Doug Blanke, J.D.
Doug Blanke is founder and director of the Public Health Law Center and chair of the Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi Endowed Directorship. He oversees all its programs, with a focus on encouraging healthier lives, including work to reduce the harm caused by tobacco use, prevent childhood obesity, support healthy eating and encourage physical activity. Doug is also executive director of the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, America's legal network for effective tobacco control policies.
Doug’s international work has included monitoring development of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control for the American Lung Association and editing the World Health Organization's handbook on tobacco control legislation. Previously, as an assistant attorney general of the State of Minnesota, he played a key role in the historic Minnesota litigation that resulted in the release of thirty-five million pages of secret tobacco industry documents. He was the 2004 recipient of the American Lung Association's C. Everett Koop "Unsung Hero" Award for his contributions to tobacco control.
B.A., Michigan State University
J.D., Yale Law School
Kerry Cork, J.D.
Kerry Cork, staff attorney at the Public Health Law Center, works primarily for the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, providing legal technical assistance on tobacco and other public health law issues to public health professionals and organizations, legal professionals, and advocates throughout the United States. Kerry also helps oversee the development and dissemination of the Consortium’s publications, and leads other communications initiatives. She has published and presented on tobacco and health law issues and is a principal investigator on both national and local tobacco law research grants.
A long-time legal researcher and writer, Kerry has served as Internet legal counsel for the Dispute Resolution Institute and research attorney for the Legal Research Center. As a law student, Kerry was an editor on the William Mitchell Law Review and a recipient of the Burton Brief Legal Writing Award. For 20 years, she operated her own successful corporate communications company. Her extensive public interest advocacy background includes work for the Hennepin County Legal Aid Society, political asylum cases for Advocates for Human Rights, and service as a guardian ad litem in child protection cases.
B.A., University of Minnesota, magna cum laude
M.A., University of Minnesota
J.D., William Mitchell College of Law
Stephanie Fortman joined the Network's National Coordinating Center as the marketing coordinator. She is involved with print electronic design, social media and event coordination. She has previous experience working with a variety of non-profits and most recently worked at Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation as an events assistant. At PCNF, she enjoyed coordinating events, designing marketing materials and managing volunteers. She spent time at Project Footsteps in 2010, updating the website content and managing social media accounts. A huge animal lover, Stephanie enjoys working as a dog groomer twice a month in Maple Grove, MN.
B.A., Drake University
Mike Freiberg, J.D.
Mike Freiberg is working on two research projects related to menthol in tobacco products and cigarette butt litter. Previously, he researched non-cigarette tobacco products and provided legal technical assistance to jurisdictions around the country working on various tobacco control policies. Mike has worked as an adjunct law professor at the William Mitchell College of Law, having taught classes in legislation and public health law. Mike also serves as a State Representative and spent nine years on the Golden Valley City Council, helping to craft the city’s strong secondhand smoke ordinance that was adopted in 2004. From 1999-2001, Mike worked for a member of Congress as a legislative assistant specializing in health care.
B.A., Georgetown University
J.D., William Mitchell College of Law, salutatorian
Natasha Frost, J.D.
Natasha Frost provides legal technical assistance on public health issues to communities and local governments. Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Natasha worked for The Alliance for Children’s Rights, a public interest law firm that provides a range of legal and other services to children in foster care in Los Angeles County. As the benefits program director, she created and managed a program that represents children and their caregivers to obtain public benefits. While there, she handled more than 300 administrative fair hearings and recovered over $7,000,000 in funding on behalf of needy children. She also provided consulting and technical support to systemic efforts, including litigation and legislation, designed to overcome barriers to accessing benefits and services.
Natasha graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2001, where she was president of the National Lawyers Guild, University of Minnesota Law School Chapter and a recipient of the Minnesota Justice Foundation Law Student Volunteer Award Recipient. Natasha volunteered for Central Minnesota Legal Services, the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, the Institute on Race and Poverty and the Battered Women’s Legal Advocacy Project. She also worked as a research assistant for Professor Beverly Balos.
B.A.,University of Minnesota, magna cum laude
J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, cum laude
Desmond Jenson, J.D.
Desmond Jenson is a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center. He works primarily on shaping federal tobacco control policy by encouraging the Food and Drug Administration to enact strong tobacco control regulations based on its authority under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Desmond also educates the public health and scientific communities about the rulemaking process and highlights opportunities to engage the FDA to create better regulation. He helps the public health community in its efforts to close regulatory gaps and enact novel regulations that anticipate future regulatory issues. Desmond provides legal technical assistance to members of the public health community who wish to participate in the regulatory process and he also provides litigation support to defend tobacco control policies that are challenged by the tobacco industry.
