Searching for Better Solutions: HELP’s Bremel appointed to Governor’s Council on Public Health

When taking on one of society’s biggest problems, one is bound to run into frustrations. After all, there wouldn’t be big problems if they were easy to solve.

Amy Bremel

Such is the struggle Amy Bremel of Juddville sometimes encounters in her efforts to combat underage drinking as coordinator of the Door County Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Coalition.

“Here we are doing all this prevention work, but you see on the other end all the incidents that continue to happen,” she said. “You can’t help but think there have to be other ways to approach it.”

In April, Bremel found an avenue to help find better ways when she was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Public Health by Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle. She aims to bring a Door County perspective to the council, and bring new strategies and ideas back home.

The council was created in 2003 to advise and make policy recommendations to the Department of Health Services, the governor and the state legislature. Its primary focus is the state’s long-term public health plan and response to public health emergencies, such as the recent H1N1 flu virus.

“That first meeting was such a humbling experience,” said Bremel who works as Director of Marketing and Development for HELP of Door County. The council is made up of physicians, health professionals, and educators from all regions of the state. Bremel said she is getting a great education about Wisconsin’s health care issues from her fellow council members.

“It’s rejuvenating to be a part of a group with some of the top experts in the state who are bringing new ideas and perspectives to the table,” she said.

Barb Maskell works with Bremel at HELP of Door County. She said her colleague will bring a valuable viewpoint to the council.

“She’s a great addition to the council because of her commitment to community issues,” Maskell said. “Most of the council is made up of health professionals, but Amy’s background is human services. She’ll bring more of the community perspective.”

The council reviews studies, analysis, and input from all manner of people and agencies involved in public health; Bremel said she receives a lot of information by email to consider in the time between council meetings, held every other month. She said the depth of the discussions about issues was stunning.

“We spent four hours discussing the H1N1 virus at my first meeting,” Bremel said. “There are so many aspects of it that you don’t see and hear that are going on in other parts of the state. We take that information and try to figure out how we can address it or a similar outbreak quicker and better the next time.”

Bremel has worked at HELP for seven years, beginning by working with at risk youth and runaways. She said that her work at HELP, like all of her pursuits, eventually ended up with health care issues at its core.

As an undergrad at UW-La Crosse, she earned her degree in communication, but she followed that up with a degree in women’s studies at Mankato State University in Minnesota.

She interned at a women’s reproductive health clinic, then followed that up with another internship in Edinburgh, Scotland. There she worked to help get the word out on the AIDS epidemic the country was struggling with in the mid-1990s.

Her application for the Council on Public Health was the next step in a progression that has taken her up the ladder from grass roots of health care to policy formulation.

“I’m just really eager to be at the forefront of policy-making,” Bremel said. “To be involved with how law and policy is created.”

Bremel is filling the final year of a three-year appointment left vacant when a previous member retired, and if she’s asked she hopes to stay on board for a full term.

By sharing ideas and information with some of the state’s foremost health care experts, Bremel hopes to make Door County’s concerns heard. But she also aims to bring valuable insight back to the peninsula community to help continue the work she’s so committed to here.

“Amy’s a great woman with lots of passion,” Maskell said. “She’s a great asset not just to HELP, but to all of Door County. She’ll be able to bring us up-to-date information on what’s happening in Madison to help us be ready for changes coming our way.”


One of the priorities of the Governor’s Council on Public Health is the formulation of “Healthiest Wisconsin 2020:  A Plan to Improve the Health and Safety of the Public,” which aims to guide public health policy in Wisconsin. To learn more about this visioning guide, visit