2021 TRUST Forum Winners

Congratulations, 2021 Forum Award Winners!

We are proud to announce the 2021 Forum Award winners! These awards celebrate women in health care who are advancing efforts to help our industry boldly transform its future. This year’s recipients stood out as individuals taking decisive action and making an impact in our communities.

Building on the power of one to make a difference, the stories of these women will inspire and guide us to take personal and collective steps to unlock the Power of Us, this year’s theme. When we work together, the possibilities are endless.

Collaboration And Partnerships

Taylor Hohmann, Know The Truth

Jana Martin, Second Harvest Heartland

Sheila Riggs, DDS, DMSc, University of Minnesota School of Dentistry

Penny Wheeler, MD, Allina Health


Lida Etemad, UnitedHealth Group

Helene Freint, Minnesota Community Care

Jessica Holm, Hennepin Health Care

Jessie Waks, Bluestone Physician Services


Julia Crist, Allina Health

Sarah Dye, Optum (UnitedHealth Group)

Annie Ideker, MD, HealthPartners

Leena Pradhan-Nabzdyk, PhD, Canomiks


Minda Garcia, Allina Health

Samantha Hanson, North Memorial Health

Arti Prasad, MDFACP,Hennepin Health Care

Anjoli Punjabi, MOBE


Asha Hassan, Planned Parenthood North Central States

Hilal Ibrahim, Board member, Park Nicollet Foundation (HealthPartners) and owner of Henna and Hijabs

Cindy Kaigama, Minnesota Community Care

Pinar Karaca-MandicPhD, University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management

21st Century Pinnacle Leader

Presented annually at the TRUST Forum, the 21st Century Pinnacle Leader Award recognizes individuals who are “trailblazers” in leadership, transformation and innovation in health care.

This award is given at the Forum each year to recognize a great health care woman who has made a difference in our state in health care. This Pinnacle Award shows what a great woman can accomplish in health care!

2021 – Allison O’Toole

 Allison O’Toole is the recipient of this year’s 21st Century Pinnacle Leader. As the CEO of Second Harvest Heartland, she has stood out for her decisive decision-making skills during the pandemic. Her firm stand on ending Minnesota’s hunger divide – the inequities that leave Minnesota’s Black, Hispanic, Asian and Indigenous families facing twice the hunger of White families – has shown a spotlight on her work.

Only one day after the governor ordered all bars and restaurants temporarily closed due to the pandemic, Second Harvest Heartland launched Minnesota Central Kitchen. This was an ambitious effort to keep local restaurants in business by tapping their kitchens, food and employees to feed the community. This effort grew to include multiple restaurants and millions of meals. Allison’s speedy decision-making that earned her widespread recognition, including Food Bank News’ Food Bank CEO of the Year.

When the pandemic hit, O’Toole had only been on the job at Second Harvest for just over a year. Her decision-making skills were helped by the fact that this wasn’t the first time she had led during a crisis. Prior to Second Harvest, she led the team charged with reviving the state’s health insurance network, MNsure, which had stumbled during its introduction under the Affordable Care Act. Rebuilding the organization’s operations, customer service and outreach programs, resulted in three years of record-breaking enrollment. “I know what to do in a crisis,” she said in an interview for Food Bank News*. “It’s where I do some of my best work.”

A second crisis hit with the killing of George Floyd. As the leader of the region’s hunger relief network, “it’s our responsibility to lead the conversation and think differently about how we distribute food,” Allison said. Second Harvest has invested resources in the data to support more equitable food distribution. “We’re using our muscle to really target the communities that need help,” she said. Given Allison’s background in health care reform, the importance of prioritizing nutrition policy as a means of improving public health was clear. “It was the right thing to do,” she said.

Allison’s work strongly supports this year’s theme for our Forum, Power of Us. While the pandemic has brought professional and personal challenges, it also shined a light on the very real disparities among our diverse communities, including racism and social injustice. The Power of Us is a call to harness our collective power to continue to lead with confidence during these uncertain times. Allison’s work inspires us to join together to improve the health and well being of the communities we serve.

Please join us in honoring Allison as this year’s 21st Century Pinnacle Leader at our annual Forum on Sept 28.

*Excerpts from this article are courtesy of Food Bank News from June 2021

 Meredith Leigh Moore

Our featured speaker is Meredith Leigh Moore, a sought-after speaker and thought leader on advancing women at work. She is also the author of Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Moving Your Career Forward. She will encourage us to identify one thing we can do to take action and stretch ourselves.Meredith’s special guest is Minnesota Representative Ruth Richardson. In addition to her work as an elected official, Ruth is the chief executive officer at Wayside Recovery Center, an organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of addition and trauma for women, children and families. She will share her personal and professional experiences on building community that works for everyone, one step at a time.

 Dr. Nneka Sederstrom

Dr. Nneka Sederstrom received her BA in Philosophy from George Washington University in 2001. She began her career at the Center for Ethics at Medstar Washington Hospital Center in Washington DC the same year. She completed her Masters in Philosophy and Public Policy from Howard University in 2003 She joined Children’s Minnesota in March 2016 where she served as the Director of the Clinical Ethics Department for almost 5 years. She has recently joined the executive leadership team at Hennepin Health Care System as the new Chief Health Equity Officer where she will lead efforts in addressing health disparities, equity, and antiracism in the institution and community. Her PhD is in Sociology with concentrations in Medical Sociology and Race, Class, and Gender Inequality, MPH in Global Health Management, and MA in Philosophy. She is a member of several professional societies and holds a leadership position in CHEST Medicine and the Society of Critical Care Medicine. She is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and a Fellow of the American College of Critical Care Medicine. She is widely published in Equity and Clinical Ethics and speaks regularly at national and international meetings.  

 Sanya Pirani

Sanya Pirani is a High School freshman and is the founder/CEO of Sanya’s Hope For Children (a nonprofit organization) as well as the youth ambassador for the CAP Agency in Scott, Dakota, and Carver Counties. Sanya’s Hope For Children (SHFC) was founded in January 2017 and has been committed to supporting local & global impoverished children and helping children by transforming communities’ one life at a time. With half the world’s population under age 25, SHFC’s mission is to help young people with basic necessities of life, fund educational endeavors, find their voice, take action, and make an impact on vital community issues. Sanya currently gives back 100% of her fundraising income to the community in need. Sanya’s service journey began when she was seven and a half years old. Under her leadership, SHFC has successfully fundraised over $140,000 worth of goods and monetary donations every year for homeless and marginalized families. In addition, Sanya is a public speaker, she has been invited to speak as a guest speaker, presenter at conferences, various high scale cooperative events, schools, and churches.