HealthPartners member? Former Trades leader seeks your vote in board election

Harry Melander

Longtime union leader Harry Melander is hoping to give working people a voice on the HealthPartners board of directors.

Melander, who retired as president of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council last year, is one of four candidates running for three open seats on the 16-member board, which oversees the largest consumer-governed health care organization in the U.S.

Over 1 million participants in HealthPartners’ coverage plans are eligible to vote in the election, including tens of thousands of union members. But it has been over two decades, Melander said, since organized labor has had a voice on the board.

“With so many participants from our Building Trades unions, our public employee unions and beyond, I think labor needs to have a voice at the table,” Melander said.

HealthPartners planned to mail ballots and voting instructions to eligible voters by the end of October. Participants can cast their ballots by mail or online through Nov. 28.

Melander and other finalists for the board seats went through a five-step vetting process, including interviews with CEO Andrea Walsh and current board members.

Melander, a longtime member of the Carpenters union, served as executive secretary of the St. Paul Building Trades Council for a decade. During that time, he led efforts to expand the Building Trades’ outreach to communities underrepresented in their unions, including women, people of color and veterans.

“The mission of HealthPartners and its focus on health care for all, no matter your economic status or zip code, goes deep within my beliefs,” Melander said. “During my career at the Building Trades, improving diversity, equity and inclusion was part of its mission, and those efforts continue today. Diversity of thought, work and opportunities within an organization is the recipe for success.”

Melander remains heavily involved in the community during his retirement.

He is vice president of the Twin City Housing Development Corporation and a board member of the Minnesota Housing Partnership and the Union Bank and Trust. For over 20 years, he has chaired the Washington County Board of Adjustment and Appeals.

Previously, he served as chair of the Metropolitan Council and as vice chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Melander said his approach to civic leadership is collaborative and open-minded. “You listen, and you learn,” he said. “And you hope that by working with other leaders, you can make some recommendations that deliver practical results.”

Learn more about the board election at

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