Desmond is a recent graduate of William Mitchell College of Law. During law school he worked as a research assistant at the Public Health Law Center where he helped draft publications and provide legal technical assistance. Desmond received a CALI award in Public Health Law at William Mitchell College of Law.
B.A., Augsburg College, cum laude
J.D., William Mitchell College of Law
Scott Kelly, J.D.
Scott Kelly is a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell College of Law. Scott provides legal technical assistance to Minnesota communities through the Statewide Health Improvement Program (“SHIP”) and federal Community Transformation Grants (“CTG”) on healthy eating, active living, and tobacco control initiatives. Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Scott worked with the League of Minnesota Cities, providing assistance to local governments on a wide range of issues. Scott clerked for the Honorable David C. Higgs with Minnesota’s Second Judicial District, and has served as a lead exam grader with the Minnesota State Board of Law Examiners. Scott serves as chair of the City of Lakeville Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Committee. He is also working towards his Masters of Public and Nonprofit Administration through Metropolitan State University.
B.A., St. John's University
J.D., Hamline University College of Law
Tammy Kempf provides day-to-day administrative support for the Public Health Law Center, including assistance with event planning and grant preparation. She has broad and diverse experience in customer service, computer applications, and administrative support. Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Tammy worked at 3M Company for over 19 years, managing auto and general liability claims and corporate insurance. She also worked at the First Judicial District Court in Hastings, Minnesota.
Jill Krueger, J.D.
Jill Krueger, a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center, works with our new national initiative to build the field of public health law, support state and local public health practitioners, and promote law as a strategic tool for improving health. Before joining the Public Health Law Center, Jill served as a senior staff attorney at Farmers' Legal Action Group (FLAG), a national legal backup center where she advocated for sound farm policies, authored a wide range of educational materials, presented numerous legal education seminars, and engaged in litigation on behalf of family farmers. While at FLAG, Jill served as the principal investigator in a project that analyzed the potential for agricultural law to contribute to healthy eating by encouraging farmers to produce and market fruits and vegetables. The report, Planting the Seeds for Public Health: How the Farm Bill Can Help Farmers to Produce and Distribute Healthy Foods, was released in the summer of 2010. Earlier in her legal career, Jill served as an assistant attorney general in the Minnesota Attorney General's office.
B.A., U Earlham College, with honors
J.D., University of Iowa Law School, with high distinction
Jon Lee, J.D.
Jon Lee is the Program Manager at the Public Health Law Center where he is responsible for general program operations, including fiscal management, grants and contracts compliance and reporting, program development, human resources management, and special projects.
Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center Jon served as the Office Manager and Project Manager at the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College where his responsibilities included management of the center’s finances, including the finances of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, grants and contract administration, assisting in grant proposal submissions, student worker management, occasional web page writing and editing, and various other writing and editing projects. Before working at the Science Education Resource Center Jon was the manager of River City Books, an independent trade book store owned and operated by Carleton College in Northfield, MN.
Jon is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, where he was a Student Director at the Legal Assistance to Minnesota Prisoners clinic and a clerk at the Office of the Minnesota State Public Defender.
B.A., University of Minnesota
J.D., University of Minnesota Law School
Joelle Lester, J.D.
Joelle Lester is a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center. Joelle is working to support and encourage the Food and Drug Administration to enact the strongest possible tobacco regulations under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Joelle coordinates and mobilizes the public health community to engage with the Food and Drug Administration and provides technical assistance to public health advocates. Joelle also provides litigation support to defend the federal tobacco regulations against challenges from the tobacco industry.
Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Joelle worked as a litigation associate at the firm of McGrann Shea Carnival Straughn & Lamb. Before attending law school, Joelle was a grassroots organizer and executive director of the Oregon Student Association, a non-profit higher education advocacy group. Joelle also worked as a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, advocating for public K-12 education.
Joelle is a member of the DFL Lawyers Steering Committee and a board member of the Foundation for Political Management.
B.A., University of Wisconsin – Madison
J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, cum laude
Maggie Mahoney, J.D.
