Thursday, April 26, 2007
By: Julia N. Opoti
Former US Vice President, Walter Mondale and his wife Joan Mondale were awarded the International Citizen Award by the International Leadership Institute (ILI) in Minneapolis yesterday.
The annual award ceremony recognizes members of the Minnesota community who have made tremendous impact on communities across the world in the three categories. The awards encompass not only Minnesotans, but also corporations and foreign-born Minnesotans who have endeavored to make positive in-roads in achieving global equity in areas as varied as global economy, human rights and empowering individuals.
The award ceremony started off with a beautiful soulful rendition of a diary and letter by South African freedom fighter Steve Biko’s sister recited by teenager Angelina Thomas setting the tone for an evening that saw speakers highlight the needs of the African continent.
While celebrating the achievements of the work done by the philanthropic community in Minnesota, this year’s award was also in celebration of thirteen years since the end of apartheid in South Africa.
International Citizen Award
Receiving his award Mondale remarked on the pride he had in working with the South African community, and the progress made in the last thirteen years. “During my term as vice president of the US, we worked tirelessly to move from a passive stance in the situation is South Africa to aggressively demanding the release of Nelson Mandela and advocating for the rights of the black community in South Africa.”
Mondale was recognized for “bringing Minnesotan sensibilities to the rest of the world.” He is currently a member of the advisory board of the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Mondale serves as a director of the Japan Society, the Mayo Foundation and the Peace Prize Forum.
Joan Mondale, who was awarded alongside her husband, is an advocate for appreciating and uniting artists across cultural divides. Fondly known as “Joan of Art”, she serves on the boards of directors of the Minnesota Orchestra, Walker Art Center, Macalester College, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee of the United States Postal Service.
International Immigrant Achievement Award
Sixty years ago, Fred Shaw moved from China to the US. Depicting the true immigrant work ethic, Shaw worked tirelessly in establishing a relationship between Minnesota and China in the fifties something he has continued to do over the years. Shaw heads the largest minority-owned contractor in America’s Midwest, Shaw-Lindquist Associates.
Shaw is a member of the Association of General Contractors since 1950 and was in 2005 received its Lifetime Achievement Award. His endeavors in bridging a relationship between America and China were strengthened when he donated $50,000 to the University of Minnesota China Center’s scholarship fund.
International Corporate Award
“The best philanthropy is a job.” This was the mantra of Curtis L. Carlson, founder of the Carlson Companies years ago when he was instilling his life’s lessons to his daughter Marilyn Carlson Nelson, the current Chairperson and CEO of the Carlson Companies.
Nelson said the Carlson Companies saw it as their responsibility to give a voice to those who could not speak up. Carlson Companies has invested thousands of dollars in developing the infrastructure in countries such as Tunisia, Nigeria and South Africa. According to Nelson, the Carlson Companies was the first hospitality company to sign ECPACT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) an international program aimed at curbing child trafficking and punishing perpetuators while also working at addressing the root causes of this worldwide practice that has been exacerbated with the growth of the internet.
13 years Since Apartheid
South Africa’s Consul General in Chicago, the Honorable Yusuf Omar was the guest speaker at the dinner hosted at the Minneapolis Club. Calling on the advancement of women globally, Omar celebrated the strides, despite all odds, that South Africa has made over the past thirteen years. Addressing critics of the South African government, Omar cautioned them in making premature judgment. “At a critical time in our [ South Africa] history, we came together as a nation determined to end the violence that was destroying our country.”
He stressed that it is the passion for a united prosperous South Africa that will lead his country to respect and uphold the rights of all its citizens. Omar also called on the rest of the world to pay more attention to the rest of Africa for a stable Africa allows for the success of the rest of the world.
Earlier in the day, Honorable Omar was the chief guest at a Global Business Roundtable luncheon held at the swank new offices of Igbanugo Partners International Law firm in downtown Minneapolis. The roundtable was also organized by ILI.
Honorary South African Consul
In recognizing the work of not only ILI, but also the continued advocacy for human rights of people in Africa, Omar nominated the ILI president, retired Judge LaJune Lange, to represent South Africa as its Honorary Consul.