Recognizing that 80% of health is determined by the conditions where people are born, live, learn, work and play, and only 20% by their access to health care, The Children’s Minnesota Collective for Community Health aims to improve the health of children and families – both inside and outside of our hospitals and clinics – by working together with community partners and other organizations.

How we partner

The Collective anchors Children’s Minnesota’s partnerships with community, public and private sector partners by:

  • Advocating for public policies and systems changes that help improve health for children and families.
  • Connecting families with social and legal services to address health-related social needs (like housing, food, and legal support) through our programs Community Connect and the Healthcare Legal Partnership.
  • Co-creating innovative community solutions that eliminate health disparities and advance health equity.
  • Engaging partners via our Community Health Needs Assessment and forthcoming advisory council that brings together community representatives across sectors with Children’s Minnesota leaders to guide our long-term work.
  • Serving as a central entry point for partners in the public, private and non-profit sectors to collaborate with Children’s Minnesota’s clinical care, research, education, policy, community health and advocacy efforts.

Meet the Collective leadership team

Take a minute to get to know the leaders on our team.

James Burroughs, Senior vice president, government and community relations, chief equity and inclusion officer

James Burroughs leads the Collective. James joined Children’s Minnesota as the first chief equity and inclusion officer in January 2019, and is now the senior vice president, government and community relations, chief equity and inclusion officer. He is responsible for advancing equity and inclusion across the organization as well as leading advocacy, government affairs and community relations. Read his full bio.

Read his articles in the In the Burroughs blog

Lauren Gilchrist, Senior director of the Collective for Community Health

Lauren Gilchrist is the senior director of the Collective. Gilchrist served as executive vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood North Central States. She also held key senior leadership roles in the public sector, including in the offices of former Governor Mark Dayton, former U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, and the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. She has a MPH from the University of Minnesota and a BA from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Amanda Jansen, Director of Public Policy

Amanda advocates for kid-centric local, state and federal policies on behalf of the families that Children’s Minnesota serves. She is a self-described “policy nerd” who loves building collaborative relationships to shape vibrant, healthy communities. Amanda holds a Master of Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Cindy Nelson-Kaigama, Director of Community Health

Cindy is the Director of Community Health and leads Community Connect and the Healthcare Legal Partnership. Cindy brings over 20 years of experience as a solutions-driven health and human services leader serving people throughout the lifespan. She is committed to partnering with the patients and community we serve.

Megan Peterlinz, Community Affairs Program Manager

Megan is passionate about authentic community engagement and advocating for policies that support Minnesota’s children and families. She focuses on cultivating community relationships, organizing support for public policy priorities and managing Children’s Minnesota Community Health Needs Assessment process. Megan earned her Master of Public Health degree from St. Catherine University in May 2018.

Kjelsey Polzin, Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program manager

Kjelsey joined the advocacy team in 2017 and enjoys being an advocate for all children in Minnesota! She graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a degree in Community Health. She began her career at Children’s Minnseota as an intern for the Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program and was hooked. She is now the program manager for the federally funded statewide program that ensures all children in our state receive the best appropriate care in a health emergency. Kjelsey’s passion for volunteering and health/wellness has guided her to be a Hands Joining Hands co-chair and also advocacy’s Wellness Champion.

Resources and more information

Every day decisions are made — in the legislature and throughout the community — that impact health care for children. Children’s Minnesota has an advocacy team that calls attention to health and health care issues that impact children and their families.

Learn more about advocacy at Children’s Minnesota

Join the Children’s Minnesota Advocacy Network

Community Connect helps families find critical resources and thrive.

Learn about Community Connect

The Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) is a tool that helps us identify the health needs and priorities of children, families and communities.

Clinic in the Classroom is a webinar series for school nurses and school health professionals and discusses topics on caring for pediatric patients and their families.

Go here for upcoming and past sessions.

Community Benefits are services and programs Children’s provides with the goal of improving access to health care and overall health. We report on community benefit activities on an annual basis.

Learn more in our most recent annual report.

Through Kid Experts On Demand (formerly Speakers Bureau), health care organizations, employee and community groups and other allied health professionals can hear directly from Children’s Minnesota pediatric health care professionals on a variety of topics.

Learn more about Kid Experts On Demand

The Minnesota Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMS for Children or EMSC) Program was established to help improve the pediatric emergency care infrastructure throughout Minnesota. EMS for Children is a federally funded statewide collaborative program between Children’s Minnesota and the Minnesota Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board.

EMSC’s mission is to reduce child and youth mortality, and morbidity resulting from severe illness or trauma. In partnership with the EMS Regulatory Board, EMSC works to fulfill the federal requirements of the grant. The program has an advisory committee that spans across Minnesota including EMS agencies, rural and urban hospitals, the state’s poison center, school nurses and family representation

Learn more about the EMSC program.