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Inspire Awards

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.

2021 Inspire Award Recipients

Advocate: Comfort Dondo, Phumulani

Community Leader: Jasmine Gates-D'Avilar, Stand Up! 

AND Anisa Omar, Ignite the Youth

Volunteer: Flint Group, Rape & Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead

Achievement in Advocacy: Liz Richards, former Executive Director

of Violence Free Minnesota

Past Recipients


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


Advocate: Shirley Johnson, Women's Advocates

Volunteer: Sharon Knutson, Anna Marie's Alliance

AllyNick Settich of Renewal Laser Clinic, Breaking Free and St. Paul City Attorney’s Office


Advocate: E.B. brown, Oasis of Love

Volunteer: Tammy Ebertowski, Mid-MinnesotaWomen's Center

AllyMinnesota Community Care (MCC), Women's Advocates

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