Nonprofit Leadership Awards

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) is committed to building the strength and integrity of the nonprofit sector statewide. As part of this commitment, in 2010 MCN initiated the Nonprofit Leadership Awards to recognize the passion and energy of individual leaders at various stages in their nonprofit careers.

2018 Leadership Awards Recipients

Leadership Awards logo

Catalytic Leader (emerging leader award)
Kiley Benson, Director of Operations, Loaves and Fishes, Minneapolis. Kiley cultivates relationships and creates unique partnerships for the benefit of Loaves and Fishes. Through his connections, Loaves and Fishes serves meals to people in programs for addiction recovery, trauma counseling, safe shelter, domestic violence prevention, and homelessness. Kiley’s vision for feeding people began while working at a quick-serve restaurant where he saw bread going to waste every day. By connecting the dots, resources, and passionate people, he was able to re-purpose the bread to feed those in need. Kiley believes in the dignity of every person and sees beyond their circumstances, allowing care and compassion to take the lead. 

Visionary Leader (mid-career leader award)
Chris Fastner, Senior Program Manager, Initiative Foundation, Little Falls. Smart, compassionate leadership is Chris' forte. One of his greatest strengths is his depth of knowledge of the issues facing rural nonprofits and his confidence in their ability to thrive. Over the past five years, Chris and the Initiative Foundation collaborated with Propel Nonprofits to develop and provide nearly 50 nonprofit organizations a yearlong Financial Resiliency Program to identify entrepreneurial projects, share successes and failures, and learn with each other. He leads with an ecosystem-perspective that brings together nonprofits, government bodies, elected officials, business leaders, and educators so that the residents of central Minnesota are better served. 

Transformational Leader (experienced leader award)
Kate Bottiger, Executive Director, Reach for Resources, Minnetonka. Kate is an empathetic and compassionate leader. Locally, Kate is committed to developing a vibrant mission-focused organization through innovation, risk-taking, and the cultivation of a healthy group culture. Nationally, Kate is a recognized champion, speaker, educator, and policy leader for disability rights and other issues. Along with her role at Reach for Resources, she also serves as executive director for the National Neutropenia Network where she coordinates national efforts to promote awareness and education of neutropenia, a rare blood condition. Kate dedicates significant energy to helping those in need by tackling tough issues at the local, state, and national levels.

Past Recipients

2017 Leadership Award Recipients

  • Catalytic Leader: Ashley Charwood, Bemidji
  • Visionary Leader: Lisa Porthan, Executive Director, Northwoods Partners
  • Transformational Leader: Whitney Clark, Executive Director, Friends of the Mississippi River

2016 Leadership Award Recipients

  • Catalytic Leader: Tyrai Ross, Program Manager, Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps
  • Visionary Leader: Blanca Raniolo, Executive Director and Co-founder, WERC Enrichment Resource Center
  • Transformational Leader: LaDonna Hoy, Founder and Executive Director, Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners

2015 Leadership Award Recipients

  • Catalytic Leader: Michele Anderson, Rural Program Director, Springboard for the Arts
  • Visionary Leader: Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director, CAIR-MN
  • Transformational Leader: M. Beth Fagin, Senior Director of Pediatric Therapy and Autism Services, St. David’s Center

2014 Leadership Award Recipients

  • Catalytic Leader: Alfonso Wenker, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Minnesota Council on Foundations
  • Visionary Leader: Jodi Millerbernd, Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of Rochester
  • Transformational Leader: Patrick Coleman, Acquisition Librarian/Senior Curator, Minnesota Historical Society

2013 Leaderhip Award Recipients

  • Catalytic Leader: Kat Kempe, Senior Policy Advocate, Think Small
  • Visionary Leader: Meena Natarajan, Executive/Literary Director, Pangea World Theater
  • Transformational Leader: Louise Wolfgramm, President Emerita, Amicus

2012 Leadership Award Recipients

  • Catalytic Leader: Nausheena Hussain, Director of Fund Development and Marketing, CAIR-MN
  • Visionary Leader: Laura Zabel, Executive Director, Springboard for the Arts
  • Transformational Leader: Steve Lepinski, Executive Director, Washburn Center for Children

2011 Leadership Award Recipients

  • Catalytic Leader: Brooke Hanson, College Program Manager, Admission Possible
  • Visionary Leader: John Davis, Executive Director, Lanesboro Arts Center
  • Transformational Leader: Anthony R. Wagner, President and CEO (retired), Pillsbury United Communities

2010 Leadership Award Recipients

  • Catalytic Leader: Jeff Freeland Nelson, Managing Director of Public Strategy, Minnesota Public Radio
  • Visionary Leader: Kate Barr, Executive Director, Nonprofits Assistance Fund
  • Transformational Leader: Michael Wirth-Davis, President and CEO, Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota