In honor of National Rural Health Day, the Montana Office of Rural Health/AHEC and Montana Rural Health Association seek nominations for the Dr. Frank Newman Rural Health Award(s).  Dr. Newman represented the spirit of Montana in nearly 50 years of service to rural communities and healthcare in our state.  Awardees were announced on November 21, 2023.

Dr. Newman was instrumental in founding the Montana WWAMI Medical School Program, the Montana Office of Rural Health, the Montana AHEC, the Montana Family Medicine Residency Program, and many other programs.  He served his country in the U.S. Marine Corps, and was the founder of the Wind Drinkers running club. Dr. Newman counseled hundreds of young people interested in a career in medicine and other health professions.  He was actively teaching in the WWAMI Targeted Rural Underserved Track at Montana State University, and working at the Montana Office of Rural Health/AHEC until his death at age 80 on Veteran’s Day, 2011.

Nominees reflect Dr. Newman’s commitment to rural health in Montana, his support for health professions, his belief in the young people of our state, and his optimistic view of the future.  Dr. Newman traveled to every corner of Montana, worked with rural hospitals and healthcare providers, and believed that communities had the capacity to support high quality healthcare.  He helped many people persevere in their goals and hopes, and inspired many young people to pursue their dreams.

Congratulations to our 2023 Dr. Frank Newman Rural Health Award Winners!

Rural Clinician Leadership


Dr. Sue Gallo                                               

Miles City, MT

For the last 12 years and counting, during my tenure as clinical dean for Montana WWAMI, it has been a pleasure and an honor to have Dr. Gallo on my teaching team. Since 2010, Dr. Gallo has served as the lead clinical faculty in Miles City for the Montana WWAMI Targeted Rural Underserved Track (TRUST) program. Under her mentoring, both as a fine clinician and dedicated teacher, but also as a colleague, friend, and leader in her community and as a wife and mother, she provides her students with the knowledge of what it means to be a rural clinician. In all her interactions, Dr. Gallo is professional, smart, kind, humble, and has a true passion for teaching. Her teaching manner is consistent, and she is able to keep each student’s unique qualities at the forefront, paying attention to how each student learns best and how each student can be motivated to learn better. It is rare that she needs to call me to check on a student’s progress, but on the two occasions where there were struggling students in Miles City, she was professional and discreet in her communication with me. Together we were able to brainstorm effective solutions. The students in question responded well to the educational strategies she put in place.

Since its inception as a WRITE site twelve years ago, Miles City has blossomed into one of our strongest rural sites in Montana. Dr. Gallo is the primary reason for the success. Her commitment to these foundational guideposts has created an exemplary teaching site in Miles City. There are now three physicians who were part of the Montana WWAMI TRUST program who have located to Miles City to serve as family physicians. All are now teaching for the MT TRUST program.

In addition to her teaching efforts in Miles City, Dr. Gallo is a regular speaker at Osler’s Evenings at the Montana WWAMI Foundations Phase campus in Bozeman, which features physicians who have chosen the road somewhat less traveled in going into Rural or Underserved Medicine. She regularly participates in our annual faculty development conferences held at Chico.

In 2020, we asked her to speak about why she teaches medical students. She summarized with the following: Working with medical students does take time and energy, but it is also very rewarding. It helps me stay current in the latest changes in medicine and keeps me excited about what I do every day. I feel like we need to be willing to teach to ensure that future generations of physicians can find their way to places like Miles City.  ~ Sue Gallo, M.D.

In summary, Dr. Gallo is an outstanding candidate for the Frank Newman Rural Clinician Leadership award. She truly represents what it means to be a rural clinician, providing leadership in her community now and in the future by way of medical student training. It is without hesitation that I put forward this nomination for her. Thank you for your consideration.

Rural Health Leadership


Valerie Russell, PA-C

Roundup Memorial Healthcare - Roundup, MT

I have worked as a registered nurse with Valeri Russell, PA-C (“Val”) for almost eight years. In this time, I have been witness to her pouring heart and soul into Roundup Memorial Healthcare (she grew up on a ranch north of Roundup) and surrounding rural areas – not only as a healthcare provider but as a key leader. Her steady presence as a leader and support for colleagues in the clinic and hospital is mirrored by her devotion to her family.

In addition to providing primary care, same day care and taking emergency department call shifts (both in Roundup and Miles City) she serves as Roundup Memorial Healthcare’s trauma and stroke coordinator and assistant medical director and is a senior leadership team member. She was instrumental in forming a facility wide stroke program and securing our trauma designation. In partnership with another registered nurse Val has led numerous Stop the Bleed courses in the area, educating on and providing tourniquets and other Stop the Bleed resources to a wide range of audiences, from healthcare providers and hospital employees to elementary schools. She is also the medical director of the Miles City fire & EMS. Multiple physician assistant students have had Val as a mentor during clinical rotations. In addition to her leadership duties within healthcare, she helps organize Toys for Tots and donates books from PaperPie to the youth at Roundup Elementary.

When communicating with Val she makes you feel respected and heard and always listens with the goal of truly understanding. I can always rely on her for a calming presence in a stressful situation. She has been one of the core communicators in our facility and has had a tremendous impact on successfully coordinating care across departments and facilities, something that is difficult in a rural facility. Other colleagues described Val as efficient and accountable – she always follows through. If something cannot be implemented, she can always explain the reasoning behind the decision – you can count on her to always be knowledgeable of ways to improve patient care, efficiency and cost, and employee satisfaction. Val is always self-aware, in addition to being attentive to and keeping staff informed as to what resources are available or limited in our rural area. Val has an innate ability to break down complex situations into manageable steps, something that was imperative during the covid pandemic.

Rural healthcare and our youth in Roundup, MT has evolved and will continue to do so with Val’s passion and devotion to all things rural, and I hope you strongly consider this award for this deserving physician assistant.

Future of Rural Health


Katie Logan

Student - Bozeman, MT

The spirit of Dr. Frank Newman means care, service, and optimismMy sister Katie exemplifies these traitsCurrently, she is pursuing her undergraduate degree in Nutrition while working at a nonprofit that focuses on improving the health and well-being of Montanans.  Katie is also a recent graduate of the Montana AHEC Scholars program – a certificate program for future health professionals who are interested in pursuing a career in rural healthcare.Her goal is to go to dental school and work in rural Montana. Growing up in Deer Lodge, we saw first-hand what it was like to have limited access to proper dental careI believe her passion for service and interest in rural healthcare stemmed from our rural upbringingKatie has always wanted to help people in healthcare, which I believe truly embodies the spirit of Dr. Newman. 

We’re proud to recognize these award winners and, in the spirit of Frank Newman, their dedication to rural health.