Previous Recipients of the Preus Award
2014 Christine Cowan
The setting for Christine's project was the South Hebron Hills in Area C of the West Bank in Occupied Palestine. There she partnered with Hebron International Resource Center (HIRN) to help improve local schools. The grant money she received was used for the disbursement of books, supplies and/or equipment in order to create maximum benefit to the children. Emphasis was also placed on engaging students in conversation, trading English for Arabic vocabulary. Such conversations were an international encounter for both the students and for Christine, enlarging their world as well as her own.
2013 Martha Schwehn Bardwell
Martha received the Preus Award for a project that involved the construction of an outdoor, wood-fired community bread oven, attached to Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN. In her own words, "The goal and hope is for OSLC and its neighbors to become com-pan-ions (those who break bread together) across ethnic and economic boundaries." She also proposed to make a multi-ethnic book of recipes drawing on wisdom from Liberian members and Somali neighbors. It was her hope not only to coordinate the construction project, but also to keep a journal that would eventually be shared with the community, in hopes of fostering "biblical imagination at OSLC around bread by producing a written piece that can be shared with the community."
2012 Laura Martin
The 2012 Preus Award was given to Laura Martin, whose project worked at the intersection of faith communities and addiction. In particular, Martin worked closely with Faith Partners, an organization located in Austin, Texas that recruits and trains lay leadership to address issues of addiction holistically. She also attended the 30th year of summer school intensive on chemical dependency, which was hosted by the Addiction Ministries of the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church.
2011 Ruth Williamson,
In 2011, Ruth Williamson was given the Preus Award for her work with the summer program at Pine Ridge, a retreat center on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The retreat center represents the only Lutheran presence on the reservation. Her work involved everything from fixing roofs to coaching youth basketball teams, guitar lessons to making sandwiches.
2010 Nina Joy
Nina Joy was awarded the Preus Award for a project that involved serving alongside churches and organizations that work against racism and classism in and around Cape Town, South Africa. Nina proposed to volunteer for education and community development programs that provide support to young people and women. But this project not only provided Nina with an opportunity to serve; she was also given the opportunity to learn from a society that has practiced reconciliation on a national level.
2009 Kirsten Laderach Southside Chicago, working with the Shekinah Temple
Kirsten Laderach's project involved congregational servant leadership at The Shekinah Temple on the south side of Chicago. At the heart of her proposal was "study and observation" of this community, its rhythms, and its people. Kirsten's project involved everything from taking students to Leadership Lab to community building events, attending camps aimed at helping African American youth to simply listening to community members.
2007 Brad and Janet Anderson, Business and Community Leaders, serving Luther Seminary, Waldorf College, and Plymouth Christian Youth Center
It seems Brad and Janet Anderson have a stereotypical “rags to riches” story. But it’s how their lives depart from that stereotype for which they were awarded the 2007 David W. Preus Award in leadership.
“In an era of rampant corporate greed, generosity has been of an almost unparalleled magnitude,” wrote Rolf Jacobson in nominating them for the award.
Since the Andersons’ modest beginnings, their gifts have unfolded in remarkable ways. Brad is the son of a Lutheran pastor. As a young couple, the Andersons relocated to Minnesota so Brad could follow in his father’s footsteps at seminary. He dropped out in less than a year, getting a job at a stereo store. He nearly quit, feeling he failed to find his calling as a salesman. But he turned his career around. Thirty years later, he is now CEO of that store, called Best Buy.
Growing up in a small farming community in Illinois, Janet’s parents impressed on her the importance of generosity, giving their time and money to their church. It was natural for Janet and Brad to give of their wealth and talents to worthy causes too. Her philosophy is “to give until it feels good.”
A retired public school social worker, Janet is a full-time volunteer. She has been president of Plymouth Christian Youth Center, the Luther Seminary foundation and Como park Lutheran Church, among others. Brad has lent his leadership skills to Minnesota Public Radio, the American film Institute and Waldorf College.
