To shine a bright light on the value of youth workers and the strong allies that support them, our Youth Worker Hall of Fame features their amazing passion.
As a YIPA member, you nominate your top performers for the Friends of Youth Leadership Award. We select four exceptional individuals every year.
And YIPA recognizes the contributions of one of our dedicated volunteers or advocates with our Outstanding Achievement Award.
Get excited! This is your opportunity to share the greatness of others with the YIPA community. Who will you nominate for the Friends of Youth Leadership award?
Your superstar could be a volunteer, a staff member, a program leader, a director, a philanthropist, an elected official, or even a young person themselves. We’re looking for people who go above and beyond to help our young people positively develop their unique skills and talents.
Northern Star Council
Nominated by: Alex Maas
Brian has worked in the field of Youth Programs and Intervention most of his working life. Working in law-related education, he developed and authored curriculum for classroom teaching about drug & alcohol related crimes. This program was used in as many as 20 states across the country. With International Exchange, he oversaw field operations across 11 states, bringing international students to the U.S. and sending American youth abroad. He has also worked with Special Olympics, the Tourette Association of America, and managed a camp for disabled youth and adults. But his current role with Northern Star Council finds him serving as the Director of Exploring and the Director of Juvenile Diversion.
Brian has been an advocate, friend, collaborator, mentor, colleague - and is an incredible resource of experience, knowledge, and motivation. Brian is a catalyst for change, from one-on-one conversations to program development and design. He never stops considering how he can contribute to change in his community and world. During the years of 2022 & 2023 Brian has gone through a series of cancer treatments to battle a rare case of lymphoma but has emerged better than ever and is now cancer-free!
In his role with Exploring, Brian supports career preparedness programs across 21 Minnesota Counties in such disparate career fields as Fire/Rescue, Law Enforcement, Aviation, Medical and Engineering, serving nearly 800 youth this year. Northern Star Juvenile Diversion will serve over 300 youth in 2023 and Brian supervises a team of 4 Program Coordinators and 2 Field Assistants offering both a series of classes for first-time juvenile offenders and a one-time class for status offenses.
Nominated by: Ashlee Sellars
Jameka's profound impact was transformative. In our Restorative Justice efforts, she unearthed severe neglect with a family unit - siblings oblivious to their birthdays, lacking in education due to dire circumstances. She rallied community, improving living conditions and fostering sustainability. This change ignited a shift, enabling the children to reenter school, recognizing their value and establishing a family unit where they could thrive.
Jameka embodies compassion, generosity, and humility. Her nurturing nature guides her to uplift communities, organizing support and creating positive change. A beacon of kindness, she leaves a lasting mark wherever her compassion touches.
Jameka passionately aids youth with felony allegations, guiding them towards accountability and positive transformation. This happens as an alternative to the criminal legal system. She skillfully orchestrates repair plans, bridging the gaps between harmed and harmer. Yet, her compassion transcends, embracing and uplifting the entire community she serves, fostering unity and healing for all.
Nominated by: Misty Boone
Laura embodies one of our Harmony House core values, which is inclusion. She creates a safe space for both our clients and our fellow team members to be their best selves. Creating a more holistic, trauma-informed, creative, and skilled organization allows us to accomplish our mission that all individuals deserve to live a life free from abuse.
Laura has had a tremendous impact on our Family Advocacy Program during her 9 years at Harmony House. She has been an active participant in creating our department’s core values which are empathy, flexibility, education, and communication. Laura exemplifies these values every day.
What I most admire about Laura is her ability to relate to each individual and to meet each client where they are. Laura is able to relate her education, work experience, and personal knowledge to help our clients know that they are not alone, that there is help available, and that change and growth are possible. Laura works side by side with parents on their journey to healing while being encouraging and offering support services for parent and child.
Over the years, Laura has shown a serious dedication to the family life span – her goal is to help individuals achieve health and happiness over the course of their lives and to work through the trauma that they have experienced. Laura is a firm believer in early intervention and being proactive in addressing the trauma needs of the youth that we work with.
When Ray started at her last job, she ran into a client on the street. This client was heavily into addiction and had very little self-worth or a positive outlook on life. Ray introduced this youth to Shelter at ADYC, and from there he was able to get into a TLP, get clean, become friends and family with other youth he met in the TLP, get employment with Elpis Screen Printing, get into MOADY PSH, and get connected with lost family relationships through culture. This youth continues to have issues around sobriety, but Ray continues to give him encouragement, love and support through it.
Ray is one of the MOST hard-working people I have ever met. She is so strong-willed and creative in the way that she is able to work with youth and get through to them. She comes from a background of law enforcement and has taken those lessons to become a stellar outreach worker/case manager/supervisor in the non-profit community. She values family, and friendships over everything, and puts her all into everything she does. She is so delicate and passionate with the babies of the parenting youth, and it makes such a huge impact on both that child and the parent.
