News release: MDH adds new senior leader to accelerate progress toward health equity – Minnesota Department of Health

News Release
Feb. 1, 2022

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MDH adds new senior leader to accelerate progress toward health equity

Dr. Brooke Cunningham will join MDH in March to oversee the effort

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) today announced the creation of a new Health Equity Bureau within the department. This new bureau will house several existing MDH units including the Center for Health Equity and the new Office of American Indian Health. The structure will also serve as the department’s hub for proactive Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts, and will lead the department’s equity work within the COVID-19 response.

“The pandemic continues to demonstrate with shocking clarity the systemic issues underlying Minnesota’s health inequities as well as the troubling health conditions and outcomes magnified by those inequities,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said. “The creation of this new bureau builds on what we have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and reflects our deepening commitment to health equity in all aspects of public health.”

MDH is tapping Dr. Brooke Cunningham to lead this new bureau. Dr. Cunningham is a general internist, sociologist, and assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota, and she will be joining MDH as an assistant commissioner on March 2.

As a primary care provider, Dr. Cunningham practices internal medicine at the Community-University Health Care Clinic (CUHCC), a federally qualified health clinic that serves a diverse patient population. Since fall of 2020, she has co-directed the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Thread, which aims to prepare future physicians to advance health equity. Dr. Cunningham has advocated for deepening connections and partnerships with community members to improve the quality of health care delivery, medical education, and biomedical research. She received her internal medicine training at Duke University and her doctorates in medicine and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Dr. Cunningham brings a remarkable breadth of experience and skill to our equity work, and we are excited to have her join our team,” Commissioner Malcolm said. “Advancing health equity is the work of all of us in public health, and her expertise and leadership will help us move forward not only in the context of the pandemic response but in all aspects of our work.”
Doug Schultz
MDH Communications

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