For Your Health
For Your Health

News from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences

Rural and public health awardees to be honored at 2019 Dakota Conference

From UND’s Center for Rural Health: The Outstanding Rural and Public Health Award recipients for 2019 will be recognized at the Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health’s annual banquet on Wednesday, June 12 in Minot.

The North Dakota Public Health Association (NDPHA) will present three awards:

  • Tiffany Boespflug, public health nurse and program manager, Grand Forks Public Health, is the Public Health Worker of the Year. This award recognizes an NDPHA member who has made a significant contribution in the field of public health in the past year.
  • Keith Johnson, administrator, Custer Health in Mandan, is the Outstanding Service award winner. The Outstanding Service award honors an individual who has exhibited continued excellence in the field of public health.
  • Rolette County Public Health District Health Tracks in Rolla is the Public Health Team of the Year. This award honors a team that has worked collaboratively on a unique, creative, or outstanding public health effort, program, or goal. Members of the team are Sara Hendrickson, Jennifer Tandeski, Renae Henderson, Cheryl Bonn, and Tara Berg.

The Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health planning committee will present 10 awards:

  • Daniel R. Kelly, CEO/administrator of McKenzie County Healthcare Systems in Watford City, is the Outstanding Rural Health Professional. This award is presented to a health care professional in rural North Dakota who has demonstrated leadership in the delivery of rural health services.
  • Dennis Muffenbier, volunteer at Heart of America Medical Center in Rugby, is the Outstanding Rural Health Volunteer. This award recognizes the contributions made by a community person who has volunteered to contribute his or her energy, time, and skill toward the betterment of rural health care.
  • Barbara West, nursing and diabetes educator at West River Health Services in Hettinger, is the Outstanding Rural Educator/Mentor. This award recognizes a professional who has made outstanding contributions to the education, development, and placement of new health care professionals in rural North Dakota communities.
  • Desirae Friskop, registered dietitian at CHI Friendship in Grafton, is the Emerging Rural Leader. This award recognizes a new professional who has demonstrated tremendous promise for and commitment to improving the health of rural North Dakota residents.
  • Joan Heckamen, North Dakota senator from District 23 in New Rockford, is the Legislator of the Year. This award recognizes an outstanding North Dakota legislator, congressional representative, or legislative aid for his or her work and support of rural and public health initiatives that address an identified need in his or her district. The criteria used to select this award recipient include a person who introduces or supports an existing piece of legislation that addresses an identified rural or public health need or issue; a person who demonstrates leadership in the community; and a person who incorporates community input into the planning process.
  • CenteringPregnancy Prenatal Care, CHI St. Alexius in Dickinson, earned the Outstanding Rural Health Program award. This award is presented to a program that delivers services in innovative ways through collaborative partnerships to improve access and quality of care to rural North Dakota residents.
  • Duane Glasner, MD, health officer for Rolette County Public Health District and retired family practitioner at Presentation Medical Center in Rolla, garnered the Outstanding Rural Health Career award. This is the first time this award is being given. This honor is presented to a health care professional who has devoted his or her career to making significant contributions to improving health care in rural North Dakota.
  • Mid-Dakota Education Cooperative is the R-COOL-Health Scrubs Camp of the Year for the Scrubs Camp they hosted in Velva. This award is presented to the grantee that hosted the Scrubs Camp deemed as the top camp of the year based on the overall combination of a number of factors, including the health professions students are exposed to, innovative and interactive activities, collaboration of community partners and local health care professionals, and organization of the camp and grant process.

This year Debra Middleton and Clark Kruta are the Outstanding Rural Providers:

  • Debra Middleton is a family nurse practitioner at Cooperstown Medical Center in Cooperstown.
  • Clark Kruta is a nurse anesthetist at CHI Mercy Health in Valley City. The Outstanding Rural Health Provider award is presented to a health care clinician whose practice is in rural North Dakota and has made important contributions to their communities and areas.

The awards banquet is open to the public. To purchase tickets, visit our website at or contact Julie Reiten at the Center for Rural Health at For more information about the Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health, visit

The Dakota Conference is coordinated and facilitated by the Center for Rural Health (CRH) at the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine & Health Sciences. The planning committee is a partnership between Altru Health System, CRH, North Dakota Public Health Association, North Dakota Rural Health Association, and the UND College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines.