Forty years ago, Ann Bancroft and Jan Malcolm met on a basketball court and became close friends.
That was long before Malcolm went on to serve as Minnesota Health Commissioner under three Minnesota governors and guide the state through the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was also before Bancroft became the first woman to reach the North Pole by foot with dog sled and inspire people around the world through her polar expeditions.
During their long and close friendship, the two women have supported each other through intense challenges, weathered personal loss and encouraged each other to follow their dreams.
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MPR News host Angela Davis talks with Ann Bancroft and Jan Malcolm as part of her Power Pairs series.
Ann Bancroft is an adventurer, author and teacher. She was the first woman to reach the
North Pole on foot with dog sleds with a group in 1986. She was also the first woman, with Norwegian adventurer Liv Arnesen, to ski across Antarctica. She’s completed a number of other expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, inspiring school children and drawing attention to global warming. She’s also the founder of the Ann Bancroft Foundation.
Jan Malcolm retired as Minnesota’s health commissioner at the end of 2022, after serving under Governor Tim Walz and guiding the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was appointed as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health in 2018 by Gov. Mark Dayton and also served in the role under Gov. Jesse Ventura. She was also vice president at Allina Health and CEO of Courage Center and was the chief architect of the state’s safety net insurance program MinnesotaCare while working at HealthPartners in the early 1990s.
Do you know a Power Pair? Send us your suggestion. We’re talking with prominent Minnesotans you may recognize and who also have a close relationship with each other.
Maybe they’re married. Maybe they’re siblings. Or maybe they are just good friends. We want to sit them down together and learn about their relationship.
Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.