The College of Liberal Arts Announces 2020 Civitas Award Winners

Close up of a Civitas Award. It's a small wooden bridge.
The Civitas Awards symbolizes the bridges between the College and the community. It is a replica of the the "Big M" suspension bridge that until recently served as a bridge from the East Bank into the Marcy Holmes neighborhood.

The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) has selected the winners of its 2020 Civitas Awards. The Civitas Awards were launched in 2019 as part of the college’s 150th-anniversary celebration. The Civitas Awards recognize individuals and organizations that are strong partners with CLA as well as individuals and organizations that make a strong, positive difference in their community. Through the Civitas Awards, the college recognizes community partners whose work and impact align with CLA’s mission. The presentation of these awards, initially scheduled for June, will take place sometime this coming fall. 

The winners of this year’s awards are as follows:

Dean's Liberal Arts Champion 

Judith Koll Healey (BA '61, English)

The Dean’s Liberal Arts Champion is a person who is a strong and passionate advocate for the value of the liberal arts. This annual award will be given to a person who, through their work, words, or deeds, explicitly demonstrates the value of the liberal arts to society.

Judith Koll Healey, a CLA alumna, has strongly advocated for the value of the liberal arts in her careers as a teacher, philanthropy executive, consultant, and author. She has authored several opinion pieces in the Star Tribune that champion the value of the liberal arts for individuals and society. She was greatly helpful in the effort to secure funding for the renovation of Pillsbury Hall, by gathering “testimony” from a wide variety of people, ranging from her car salesman to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company based in Minnesota. 

Civitas Community Catalyst Award

Nelsy Echavez-Solano (BA '95, Spanish; MA '97, Hispanic Linguistics; PhD '03, Hispanic Linguistics & Luso-Brazilian Literature and Second Language Acquisition)

Civitas Community Catalysts are individual community members and/or organizations engaged with CLA in the past year who are catalysts for change within the community in a manner that is aligned with the College’s purpose.

Nelsy Echavez-Solano is a noted academic researcher, community and college organizer, teacher and prolific editor. As a faculty member at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, her work explores human rights, Latin American theater, and linguistics and has inspired many to be agents of change in their own communities. Dr. Ecshavez-Solano has also been actively involved for 23 years as a co-director and planner for national and international symposia conducted as part of CLA’s State of Iberoamerican Studies Series: Human Rights Across the Disciplines. 

Civitas Community Partner Award

St. Sahag Armenian Church, St. Paul, MN

Civitas Community Partners are individual community members and/or organizations engaged with CLA in the past year that work toward the betterment of society in a manner that is aligned with CLA’s purpose, and demonstrates what it means to be a good partner.

St. Sahag Armenian Church has been a strong and consistent partner of CLA’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies since its inception in 1997. They have been a key partner in many of the center’s programs, including the recent Liberal Arts Engagement Hub Residency “Bridges of Memory,” which seeks to build connections with communities impacted by genocide and mass atrocities. 

Civitas Backpack Award

ARTS Us Center for the African Diaspora, St. Paul, MN 

The award is given to a nonprofit organization that has been engaged with CLA in the past year and whose community work, aligning with CLA’s purpose, would be enhanced by assistance from Backpack: a CLA student-run communications agency that collaborates with brands and organizations to provide powerful and people-centered communication.

In 2019, ARTS Us Center for the African Diaspora partnered with CLA’s Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Program to provide The Civil Rights Research Experience to 40 students from metro area high schools. Partnerships such as this are core to their mission to engage Twin Cities youth using arts, culture, and sciences of the African Diaspora. Being able to develop and disseminate video content that helps to tell the story of their programs will help them further their mission.

Civitas Employer Partner Award

Hannah Gruber & Brianna Palkki, ACR Homes

Nou Chang (BA '06, Speech Communication), City of St. Paul

This award is given to an organization and/or individual who is actively engaged with CLA Career Services in efforts to recruit and contribute to the career management competency of CLA students. 

Hannah Gruber and Brianna Palkki of ACR Homes have been frequent and willing volunteers for various CLA Career Services programs. They are strong advocates for recruiting CLA students. They recognize the value of their well-rounded education, as well as the personal and professional qualities they bring to ACR Homes, particularly those interested in health and health-care careers. 

Nou Chang of the City of St. Paul, is a CLA alumna who has been a frequent volunteer at many events to further the career development of CLA students. She has participated in interview and career fair prep, alumni networking events, and virtual visits to various CLA classes. Through her work, she advocates for the value of the liberal arts, student access, and the public sector. 

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