Each year, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics honors chapter members and individuals in the community for their dedication to the health and wellbeing of Minnesota’s children and adolescents with the Distinguished Service Award and the Eric Dick Child Advocacy Award. The Distinguished Service Award is presented to a pediatrician for dedicating their life to improving care for children in Minnesota. The newly named Eric Dick Child Advocacy award honors MNAAP’s late lobbyist and is presented to a person or organization from the community who goes above and beyond in their everyday routine to advocate for children, embodying the importance of advocacy that Eric strove to instill in our chapter.
Chapter President Eileen Crespo, MD, FAAP, announced the 2022 award recipients at the annual meeting on Sept. 15. We applaud these individuals for their commitment to advocacy and advancement on behalf of Minnesota’s youngest residents.
2022 Distinguished Service Award
Lori DeFrance, MD, FAAP, dedicated more than a decade to the MNAAP Board of Directors, serving from 2010 to 2022, as the chapter president from 2018 to 2020, and as the foundation board president from 2020 to 2022. Recently retired, Dr. DeFrance previously practiced medicine with Essentia Health in Duluth, and was a persistent voice which reminded the chapter to consider all of Minnesota’s children and teens in every part of the state. Her nominators recalled her “centering presence” which connected board members and allowed them to get to know one another outside of their roles as physicians. Others called her a calming, forward-thinking and a passionate pediatrician. Upon receiving her award at the chapter meeting, Dr. DeFrance said, “Pediatricians like you and me lay the foundation for our communities doing better by persistently and passionately advocating for the health and safety of children, adolescents and families. And this work continues through pandemics, gun violence, health care pressures and so on. So our work is needed now more than ever and I am so proud of you all.”
2022 Eric Dick Child Advocacy Award
Kris Ehresmann, RN, MPH, is the former director of the Infectious Disease, Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). MNAAP President Eileen Crespo, MD, FAAP, called Ms. Ehresmann “fearless in her communication” during the early months and years of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Kris was the voice of calm and science. She interpreted the data and gave us a scientific basis for all the decisions being made,” said Dr. Crespo. “It’s really an honor to be recognized by the MNAAP,” Ms. Ehresmann said in her remarks. “I worked with Eric a lot in his role… To receive an award that honors Eric is especially meaningful to me.” She is recently retired from her role at MDH and is currently teaching epidemiology and public health at St. Olaf College.
Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-64B) is the chair for the Minnesota House Committee on Early Childhood Finance and Policy and has been a long-standing supporter of early childhood education and care. “He is a passionate advocate for the youngest Minnesotans,” wrote one nominator, “and seems to do everything with their future in mind.” When Rep. Pinto received his award, he reflected that his involvement in early childhood work came when he asked himself, “Where can I really make a difference?” He encouraged chapter members to “please lean in. We need you, the kids of Minnesota need you…having your elected officials hear from you, know about the work that you’re doing and understand the kind of things they need to know to make good decisions for kids and for all of us, that is so important to do.”