2023 Health and Biomedical Sciences Summit Presenters
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Dr. Mary Owen
Dr. Mary Owen is a member of the Tlingit nation. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School and North Memorial Family Practice Residency Program before returning home to work for her tribal community in Juneau, Alaska. After eleven years of full-scope family medicine, she returned to the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth in 2014, as the Director of the Center of American Indian and Minority Health (CAIMH). Her work includes: developing and managing programs to increase the numbers of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) students entering medical careers, outreaching to local and national Native leaders to ensure University of Minnesota Medical School remain in tune with AIAN health care and education needs, developing an AIAN track for all students interested in providing healthcare to AIAN communities and developing research efforts to address AIAN health disparities. She continues to provide clinical care at the Center of American Indian Resources in Duluth and is the current President of the Association of American Indian Physicians.
Matt Conetta is a Licensed Psychologist who practices at Open Door Health Center. Matt earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Adler University in Chicago, IL. His training in the Chicagoland area exposed Matt to a diverse set of experiences after an upbringing in a homogenic area of Connecticut. The graduate school urged public service and Matt followed that encouragement to Southern Minnesota where he began his career in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Wanting to engage with his surrounding community to a greater extent, he now works in a community health setting in both administrative and clinical roles. Matt has worked in a variety of settings with people from all walks of life. Relationships and rapport building with clients is something in which Matt prides himself. He hopes to share strategies he has learned and developed which may be useful for all health professionals.
Dr. Nita Kumar is the Director of Behavior Health for Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota. Nita has an impressive 20-year record of accomplishments in behavioral healthcare, including: health plan operations, behavioral health strategy, compliance, and direct practice. She has experience leading high visibility matters, working effectively with federal, state, county, and private stakeholders. Her areas of passion and expertise is in high-risk youth, suicide prevention, workforce development, access to affordable care, and innovative design. Nita holds licensure as a marriage and family therapist (LMFT), MN MFT Board approved supervisor, and professional clinical counselor (LPCC). She holds a doctorate in human services with emphasis on clinical counseling and marriage and family therapy.
Shelley is the Associate Director of Programs at Swipe Out Hunger. Her enthusiasm for food justice brought her to the front doors of more than 36 food banks during her many years in this work. Shelley has always been a passionate advocate for social change and believes that the answer to food equity can only be found through gender, racial, and economic justice. Shelley’s focus has primarily been in the SNAP program. Most of which has been spent developing, evaluating, and directing food bank outreach programs to ensure that people have access to the benefits they are entitled to. Shelley lives in Omaha, Nebraska where she serves on the Mayor’s board of advisors and many other local community organizations.
Dr. Erin Westfall
Dr. Erin Westfall is the Associate Program Director and Director of Osteopathic Education for the Mayo Clinic Family Medicine Residency in Mankato. She holds an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine position for the Mayo Clinic Medical School and Adjunct Associate Clinical Professor for the Des Moines College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Westfall’s research interests are around issues of health equity and healthcare access, and she chairs the Mayo Clinic Subcommittee on SDOH. She leads the community health curriculum for the residency program and has spearheaded several community partnership efforts, including a Somali health literacy outreach pilot, partnering with an FQHC to deliver mobile care, and improving pediatric health literacy education through partnering with the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota. She led in the development of a medical-dental integration clinic and FoodRx program at the MCHS Mankato-Eastridge Clinic to address food scarcity in the region. Dr. Westfall is developing a sustainable community-based research framework to include a community voice in research interventions that address health inequities in the Mankato area. She is married, has two adorable little girls and a likewise adorable brown dog. She enjoys spending time outside in the dirt; gardening, hiking and playing.
Dr. Misty Wilkie
Dr. Misty L. Wilkie is a Clinical Associate Professor at University of Minnesota School of Nursing. She is a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in Belcourt, ND. Dr. Wilkie was the 15th American Indian to earn a PhD in nursing. She has been in higher education for 17 years. Dr. Wilkie’s focus has always been on AI/AN/Indigenous and minority health, inequities, and improving health outcomes for these populations. She has contributed to advancing knowledge and awareness of these issues through the development of digital clinical simulations with Shadow Health/Elsevier Inc. used by undergraduate and graduate nursing students across the country and establishing programs of support for Indigenous nursing students. She has served on several boards and held a variety of positions on the boards including the National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association, Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation, American Academy of Nursing, and American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Most recently she was appointed by the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs Secretary to serve a 3-year term on the Special Medical Advisory Group to provide guidance on how to best serve AI/AN Veterans.