Kathleen Annette

Honorary Degree Recipient

Doctor of Laws

University of Minnesota Duluth, October 8, 2022

Kathleen Annette is an exceptional leader and mentor who has had a significant influence on the health and resilience of Indigenous and rural communities in Minnesota and beyond. Annette graduated with a bachelor of arts in chemistry from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1977, and was the first Anishinaabekwe woman to receive a doctoral degree in medicine from the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Duluth campus in 1983. While completing her medical residency in Duluth, Annette received the Mead Johnson Award for leadership, and in 1986, embarked on a lengthy career with Indian Health Service (IHS). Over the following 26 years, she served in a number of leadership roles with increasing responsibility, including as acting deputy director of field operations, during which she was responsible for supervising 12 area directors and assisting in the leadership and management of 48 hospitals and 238 health clinics, which serviced 1.9 million Indigenous patients. Following her retirement from IHS, Annette went on to serve as president and CEO of the Blandin Foundation from 2011-2020, the first woman and Indigenous person to do so. Since 2015, she has served on the board of the Bush Foundation, where, as vice chair, she has influenced the organization’s strategy and commitment to equity, as well as broadened its geographic reach. Annette has received numerous awards, including the American Indian Physician of the Year Award, the U.S. Public Health Service Outstanding Service Award, the National Indian Health Board’s Jake White Crow National Award, and the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious and Distinguished Service. Annette exemplifies the qualities sought in a leader, role model, and ambassador, while also helping to pave the way for other Native women to pursue leadership opportunities in their respective fields.

Biographies are as-of time of award presentation.