“Janet and Brad . . . are a force for good,” wrote David Tiede in a letter supporting their nomination. “Their thoughtful collaboration as a couple and a family sets an intriguing and inspiring example for others. They clearly understand the Biblical wisdom that much is required from those to whom much is entrusted.”
2006 Fred Rupp, founder and director Les Voyageurs and Biology teacher, Cathedral HS, St. Cloud, Minnesota
Fred Rupp is known as the “The Man Who Created Over 3,000 Servant Leaders.” For more than 35 years, Fred has had a profound impact on the lives of countless young people as a teacher and cross country coach at Cathedral High School and the founder and director of Les Voyageurs, Inc.
Les Voyageurs is a non-profit wilderness canoe program for high school age young people. This program, founded in 1971, has taken over 3,000 men and women on 28-36 canoe expeditions to the wilderness areas of Canada. These expeditions remove young people from their comfort zones and challenge them physically, emotionally and psychologically. Les Voyageurs is more than a canoe trip for these young people; it is a powerful “rite of passage” into adulthood.
Fred began participation in Boy Scouts as a young child, became an eagle Scout at age 15 and was honored as Minnesota Scout of the Year at age 16. At age 18, Fred was one of twelve winners across the US to receive the Explorer’s Club Scholarship, which gave him the opportunity to take part on an expedition through the remote ice fields of Alaska. Receiving the Explorer’s Club Scholarship inspired Fred to found Les Voyageurs.
Fred attended Saint Cloud State University and graduated with a degree in biology. He began teaching at Saint Cloud Cathedral High School in 1975, where he continues to teach advanced Placement biology and human biology.
2005 Jimmie Coulthard, President/CEO, Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans
For More than 13 years, Coulthard has helped veterans who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless find transitional and permanent housing. He is an Army veteran who served with Company C, third battalion, 21st Infantry of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, in Vietnam, 1967-68. Upon his return to the U.S., Coulthard became a riverboat captain. However, he found it difficult to return to American society and began drinking heavily. His tough transition gave him the desire to help with others in similar situations.
In 1986, Coulthard worked as a substance abuse counselor for a halfway house. Then in 1992, he was hired to develop the Minnesota assistance Council for Veterans (MACV), the only Minnesota non-profit that exclusively supports the needs of homeless veterans. Under Coulthard’s leadership, MACV has assisted more than 3,200 men and women by providing medical care, employment, education and sober housing opportunities. MACV owns and operates eight transitional homes located in Minneapolis and one in St. Cloud, Minn.
Eighty five percent of MACV’s funding comes from federal and state grants. The late Paul Wellstone helped MACV receive a federal grant to establish a legal assistance program. More recently, a $16.7 million dollar bonding bill from, state legislators, led by Tim Pawlenty, then a representative, enabled MACV to begin building permanent housing on the VA campuses in St. Cloud and Minneapolis, called the “Al Loehr Studio Apartments” and the “CruseMiller Garrison Apartments,” respectively. MACV will also build 11 permanent housing units for veterans with disabilities in Mankato, Minn. The developments were completed in the summer of 2006.
2004 Clarissa walker, director, family resource Program, Sabathani Community Center, Minneapolis
For more than 35 years, Clarissa walker dedicated both her professional career and personal volunteer time to providing resources to families in need. She was the director of the Family Resource Program at Sabathani community center, a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-age service center in Minneapolis. The Center provides basic needs, academic enrichment for youth, adult life and work skills, language and citizen classes and senior assistance in maintaining an independent life style. Walker played a vital part in the evolution of this valuable resource serving the diverse people of south Minneapolis.
While serving at Sabathani, walker also became the founding Board president of Southside Neighborhood Housing Services of Minneapolis in 1976. Under her leadership, over 1,500 families have received low interest loans or grants, purchased rehabilitated and newly constructed homes and participated in educational programs to prepare for home ownership.