Maggie Mahoney is a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center. She serves as deputy director of the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, a network of legal centers supporting tobacco control policy change throughout the United States. Maggie coordinates the Consortium's provision of legal technical assistance, and personally provides direct, legal technical assistance on tobacco control issues to public health professionals and organizations, legal professionals, and advocates throughout the United States. She oversees preparation of friend-of-the court (amicus curiae) briefs in key cases; provides and coordinates litigation support to city and county attorneys, state attorneys general and legal counsel representing advocacy organizations and individual citizens; assists with development of educational materials; and provides educational and training presentations at state, regional and national conferences.
Maggie has been an Adjunct Professor of Law since 2005, teaching public health law and an appellate advocacy skills course, and recently completed a graduate-level public health certificate program through the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. After earning her law degree, Maggie researched and drafted opinions for the Minnesota Court of Appeals and then supervised a team of attorneys that issued appellate decisions on behalf of a court-appointed neutral in a major national civil rights class action settlement.
Minnesota Lawyer selected Maggie as one of its “2008 Up & Coming Attorneys.” This award is reserved for attorneys who have distinguished themselves during their first ten years in practice.
B.I.S., University of Minnesota
J.D., William Mitchell College of Law, cum laude
Mary Marrow, J.D.
Mary Marrow, a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center, is working on legal and policy initiatives to reduce and prevent childhood obesity nationally. Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Mary was a public interest practitioner for over twelve years, focusing her efforts on poverty law, international human rights, and environmental advocacy. During the summer of 2010, Mary worked with the Center for Public Interest Law in Accra, Ghana, through a fellowship sponsored by the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide, conducting a comparative study of mining practices and the effectiveness of environmental regulations in the United States and Ghana. Mary has also served in the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa and managed a crisis shelter for the homeless in Alaska. Mary is an avid gardener, bike commuter, and outdoor enthusiast.
B.A., St. Olaf College
J.D., City University of New York School of Law
Nasimah works closely with the program manager coordinating the center’s financial, budgetary, and grants and contracts reporting functions. In addition to holding a bachelor of commerce degree and a post graduate diploma in accountancy from the University of Natal, South Africa, she is also a qualified chartered accountant. Nasimah was born, raised and educated in South Africa. She has lived in the Twin Cities for just over six years.
B.Commerce, University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
Postgraduate Diploma in Accountancy, University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africas
Health Communications Specialist
Nicole Mejia is the Health Communications Specialist for WorkSHIFTS, a community-academic partnership with Minnesota labor leaders to promote increased use of tobacco cessation services. Nicole holds a Master’s degree in Health Journalism from the University of Minnesota and received her Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Certification (CPS) through the State of Oregon Addictions and Mental Health Division.
Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Nicole worked as the Health Promotion Supervisor for a non-profit social service agency serving predominantly migrant farmworker Latino families and youth in the Mid-Columbia Gorge region of Oregon. Nicole has been active in multiple areas of health promotion and prevention including diabetes and obesity prevention; breast cancer awareness and education; alcohol, tobacco and other drugs prevention; and domestic violence perpetrator treatment. Nicole enjoys promoting wellness in her personal life through healthy eating and outdoor recreation.
B.A., Wellesley College
M.A., University of Minnesota
CPS, State of Oregon Addictions and Mental Health Division
Mark Meaney, J.D.
Mark Meaney, a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center, works primarily with the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium. Mark provides legal technical assistance on tobacco control issues and other public health law issues to public health professionals and organizations, attorneys, and advocates throughout the United States. Mark also provides training on the development and implementation of tobacco control policies in state and local communities.
Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Mark worked as a public finance associate at the law firms of McGrann Shea Carnival Straughn & Lamb, Chartered, and Faegre & Benson LLP. Before attending law school, Mark worked as a senior health policy analyst for Metropolitan Health Plan working on compliance issues and a variety of public health initiatives focused on individuals enrolled in safety net programs. Mark also worked as a health services researcher at Central DuPage Health System, a community health system, where he developed and implemented programs to measure and improve the health status of the community.
B.A., Creighton University
M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
J.D., University of Minnesota Law School, cum laude
Zandara is the Administrative Assistant for the Public Health Law Center, where she provides day-to-day administrative support. Zandara previously worked at the Twin City Hospital Workers Pension Plan as the Pension Administrator; she also worked as an Administrative Professional for SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Ameriprise Financial, Inc. Zandara earned her Paralegal degree from Globe Business College and is a graduate of Robert Morris College in Chicago.
