Mary Howard was selected for this award because of her lifelong service and commitment to education and improved cultural and race relations in her St. Cloud community. She has used Education and the arts as vehicles for bridging the gap between cultures. She is also a mentor and foster care giver to at-risk children.
Howard is a psychologist at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Adjunct Faculty of St. Cloud State University. She has been a university administrator, including holding the position of Dean and Director of an urban campus, and an Associate Director of a regional office of the Commission of Higher Education.
Co-founder and current Vice President of the St. Cloud Branch of the NAACP, she is a former member of the Mayor's Economic Council of Trenton, New Jersey, and the Mayor's Commission on the Status of Women, Washington, D.C.
She is also co-founder and past convener of both the Trenton, New Jersey, Branch of the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce; and of the now tri state Trenton Artists Workshop Association.
Currently, Dr. Howard is a member of the Curriculum Advisory Council for the St. Cloud School District, Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, St. Cloud Civil Service Board, Boy Scouts, United Way, Benton Stearns Mental Health Local Advisory Council and is on a disaster team for the Red Cross.
Mila Llauger's efforts in educating, bringing awareness of music and the arts, and encouraging children to come together, earned her this year's Bridging the Gap Award.
Llauger travels across the state of Minnesota trying to bring people of different cultures together through innovative programs and celebrations.
Her organization, EL ARCO IRIS Performing Arts School, which Llauger founded, has been a driving force behind St. Paul's Cinco De Mayo celebration since 1991. Currently, she is the cultural programs director for COMPAS, working two programs; Cultural Art Presentations for at risk girls and Surviving With Art, a women and young girls writing and performance workshop program involving battered women shelters in St. Cloud and Marshall.
She was also the choreographer and co-founder of the Ensemble Company, San Francisco and Chicago from 1967-1978. She has performed and directed countless performances.
Her recent personal achievements include being a board member of NGUZO SABA, 1998-present; Heart Of The Beast Puppet And Mask Theatre Board, 1999;MSAB Cultural Pluralism Advisory Committee, 1995-1999; Ordway Music Theatre Cultural Advisory Committee, 1996-1999; Famine Chorus Gallery, 1995-1997; Tradiciones Vivas Community Advisory Committee-Science Museum, 1995-1996; a panelist for the COMPAS Community Arts Program, 1992-1994; McKnight Choreographer's Fellowship Panel for the Minnesota Dance Alliance, 1994; Advisory Task Force Committee member for Minnesota Center for Arts Education, 1994. Mila has recently joined Diversity Foundation as a cultural talent consultant.
Edward Lohnes dreams of healing the racial strife between his Native American People and other races. His efforts in racial reconciliation have earned him a Bridging the Gap Award.
Lohnes is currently a development and recruitment manager with Peak Staffing, Inc., one of the Twin Cities largest temporary employment agencies for minorities.
He has served as past president of the Minnesota League of Human Rights Commissions. He has been a long term member of several other Human and Civil Rights Commissions in addition to the State League. He was also CEO and board member of the North American Indigenous Games held in the Twin Cities in 1995 involving over 8,000 Native Youth in Olympic style athletic competition and cultural activities.
Before that he was employed at the American Indian OIC in the area of job training and placement. He came to the OIC after serving over 10 years with the Minnesota State Department of Human Rights as an investigator and supervisor.
Lohnes is a member of Spirit Lake Dakota Reservation of North Dakota.
In addition, he is the current president of Minneapolis Umpires Association.
Lohnes currently serves as the Chair of the Diversity Foundation Board, where he helps to oversee the foundation's statewide efforts in diversity education, awareness and training.
Lee Luebbe was selected for this award for her major contribution toward founding and organizing Winona County's project FINE (Focus on Integrating Newcomers Through Education).
The project is geared to help transition new county residents in Sotheast Minnesota, especially those of Hmong and Asian decent.
Luebbe served 12 years on the Winona County Board and eight years on the Winona City Planning Commission.
In 1991, she established Luebbe Consulting Services. She is also the Associate Director of Hendrickson's Institute for Ethical Leadership, St Mary's University, where she is an Adjunct faculty member in the Graduate School, where she facilitates the global ethics course.
Luebbe has also been instrumental in coordinating with Diversity Foundation's current historic documentary: "Wapasha's Prairie: A story of a family and community." The documentary is the pre-European history of Winona, Minnesota.