Walker also expanded the sphere of Neighborhood Housing Services to duplicate its success in neighborhoods throughout the twin Cities and ultimately throughout the nation.
“Drawing on her experience at Sabathani and the Southside Neighborhood Housing Services of Minneapolis, Clarissa contributed her hands-on knowledge of the needs and circumstances of the elderly, the poor and those who might otherwise fall between the cracks,” said Mary Lee Widner, president of the Neighborhood Housing services Association. “Her influence on early loan policies as chair of NHSA’s Loan Committee assured a mission that was both compassionate and responsible - resulting in unique loan policies based on the ability of borrowers to pay.”
Walker has donated her time and effort to many agencies and causes beyond Sabathani and the Neighborhood Housing Services Association. Some of these include: Homeowner Preservation Services (Founder), the Neighborhood reinvestment regional Advisory Committee, Second Harvest food Bank Board, the United Way first Call for Help Committee, Project for Pride in Living Board, the Central Neighborhood Improvement Association, the Social Change in the Penal System Task Force, the Senior Citizen Advisory Committee to the Mayor, the Lake Street Partners Board, Caring tree Foundation and the emergency Food Shelf Network.
2003 Douglas A. Johnson, executive Director, Center for Victims of Torture, Minneapolis
Doughlas A. Johnson has been the executive director of the Minneapolis-based for Victims of Torture since 1988. Founded in 1985, the Center is the first organization of its kind in the U.S. and third in the world that is dedicated to the treatment and rehabilitation of torture survivors. The plethora of accomplishments of the Center for Victims of Torture can be attributed to Johnson’s dedication to human rights and the pursuit of social justice.
Under Johnson’s leadership, the Center’s staff has grown from three people to over 40 full-time staff and more than 350 active volunteers. In 1998, Johnson played a critical role in the passage of the Torture Victims relief Act, which has resulted in the appropriation of millions of dollars for torture survivor treatment centers in the U.S. and across the world.
Johnson is an original member of the advisory panel on the Prevention of Torture, formed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to build a strategy to end torture in the region. In 2000, he was elected president of The National consortium of Torture Treatment Programs.
In April of 2001, Johnson accepted the National Crime Victims Service Award, the highest civilian award given by the Department of Justice, on behalf of the Center. In May 2001, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Macalester College, and the Pax Christi Award, the highest award given by St. John’s University.
Johnson has been a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., and at the Albert Einstein Institute for Non-Violent Sanctions in Boston. He received a master’s degree in public and private management from the Yale University School of Organization and Management in 1988. He graduated from Macalester College in 1975.
2002 Gary B. Reierson, President, Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches
The 2002 Preus Leadership award honored the community ministry of the Rev. Dr. Gary B. Reierson, president of the Greater Minneapolis council of Churches (GMCC).
Since 1989, Reierson’s work in areas of service and justice has crossed boundaries separating denominations, ethnic backgrounds and economic settings. He has emphasized community ministry through well-known initiatives like Minnesota FoodShare, Metro Paint-A-thon and other, lesser-known programs that serve children, teens and families.
Founded in 1905, the GMCC is the strongest church council in the nation. It is the largest direct-service volunteer organization in the state of Minnesota, with 30,000 volunteers, 700 member congregations, 14 programs, and 70 staff, impacting 750,000 people each year. The council has an annual budget of $5 million.
Before becoming president of the GMCC, Reierson was vice president for community relations of the Greater Minneapolis Girl Scout Council. Prior to that, he served as a pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis and United Church of Christ in New Brighton, Minnesota. He has also taught courses at the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and the University of Minnesota.
In 1977, Reierson received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. He earned his master of divinity degree from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in 1978. Eight years later, he received his doctor of ministry degree from the seminary. He is listed in the Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in Religion. He and his wife, Pam, are parents of two college-age daughters. He writes books and articles, enjoys reading, travel and the arts.
