Candid Conversations with Monica Taylor-Desir, MD, MPH

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With our Candid Conversations series we invite you to hear the stories, life, and work of BIPOC people living in Rochester, MN.  We encourage reading to learn, seeking to understand, and thoughtfully engaging.

Through this series, we will get to know a little bit about someone you may have not met yet. With these conversations, we hope strengthen our community, one connection at a time.Through this series, we will get to know a little bit about someone you may have not met yet. With these conversations, we hope strengthen our community, one connection at a time.


Monica Taylor-Desir, MD, MPH

How long have you lived in Rochester?  What brought you to the city? 

I was not born in Rochester, my job brought me here two and a half years ago. 

What are the three words that best describe you? 

Compassionate, Committed, and Engaged

Do you work outside of the home?  If so, what do you do? 

Yes, I’m a Community Psychiatrist. Meaning, I did a fellowship in community psychiatry which allowed me to also obtain my Master’s in Public Health. Through a community outreach agreement between Mayo Clinic and Olmsted County I work with the Olmsted County Assertive Community Treatment Team that provides a multidisciplinary team approach to working with patients with severe mental illness.  We meet patients in their homes or other community settings and support them in obtaining optimal achievement within the community.

If you could go back in time ten years and tell yourself something, what would you say? 

Relax, appreciate the resources and friends you have. It’s OK to take care of yourself.

Monica with the 1st Minnesota Miss Juneteenth, Mowha Altayeb, Photo Courtesy of Monica Taylor-Desir

What does #rochmn need to work on the most? 

Celebrating and welcoming the diversity of its residents and employees. I would love to see more ethnic restaurants, community festivals and events that would promote the community to gather and learn from each other.

What has required the most courage of you in your life so far? 

Moving to North Dakota to serve as Chief Medical Officer and being the only psychiatrist for a tribal community with a land base of one million acres.

Photo Courtesy of Monica Taylor-Desir

What’s a charity or cause you support? 

The American Psychiatric Association Foundation’s Moore Equity in Mental Health Community Grants. Through an annual 5K we have raised money to support community organizations to enhance mental health awareness, education, outreach, and services for young people of color. The next Moore Equity 5k is July 9th, and can be done locally in the community.

What is something you have accomplished as an adult that your younger self would be proud of?

I have completed thirteen half marathons, walking only. I am still proud of that accomplishment and hope to get back on the half marathon trail.

Photo Courtesy of Monica Taylor-Desir

Where do you most want to visit in the world? 

Australia. I would like to visit an aboriginal community.

What is your favorite meal to cook? 

Lasagna. 

What is your favorite place to go out for a meal or get takeout in Rochester? 

Francisco’s.

Who do you admire the most and why? 

My mentor Dr. Rita Lakes. She was my pediatrician and became a mentor and “mom in medicine to me.”  Dr. Lakes was in my life for 40 years. She was one of those people that never missed an event and she sent handwritten cards and notes throughout my medical career. She had a huge impact on her local community of Houston, TX, but what I admire more than her personal investment is her willingness to participate in an NIH medical trial. Dr. Lakes was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and even though she knew she wasn’t guaranteed a cure she was willing to participate so that the greater science community could learn from her. She lived much longer than doctors expected and with her unexpected years of life she continued to pour love and encouragement into her family and friends. She passed away last month, and I am grateful to have learned and received love from her.

What brings you the most joy? 

Spending time with family and friends. 

What is something you are looking forward to? 

Returning to more frequent travel.

What is your favorite way to unwind and relax?

Restorative yoga.

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Blair is a wife to Rodney and mommy to Kyus (2016). She grew up in Red Wing and has lived in Rochester for 15 years. Blair works full-time at the Mayo Clinic as a Psychometrist (she tests people’s thinking). She finds mental health and psychology extremely interesting and loves learning about wellness. In her spare time Blair likes to do all things relaxing. This includes, but is not limited to: napping, going for walks, taking baths, and watching reality television. On the weekends you can find her thrift shopping, and attending fun events around town with her family of 3. Blair loves to make people laugh with her sarcastic and blunt personality, and she doesn’t take life too seriously.

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