WASHINGTON – The American Medical Association (AMA) presented former Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm with the AMA Award for Outstanding Government Service. Twice Minnesota’s commissioner of health under three governors representing two political parties, Malcolm earned a national reputation as one of the first health care leaders to highlight health disparities and the impact of social determinants of health. As the health commissioner during the COVID-19 pandemic, she also played an instrumental and visible role in educating the public, creating dynamic and user-friendly systems for sharing COVID-19 data with the people of Minnesota, and rapidly expanding testing capacity.

Malcolm was one of the Minnesota’s first cabinet-level officials to tackle the state’s health disparities and among the first to publicly recognize that systemic racism is central to those disparities. She also played a key role in combating youth tobacco use, using part of Minnesota’s $1.6 billion tobacco settlement to fund anti-tobacco efforts credited with reducing teen smoking by 21 percent.

“In a trying and critical time for health care and public health, Jan Malcolm was a leader–quick to spot trends, innovative when the same old approach no longer worked, and a clear communicator in times of crisis,” said AMA Board Chair Willie Underwood III, M.D., MSc, MPH. “Whether combatting youth smoking, tackling health disparities and systemic racism, or leading Minnesota’s response to COVID-19, Malcolm got to the core of challenges and saved lives. For these reasons and more, it is an honor to present Jan Malcolm with the AMA Award for Outstanding Government Service.”

Prior to becoming commissioner, Malcolm served as vice president of the Allina Health system and as CEO of Courage Center. At the HealthPartners system in the early 1990s, she was a chief architect of the state’s safely net insurance program, MinnesotaCare. Malcolm is the author of several health publications including the Journal of Public Health Management. She has served on numerous professional and community boards.

She was appointed in 2023 by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to lead a task force on the future of the University of Minnesota health care system, developing recommendations to support world-class academic health professions education, research, and care delivery programs that advance equity, center primary care, and ensure that Minnesotans can continue to receive the highest-quality care in a financially sustainable way.