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Minneapolis Division Director's Community Leadership Award Recipients

Minneapolis Division Director’s Community Leadership Award Recipients


Krista Heeren-Graber

Krista Heeren-Graber, executive director of the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault (Network), is recognized for her commitment to reducing the instances of family violence and sexual assault through her collaboration with community and law enforcement partners. Details


Pillsbury United Communities

Pillsbury United Communities is recognized for its innovative and successful community programs and enterprises that have served diverse populations in Minneapolis for 135 years. Through impactful programs and centers, Pillsbury United Communities reaches more than 54,000 people each year by focusing on education, youth and family, wellness and nutrition, employment and training, and asset creation. Details


Former U.S. Senator Rod Grams

Senator Grams is recognized for his work with several community organizations and for his efforts in bringing the AMBER Alert system to Minnesota in 2002. The Minnesota AMBER Alert program was established to dramatically increase the visibility of certain child abduction cases. Details


Somali-American Ka Joog Organization

The Ka Joog organization is a group of nine Somali-Americans who provide hope, direction, and vision for Somali youth in one of the largest Somali communities in America. The word Ka Joog means “stay away” or “stay out”—a message to encourage kids to stay away from drugs, violence, radicalization, and other negative influences in the community. Details


PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center

The PACER Center is a non-profit organization that provides training and information to families with children with disabilities from birth to age 21. The PACER Center offers workshops, publications, and resources to help families determine the best educational, vocational, and employment options for their children. The program offers free, creative, and interactive resources on the Internet. Details


Linda Walker

Linda J. Walker was nominated for her tireless effort to protect women and children from sexual predators. Walker is the mother of Dru Sjodin who was kidnapped from a mall parking lot in North Dakota on November 22, 2003 at the age of 22. Nearly five months later, Dru’s body was discovered in a ravine just outside of Crookston, Minnesota. Her murderer, who had only recently been released after serving 23 years for attempted kidnapping and assault, has since been convicted and sentenced to death. Details


Dr. Saeed Fahia

Dr. Saeed Fahia—the Executive Director of the Confederation of the Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM)—was honored for his work to enhance the lives of Somalis in Minnesota by ensuring access to appropriate basic need and self-sufficiency services; uniting all Somali groups residing in Minnesota; preserving Somali traditions and culture; and educating the community-at-large about Somalis. Details


Erika Binger

Erika Binger is chair of the board of directors of The McKnight Foundation, Minnesota’s largest private philanthropic charitable organization. Ms. Binger’s enormous compassion to help people realize their potential and fulfill their dreams has fundamentally contributed to the betterment of Minnesota, and, in turn, the FBI. According to the mission statement of The McKnight Foundation, the organization “seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. Through grant making, coalition-building, and encouragement of strategic policy reform, we use resources to attend, unite, and empower those we serve.” Details


Suzanne Koepplinger

Suzanne Koepplinger is the Executive Director, Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (MIWRC). Ms. Koepplinger’s compassion towards the needs of American Indian women and the positive impact her work has had in the community merits special recognition.


Gordon Thayer

Gordon Thayer, Executive Director and founder of both Overcomers Ministry and the American Indian Community Development Corporation (AICDC), was nominated for his strong participatory involvement and dedication to addressing issues of homelessness that result from chronic alcoholism and for his compassionate assistance to those living with chronic alcoholism in the American Indian community in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.


Target Corporation

Supporting local communities is a cornerstone of Target Corporation. Target gives more than $2 million a week to local and national nonprofit organizations in education, the arts, and social services. Target team members and retirees give more than 345,000 volunteer hours to more than 7,000 projects annually. As part of Target’s commitment to communities comes a long history of support, collaboration, and partnership with law enforcement, both locally and nationally. Through these partnerships, where resources, connections, information and expertise are shared, Target makes a difference.


No award given


Morton W. Ryweck

Morton W. Ryweck, Director of the League of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions, was honored for his strong involvement in and dedication to the prevention of hate crimes in Minnesota. Mr. Ryweck, in coordination with the league of Minnesota Human Rights Commissions, developed community-based action groups to combat hate and bigotry in the aftermath of 9/11.


Robert Olson

Robert Olson, Minneapolis Police Chief, was nominated for his crime prevention initiatives and relations with the community.


Steven R. Silberfarb

Steven R. Silberfarb of Minneapolis was honored for his efforts in combating hate crimes within the Minneapolis Division through the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). Mr. Silberfarb is the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.


Pastor Rocky White Mountain

Pastor Rocky White Mountain of McLaughlin, South Dakota was nominated for his multi-discipline Violence Awareness Project targeting violence, gangs, and all types of crime on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.


Rev. Devin Miller

Rev. Devin Miller of St. Paul was honored for his efforts with area youth in the Black Teens for Advancement (BTA) programs and his “Just Stop It” non-violence program.


Sheriff Larry Costello

Sheriff Larry Costello of Clay County, Minnesota was nominated for his hands-on approach to decreasing gangs and gang violence in the community.


District Court Judge Kevin S. Burke

District Court Judge Kevin S. Burke in Minneapolis was honored for his innovative efforts with Hennepin County’s Drug Court.


Lt. William Whelchel

Lt. William Whelchel of Sturgis, South Dakota established a number of drug demand reduction programs on both the state and local level, including a crime prevention and school liaison program, a McGruff House Program, and Drug-Free School Zones.


Sheriff Gary L. Waller

Sheriff Gary L. Waller of St. Louis County, Minnesota was instrumental in implementing D.A.R.E. training for his personnel and furthering the D.A.R.E. program in St. Louis County schools.


Sgt. Michael J. Ganley

Sgt. Michael J. Ganley of Minneapolis was the first Minnesota law enforcement officer to complete D.A.R.E. training and initiate the Minneapolis D.A.R.E. program.


Tom H. Swain

Tom H. Swain of St. Paul was instrumental in establishing the D.A.R.E. drug education program in St. Paul schools by personally raising the necessary funding from area businesses and foundations.


No award given


Michael Wright and Senator Patrick McGowan

Mr. Wright of Eden Prairie, Minnesota was honored for his efforts with the Super Valu Stores for the “Hugs Not Drugs” and “Be Educated, Aware, and Responsible” (BEAR) programs and implementation of the programs in the public schools. Senator McGowan of Minneapolis was nominated for introducing legislation to strengthen career criminal sentencing, promoting drug free school zones for school children, increasing state penalties for transporting drugs/narcotics into the state, and redefining a reporting system for dispensing prescription and precursor drugs.


Herschel Walker

Herschel Walker of the Minnesota Vikings made a significant contribution toward helping our nation make the right choice to be drug-free through his various public appearances.