The Story of New Ulm: A Pursuit of Health Transformation

Monday, 9:00am to 10:15am
Lake Superior Ballroom

Realizing the full health potential of a community requires a multi-layered transformative strategy. This presentation translates nine years of development, implementation and evaluation experience from the Hearts Beat Back: Heart of New Ulm Project - a ten-year research demonstration project in New Ulm. The presenter will discuss community best practices, forming strategic partnerships, data analytics to support health improvement, and creating a sustainable model for long-term success.  

Presentation Objectives

  • Describe how to drive a community transformation agenda to propel health as a shared value across community partnerships.
  • Identify strategies for leveraging data to target and engage those most at risk and share data for community engagement and impact.
  • Summarize a sustainable framework for community transformation.
Toby Freier

Toby Freier, MBA, FACHE

New Ulm Medical Center

Toby Freier is President of New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) and Vice President of the West Region Community Hospitals of Allina Health. During his time as President, NUMC has received the AHA Nova Award, the Minnesota Hospital Association Innovation of the Year and Community Health Improvement Awards, the Top 100 Critical Access Hospital Award by iVantage, as well as numerous recognitions for quality and patient experience. NUMC, a part of Allina Health, is a fully integrated rural delivery system and national leader in population health due to the Heart of New Ulm project and being an Accountable Care Organization. Toby is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and has been a frequent speaker across the nation on rural health transformation.

Breaking Down Walls

Monday, 3:15pm to 4:15pm
Lake Superior Ballroom

This keynote will explore innovative approaches to improving health outcomes by addressing conditions that support healthy people and communities. The focus is on operationalizing the social determinants of health and well-being.


  1. Describe the links between health inequities and historic patterns of residential separation, segregation and isolation.
  2. Describe lessons learned from innovative community-based and national approaches to build bridges across geographic, cultural, racial, religious, gender and generational divides.
  3. Summarize evidence that supports links between civility efforts, reduction of toxic stress and the benefits of building consensus to support positive health policies.
Dr. Gail C. Christopher

Gail C. Christopher, PhD, DN

The Nitanu Center for Healing and Nature

Dr. Gail C. Christopher is an award-winning change agent widely recognized for designing holistic strategies for social change. She is the former Senior Advisor and Vice President of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and past Executive Director of The Institute for Government Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Rural Health, Minnesota Health: 20 Years of Community and Collaboration

Tuesday, 8:00am to 8:50am
Lake Superior Ballroom

As the Minnesota Rural Health Conference marks its 20th anniversary, there is much to celebrate in the rural health community - at the local and statewide level - even as much work remains. Join Commissioner Malcolm as she reflects on this year's theme of "Community: The Heart of Health" from her perspective of leading the Minnesota Department of Health during the early years of the Minnesota Rural Health Conference and again today.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm

Jan Malcolm

Minnesota Department of Health

Prior to being re-appointed, Commissioner Jan Malcolm was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, where she co-directed a national research and leadership development program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Malcolm previously served as CEO of the Courage Center and as President of the Courage Kenny Foundation; Vice President of Public Affairs and Philanthropy at Allina Health; and from 1999 to 2003, Malcolm served as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health. Throughout her career, Malcolm has been active in state and national health care, public health associations, and government commissions on health care access and quality.