new venture at that time took resourcefulness, diplomacy, imagination and strength. Helen does not waste any opportunity to educate colleagues, friends and our community about the impact of historical trauma and adverse childhood events on human development. Her program improves the mental health of future generations through giving parents the tools they need to address their own mental health and trauma experiences, so they can be better parents. Health care is not just about office visits or hospital admissions — Helen understands the importance of caring for the whole person. She has led Hennepin Healthcare to create the Redleaf Center for Family Healing, which encompasses mental health care, complementary therapies, child care and education, and is intended to serve families holistically so that future generations are less impacted by childhood trauma. This will become a national model, not only for clinical care, but for the research and promotion of a new trauma-informed approach to health care.

Carolyn Porta
University of Minnesota School of Nursing

Learn more about Carolyn...

Carolyn has the profound ability to see the big picture — to consider the immediate and future implications of action or inaction. She considers multiple perspectives, and the impact that decisions can have in the short and long term. She also considers, but is not limited, by the past. Her futuristic insight identified the need for new models of clinical and community practice using previously unrecognized content with a concentration on victims of violence, the falsely accused and the prevention of injustice for each. Carolyn is one of four faculty at the University of Minnesota leading a $63 million, 5-year project funded by the United States Agency for International Development focused on preparing the next generation of professionals involved in preventing and responding to emerging infectious disease threats, including Ebola and Anthrax. Dr. Porta leads the technical team for the Africa region and in this role, actively supports multi-national, multi-sector educational interventions with 17 university partners in nine countries across Africa. She is also the Director of Global Health for the School of Nursing and co-chairs the leadership council for the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota.

Nikki Shultz

Learn more about Nicki...

Nikki leads the Family Engagement Center on the Special Needs Initiative at UnitedHealthcare. Her team is responsible for supporting families who have children with complex health care needs. Nikki set out to build an Engagement Center, not a call center. She built a place where people wanted to come into work every day because they had a deep sense of purpose and a desire to help families with compassion. She set a different tone and expectations for the way the Family Engagement Center would operate. In little more than a year, Nikki grew her team from 13 people to more than 300. The team went from serving 5,000 families to 32,000 families. Satisfaction scores improved even with the rapid growth of the team. She spends much of her day coaching supervisors and team members, managing change and seeking innovative approaches to help more families all while ensuring the operations run smoothly with quality as the priority.


Volunteer Engagement:

This award honors a woman who volunteers her time to advance a health initiative and is an unsung hero.

Annie Ballantine
The Soul of Style

Learn more about Annie...

Annie was nominated by Be The Match. Over the last four years, Annie has demonstrated incredible leadership for the Be The Match Volunteer Board of Ambassadors (BOA), supporting their Minneapolis Gala. Be The Match is the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on saving lives through blood stem cell transplantation. Among the thousands of generous individuals who give their time and talent, Annie’s contributions to increasing awareness for Be The Match and driving fundraising through her volunteer leadership rise to the top. Through her leadership, the group of BOA volunteers she leads have raised more than $400,000 to enhance patient financial assistance programs, fund life-saving research and fund a more diverse registry, helping more patients in need of a transplant find their matched, unrelated donor. Annie’s philosophy centers on the joy of giving back. She inspires others to find the “soul of money,” meaning the happiness that can be found in impacting the lives of others through philanthropy and volunteerism.

Mary Beth Dondelinger

Learn more about Mary Beth...

Twenty-one years ago, Mary Beth (MB) Dondelinger started a volunteer effort to raise funds for a colleague who was facing a health crisis. That seed was the start of MB personally creating and orchestrating an annual UnitedHealth Group Charity Golf Tournament in Minnesota. Each year, the effort is put on completely with volunteers that MB has rallied, to continue this tradition and support charities in need. MB, along with her amazing volunteers, work for months and months to make this day incredibly special for the golfers, volunteers, sponsors — and most of all, the charities. Since 1997, this Charity Golf Tournament has raised $6.8 million for 37 different charitable organizations. Each year, team members across the enterprise nominate the charities that the event will support, so that they are tied to a personal story or connection that the nominators have with that charity.





Women's Health Leadership TRUST

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