The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has announced the appointment of Dr. Robsan (Halkeno) Tura as the new assistant commissioner for the department’s health equity bureau. Tura assumes the post held previously by Dr. Brooke Cunningham, prior to her appointment in January as commissioner of health.
In his new role, Tura will oversee the department’s Center for Health Equity; diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; and the Office of American Indian Health. He will also serve as the department’s lead for proactive and strategic health equity partnerships and will lead the department’s work to advance equity in its day-to-day services and programs.
He previously served as the director of the department’s Center for Health Equity, where he directed the development, implementation and evaluation of efforts to advance health equity in Minnesota. Before joining MDH, Dr. Tura served as deputy director for Blackhawk County Public Health in Waterloo, Iowa. In that role he drove health equity initiatives, strategic planning and implementation of other programs, including disease surveillance and investigation, maternal and child health, and chronic disease prevention.
He also oversaw the county’s first joint assessment of community health needs, including outreach to underrepresented populations. Prior to that role, he served as director of Refugee and Immigrants Health Programs for EMBARC IOWA in Des Moines. He also has extensive experience in international health initiatives serving Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. He earned his doctorate in public health from the University of Iowa and has master’s degrees in public health education and public health nutrition.
“Halkeno brings a great mix of practical experience and skill to our equity work, and I am thankful for his willingness to step into this new role as part of our management team,” Cunningham said. “The challenges of recent years demonstrated how the health – or lack of health – in any community or individual impacts the health of all. Advancing health equity is essential to ensuring that all Minnesotans have the opportunity to be as healthy as they can be. Halkeno’s expertise and leadership will help us move forward in our work.”
“I envision a public health system that promotes health equity and combats the root causes of health disparities,” Tura said. “I’ve worked to eliminate health disparities all my career, and I look forward to leading this mission-critical bureau to advance equity for all Minnesotans.”