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Educating and activating health professionals to work toward health equity.

Our Board

Solomon Amare, MD

Dr. Solomon Amare is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota Internal Medicine residency program  working as a hospitalist through HealthPartners after completing a chief resident year. Originally born and raised in Los Angeles before moving to Chicago for medical school, Solomon moved to Minnesota for residency just over 4 years ago and  decided to make it home. Solomon joined Minnesota Doctors for Health Equity to further build those roots while also working toward goals as a new hospitalist to directly work on projects affecting and improving health equity. 


Connor Buechler, MD - Treasurer- Elect

Dr. Connor Buechler is an Internal Medicine and Dermatology resident at the University of Minnesota. Though he was born in Minnesota, he grew up in Mississippi and graduated from the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, where he was active in advocacy and healthcare provision for the homeless as well as expanding racial equity in medical education. He has served in numerous organizations focused on health equity, and has a particular practice interest in under-resourced populations with limited access to medical care. 


Melanie Ferris, MPH

Melanie Ferris joined the University of St. Thomas as Director of Health Equity Program Development for the Morrison Family College of Health in March 2022. In this newly created role, she works on strategic initiatives that advance the mission and values of college through action. Melanie believes improving health outcomes requires holistic and upstream solutions to

increase access to opportunities and influence root causes of inequities. She has over a decade of experience working with health care systems, mental health agencies, government entities, philanthropic institutions, and nonprofit organizations to engage communities in work to better understand and address health inequities. As a trained program evaluator and applied researcher, she is skilled at drawing on evidence-based practices to inform community-led solutions and helping partners use information strategically to guide action. Prior to joining the University of St. Thomas, Melanie worked 14 years at Wilder Research, the research arm of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation and launched her own consulting business in February 2021. Melanie has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Macalester College and Master of Public Health degree from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Melanie lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two daughters.


David Hamlar, MD DDS

Major General (RET) David Hamlar is a craniofacial skull base surgeon and retired from the Minnesota Air National Guard where he was the Assistant Adjutant General. His is on staff at Regions Hospital and HealthPartners Clinics. His affiliation with the University of Minnesota includes training medical students and residents as well as administrative responsibilities on the admissions committee and as a faculty advisor. He is Chair of his Department of Otolaryngology’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and is a member of the Medical School’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. He is currently on multiple Boards to include Twin Cities Chapter Red Cross (Chair), KMOJ Radio (Chair), Minnesota Humanities Center, StarBase Minnesota, and NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center.


Katie McLaughlin, JD

Katie McLaughlin is an attorney and a medical student at the University of Minnesota, having completed her first two years on the Duluth campus. She is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Northwestern University, and Hibbing High School. 

Proud to call greater Minnesota “home,” Katie grew up and now resides on the Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota. Her love for her home community and all of our communities throughout Minnesota is what inspires and drives Katie to help do all she can to advocate for healthcare and human services systems improvement that improves the health and quality of life of all people, including individuals and communities who have historically been marginalized and underserved. 

Katie has over a decade of professional, leadership, and volunteer experiences working across healthcare, human services, law, and youth development in rural, urban, and suburban communities. She is passionate about medical education and mentorship and has served on national committees of the American Medical Association (AMA), American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), and National Rural Health Association (NRHA). She brings to her work with MDHEQ the perspective that partnering with, investing in, and centering the voices of communities are critical to advancing health equity.


Marta Michalska-Smith, MD

Dr. Marta Michalska-Smith is an Assistant Professor in Rheumatology at the University of Minnesota.  She is interested in healthcare disparities, especially those seen in patients with rheumatic diseases such as lupus and scleroderma. She has given educational talks focusing on racial and socioeconomic factors that affect healthcare outcomes in these populations. She also has an interest in healthcare advocacy and has received training through the American College of Rheumatology Advocacy 101 Training Conference, the American Academy of Pediatrics Legislative Conference, and the Association of Women in RheumatologyAdvocacy Training Program and has helped facilitate a legislative advocacy class for the University of Minnesota Medical School “Becoming a Doctor” course. She earned her medical degree from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, completed her Medicine-Pediatrics residency at the University of Minnesota, and her Rheumatology fellowship at George Washington University.


Dannah Nephew

Dannah is a third year medical student at the University of Minnesota Duluth Medical School. She finished her undergraduate years with Bachelor's degrees in Biochemistry and Biology from University of Minnesota Duluth. She is Anishinaabe affiliated with the White Earth band of Ojibwe and is motivated to become a rural physician so she can give back to her community. Born and raised in Minnesota, Dannah plans on staying put in the state to serve Native American/Alaskan Native communities and advocate for equitable healthcare.


