Please vote to confirm these candidates.

Board elections are held each year for open positions on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP) and the Board of the Minnesota Academy of Pediatrics Foundation (MAPF).

MNAAP represents over 1,000 pediatricians and trainees in Minnesota and is a trusted voice on children's health issues at the Capitol.

Currently, the chapter is seeking to fill 3 board member openings for pediatricians or pediatrician specialists who want to help advance the chapter's mission of improving the health of all Minnesota children. The chapter is also asking members to confirm the nomination of the candidate for the newly created position of Board Secretary. 
Ballots are due June 30, 2021. Thank you in advance for your vote and any comments you have. Please include your AAP member number or last name to validate your vote as required by our Bylaws.

Ballot names appear in alphabetical order. An interest statement provided by each candidate is provided below. Click “Done” at the bottom of the page to submit your ballot.

To view a list of current board members, visit

Question Title

* 1. MNAAP/MAPF Board of Directors Secretary

Question Title

* 2. Greater Minnesota Board Candidate(s) - Select One

Amanda Webb-Rubin, MD, FAAP - St. Lukes, Duluth
I was called to pediatrics because I wanted to be able to advocate for my patients and their
families when they couldn’t necessarily do it for themselves. Since settling into my practice as a general
pediatrician in my hometown, I’ve enjoyed working on projects both in my clinic and community. I
helped establish our fluoride varnish program and hope to expand our dental home to include
integrative dental services in our clinic. In my community, I wrote opinion pieces in our newspaper,
spoke at schools and in front of City Council to help pass legislation that banned flavored tobacco and
menthol products.

Recently, I’ve felt the urgency to use my privilege as a white, educated woman to further
advocate for children and families that are struggling because of racism. This winter, I participated in
the MNAAP Antiracism Task Force that is establishing antiracist policies for our organization that will
reach into our practices, schools and communities. This process showed me that our organization has
the ability to enact widespread changes that hope to reach all the young people of Minnesota. I’ve
certainly found my individual work fulfilling, and would be honored to serve on the board of the MNAAP
where I could help other pediatricians advocate for their patients as well.

Question Title

* 3. Twin Cities Board Candidates - Select Two

Kurt Elting-Ballard, MD, FAAP - Allina, Shoreview 
As part of my role in Allina Health, I currently oversee Allina Health Group’s Minneapolis region. From Longfellow to Uptown to Downtown, I oversee five of our city clinics. Health equity is one of the cornerstones of our care and our efforts at these sites. We have a strong and growing pediatric practice at one of our sites. It has been challenging and rewarding to work at helping to improve access to care and overcoming barriers (there are many). This continues to be a focus of our work and we recently held a summit at one of the sites to further assess how we are doing and how we can be doing better, especially in light of all that has occurred in and around the clinic in the last year. I believe my experience and learnings from working and leading here, in addition to my previous board and leadership experience, will benefit to the board in the coming season.

My identity as a parent is one thing that has defined me over the last two decades.  With the graduation of our daughter, the house will be empty. It is a unique feeling.  We just finished a kitchen remodel. It was a change of our life, routine, schedules, relationships, and a hundred other things. The home has not changed, but the room is different, and it is better. For me, it is an analogy of what some of my identity will be as I walk into this next season. There will be adjustment of routine, schedules, and relationships. However, I will always be a parent, even though it is different. I think it can be better too.  

Alex Gurfinkel, MD, FAAP - U of M, Twin Cities
As a Jewish refugee fleeing anti-Semitism of the Soviet Union, I understand the difficult choices and sacrifices families have to make when leaving their homes. New language, new culture. Will I be accepted? I believe my experience working towards and achieving my goals in this country while preserving my identity and values would be useful in connecting with immigrant communities we serve throughout Minnesota.

In my current role as PHM Medical Director I have had the unique opportunity to shape the inpatient pediatric service. One of the most satisfying aspects of this job has been improving equitable access to healthcare. I oversee a program centered around pediatric subspecialty access using telehealth for rural, mostly Black communities.  The area we serve consists of low income families often with limited access to transportation. While this project was developed in South Carolina, the lessons learnt would be applicable in Minnesota where similar issues exist.

