Two Grand Forks Public Health employees have been recognized by the North Dakota Public Health Association for their accomplishments and for making lasting change in the state.

Michael Dulitz, opioid response coordinator for Grand Forks Public Health, has been selected as the Public Health Worker of the Year for his outstanding contributions to public health this past year in North Dakota.

Debbie Swanson, director of Grand Forks Public Health, has been selected to receive the Outstanding Service Award for her dedication and commitment to public health.

Award recipients, who are selected through a nomination process, are honored at the NDPHA annual meeting, which, this spring, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was held by video-conferencing.

Dulitz has worked to provide addiction treatment, increase community connections and reduce the stigma of mental illness and addiction, according to a news release. His work has fundamentally changed the way people in Grand Forks speak about addiction, substance use disorders and mental health. He adheres to a science-based approach to his work, using both data and lived experiences.

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Dulitz’s efforts have been largely directed at changing systems and institutions, in carrying out his mission to change and save lives.

Swanson has been an “exemplary employee” who has championed many innovations, including shifting the focus of public health from delivering direct care services to delivering what became known as the 10 essential services of public health.

A Grand Forks Public Health employee since 1985, she has been an active proponent of tobacco control, including support for the Clean Indoor Air Act for North Dakota in 1987 and the first tobacco vending machine ordinance in 1990.

Swanson is known for hiring and empowering young public health professionals and helping them begin their public health careers.