Eden Prairie’s 2021 Human Rights Award winners were announced this week.
Winners were presented their awards by different members of the city’s Human Rights and Diversity Commission (HRDC) during the Tuesday, May 17, City Council meeting.
According to a city release, the Human Rights Award recognizes a local individual, youth, nonprofit organization and business that have worked to create an inclusive community spirit through actions, activities or programs.
This year’s winners were recognized for upholding the values of the Eden Prairie Manifesto.
Individual Award: Kim Rathjen
Kim Rathjen was honored with the individual award for her “consistent dedication to inclusion, education and active involvement with diverse groups of people.”
During the award presentation, HRDC student member Shubhangi Mohan said Rathjen “developed a vision and led implementation for addressing homelessness of young adults in Eden Prairie by helping found Onward Eden Prairie.”
The nonprofit organization provides stable housing and supportive services to young people in the community.
Rathjen has served Eden Prairie in other ways, including as a PROP board member from 2015 to 2021 and through her work at Immanuel Lutheran Church for 20 years.
Youth Award: Niamya Holloway
Niamya Holloway was this year’s youth award recipient for “acting as a leader to drive progress on equity and diversity at Eden Prairie High School.”
Holloway, a senior, is president and co-founder of the EPHS Black Student Union and co-founder of the EPHS Equity Council. She also serves as part of the leadership of the EPHS Dare to Be Real Club, an organization dedicated to talking about current issues surrounding equity.
“Through her work, she pays attention to individuals and their stories,” HRDC student member Keerthana Ramanathan said. “She encourages others to rise above hate. Her passion for promoting equity is driven by her care for others and our community. Niamya is a shining example of a young person who strives to build a stronger community and we look forward to seeing where her path takes her.”
Nonprofit Award: Bloomington-Eden Prairie Meals on Wheels
The Bloomington-Eden Prairie Meals on Wheels program is this year’s winner of the nonprofit award for its work providing seniors and individuals with disabilities access to food through the delivery of noontime meals.
During the presentation, HRDC member Babar Khan said the volunteers who deliver the meals do more than feed people. Their warmth and friendliness during the brief visits help reduce the isolation of vulnerable individuals and show the residents they are cared for by the community.
Like many nonprofits, Khan stated that Meals on Wheels faced challenges throughout the pandemic. It remained steadfast in its mission by focusing on three key areas: limited disruption to services, honoring its volunteers and prioritizing the health and safety of clients, volunteers and staff.
Business Award: Winnebago Industries
Winnebago Industries won the business award for its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.
HRDC member Jody Knight said Winnebago developed a DEI strategic framework, resulting in hiring its first head of DEI at the senior leader level, diversifying the company board and senior leadership team, and publicizing racial diversity statistics for its board and senior-level leaders.
Winnebago is a member of the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity and supports the Minnesota Philanthropic Collective to Combat Anti-Blackness and Realize Racial Justice. The company has launched programs such as Women’s Inclusion Network, the company’s first employee resource group.
It also serves Eden Prairie with employee-driven volunteer initiatives through The PROP Shop and the city’s Park Clean-Up Day. It also welcomes student interns into its Eden Prairie office through the Christo Rey’s Work-Study Program.
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