Since 2017, AARP and Pollen have joined forces to honor 50 Minnesotans over the age of 50 who are making an impact. Pollen describes the honorees as leaders "who are writing their own rules about aging." One Rochester resident made the 2019 list; Dr. Sharonne Hayeswas recognized in the "Disruptor" category.
Dr. Hayes, a professor of cardiovascular medicine and director of diversity and inclusion at the Mayo Clinic, was first recognized as a "disruptor" back in 1974 when she and several female classmates at Central Junior High School here in Rochester charged the local school board with discrimination.
Title IX had been in effect for two years; however, the school district had not quite caught up. At the time, ninth-grade boys were allowed to participate on the high school team, while ninth-grade girls were not.
Hayes, a member of the junior high school swim team, said, "I was no swim star … but it was about social justice and equity."
Hayes and her classmates were successful in their efforts, and Dr. Hayes has been "disrupting the gender status quo ever since."
Working in the area of cardiology, a specialty comprised of only 14% women, Hayes is especially aware of her leadership role.
"With the experience of being the ‘only’ in a work group and always in the minority, I know the personal impact of having successful role models," she said.
Not only has she mentored women in medicine, but she has also developed mentoring programs to increase workplace diversity. In 2017, Dr. Hayes was recognized for her commitment to mentoring when she received the American Heart Association’s Women in Cardiology Mentoring Award.
In the 1990s, she founded the Mayo Clinic Women’s Heart Clinic to champion treatment for women and prevent heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women in the nation. She went on to help launch WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.
In 2010, Dr. Hayes became the first director of diversity and inclusion at Mayo Clinic. Her office aims to not only ensure that "equitable care is delivered to patients," but also focus on diversity in the workforce.
It is her ongoing commitment to diversity, inclusion, mentoring and heart health that earned her the 2019 "disruptor" award. Reflecting back on her determination to advocate for herself and others back in 1974, Hayes said, "I have not changed a whole lot."
Adam Ericksonof Oronoco received a national achievement award and was honored in a ceremony in Phoenix last month.
Erickson, a school bus technician for First Student (which operates buses for Rochester Public Schools), was recognized as First Student/ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) National Master School Bus Technician of the Year.
Timothy Zilke, ASE president and CEO said: "We are proud to partner with First Student to recognize Adam’s commitment to excellence in providing the very best in school bus maintenance and repair. This dedication is reflected in the talented professionals we recognize each year, and Adam represents the best of the best."