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Past Outstanding refugee Awardees

Together, we are Minnesota.

Civic Engagement Award

Abdullahi Ali is the workforce case manager for Lake & Prairie Community Action Partnership in Moorhead. Ali works to improve civic engagement among residents of Clay County, and mentoring youth in leadership and academic support programs. (2018-2019)

Adan A. Ibrahim, a Franklin Public Library volunteer who serves with the Franklin Learning Center in Minneapolis, helps people prepare for the U.S. citizenship test. An elder in the community, Ibrahim has helped more than 100 people earn their U.S. citizenship in the last two years. (2018-2019)

Vayong Moua is the health equity advocacy director for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota in Eagan, and former chair of DHS's Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council. Moua is a tireless advocate for equity and multicultural unity to reduce health disparities in Minnesota.(2018-2019)

Hsa Daw Mu is the Marshall Public School System's family connector, supporting parents and new students as they adjust to a new school system. He is a member of the Marshall Diversity Group, which focuses on making the Marshall community a welcoming and supportive place for all its residents.(2017)

Ayan Omar is a teacher in the St. Cloud School District who also focuses on education outside of the classroom, speaking in communities around Minnesota to create understanding about religions, races and cultures.(2017)

Bashir Omar is a cultural liaison for Faribault Public Schools. He is having a long-term, positive impact on the Faribault community by mentoring young people through leadership programs, which develop civic leadership and environmental consciousness. (2018-2019)

Fatima Said is the executive director of Project FINE in Winona, which is committed to providing support and education to immigrants and refugees to benefit everyone in the greater community, including businesses, schools and neighborhoods. Said’s leadership has enabled the organization to make life better for all families in Winona, supporting the future of their community, society and country. (2017)

Yane Sima is a registered nurse who works with the International Institute, a St. Paul-based nonprofit that provides programming for refugees and immigrants. Sima is an energetic advocate and volunteer supporting students seeking certified nursing assistant and nursing degrees in the Institute’s Medical Career Advancement program. (2018-2019)

Paw Wah Toe is the program director at the HealthEast Roselawn Clinic in Roseville and co-director of the Karen Chemical Dependency Collaborative for Health East Clinics. Her work has been honored by the Minnesota Department of Health as a successful cross-sector, multidisciplinary community collaboration. She is very involved in community leadership as well as being the assistant chair of the Women’s Department in the national Karen Baptist Church USA. (2017)

Entrepreneurship Award

Jamal Ali is a documentary filmmaker and volunteer for The Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project in Spring Lake Park. Ali brings awareness to the stories of Iraqi-Minnesotans, and is building a more welcoming and inclusive Minnesota. (2018-2019)

Sadia Salah opened the first cultural foods store in Marshall. One of her business values is being a place of opportunity for others, and she provides supportive employment for those who have little or no work history. (2017)

Tashitaa Tufaa is the owner and CEO of Metropolitan Transportation Network in Fridley and Minneapolis. He built a transportation business that has more than 300 fleet buses that transport children from home to school, and employs hundreds of Minnesotans. (2018-2019)

Blia Vang Vang provides elder day and foster care to members of her community in Lake Elmo. Her business aims to offer a safe home to as many people as possible and ensure that they have the resources they need. (2017)

Yohannes Zemedhin has owned and started many businesses in the Twin Cities area, including a taxi business, cleaning company, auto garage and restaurant. He has given back to the community by helping establish the first Eritrean and Ethiopian church in Minneapolis, starting a radio program in the Eritrean language of Tigrigna, and helping to found an Eritrean community center in St. Paul. (2017)

Young Leader Award

Mohamed Malim is founder of Dream Refugee, a nonprofit that dispels negative stereotypes about refugees, and Epimonia, a fashion accessory and apparel company where 50% of profits fund education and advancement opportunities for refugees. Both operate in Minneapolis. Malim is an innovator, social entrepreneur and humanitarian, who is using the power of storytelling to build bridges of compassion among disparate communities. (2018-2019)

Suud Olat is a St. Cloud-based filmmaker and advocate who, through his work with the ONE Minnesota Campaign, supports girls’ education, raises awareness of the plight of refugees and works toward ending extreme poverty. (2018-2019)

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