In 1996 I completed medical school in Russia. Soon after I immigrated to the United States, seeking better opportunities for me and my family. Once in the US I completed a pediatric residency and subsequently had several years of training in surgery. I practiced in outpatient pediatrics in Virginia for 8 years. During that time I had an opportunity to help establish a pediatric hospitalist program at Spotsylvania Regional Hospital and had tremendous satisfaction from this work. In 2015 I was offered an opportunity to work as a pediatric hospitalist at the University of Minnesota (UMN). During my time at UMN, I became involved in Quality Improvement initiatives. Of note, our Early Onset Sepsis Prevention Collaborative project was awarded the Minnesota Hospital Association’s Innovation of the Year in Patient Care Award in 2018.

After almost 5 years of working at UMN I sought to gain professional growth in a leadership role and was offered a position of the Medical Director of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at McLeod Children’s Hospital in Florence, SC.

While I spend some of my time in South Carolina, my family and I live just west of Minneapolis and I continue to have strong professional ties to Minnesota where I am on staff at Sanford in Bemidji and Centracare in St. Cloud. 

Kimara Gustafson, MD, FAAP - U of M, Twin Cities
Over this past year, I was fortunate to be able to participate as a member of the MN AAP Anti-Racism Task Force. That experience has helped me start to become more involved and engaged with MN AAP, as well as has sparked my interest in how to personally become a better advocate for pediatric health in our state.  
With my background in Public Health and Medicine, as well as my interest in working on racial equity and anti-racism efforts, I feel I can offer a strong advocacy voice for children and families that are at risk of ongoing marginalization and medical disenfranchisement. I am comfortable working on policy at various levels of an institution or governmental organization. I am also comfortable interfacing with media or other public speaking events.  

Anastasia Ketko, MD, FAAP - MN Neonatal, Maple Grove
I would like to be considered for one of the open positions on the MNAAP Board of Directors. My background positions me to make great contributions to the MNAAP board. By being a private pediatric subspecialist, supporting a high-risk population, I rely on collaborating diversely with my pediatric provider community, across health systems, geography and demographics. This has helped me recognized potential opportunities to help our community be more collaborative, unifying the delivery of care and strengthening communication, which at times can be fragmented.

I have a particular passion for supporting children with special needs. By coordinating complex care for my Neonatal Intensive Care Unit graduates, working with the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota and by personally being a parent of a child with special needs, I strive to improve service and care delivery to our vulnerable children so that they can achieve the best functional outcome possible and truly thrive with joy despite their challenges.

I would love to elaborate on my passion and commitment to protecting and advancing the health of every child. 

Mark Schleiss, MD, FAAP - U of M, Twin Cities
As the grandson of an immigrant farmer, growing up in a rural setting, I never imagined I would become a Professor at a major medical school. These early life experiences are an important part of my identity today. I was blessed and lucky to become the first person in my family to attend college, and this motivates me to foster opportunities for individuals traditionally underrepresented in medicine to fulfill their own career visions. I’ve mentored trainees from the black and Latinx communities in the laboratory and clinic; engaged in vaccine advocacy/outreach activities in the Somali, Karen and Latinx constituencies; and helped to create anti-racism and health equity training initiatives. Forging collaboration amongst child health providers in Minnesota is very important to me. I created a Children’s Collaborative Research group, earmarking funding to catalyze collaboration between UMN and Children’s Minnesota pediatricians; I was the driving force for a bill under current consideration by the Minnesota legislature that improves newborn screening; and I direct a collaborative neonatal research program engaging Allina, MHealth, and St. Cloud/CentraCare pediatricians. As a member of the MNAAP Board, I will nurture collaboration and create opportunities that lay a fertile groundwork for addressing unmet pediatric priorities in Minnesota

Question Title

* 4. This ballot is confidential. Your name or member number is required to ensure election integrity according to the organization's Bylaws. Please provide your name or AAP number. 

Question Title

* 5. Do you have other nominees for Board positions that should be forwarded for consideration for 2022-23?