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History of Healthy North Dakota


January 2002

Governor John Hoeven announces Healthy North Dakota:

“Today, I am announcing a new public health initiative for our state, Healthy North Dakota …and I am challenging each school child, each businessperson, each senior citizen to take control of his or her life – to exercise more, to eat a healthy diet, to examine their use of tobacco and alcohol … These must be individual choices, but we can provide the support structure, education and encouragement to each North Dakotan who wants to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Knowing North Dakotans, I have no doubt that they will meet the challenge.”

- Gov. John Hoeven, State-of-the-State Address, January 2002

February - April 2002
Healthy North Dakota Advisory Committee formed; meetings held to discuss possible initiatives.

May 2002
Healthy North Dakota Advisory Committee begins working on plans for summit.

July 2002
Press conference announcing summit held at the University of North Dakota; Governor Hoeven invites North Dakotans to “Walk for Health”.

August 22-23, 2002
Healthy North Dakota Summit held in Bismarck

  • More than 130 people from more than 75 agencies/organizations met to define wellness and identify priorities for North Dakota.
  • The input received serves as the framework for a statewide, comprehensive wellness plan implemented at the local level by public- and private-sector partners
  • Watch a video archive of the summit proceedings
  • Healthy North Dakota priority areas were identified based on input from summit participants and other interested individuals. These priorities, developed as a grassroots effort, can change based on interest of other stakeholders and as new priorities develop.
  • Tobacco use
  • Substance abuse/ Mental health
  • Healthy weight - nutrition
  • Healthy weight - physical activity
  • Health disparities
  • Worksite wellness
  • Community engagement
  • Third-party payers/insurance

September 2002
Healthy North Dakota priority areas aligned with national Healthy People 2010 goals and objectives.

October 2002
North Dakota Department of Health organizational structure aligned to support Healthy North Dakota; liaisons identified for HND committees.

November 2002
Committees formed to address priority areas; committee chairs identified.






February 2004
Mission and Vision Statements finalized.
Vision: Healthy North Dakota – Healthy People, Healthy Communities.
Mission: Inspire and support North Dakotans to improve physical, mental and emotional health for all by building innovative statewide partnerships.

March – October 2004
Additional focus areas join Healthy North Dakota: Immunizations, Aging, Injury, Cancer, Cardiovascular Health, School Health, Early Childhood, Oral Health and Diabetes. Additional appointments made to the HND Advisory Committee.

April 2004 – June 2005 HND coordinates development and implementation of worksite wellness nutrition education and incentive program with ND PERS.

May 2004 – April 2005
HND Committees and members identify policy priorities and provide testimony during 59th Legislative Assembly.

July 2004
Key collaborative link piece developed to ensure efficiency and improve collaboration across Healthy North Dakota.

September 2004
HND Director assists South Dakota in developing their Healthy South Dakota initiative.

October 2004 – June 2005
Provided worksite wellness training and ongoing technical assistance to worksite wellness specialists.

November 2004 – June 2005
Engaged in 5th Annual Legislators’ Forum process with representatives from Minnesota, Manitoba and South Dakota.

December 2004
At the request of the Indian Affairs Commission, established the Tribal/Health State Task Force to examine health issues affecting North Dakota’s Tribal Nations and Trenton Indian Service Area.



April 2005
First Lady Mikey Hoeven accepted role as spokesperson for Healthy North Dakota.

April 2005
HND’s Community Engagement Committee’s proposal approved for funding from Dakota Medical Foundation; matching fund application submitted to Robert Wood Johnson in June 2005.



June 2006
The HND Early Childhood Alliance brings together over 50 agency representatives to develop a comprehensive plan for early childhood in the state of North Dakota.

July 2006
Cancer Coalition rolls out Comprehensive Cancer State Plan for the state of North Dakota.



December 2008
Members of the Healthy North Dakota Coordinating Committee  provided input to the Obama-Biden Transition Team on prevention and health reform by participating in a “Community Health Reform Discussion” format in Bismarck.  Participants responded to questions about how public policy can help Americans access preventive care and promote healthier lifestyles and employers’ roles in a reformed health system. To read the full meeting summary, click here to open the document.

Healthy North Dakota Director Receives UND's Kupchella Wellness Award
Melissa Olson, Director of Healthy North Dakota, was recognized with the Charles E. Kupchella Preventive Medicine and Wellness Award. The award was established to recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations who have worked to improve health and wellness through lowered rates of disease and disability by developing and delivering effective health promotion and prevention initiatives. It honors people and organizations in North Dakota and surrounding states who have contributed significantly to disease prevention and healthful living. In her nomination, Olson was recognized for bringing hundreds of North Dakotans together to work on all aspects of public health.



Healthy North Dakota’s Worksite Wellness Initiative Receives Award
The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials awarded the 2009 second-place Vision Award to Healthy North Dakota, recognizing creative and innovative approaches to addressing public health challenges. Healthy North Dakota’s Worksite Wellness Initiative works to increase the number of North Dakota worksites that offer comprehensive worksite wellness programs, to increase the number of employees who participate in worksite wellness, and to demonstrate the impact of worksite wellness programs on the health of employees and employers. Healthy North Dakota’s Worksite Wellness Initiative uses trained consultants to assist worksites with facilitating the development of worksite wellness plans specific to each worksite. In addition, Healthy North Dakota has developed a worksite wellness training curriculum.  

North Dakota Worksite Wellness Initiative Launched
The North Dakota Worksite Wellness initiative was launched in 2009 as a collaborative effort between Dakota Medical Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, Healthy North Dakota and the North Dakota Department of Health. The goal is to get more North Dakota businesses and organizations to offer and participate in worksite wellness programs. In 2010, the North Dakota Worksite Wellness website debuts.



Focus areas developing logic models and/or strategic plans.
Establishing communication system among focus areas.