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DHS Director of Community Relations Antonia Wilcoxon was honored recently for her positive contributions to the health and well-being of community members. Southside Community Health Services honored Wilcoxon with its Brother's Keeper Award Tuesday, Jan. 21, at a luncheon in Minneapolis, along with another recipient of the award, Ken Bence, director of public health at Medica. Wilcoxon is a 10-year DHS employee and a member of the department's Senior Management Team.
According to Clarence Jones, Southside Community Health Services outreach director, the Brother's Keeper Award is given to individuals that the organization has worked with over many years and that it believes have contributed positively to the health and well-being of the community. Some of the characteristics the organization looked for in its honorees this year were: high integrity, people of honor, a keeper of their word, respected, not self-promoters, approachable, history of accomplishments, smart, proactive, visionary, and willing to be a bridge between policymakers and the community.
Wilcoxon has served as the department's director of community relations since June 2012. In this role, she manages, develops and facilitates relationships between DHS and the community the department serves. She advises department leaders on matters related to DHS’ relationships with external stakeholders and actively seeks out opportunities to improve community relations. She also facilitates gatherings on topics that matter using principles of authentic partnership. Wilcoxon also staffs the newly launched Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council, which advises the commissioner on reducing disparities that affect racial and ethnic groups with in DHS programs
Originally from Vitória, Brazil, Wilcoxon first came to Minnesota as a foreign exchange student and attended high school in Lake Crystal, near Mankato. She returned to Brazil and attended the Universidade Federal do Espirito Santo and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. She later earned a master’s degree in international management from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in leadership, policy and administration from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul.
Prior to her current position, Wilcoxon worked as the disparities reduction consultant in the Office for Equity, Performance and Development. She also worked as a project manager in what was known as the Office of Management Support and Development Project Management Office, and as a grant project coordinator and a mental health program consultant in the Children’s Mental Health Division. Before coming to DHS in 2004, she worked for nonprofit organizations. She also was a governor-appointed public member of the Minnesota Board of Social Work, where she served for 11 years. She currently serves on the Board of the Program in Health Disparities Research at the University of Minnesota Medical School and on the Public Health Administration and Policy Community/Alumni Advisory Board at the University of Minnesota, among other advisory roles she is often invited to provide.
Southside Community Health Services offers comprehensive care at its metro-area clinics, including a medical mobile unit. It is also a Minnesota Community Application Agent, providing outreach, application assistance and navigation services to enroll eligible individuals in Minnesota Health Care Programs. Southside was a recipient in December 2012 of the Commissioner's Circle of Excellence Award. A video about Southside is featured on DHS' YouTube page.
A photo of Antonia Wilcoxon and her award is available upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org.