Saint Paul, MN

Minnesota recognizes 22 persons as Outstanding Refugees

Abdi Isaaq
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SAINT PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Human Services honored 22 individuals during ceremonies at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul on July 19.

Refugees support Minnesota’s communities economically and socially. This month, many Minnesotans who arrived with refugee status will be presented with awards as token of appreciation for its much-deserved recognition of services.

Minnesota accepted 291 refugees in 2020, the majority of them came from Burma, Somalia, and Ukraine. Minnesota was reported to host 40 refugees between January and May 2021.

The following is a list of the categories and awards for the 2021 Outstanding Refugee Award.

For the Civic Engagement Award, which celebrates individuals who make their communities stronger through civic participation:

• Michael Yang of St. Paul, Southeast Asian community consultant for City of Minneapolis Neighborhood and Community Relations

• Mamady Konneh of Golden Valley, CEO for We Network Now

• Fatima Molas of Columbia Heights, chairperson of Multicultural Autism Action Network

• Mohamed Abdulkadir of St. Peter, refugee training specialist at MRCI

• Maylary Apolo of Austin, legal assistant at the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota

• Armin Budimlic of Rochester, executive director for the Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association

• Kahin Adam of St. Cloud, psychotherapist and community health specialist for CentraCare.

For the Entrepreneurship Award, which celebrates those who contribute to their communities in business, the arts, or education:

• Salman Elmi of Blaine, president and creator of Tavolo and Top Figure

• Ayan Abukar of Bloomington, executive director for Action for East African People.

• For the Young Leader Award, which celebrates young individuals who have reached tremendous milestones and are making a difference in their communities

• Nasra Farah of Waite Park, speaker, writer and board member for Unite Cloud.

For the New Beginnings Award, which honors persons who have lived in the United States for two years or fewer, and exhibits the perseverance and fortitude it takes to rebuild their well-being and make Minnesota their home:

• Cani Adan of Moorhead, program manager for the Afro American Development Association

• Abdikarim Hassen of Rochester, volunteer for Family Service Rochester.

Since the department could not organize an in-person ceremony due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, department leaders recognized the 2020 Outstanding Refugee Award recipients during this year’s ceremony.

“Few of us can relate to the experiences refugees have gone through but we can certainly recognize and, in the case of these awards, honor those who have persevered and made a better life not only for themselves but enriched Minnesota with their ideas, talents and work ethic,” Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead stated.

Preceding the ceremonies, the department conducted a virtual conference showcasing the state of resettlement in Minnesota.

Now in its fifth year, the annual Outstanding Refugee Awards recognize the heroism, perseverance and ingenuity of refugees, and their contributions to Minnesota.

The government funds help refugees acquire a job, learn about their new communities and connect to community resources.

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