Ray values the work around helping young people achieve their best and be their best selves. She takes what she has learned as a peer youth advocate in her past to connect with youth on a deeper level by showing them success through leadership. She has worked very hard with parenting youth and young adults to get them housing and support through community resources and connections. I’ve seen her go so far above what is expected to make sure youth know they aren't alone on their path, and that this homelessness they are experiencing is just that - an experience; this doesn't define who they are. She has stayed with youth at adult shelter Harbor Lights until lights out and they were sleeping to make sure they were safe.
Minnesota State Representative
Selected by: Your friends at YIPA
When the 2023 Minnesota legislative session convened, our state had an historic budget surplus of $17 billion dollars. Your friends at YIPA were determined to do whatever was needed to maximize the opportunity to secure a desperately needed increase in funding for Minnesota youth-serving programs.
As we do every year, our team of lobbyists ramped up efforts to build relationships with legislators on both sides of the aisle. We were looking for an outstanding champion of young people to author a bill that would increase the funding for the Youth Intervention Programs (YIP) grant.
This past year we got lucky! We were beyond thrilled when Representative Sandra Feist, Vice Chair of the Public Safety Committee, agreed to lead the charge for our young people and carry the legislation to increase the funding.
Representative Feist is a fireball of fierce and focused advocacy for young people. She exudes positivity and seemingly endless energy. Sandra agreed with the need to increase youth intervention funding and then she dove in to learn the details of what makes youth intervention programs so invaluable. In short, she became the champion we very much needed in this moment.
With her support, an historic increase of $3.5 million per year for the Youth Intervention Programs grant was signed into law, bringing the base amount to just over $7 million per year! And we literally could not have done it without the leadership, passion, and love Representative Feist poured into the process all throughout the session.
YIPA’s Outstanding Achievement Award is the highest honor we can bestow on an individual that has championed the well-being of young people alongside us to advance our just cause.
The perfect word to describe how she handled ushering the YIP grant over the finish line at the end of the session is uncompromising.
Class of 2022: Angella Erickson, Jerod Petersen, Soua Thao, Felix Martinez-Paz
Class of 2021: Bobbie Bement, Norita CHarfauros, Ta'Shena Sams, Kenny Kraft
Class of 2020: Ed Steinhauer, Caitlin Ignasiak, Nancy Vang, Kristi Thao
Class of 2019: Christine Kustelski, Julie Green, Kathy Welch, Mary McRoy
Class of 2018: Adam Gau, Jenilee Drilling, Nikki Monette, Rica Rivera
Class of 2017: Andrew “Drew” Lemmie, Chandra “CeeJay” Jackson, Natalie Johnson Lee, Sherenia Gibbs
Class of 2016: Susie Bjorklund, Rita Younger, Christina McCoy, Phil Winger
Class of 2015: Gary Keifenheim, Erich Lutz, Ruby Cortez
Class of 2014: Alec Staffon, Ehyrn Barthelme, Eriann Faris, Shari Barmash
Class of 2013: Julie Hignell, Loralee Marvin, Lisa Crocker, Senator Scott Dibble
Class of 2012: Patty Wetterling, Mandy Meisner, Kate Swenson, Louis Ochoa
Class of 2011: Maria Kustritz, Dean Prince, Steve Smith, Cathy ten Broeke, Akeel King
Class of 2010: Patty Halvorson, Lisa Hoogheem, Paul Weiler, Mayor Scott Lund, Commissioner Gail Dorfman
Class of 2009: Talia Beck, Doug Hovelson, Meredythe Jones Rossi, Krista McFarland, Quintin Jackson, Erin Rasmussen, Mayor R. T. Rybak
Class of 2008: Guadelupe Gadea, Angela Gonzalez, Autumn Nelson, Mayor Bob Nelson, Patsy Boen, Ronald Evans, Jr., Jenny Hong, Girls RAP Program of the YWCA of Minneapolis
Class of 2007: Montrell Donaldson, Chief John Harrington, James Backstrom, Mike Loud, Nick Schuum, Pam Rusten
Class of 2006: Jason Christen, Senator Sam Dallas, The Smith Foundation, Darrell Thompson
Class of 2005: Yusuf Abdullah, Cass County Commissioners, Lynn Haglin, The Ordean Foundation
Class of 2004: Chris Ganzlin, Terry Troy, Real Estate Equities, Inc.
Class of 2003: Marc Ashton, Representative Karen Clark, Mariah Docksteader
2022: Kristin Elizondo
2021: Brandon Jones
2020: Allie Birdseye-Hannula
2019: Darrell Thompson
2018: Bob Sherman
2017: Chris Aldrich
2016: Lisa Meunier
2015: Kathy Tingelstad
2014: Tamar Ghidalia
2013: Connie Landecker
2012: Colleen Fritsch
2011: Talia Beck
2010: Peter Geier
2009: Paul Ramsour
2008: Cheryl Meld
2007: Paul Meunier
2006: Cathy Bergh
2005: Paul Weiler
2004: Kelly Peterson
2003: David Wilmes
2002: Steve Commerford
2001: Brian Dahl
2000: Cheryl Jensen
1999: Perry Lofquist