2001 Steven M. Rothschild, founder and president, twin cities RISE! and Twin cities businessman
Long a member of the Twin Cities business community, Steven Rothschild was selected to receive the 2001 Preus Award as a result of his service to underprivileged communities through Twin Cities RISE!, a work skills preparation program he founded in 1996.
The director of three for-profit companies, Rothschild also served as vice chairman of the board of trustees of Minnesota Public Radio, a national advisory board member of the Institute on Race and poverty at the University of Minnesota, and an executive fellow at the University of St. Thomas School of business. Earlier in his career, he was executive vice president of general Mills, Inc., where he started Yoplait, USA, a yogurt company, serving as its first president.
In addition to his involvement in twin Cities RISE!, Rothschild has served the Citizen’s League, The Bridge for runaway Youth, and the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts. He was also founding Chairman of Altcare, a joint venture between the wilder foundation and general Mills, which won the Harvard University George S. Dively award for corporate public initiatives and a President’s Citation for private sector initiatives from President Reagan.
Rothschild earned a master’s degree in business from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and an associate degree in Economics from Franklin and Marshall College. In 1981, he was awarded the “Ordre Du Mente Agricole” by the government of France. He also received the Brotherhood award from The National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1998.
Many of Rothschild’s colleagues are quick to point out the independent and visionary character of Rothschild’s leadership. He is widely respected for his principled dedication to the communities he serves. He and his wife Marilyn reside in Minneapolis.
2000 William Simpson, Special Education Teacher, Stillwater Area Schools and Founder of “Adventure Trek”
Longtime special education teacher, William Simpson was selected to receive the Preus award based on his dedication and service as an educator and role model to children and youth in the Stillwater community and throughout the Twin Cities.
Simpson has served as a special education teacher in the Stillwater Area schools District 834 for since 1971. Each year for the past 35 years, he has also coached 150 children and youth with various levels of ability in cross country skiing. His ski team has won 13 state championships.
People in the Stillwater community are quick to point out his lifelong service and dedication to shaping young minds. In September 1998, Simpson was named one of KARE-11 television news’ “Eleven Who Care.” He was also named Nordic Coach of the Year and is included in the Ski Coaches Hall of Fame.
At the Center of his leadership and service is his passionate interest in nature, outdoor education and adventure. Simpson is the founded of “Adventure Trek,” a program in which children, youth and adults have shared in Simpson’s interest in adventure by traveling all over the globe. The program has also raised more than $400,000 for the American Lung Association.
Simpson received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1966 and a master’s degree in school counseling in 1969 from the University of Wisconsin, river Falls. He has completed further studies at the University of Minnesota.
1999 Rabbi Joseph A. Edelheit, Temple Israel Minneapolis and Father Michael J. O’Connell, Basilica of Saint Mary, Minneapolis, Advocates for Jewish-Christian Harmony
Father Michael O’Connell, who served at the Basilica of saint Mary, and rabbi Joseph Edelheit, who served at Temple Israel, has a long history of working together to promote Jewish-Christian understanding both in the Twin Cities and abroad. Most notably, the pair took four full plane loads of invited clergy, rabbis, educators, and church leaders to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. They also lead trips to various Holocaust sites in Europe.
A former Preus Leadership Award board member described the Washington, D.C. trip as “an unforgettable experience with wide ranging implications for the ministry of breaking down barriers of race, religious persuasion, and gender. Their personal friendship, obvious and enlightening, is a particular witness.”
“These two individuals bring people together instead of dividing them,” Sister Colman O’Connell said. “The day the [Prues Leadership Award council] made its decision, bombs were falling on Kosovo and the Ireland and Mideast peace accords were under strain. Hate crimes are still with us, those who are creating division rather than harmony.”
“Our Twin Cities are a different place because of these folks,” Colman O’Connell continued. “We are so impressed with the way they work together like two brothers; they refer to each other as brothers. Their friendship is a sign to us. And they work together with all the other churches of the Minneapolis downtown area.
