Dr. Kathleen Annette receives Honorary Doctorate–the highest honor bestowed by the University of Minnesota.
Kathleen Annette, the first woman in the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe to become a physician in 1983, has been nominated and received an Honorary Doctor of Law, the highest award conferred by the University of Minnesota. Dr. Annette was chosen for her impactful work at the intersection of public health.
“She is a powerful yet kind and humble person whose mentoring and leadership has had a positive influence on countless individuals as well as Native and rural communities,” says Dr. James Boulger, PhD, Distinguished University Teaching Professor Emeritus.
Dr. Annette graduated with a degree in chemistry and a doctor of medicine in 1983 from the University of Minnesota. She started her career in Indian Health Service (IHS) leadership roles–serving as chief of staff, chief medical officer and becoming the first woman in the Bemidji Indian Health Service in Minnesota to serve as an area director.
With more than sixty thousand American Indians in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, Dr. Annette managed healthcare programs and services for the Bemidji Area. These facilities included urban health clinics, walk-in first aid centers and fully staffed hospitals and clinics with labs.
“I think that I have been blessed to be able to take leadership roles locally, statewide and nationally in Indian health issues. I make a difference in Indian youths that I have mentored—always advocating education and commitment to Indian people,” states Dr. Annette.
After retiring from Indian Health Service, she went on to work as CEO of the Blandin Foundation. Throughout her career, Dr. Annette has been recognized as a selfless innovator and leader who has performed outstanding community service, such as her rural community-building work at the foundation that had a significant influence in Minnesota.
Dr. Annette has received numerous awards throughout her career for her remarkable legacy, including the U.S. Public Health Service Outstanding Service Award and the Association of American Indian Physicians Recognition Award for Endeavors in American Indian Education on AIDS. She was also the first woman appointed to the Academy of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Duluth Campus.
“Her tireless advocacy for people in rural areas, American Indian people, and those with limited opportunities are notable and worthy of commendation. For the broad impact she has had on public health, people and communities throughout her career, Dr. Annette deserves the University of Minnesota’s highest honor,” says Lendley Black, Chancellor Emeritus, University of Minnesota Duluth.