Health Policy Educator
Brooke Nunn provides research support to several healthy eating and active living projects at the Public Health Law Center. Currently, Brooke leads an evaluation effort on behalf of the Public Health Law Center with the American Heart Association’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant. Brooke also works on two research projects exploring strategies to improve nutrition and physical activity in child care settings and to promote community recreational use of school property after-hours. In addition to her work on healthy eating and active living projects, Brooke also facilitates the development and implementation of a structure for the Network of Public Health Law-National Coordinating Center to collaborate with public health practitioners to build the field of public health law.
Prior to joining the staff of the Public Health Law Center, Brooke spent three months in Namibia working on a grassroots project aimed at decreasing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. She has also worked on various violence prevention projects, and continues to serve as an advocate for women’s reproductive health and global health issues.
B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.P.H./M.S.W., University of Minnesota
Maureen O'Brien, J.D.
Maureen O’Brien is a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center. She works with the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium to provide legal technical assistance to public health professionals and organizations, legal professionals, and advocates throughout the United States. Before joining the Public Health Law Center, Maureen was an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Madison, Wisconsin, where she drafted ordinances and provided legal advice to the Common Council, prosecuted civil violations of the City code, and provided advice and legal representation to the local Public Housing Authority and City Planning Department.
B.A., Boston University, magna cum laude
J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School
Warren Ortland, J.D.
Warren Ortland provides legal technical support to organizations working to increase the number of smoke-free multi-unit housing developments in the Twin Cities metro area, and technical assistance to Minnesota communities that are considering smoke-free ordinances. Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Warren was an Equal Justice Works Fellow, working for two years as the legislative research & policy coordinator at the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP). At MAP, Warren provided direct legal representation to HIV-positive clients in areas of employment, privacy and benefits. He also researched and drafted legislation on health care coverage for HIV-positive Minnesotans, prevention education funding for African-born immigrants, and HIV confidentiality protection.
As a law student, Warren was an editor on the William Mitchell Law Review. He is secretary of the board of directors for the Minnesota State Bar Foundation, a board member of the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) of Minnesota, and a member of the Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee. As a member of the Human Rights Committee of the Minnesota State Bar Association, Warren organized and moderated a CLE session on access to health care as a human rights issue.
B.A., College of William and Mary
J.D., William Mitchell College of Law, magna cum laude
Marketing and Communcations Director
Ann Phi-Wendt is responsible for developing and implementing the Network’s national marketing and communications strategy, overseeing plans and activities to raise awareness of the Network, its services and products, and its role in improving public health through law. Prior to coming to the Network, Ann worked extensively in broadcast and digital media, creating and executing strategies around brand and reach for a major public media network and its nationally distributed, on-air and online content. Ann earned a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Business Communication from the University of St. Thomas.
B.A., University of Minnesota
M.A., University of St. Thomas
Julie Ralston Aoki, J.D.
Julie Ralston Aoki has over ten years of experience working in the areas of consumer protection law and public policy development at the state level. In the public health law area, she has experience in providing legal technical assistance to local governments and public health advocacy groups on tobacco control issues and legal strategies and policies designed to promote healthy eating and active living for children, with a focus on marketing practices. She works with the National Policy and Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN) on children’s food marketing issues, and is conducting a research project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research Program to study the effectiveness of self-regulation of food marketing to children. Julie is also an adjunct professor, and currently teaches public health law at William Mitchell.
Before joining the Public Health Law Center, Julie served as an assistant attorney general with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office for nine years, in the Antitrust and Consumer Enforcement Divisions. She has presented at National Association of Attorneys General conferences, conferences, webinars and CLEs on a variety of issues, including e-commerce, antitrust enforcement, predatory lending issues, food marketing to children, and the impact of preemption of state and local control.
Julie has been named a “Rising Star” Lawyer by Minnesota Law & Politics. As a law student, she helped to establish, and served as the first editor-in-chief for, the Iowa Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, a law journal. Her volunteer work includes serving as a commissioner of the Robbinsdale Human Rights Commission, and serving as vice-chair (chair-elect) of the board for the East Metro Women’s Council, a program which provides housing and supportive services to homeless families.
B.A., Yale College, cum laude
J.D., The University of Iowa College of Law, summa cum laude
Sara Rohde, M.P.H.