1998 Leslie R. Green, Advocate for Cultural and racial Harmony
Leslie R. Green of St. Cloud, Minn., a leader in helping communities build racial harmony, is the 1998 recipient of the David W. Preus Servant Leadership Award. Green, is director of cultural diversity for St. Cloud State University’s College of education.
“Les has been an outstanding leader to help us all make our community a more welcoming place for people of color,” said Sister Colman O’Connell of the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, who nominated Green for the award. “The program launched via his direction—Appreciating Differences Among People and Things (ADAPT)—has had a surprising result: the old label for St. Cloud as ‘White Cloud’ has just about vanished.”
Green’s work reaches well beyond central Minnesota. The St. Cloud area is regularly asked by other communities to send consultants for change. And through the Teacher of Color Program, which encourages students of color to enter teaching, Green works closely with Twin Cities school districts.
“Growth and change have surely met resistance here,” said Pastor Dee Pederson of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, St. Cloud. “Yet people are talking about what it means to welcome and respect others and to value the differences with which God has blessed us. Les is the one who has helped to create a climate where that kind of inclusiveness can flourish. Everything he does is informed by his positive attitude.”
Green also gives major attention to corrections, both statewide and nationally. He has served as president of the Minnesota Corrections Association and has received a special-services award from the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice.
Having earned a bachelor’s (1972) and master’s (1993) degrees from St. Cloud State, Green completed his Ph.D. degree from the University of Minnesota. He is a member of St. Paul Roman Catholic Church in St. Cloud. He and his wife, Sally, have one son and one daughter.
1997 Tom Swain, Community Leader and Citizen Volunteer
Tom Swain received the David W. Preus Leadership Award because he never retired from serving others. After retiring from work at the age of 76, Swain of Lilydale, Minn. Chaired four major public bodies: the Minnesota Health Care Commission, the body that recommends salary levels for state officials, the state insurance fund that offers workers compensation with private firms, and the Lilydale Planning Commission.
Swain also served on Citizens League committees, on the council that evaluates candidates for university board of regents, and on the Minnesota News Council, which helps mediate public complaints against news organizations. He fundraised for Saint Paul’s DARE program, for Courage Center, and for restoration of the University’s Centennial Showboat.
Such volunteering is “close to a full-time job,” Swain told the St. Paul Pioneer Press during a 1995 interview. “I don’t take much time off. But I figure if you get satisfaction from it and think you’re making a difference, it’s worth doing.”
“Tom’s life of service in this community demonstrates superbly what the Preus Award is all about,” said Dr. James Shannon, Co-chair of the Preus award sponsoring council. “His retirement years show us dramatically that one need never retire from civic commitment.”
1996 Mary Ellen Dumas, Director, Division of Indian Work, Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches
Mary Ellen Dumas, director since 1981 of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches’ Division of Indian Work (DIW), has worked among Minneapolis Native Americans for 15 plus years, is the 1996 recipient of the David W. Preus Leadership Award.
“Through work that is creatively and quietly effective, Mary Ellen Dumas exhibits the qualities of a servant leader in a superb way,” said Dr. James Shannon, co-chair of the Preus Award Council.
Dumas is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin. Born in Minneapolis, she received a B.A. from Lakeland College, Sheboygan, WI, and an M.S.W. from the university of Wisconsin, Prior to 1981, she had spent 18 years in social services for Fond du Lac County, WI.
The program she directed grew into the nation’s largest church-sponsored agency serving urban Indians. With a staff of two dozen, DIW offers programs in youth leadership, teen parenting, family violence, and emergency assistance. DIW moved into a new $3.5 million building at 1001 E. Lake in 1995.
“Mary Ellen understands the needs in the Indian community,” said Dumas’ pastor, Marlene Whiterabbit Helgemo of All Nations Indian Church. “She has been innovative in designing programs and working with community leaders, the churches, and the corporate/foundation community to provide much needed services.”