Jessica Oaxaca

Jessica Oaxaca is the Advocacy Engagement Manager at Hennepin Healthcare where she leads grassroots advocacy training and engagement efforts and supports direct advocacy work at the state legislature. Her career experience at the Minnesota State Capitol includes leading strategic communications at the legislature and serving as the Deputy Press Secretary for Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. She led community public engagement during her time as District Director for Hennepin County Commissioner Chris LaTondresse. Jessica received a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis on global politics as well as a minor is business law from the University of Minnesota. Originally from Mexico, her family moved to the State of Minnesota to pursue a brighter future. She is passionate about expanding access to quality health care and supporting health professionals to be effective advocates for health equity.


Koushik Paul - Medical Student Director

Paul (He/Him) is a second-year medical student at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus. Paul is an Indigenous Asylee from Bangladesh who got interested in a career in medicine, health equity, and community organizing due to access-related healthcare barriers his family had to navigate in rural Minnesota as farm workers. His interest in health equity became galvanized as Paul realized that other marginalized Minnesota communities experience similar barriers to health equity similar to his family through his volunteering, research, and community organizing experiences prior to medical school. 

Paul holds a variety of leadership roles on campus (and beyond), and an active volunteer in both Duluth and the Twin Cities, working to address health disparities and inequities on the ground.


Cuong Pham, MD - President 

Dr. Cuong Pham is internal medicine and pediatrics trained. He was born in Vietnam and escaped as a refugee at an early age. He was raised in Little Canada, Minnesota and is a proud life-long Golden Gopher from his undergraduate education to residency training. Currently he splits his time doing inpatient medicine at the University of Minnesota and primary care at the Community University Health Care Center.  He is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Minnesota and is the Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee for Graduate Medical Education. He has a focus on immigrant health and has worked abroad from South Africa to Vietnam. He is a licensed Buprenorphine provider, treating patients with opiate addiction. He is also interested in further understanding the impact of opiates on our marginalized populations.

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Rosemond Sarpong Owens, MPH CDM

Rosemond Sarpong Owens loves the Lord, loves people. She is a Pan African, philanthropist, mom, storyteller, and author of the book, “Apples in A Seed” and author of several children’s books under the moniker, “Lion’s Historian”. She is currently at Blue Cross Blue Shield, Minnesota leading the company’s enterprise-wide focus on building racial and health equity into the organization’s mission and business practices to impact systemic racism and health inequities. Rosemond has served on various boards and is currently the Vice President of the Greater Twins Chapter of the Links Incorporated, Chair of the Hennepin Health Care Community Advisory Board and the Chair of the Impact Committee of the March of Dimes, Minnesota Market. Her work has been recognized locally and nationally and was recently awarded the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award President by President Biden in 2022.


Tom Schmidt, MD, MHS - Treasurer 

Tom Schmidt is starting his residency at University of Minnesota in Internal Medicine, with the goal of pursuing a fellowship in Infectious Diseases. Tom is the new Student/Resident board member at MDHEQ. Additionally, he is currently a Twin Cities Medical Society Advocacy Fellow working to improve syringe exchange services in Minnesota.

Having worked in Baltimore conducting HIV/HCV testing before medical school and working  at the syringe exchange within the Red Door Clinic, Tom has become a passionate advocate for harm reduction in the context of infectious diseases. While in medical school, Tom has been actively engaged in advocacy to improve immunization rates in Minnesota, improve Minnesota’s response to the opioid crisis, and harm reduction associated with injection drug use. His advocacy has been within the medical school to change the curriculum regarding pain management and opioids to working with legislators at the State Capitol to pass legislation on opioids. 


Daniel Stein, MD, MPH

Dr. Daniel Stein (He/Him) is a board-certified family medicine and public health physician. Born and raised in Minnesota, he remained in the state to attend medical school at the University of Minnesota, and subsequently received his public health degree through the University of Washington. Dr. Stein is the Clinic Medical Director of the HealthPartners Apple Valley Clinic, the Public Health Consultant for Dakota County, and the chair of the Health Services Advisory Committee through the Minnesota Department of Human Services. He built multidisciplinary teams in the medical home model, restructured safety net services, sat as the president of the local medical society, and served as a Public Health Officer. Specific medical interests include: preventive medicine, health disparities, women's, men's and trans health, LGBTQA+ equity, substance abuse/dependence, and communicable disease management. Aside from medicine, Dr. Stein enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, climbing, cross country skiing, painting, camping, baking, and gardening. 


Angelica Willis, MD, MPH

Dr. Angelica Willis is an Internal Medicine-Pediatrics hospitalist and Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota. She is originally from Michigan and completed medical school and a Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology at the University of Michigan. She then completed Med-Peds residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin before moving to Minnesota. She has been actively involved in health disparities work since college, and her academic interests are primarily in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as in medical education. She strives to be an advocate for her patients and for equitable healthcare for all.



Educating and activating health professionals to work toward health equity


Health Professionals will use their voice, knowledge, and influence to eliminate the inequities that exist in health and healthcare, while working effectively with their patients, health systems, communities, and decision makers to address health equity wherever they live, work, learn, and play.

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