Laura Palombi, 39, Duluth


What do you do?

I am a pharmacist and assistant professor at the University of Minnesota-College of Pharmacy, Duluth. I work closely with public health professionals and community members throughout Northeastern Minnesota on efforts to reduce substance use and eliminate drug overdose.



University of Minnesota and University of St. Thomas.


Community involvement

I am a member of numerous substance-use coalitions throughout Northeastern Minnesota, where I work closely with community members to find solutions to reduce substance use, abuse and overdose. In this role, I have worked with Northeastern Minnesota communities to plan and implement nine Community Forums on Heroin and Opioid Abuse to provide community members with education on substance use prevention and intervention, and resources for recovery. I am also a member of the Carlton County Drug Court team and been active in planning Carlton County's Operation Community Connect, a resource day for the homeless, since 2012.


Tell us about your loved ones

I have two adolescent children (my son is 14 and my daughter is 12) and a husband who I am very proud of. They inspire me to do the work that I do.


What do you do in your free time?

My family and I love to visit national parks; we like to take our old pop-up camper whenever we can. We live on a hobby farm and I also enjoy hanging out with the dogs and chickens, and making jams with raspberries from our farm.


Tell us about an influential person in your life

I have been most influenced by former Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin. I'm inspired not only by her incredible work ethic and impact on rural and public health, but also by the wisdom she once shared with me and other students when she encouraged us not to be afraid to pursue uncharted paths in public health.


What's the best decision you've ever made?

The best decision that I made was to become a pharmacy educator with a public health focus. I get to work with fantastic and energetic students and be inspired by the work of community partners working diligently to make Minnesota - and the world - a better place. I appreciate having the flexibility to pursue work that really matters to me and having a job that allows me to work with public health professionals, university faculty, healthcare providers, drug court teams, community coalitions and inspiring individuals in recovery.


What is your biggest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment is in raising two kind and generous children who make me proud with their care of others and the community.


What keeps you in the Twin Ports?

I love the Twin Ports and have always wanted to live here. I most enjoy the fabulous people that I've met over the years, but also appreciate the opportunities for outdoor fun (hiking, skiing, running, snowshoeing) that the Twin Ports provides.  


Describe your happy place

My happy place is on a quiet and secluded lake in Northeastern Minnesota.


What’s your five-year plan?

In five years, I hope to be working with community members to implement programming that reduces stigma toward substance use disorders and increases community support for individuals in recovery and their families. I hope that we will find ways to make substance use a less-appealing option for youth and adults alike by leveraging the strengths of our Minnesota communities.


What words of wisdom do you have for young adults?

My words of wisdom would be similar to those shared with me by Dr. Regina Benjamin, as I would advise young adults to follow their passion and to do what they think needs to be done in their job and in the world and whenever possible what they feel called to do (even if nobody else is doing it yet). It might seem risky to pursue ideas that are “outside of the box” or new collaborations, but that's how some of the most exciting, rewarding and effective programs and solutions are discovered.