Antonia Maria Apolinário-Wilcoxon, MIM, EdD 
Director of Community Relations
Minnesota Department of Human Services

Antonia Maria Apolinário-Wilcoxon is the Director of Community Relations for the largest state agency in Minnesota’s executive branch. She provides leadership and resources to agency-wide efforts to connect with communities for building sustainable relationships that result in better access to and healthy outcomes for cultural and ethnic communities impacted by disparities. These relationship-based community building efforts generated the legislatively mandated Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council (CECLC) that was enacted in the 2013 Minnesota legislative session to advise the Commissioner of Human Services on achieving equity for all Minnesota residents. CECLC’s recommendations are aligned with and influence a number of ongoing efforts at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (MDHS). MDHS recently adopted an administrative health equity policy that reflects CECLC’s recommendations to guide all procedures in its operations.

Ms. Apolinário-Wilcoxon actively participates in the equity community in the Twin Cities. She serves on advisory boards, and engages in learning, teaching, discussions, and resources identification to benefit the activities of MDHS and CECLC in eliminating health and human services disparities. Her current projects include a recently funded Bush Foundation community innovation grant to introduce authentic community engagement in MDHS in the context of social determinants of health, adverse childhood experiences, and historical trauma.

Ms. Apolinário-Wilcoxon is a doctoral candidate in critical pedagogy with a research focus on the status of African American elders residing in urban nursing homes to learn about disparities in their quality of life and care.