Since 2012, Violence Free Minnesota has honored the work of advocates, allies, and volunteers from across the state with the annual presentation of the Inspire Awards. The awards are given to individuals who have demonstrated impressive dedication to the movement to end relationship violence. Violence Free Minnesota’s member programs, which include over 90 programs working to end relationship abuse across the state, participate in the nomination process; the awards are presented at Violence Free Minnesota’s state-wide meeting in September.
2018 Inspire Award Recipients
Nick Settich is a Certified Laser Specialist (CLS) and owner of Renewal Laser Clinic. Through his South Minneapolis based business, Settich provides free laser tattoo removal services for victims of sex trafficking and domestic violence. Settich and Renewal Laser Clinic were nominated by Dawn Cornell of St. Paul City Attorney’s Office and the staff at Breaking Free, a program for victims of sex trafficking.
Sharon Knutson was nominated by St. Cloud based Anna Marie’s Alliance for volunteering on a weekly basis for the past 10 years. Knutson, a retired social worker and child protection investigator, answers the phone, watches children, prepares medication baskets for residents, assists residents with getting job applications submitted and is considered a mentor by the staff
Shirley Johnson has over three decades of experience working to end domestic violence in Minnesota. Johnson has been steadfast in her years of commitment and has worked as an advocate, legal advocate, childcare worker, housekeeper, and outreach worker at domestic violence programs across the Metro area including Alexandra House, Casa de Esperanza, and Tubman. Currently, Johnson is the facilities manager at her nominating organization, Women’s Advocates, where she has worked for the past 29 years.
Advocate: Mary Lou Klas, Isaiah
Volunteer: Renee Page, Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women
Ally: Dave Pinto, Ramsey County Attorney’s Office
Advocate: Carol Arthur, Domestic Abuse Project
Volunteer: Daniel Newborg, Breaking Free
Ally: Virginia Merritt, Olmstead Legal Services and Women’s Shelter
Advocate: Connie Sponsler, Battered Women’s Justice Project
Volunteer: Anne Detlefsen, Filmore Family Resources and Women’s Shelter
Ally: Probation Officer Andy Ypma, McLeod Alliance
Advocate: Sandy Davidson, Praxis
Volunteer: Samantha Schendzielow, Alexandra House
Ally: Maplewood Chief of Police Paul Schnell, Tubman
Advocate: Colleen Schmitt, Cornerstone
Volunteer: Rick Nelson, Anna Marie’s Alliance
Ally: Officer Tara Becker, 360 Communities
Advocate: Erica Staab, Hope Center
Volunteer: Gerry Hackman, Women’s Shelter
Ally: Deputy Scott Finnegan, The Refuge