The Rev. Gary Reierson, executive director of the Greater Minneapolis Council, said Dumas’ leadership “effectively meets needs and produces results without her worrying about getting the credit or making a name of for herself or her agency.”
1995 J. David and Eunice Simonson, Lutheran Missionaries in Tanzania
J. David and Eunice Simonson are the eight recipients of the David W. Preus Leadership Award, and the first couple to be honored. They were selected for their devotion over 40 years to the welfare of the Maasai tribe in northern Tanzania, East Africa.
The Simonsons met at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. After Eunice completed her training at the Fairview Hospital School of Nursing and David graduated from Luther Seminary, they left for Tanzania in 1955 as missionaries of the American Lutheran Church. While raising five children in often primitive living conditions, they have combined Dave’s pastoral ministry and Eunice’s nursing skills with numerous practical initiatives in a remarkable approach to human service.
To the preaching, teaching, counseling and leadership training basics of mission work in as many as 13 rural congregations at a time, Simonsons have added agricultural and construction development projects, reforestation, health service and education programs. Four examples illustrate their diversity.
The Purka Project developed cattle breeding by providing heifers to families willing to care for them and to give next-generation animals to other families. ASAADA a not-for-profit architectural firm based in Minnesota works mainly in developing countries. The Mama Naomi clinic, one of several clinics the Simonsons have begun in the Arusha area, grew out of “Eunice’s Back Door Clinic,” and provides maternity and child health care.
Operation Bootstrap Africa, founded in 1965 and based on the principle of self-help, has built more than 2,000 primary funding for building materials for classrooms and teacher’s quarters constructed by villagers. The program has now expanded to Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Gambia.
1994 William L. Jones, Music Director, Grater Twin Cities Youth Symphony
William L. Jones, founder and former music director of Grater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS), was not only an accomplished bassoonist and internationally recognized director; he also directed and mentored some 1,000 musicians coming from a 230-mile radius and performing in seven orchestras. A former board member of GTCYS said that Jones helped “build leaders. There are hundreds of kids and young adults out in the world today who know the meaning of respect and responsibility, and GTCYS had a hand in shaping that.’
Jones we selected to receive the David W. Preus Leadership Award because of the positive influence he had on young people as director of GTCYS, developing their potential both as musicians and as citizens. Former co-citizenship, and responsibility along with musical accomplishment.”
One graduate of the program expressed it this way:
“Thank you for everything you have done for the GTCYS program and for everything you have done to further my growing into a participating member of the adult community . . . I have developed into a more confident person both with and without my cello.”
1993 Elmer L. Anderson, Leader in politics, Education and Business
Through a career spanning more than 60 years, Elmer L. Anderson provided leadership and inspiration not only to his home base of Minnesota, but far beyond, and in a startling variety of arenas.
The business community knew and honored him for his years as head of H. B. Fuller Company, a Fortune 500 company with international activities. In more recent years, he published newspapers in Princeton, Milaca, Elk River, Anoka, Blaine and Coon Rapids, and served as president of ECM Publishers of Princeton, Minn.
State government claimed its share of his attention through his service as a state senator (1949-1958) and governor (1961-1963), as well as through various commissions and panels. Higher education benefited through his service as a trustee of Augsburg College, and as both a member and chairman of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.
Many of Gov. Andersen’s hours have been devoted to nurturing the arts, the welfare of children, the national park system, charitable foundations, historical groups and other causes, literally so many that they cannot be listed. Each modesty of this true gentleman is at least as great as all his other attributes.
Gov. Andersen has received recognition from numerous groups before the Preus Award Sponsoring Council. This is fitting when one considers a life spent so energetically for the benefit of others. The Preus Award takes its place among these others honors as a grateful acknowledgement of this great gift of leadership and service among us.
