Lindsay Eales

CHW Spotlight: Lindsey Eales 

Community Health Worker 

Before working at Essentia Health, I was working full-time at Northwood Children’s Services and going to school full-time. I was working towards my Bachelors in Social Work. I had found a job posting as a Community Health Worker at Essentia Health, and prior to this, I had no knowledge about what a Community Health Worker was or did. I did some research, then applied. I received a call that the job was mine, and I was so excited to take on this new role. 

As a Community Health Worker at Essentia Health, I work closely with our IHP Population to help connect them to community resources. In March of 2019, we started a pilot program in three pediatric departments where a questionnaire was sent out with three questions regarding financial resource strain, transportation access, and food insecurities. When a patient screens positive for any one of these social determinants of health, I would follow up to connect them to a community partner Essentia Health is partnered with. A few months later due to the success of the pilot, this questionnaire is now sent out to all patients with a primary care visit. Since COVID-19 surfaced, Essentia Health has identified over 40,000 patients who are considered to be at high risk of contracting the virus. I have also been working with these patients to ensure their needs are being met. 

This role and community health work is important to me because I feel that social determinants of health are often overlooked. For instance, I have worked with several patients who have to decide whether to pay for their monthly prescription of medication, or use that money to get groceries for their family. No person should have to make this kind of decision. We often don’t think about how lack of transportation is going to have an effect on someone’s overall health, or lack of healthy foods. I am so grateful to be a part of this work, and helping to connect our patients to the appropriate resources.

A Message from Cathy

I find myself at a loss for words. I know as a leader I should be able to provide words of wisdom and offer solutions to the tough issues our organization is facing. I must admit, I don’t have anything brilliant or innovative to offer. I believe the best advice for these challenging times is to follow the advice and guidance of our very competent Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) officials. The resource section of this issue highlights important COVID-19 information from MDH and CDC—public health agencies whose expertise we need and trust.

I commend all of you who are working to help those around you. I send special thanks to those of you who are working tirelessly to share information about COVID-19 resources, translate information into languages spoken by the many patients and community members we serve, and for offering emotional and professional support to each other. In this newsletter, we share several examples of how CHW programs here in Minnesota and around the US are making a difference during this crisis. CHWs are now recognized by the US Department of Homeland Security as a critical essential infrastructure worker in our nation’s response to the COVID-19 emergency, and rightfully so.

During this rapidly-changing situation, we can learn from sharing our successes and challenges in helping to meet the needs of our communities and also provide mutual support. If you can, please join the CHW Circle meeting via ZOOM on Wednesday, April1 from 3:00-4:30 p.m., where we will discuss CHW strategies during the time of COVID-19. See our calendar below for call-in information.

The coming months are not going to be easy. Remaining connected and resilient is critical and taking care of yourself and those you love is what matters. I have noticed, as I work from home, things I would not normally take the time to notice – of special note is the cardinal that has taken to hanging in the tree right outside my home office window. When I’m starting to feel the stress build inside, I look to the front of my desk – to the pictures of my darling grandchildren and then turn my head to the left to look for my cardinal. I take deep breaths and say, “this too shall pass.”

Stay well,


Cathy Weik
Board Chair
Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance

Executive Transition Announcement

A Message from the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness that I share my decision to step away from serving as the Executive Director for the MN Community Health Worker Alliance.  The decision in no way reflects my commitment to the organization or my intention to stay involved in a meaningful way.  Unfortunately, I have experienced continued health challenges related to a serious fall I took last fall. The challenges have been such that I do not feel I am able to give my complete focus and attention to the Executive Director role. 

While I won’t be serving as the Executive Director, I will continue to serve as a project manager and will represent the Alliance as a community representative and subject matter expert.

I am confident the work of the Alliance will continue without interruption as we stay engaged with partners that are helping fulfill the organization’s contractual obligations and mission.  Anne Ganey, MPH, continues her work with the Alliance leading projects and serving in the education and training role.  Our collaboration with Stratis Health remains strong as they provide our “back office” administrative support and co-location, this relationship has strengthened the Alliance’s internal capacity.   

During the period of transition, the Alliance’s Board of Directors has delegated the day-to-day operational responsibilities to the board’s executive committee.  Cathy Weik, Sr. VP Administration for Stratis Health serves as the Alliance’s Board Chair and she will serve as the main point of contact. The Alliance’s Executive Committee, along with the other board members, will ensure the Alliance successfully executes on its work and remains a viable and active community collaborator and partner in achieving the vision of equitable and optimal health outcomes for all communities.

I want to thank the Alliance for the fantastic opportunity and for appointing me as the first Community Health Worker to serve as the organization’s Executive Director. I have accomplished great things in my work with the Alliance and have been presented with a wonderful opportunity to grow professionally and personally.  I look forward to my continued work with the Alliance and know I am not saying goodbye, but rather, just changing the role from which I interact with each of you.

Until further notice, please direct your questions to Cathy Weik at  

As always, the Alliance’s website is a wonderful source for answers to many of your questions. Please check this space for upcoming events and resources.

Best regards,


A Note from the Board Chair

June 13, 2018

Dear Partners, Stakeholders, and Friends of the Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance:

We are recently back from our statewide conference, “New Horizons in Community Health” attended by 200 of our colleagues from across Minnesota. The day-long conference brought us together for learning and networking, enabled us to recognize CHW leaders, and come together to envision the next stage of our work together.

I write to share organizational updates with you following our announcement in March of Joan Cleary’s retirement. We continue to move through a series of transitions as we position ourselves for the next exciting chapter for the Alliance. Moving through a leadership transition brings with it an opportunity for the organization to step back and assess where it has been and where it wishes to go. There have already been some early learnings and discoveries for us, most notably that it takes a team to manage the programmatic work as well as the organizational and structural work.

First, on behalf of the Board, I wish to thank Anne Ganey, MPH who initially stepped into the role of Executive Director. Anne is a vital member of our team and we greatly value all that she brings to carrying out our mission. Anne is moving into the role of subject matter expert and consultant. In addition, Joan Cleary remains with the Alliance as a senior advisor and continues to assist with specific projects. As noted in our March announcement, LaTanya Black, a CHW Certificate holder with experience as a CHW, CHW supervisor, and small business owner, will continue to serve in an outreach and advocacy role. We are grateful to Anne, Joan, and LaTanya for their vast wealth of expertise and deep knowledge.

Further, we have hired an interim management firm, Strategic Consulting & Coaching (www.strategic-, to provide executive leadership and support and strengthening our bandwidth to work on critical programmatic issues. Renae Oswald Anderson is serving as our interim executive director and is supported by Strategic Consulting & Coaching’s team of highly experienced professionals.

As we move through this time of transition, we have identified three primary areas of focus for the Alliance:

  • Education and training for CHWs and those organizations that employ CHWs
  • Advancing the field
  • Continuing policy support in the areas of health access and equity, workforce diversity, and the Triple Aim through federal, state, local, and institutional policy change

On behalf of our Board, thank you for all you do in support of the MN Community Health Worker Alliance. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Cathy Weik, Chair
Board of Directors
Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance