ወደ ይዘት ዝለል

የ McKnight ዝግጅት, in partnership with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, announces four Minnesotans as recipients of the 2023 Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero Award.

The awards are given to individuals who have had a significant impact on the state of Minnesota and its communities but who have not been widely recognized for their work in the past. Each recipient has given time and effort to help others with no expectation of material reward, and each exemplifies the life-changing difference one person can make through service.

Including this year’s recipients, this honor has gone to 319 people in Minnesota since the award was created in 1985. Each recipient receives a $10,000 cash award and is recognized at a reception at the Foundation’s office.

This year’s recipients are: 

  • Jessalyn Akerman-Frank, St. Paul, MN
  • Natasha Kingbird, Bemidji, MN
  • Julie Malyon, Red Wing, MN
  • Abdirahman (Abdi) Mukhtar, Minneapolis, MN

Meet The Heroes

Jessalyn Akerman-Frank

Natasha Kingbird

Julie Malyon

Abdirahman (Abdi) Mukhtar

“We are honored to celebrate these four individuals who are courageous characters and true heroes in our state. They have served their communities in profound but often quiet ways, and they exemplify the power of any person to make and lead us toward the positive change we need in our world. We thank them for their incredible service and contributions to making Minnesota a more just, creative, and abundant place for all.” 

—Tonya Allen, president of McKnight Foundation

Jessalyn Akerman-Frank

Jessalyn Akerman-Frank is on a mission to advance equity and access for all Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans through education, engagement, and advocacy. She is one of the founders of Deaf Equity and the Annual Deaf LGBTQ+ Awards Program and is a pioneer in closing gaps in the systems that provide services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Her peers say she is recognized locally and nationally for her kindness, compassion, creative thinking, and ability to form beneficial partnerships. A community builder, she hosts an annual cookout that brings together more than 400 Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing people to build connections and share resources.

Natasha Kingbird

Natasha Kingbird has single-handedly supported, advocated for, and served dozens of Native women who are returning home after incarceration. Through her work with the Northwest Indian Community Development Center, and her extraordinary volunteer efforts, she ensures these women are seen, heard, valued, and supported in reunifying with their children and community. Her commitment comes from her own lived experience with the challenges of life after incarceration. Natasha also advocates for Native women through her work with Mending the Sacred Hoop, the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women task force, through community efforts that address opioid addiction, and through support for victims of sexual and domestic violence and trafficking. She understands what it is like to be in dangerous situations and that it is possible to make positive changes, especially through cultural healing and culturally appropriate spiritual guidance.

Julie Malyon

Julie Malyon is often referred to as the “ultimate caregiver.” A nurse by training, she spearheaded the creation of the CARE Clinic Red Wing, which provides free medical, mental, and dental health care for the uninsured and underinsured population in Goodhue County. Her nominators say that she always focuses on where she is most needed in the clinic, not on what her formal job description says, and that her eyes and ears are always open to the needs of the community. The clinic has grown from serving fewer than 1,000 people in 2010 to more than 5,000 today and provides services in both English and Spanish. In addition, as a medical ambassador, she has traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and trains medical teams that continue to serve the African country.

Abdirahman (Abdi) Mukhtar

Abdirahman (Abdi) Mukhtar is passionate about the health of the young people in his community. A coach for numerous sports teams, mentor, and passionate youth worker over two decades, he is widely known on the West Bank of Minneapolis and in the Somali American community in Minnesota for his community work. When he realized opioid overdoses were killing East African young adults in heartbreaking numbers, he set about eliminating the shame that often prevents his Somali community from talking about addiction and getting help for children or grandchildren. He founded Daryeel (the Somali word for “care”) Youth to be a non-judging beacon of light for young people in the throes of active addiction. He welcomes all to his Friday night gatherings, where he supplies food, clean clothing, personal hygiene products, a first aid kit with Narcan, and dressing for wounds. His compassion has earned him the trust of his community, especially parents who are trying to help their children reclaim a healthy life.

ስለ አይክኪንሰን ፋውንዴሽን

በሚኒሶታ-የተመሰረተ የማክ ኪንግ ፋውንዴሽን (ፋውንዴሽን) ፋውንዴሽን ሰዎች እና ፕላኔቱ የሚበለጽጉበት የበለጠ ፍትሐዊ ፣ ፈጠራ እና ብዙ የወደፊት ተስፋን ከፍ ያደርጋል ፡፡ እ.ኤ.አ. በ 1953 የተመሰረተው የማክዌል ፋውንዴሽን በመካከለኛው ምዕራብ የአየር ንብረት ለውጥን ለማስጠበቅ በጥልቀት ቁርጠኛ ነው ፡፡ ተመጣጣኝ እና ሁሉን አቀፍ የሚኒሶታ ግንባታ መገንባት ፤ በሚኒሶታ ፣ በነርቭ ሳይንስ ፣ እና በአለም አቀፍ የሰብል ምርምር ላይ ስነ ጥበባት መደገፍ።

About The Virginia McKnight Binger Awards

The Foundation created the Awards in Human Service in 1985 and renamed them ten years later as a tribute to Virginia McKnight Binger, who served the Foundation for nearly 50 years as a board member, president from 1974 to 1987, and honorary chair until her death in 2002. Her personal compassion and generosity set the standard for the Foundation’s work.

Like Virginia McKnight Binger, those who receive these awards are acutely aware of others’ needs. They are nominated by someone familiar with their work, and the nominations are researched and evaluated independently. To qualify, nominees must live in Minnesota.

About The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) was founded in 1987 to meet the increasing information needs of nonprofits and to convene nonprofits to address issues facing the sector. It is the largest state association of nonprofits in the United States. Through MCN, nonprofits join together across interest areas to work on issues of common concern to all.

McKnight partners with MCN to administer the Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero Awards.

Videos produced by Adja Gildersleve.

ርዕስ የብዝሃነት እኩልነት እና ማካተት

December 2023