1992 Elizabeth Jerome, M.D., Founder, Teenage Medical service, Minneapolis Children’s Hospital
“Plan to do something to leave the world in better shape than now . . . There are a lot of things that need fixing.” Dr. Elizabeth Jerome took her own advice and applied her energies and talents to adolescent health care. Jerome conducted virtually her entire pediatric practice in the Twin Cities, first in private practice and then for nearly twenty years as medical director of Teenage Medical Services at the Minneapolis Children’s Medical Center. She also worked as an assistant clinical professor in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
Jerome’s dedication to health care extended beyond Minnesota. Jerome also served as a medical volunteer in Thailand and Uganda. “I went over thinking I might make a dent. I came back thinking I’d learned a few things about myself,” she said.
Known for her forthright, realistic approach to dealing with her young patients, Jerome has been a passionate advocate for honesty in wrestling with critical teen health issues such as venereal diseases, AIDS and teenage pregnancy. “Once you become their champion, you have a friend for life,” Jerome said.
1991 Mary Jo Copeland, Director, Sharing and Caring hands
Mary Jo Copeland, founder and director of Sharing and Caring Hands in Minneapolis exemplifies the commitment of the Preus Award’s sponsoring council to recognize leadership expressed in service to others, according to Lois rand, Preus award council chairperson.
Copeland founded Sharing and caring Hands in 1985 out of her conviction that persons in need should be afforded dignity and a sense of the love of God as their physical needs are addressed. Copeland’s empire of care includes Sharing and caring Hands, a day shelter offering meals, clothing, medical and social services; Mary’s Place, a transitional housing building; and a teen and children’s center. Her $3 million a year budget has no government funds. Only a few workers are paid; she is not. The rest are volunteers.
1990 Medardo Gomez, Bishop, Lutheran Church in El Salvador
Medardo Gomez, the first Lutheran Bishop of El Salvador, was honored for his leadership in resettling refugees displaced by the civil war in El Salvador.
“The war in my country has caused the rise of people who are in greater need. These are the displaced. These are people who arrive from the areas of conflict, who have seen the bodies and the soldiers and police. They’ve seen them kill. They’ve seen their loved ones killed. Upon offering them our services, they’ve given more to us, really, than we’ve given to them. We’ve learned with them that giving something in the name of God is very dynamic. It is so dynamic that we actually receive more than we give. This is what has happened to us as a church. With the little that we’ve done, we’ve received so much more, so much that the church in El Salvador has arrived to the point of having international recognition,” says Gomez.
For his work, he has been abducted, imprisoned, and tortured by the Salvadoran secret police, and has received death threats for his commitment to the very poorest of his country. Yet, he holds firm in his belief that “what is of God is impossible to destroy.”
1989 Richard R. Green (Posthumously), Chancellor, New York City Schools
Dr. Green was born in Arkansas and raised by his mother in the housing projects of inner city Minneapolis. As a youth, Richard attended the Minneapolis public schools where, as a running back in football, many believe he developed his strong leadership style. He went on to Augsburg College on a basketball scholarship, and later earned a master’s degree in special education from St. Cloud State College. In 1970, he received a scholarship to attend the Harvard Graduate School of education for Ph.D. studies. One of Dr. Green’s passions in life was social justice, and in 1980, he was named to lead the 40,000 student school system in Minneapolis, where he was able to share his precious social vision.
Dr. Green was always in search of a new challenge, and in 1988, became a role model and beacon for New York City by leading the nation’s largest school system with nearly one million students in almost 1,000 schools.
He received many awards for his outstanding leadership and direction in urban education. Some of the awards include: The Bush School Executive Fellowship; Who’s Who in Black America; Augsburg Honor Athlete; Top 100 Executive Educators’ Award; Augsburg College Distinguished Alumni Award; Harold Johnson Award; Hubert H. Humphrey Labor Award; and Urban League Family of the Year Award.
A true educator, Dr. Green lived by and advocated many ideals, always serving and supporting the needs of our country’s urban school children. He had a genuine compassion for children—always seeking to help the helpless, and most of all, wanting and encouraging every child to live his or her dreams.