Demonstrating excellence in the legal profession for the past 35 years, Ann holds the position of Deputy Director of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA). She manages both the St. Cloud and Willmar offices, continues to represent clients, mentor young attorneys and has established a critical partnership with the Stearns County Domestic Violence Court to provide safety for domestic violence victims. This specialty court was recently recognized by the U.S. Office of Violence Against Women as a “mentor court”. As a leader of this initiative, Ann has dedicated herself to educating individuals and communities about how this court works and how it can be tailored to fit the needs of other areas to see an impact.
Ann leads by example and tirelessly acts as an advocate and mentor to many. She works to ensure that all members of the community can live and thrive here. Ann has served on several area boards including, Anna Marie’s, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Opportunity Matters.
The mission of the ATHENA Award is to recognize and honor Central Minnesota women who have achieved excellence in their careers and who inspire others. Criteria for selection include: demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in her business or profession; provide valuable service by contributing time and energy to improve the lives of others in Central Minnesota; and actively assist women in realizing their full leadership potential.
Past winners of the award include Susan Mackert 1988, Colman O’Connell 1989, Peg Meyer 1990, Ann Thelen 1991, Nancy Fischer 1992, Diane Gohman 1993, Diana Murphy Podawiltz 1994, Dorothy Simpson 1995, Cheryl Lightle 1996, Connie Cross 1997, Sonja Sorensen Craig 1998, Patti Gartland 1999, Colette Carlson 2000, Marj Hawkins 2001, Sandy Neutzling 2002, Betty Schnettler 2003, Barb Carlson 2004, Joan Volkmuth 2005, Patt Adair 2008, Jan Bensen 2009, Elaine Bauerly 2010, Cindy Faye Johnson 2011, Molly Renslow 2012, Maxine Barnett 2013 and Patricia Welter 2014.
The award is presented by the Women’s Fund and is sponsored by HealthPartners Central Minnesota Clinics. Since 2002, the Women's Fund of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation has been dedicated to strengthening the community by improving the lives of women and girls and has granted over $1.2 million to support local programs.
The Central Minnesota Community Foundation (CMCF) has been engaging people and connecting resources to build a better community since 1985. CMCF and its partners, Alexandria Area Community Foundation, Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation, and Willmar Area Community Foundation, form CommunityGiving, a cohort of central Minnesota foundations who support their local communities through charitable giving. CommunityGiving administers more than 650 charitable funds totaling more than $115 million, and l last year granted more than $9.7 million back into the communities it serves. Learn more at CommunityGiving.org.