Sara Rohde, M.P.H., is responsible for managing activities related to grant writing and reporting, data collection and evaluation, strategic planning, staffing and budgeting for the Network for Public Health Law-National Coordinating Center. Prior to coming to the Network for Public Health Law, she managed health outreach projects targeting immigrant and refugee communities. She has also coordinated program activities for the Juvenile Substance Abuse Court of Minnesota’s 2nd Judicial District and implemented health education projects as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Moldova
Jackie Rose is the administrative coordinator for the Network's National Coordinating Center. She assists with office management, event logistics and Network projects. Previously, she worked at the APEX Project, where she coordinated with a team of county employees and consultants to launch PeopleSoft for Hennepin County. Prior to her work with Hennepin County, she was an administrative assistant for the Metropolitan Council's Housing Redevelopment Agency.
Ward Rubrecht serves as communications coordinator for the Network for Public Health Law - National Coordinating Center. He provides administrative and communication support for the center, assists in the organization of conferences, and has a hand in the design and presentation of the center’s publications and media materials as well as management of its website. Previous to his time at William Mitchell, Ward worked at alt-weekly newspaper City Pages, where he provided support for its editorial department and helped edit its website. Ward is also a spoken-word critic, an award-winning journalist, and an avid bicyclist. He moved to the Twin Cities eight years ago to earn a B.A. in philosophy from Macalester College, and can’t see why anyone would want to live anywhere else.
B.A., Macalester College
Caty Schmitter serves as data assistant, aiding in maintaining the Network’s main database of Network members and requests for assistance. She also assists on communications and public health projects, through contributions to the Network’s newsletter and to the development of a structure through which the Network can collaborate with public health practitioners. Caty recently graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.I.S. and is hoping to pursue opportunities to apply her education to women’s health issues in developing regions. Her previous interests have included global healthcare volunteering in countries such as Tanzania as well as political and lobbying experience through local, state and federal campaigns and a congressional internship in Washington D.C.
B.I.S., University of Minnesota.
As Program Coordinator of the Public Health Law Center, Mani Vannavong works closely with the Program Manager to provide overall management and administration of the Center's grants and contracts. She comes to us from the Metropolitan Council where she held a similar position and was responsible for overseeing the use of federal and local governmental funds to support various transportation projects and related services. Her past projects include the Hiawatha Light Rail, Northstar Commuter Rail, and Central Corridor Light Rail.
B.A., University of Minnesota, Morris
Susan Weisman, J.D.
Susan Weisman is senior staff attorney at the Public Health Law Center and director of WorkSHIFTS, a community-academic partnership with Minnesota labor leaders.
As senior staff attorney, Susan provides technical assistance to public health advocates and local, state, and federal government officials on public health law and policy issues. Her work includes strategic consultation regarding the enactment, implementation, and enforcement of public health legislation, in-depth policy research on emerging issues, and presentations on topics of interest. Current projects include state level policy work on healthy eating, active living, built environment and tobacco control issues.
As director of WorkSHIFTS, Susan collaborates with blue-collar and service sector labor leaders on research and intervention projects that aim to build support for healthy workplace policies and policies to improve workers’ access to effective health care benefits. Since 2002, WorkSHIFTS has produced multiple policy tools, including A Union Guide to Tobacco, which provides union- and workplace-specific policy resources and guidance, and Cessation Benefits Focus, a series of newsletters that frames the provision and promotion of cessation benefits as policy issues.
Susan is a frequent speaker and consultant on labor and public health laws and policies. She is currently principal investigator of a three-year community-academic study, partnering with labor leaders from the Minnesota Laborers, Unite Here, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, to examine tobacco cessation policies and practices that affect workers who receive health benefits through Taft-Hartley Health and Welfare Funds.
Susan began her career in public interest law at the Minneapolis Legal Aid Society, where she represented deaf and hard of hearing clients with disability-related discrimination claims. Before joining the Public Health Law Center, she worked for over 18 years as an administrative law judge, mediator, and arbitrator for the State of Minnesota’s Office of Administrative Hearings. Her legal expertise includes employment, health, human rights, education, and municipal law.
B.A., Ohio State University
J.D., William Mitchell College of Law
Maria Bitanga, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Katelyn Engel, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Emma Fortin, William Mitchell College of Law
Maryam Ghobadzadeh, University of Minnesota School Law School
Amy Kania, William Mitchell College of Law
Katarina Lee, University of Minnesota Law School
Anna Ayers Looby, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Karie Mees, William Mitchell College of Law
Laura Pickrell, University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Jacob Shoop, William Mitchell College of Law
Matthew Trevor, William Mitchell College of Law
Juliette Wilson, William Mitchell College of Law
Mee Xiong, William Mitchell College of Law