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Charles City woman honored for efforts to promote health

By Bob Steenson, 

A Charles City woman will be among three people to be honored as an “Iowa Public Health Hero” by the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

The awards are given for contributions helping to promote better health and prevent disease throughout the state.

Kara Vogelson
Kara Vogelson

Included will be Kara Vogelson of Charles City, the organizational development and research manager and assistant deputy director of administrative operations for the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health in Mason City.

“I got an email from the dean of the College of Public Health and I thought it was something health related, and when I opened it up it said ‘Congratulations,’” Vogelson told the Press.

Vogelson began working at the Cerro Gordo County department in 2002. During her career she has held several positions, including environmental health specialist, healthy homes program coordinator and assistant health planner.

Most recently she has added the duties of regional development and public policy advisor.

Vogelson said she was nominated for the award by three of her co-workers.

“It was very kind of them,” she said. “I was honored and humbled.”

According to the U of I college of public health, Vogelson has written hundreds of successful grants, facilitated strategic planning sessions, written community health needs assessments and health improvement plans, conducted trainings, mentored staff and students as well as serving on boards, commissions and committees locally and statewide.

She also organized and initiated the county Department of Public Health’s process to become accredited with the Public Health Accreditation Board.

Vogelson holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a master’s degree in health/health care administration and management from Des Moines University.

“Through her leadership, the department became the second in Iowa to achieve accreditation, in February 2018,” a statement from the U of I college said.

“Her contributions as a planner, grant writer and visionary impact many public health paradigms. In each of her positions, she maintains a committed focus and dedication to helping people live longer and healthier lives,” the statement said.

Others receiving the award are Arlinda McKeen, recently retired from a 25-year career with the State Public Policy Group, and Patricia Quinlisk, who served as the medical director and state epidemiologist at the Iowa Department of Public Health for 24 years until her retirement earlier this year.

The award recipients will be honored at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, at a Spotlight Series event in room C217 in the College of Public Health Building. The recipients will give brief remarks and participate in a panel discussion and Q&A with the audience.

The annual Iowa Public Health Heroes Awards recognize exceptional efforts by individuals from diverse careers who have worked to improve health and wellness throughout Iowa.