2017 Award Recipients

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) and The McKnight Foundation are proud to announce the 2017 Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero Awards. These individuals have been recognized for the significant impact they have had on the state of Minnesota and its communities.

Each of the honorees below received a cash prize of $10,000 from the McKnight Foundation and MCN during a private awards luncheon at the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis on Tuesday, September 26. Award recipients are also recognized at the 2017 MCN Annual Conference on Thursday, October 12 in St. Paul, MN. 


Angela Edwards, Minneapolis
Founder of the nonprofit Education Explosion, Angela works with students in north Minneapolis to achieve educational and career goals through test preparation, counseling and on-site computer training. Because of her work and encouragement, many in her community are moving from poverty to self-sufficiency and hope.



Jon Vang, St. Paul
Living with his own personal experiences with the criminal justice system, Jon has taken on leadership roles in several social justice organizations in the community, including ManForward, Headwaters Foundation for Justice and in the important space of prison re-entry work across the state of Minnesota.



Abdirizak "Zack" Mahboub, Willmar
Since moving to Willmar in 2011, Zack has been instrumental in building bridges between longstanding residents, newcomers and immigrants. He has a knack for pushing — and eventually removing barriers — in a positive and supportive way.


Millicent Simenson, Bemidji
An Anishinaabe birth worker and co-founder of the nonprofit Mewinzha Ondaadiziike Wiigaming, Millicent works to address long-standing birth disparities in her community through improving access to education, healthcare and social support services.


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