As the advocacy team at Children’s Minnesota, it’s our job to bring health home through active community engagement and strong public policy advocacy. Our work is founded in the understanding that health is largely driven by factors outside of clinical care, a respect for community knowledge and a belief that every child deserves to be healthy and well. As a result, we work hard to influence federal, state and local public policy decisions and building relationships with organizations and people who share an interest in supporting children and families.
How you can help
You don’t have to work at Children’s to help us advocate for Children’s, patients and families. Learn how you can be a voice for children.
Meet our team
Take a minute to get to know the members of our team:
Jessica Block, Community Affairs Specialist
Jessica supports Children’s community presence and the community voice elements of the Advocacy and Health Policy work, while also providing expert guidance and project management support. Jessica’s work includes three main areas of focus: 1) clinically‑aligned, community health oriented projects and programs, 2) community engagement and events, and 3) communications and network-building.
Prior to joining Children’s is 2014, Jessica was an elementary educator. She made a switch to join the health care industry in order to pursue her passion for advancing health equity, reducing health disparities and positively impacting the health and well‑being of children and families in Minnesota through advocacy and community engagement. Jessica’s interests outside of work include traveling, cooking and spending time with friends and family. She considers herself a life-long learner and enjoys trying new things.
Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Winona State University.
Kjelsey Polzin, Emergency Medical Services for Children 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 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. The 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 a vast Advisory Committee that spans across Minnesota including EMS agencies, rural and urban hospitals, the state’s Poison Center, school nurses and family representation. 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.
Additionally, she loves hanging out with her husband, family and friends, traveling, being active, exploring the great outdoors (when the weather is nice), and being an auntie to her four nephews and three nieces.
Megan Precht, Community Affairs Coordinator
Megan provides foundational support to Children’s advocacy, community and health equity strategic priorities. She works to execute the tactical elements of plans, programs and initiatives from the broad and diverse body of Advocacy Department work that includes external community and advocacy activities as well as internally-oriented, clinically-aligned community health programs. Megan has a passion for public health, partnership building and developing projects that address health equity and have measureable impact.
Prior to joining Children’s in April, 2018, Megan was the Community Engagement Coordinator at KARE 11. During her 5+ years there, she managed KARE 11’s media partnerships, community initiatives and worked to continuously build relationships with nonprofit organizations. When she isn’t working, Megan loves to read, travel, try new recipes and take advantage of all of the outdoor activities that the Twin Cities has to offer.
Ms. Precht will be receiving her Master of Public Health degree from St. Catherine University in May, 2018. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health Education from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in 2011.
Pam Ross, Director, Community Health Programs
Pam leads programs at the intersection of clinical practice and community health. Her work is closely aligned with Children’s value-based care initiatives and she partners with teams across Children’s to improve the health of children and families. Key initiatives include Community Connect (a social determinants of health intervention) and Children’s Healthcare Legal Partnership. Before joining the team in 2015, Pam worked at Allina Health and UnitedHealth Group, leading several initiatives around community benefit, community programming and evaluation, and community-focused grantmaking.
Along with her family, Pam aspires to take advantage of all that the Twin Cities has to offer – from great music, festivals, plays, museums, and restaurants to our amazing parks and lakes. Pam received her undergraduate degree from Colgate University and both her law degree and Master in Health Administration from Tulane University.
Lisa Skjefte, American Indian Community Liaison
Lisa began working at Children’s in the fall of 2014. In her current role, she works with the Advocacy and Health Policy and Social Work teams to connect patient experience and community voice back to Children’s. Lisa has helped launch an initiative called The First Gift, a space for American Indian community members to come together to make baby moccasins to give back to American Indian families whose babies are in the Special Care Nursery and NICU units.
Lisa is a citizen of the Red Lake Nation of Ojibwe. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Lisa is also a co-founder of an Indigenous Women’s Wellness movement called KWESTRONG, Kwe, pronounced “qway” in the Ojibwe language, means woman. KWESTRONG organizes an American Indian Women and girls triathlon, Run Bike Canoe, each year on the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis.
Kelly Wolfe, Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy
Kelly Wolfe, Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy at Children’s, leads the organization’s government relations and policy advocacy department that advances Children’s mission and vision. She oversees city, state and federal public policy issues ranging from Medicaid funding, hospital operations, and children’s health and development.
Prior to joining Children’s six years ago, she was the Director of Government Relations at the Stinson Leonard Street Law Firm. During her five years there, she represented health and social service non-profits, economic development organizations, and education clients at the Capitol. She provided strategic and political counsel in addition to building coalitions and relationships with key legislative and agency stakeholders.
In addition, she served two years as a senate staffer and as a Leadership Assistant to the Minnesota State Senate Majority Leader.
When she is not storming the halls of the Capitol, she can be found spending time with her family and watching SEC football (Roll Tide!). Originally from Alabama, she relishes in the warm Minnesota summers and loves exploring the beautiful scenery of Minnesota. She has a seven-year old little boy who keeps her on her toes and makes her laugh daily and a two-year-old funny, little girl who consumes the other half of her heart.
Ms. Wolfe received her Master of Public Policy from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute in 2004 and her B.A. in English from the University of Alabama.
Anna Youngerman, Senior Director of Advocacy and Value-Based care
Anna Youngerman is the Senior Director of Advocacy and Value-Based Care at Children’s Minnesota. In this capacity, she has overseen the organization’s government relations, community engagement and health equity work. In her time at Children’s, Anna has developed a more robust and engaged approach to community-oriented work and advanced strategic initiatives focused on the social determinants of health and racial equity. Her role has expanded to include oversight of Children’s value-based care efforts that are focused on driving more progressive payment and health delivery models. In this role, Anna aligns the organization’s clinical, operational, IT, care management and community health functions to drive greater value for families and the health care system.
Prior to joining the Children’s team, Anna was a director at Himle Horner Inc., one of the Twin Cities region’s leading public affairs and public relations agencies. Previously, she spent several years with the Minnesota House of Representatives DFL Caucus, in legislative and campaign capacities. Prior to her legislative caucus experience, Anna spent time in the St. Paul capitol pressroom as legislative assistant to the Twin Cities NBC affiliate KARE 11’s capitol reporter.
Anna earned her bachelor’s degree in English at Lake Forest College in Illinois. She resides in Edina with her husband, Rob Leighton, their two young children and two (drop in-and-out) young adult children.