Rochester Mayor Kim Norton placed 13 medals around residents’ necks Thursday, continuing a 36-year tradition.
“We have such a great community,” she said between honorees receiving the Mayor’s Medal of Honor. “This is such fun.”
Each of the recipients were lured to the Mayo Civic Center luncheon under false pretenses, but when they arrived several said they knew they were among inspiring company.
“I’m very impressed by the other people who earned awards,” said George Thompson, who was presented with the Legacy award for decades of community service.
This year’s Mayor’s Medal of Honor recipients were:
Artistic and cultural achievement — Tyler Aug
The creator of the recent Rochester-based mockumentary, “The Crows,” was recognized for his support of the arts community as co-owner of the Canvas and Chardonnay, as well as founding member of the Rochester Posse. Aug was credited with helping thousands of local artists, musicians, performers, cultural events, poets and others connect in the community.
Champion of diversity — Miriam Goodson
Having helped start Juntos, a volunteer tutoring program held Saturday mornings throughout the school year, Goodson was recognized for helping Hispanic students and others receive the academic support they need. She has served with various organizations, including Families First of Minnesota, Southeastern Minnesota Interfaith Immigrant Legal Defense, the Isaiah initiative, the Rochester Healthy Community Partnership and ACHLA-the Alliance of Chicano, Hispanic and Latin Americans.
Communitywide service — Danielle Teal
The founder of Caring Acts of Kindness Everywhere, also known as Cake, was honored for providing a variety of supports to community residents, including helping people connect to needed services. Teal was also credited with the ability to rally others to lend a helping hand.
Education excellence — Natalia Benjamin
A Century High School English language instructor, Benjamin was recognized for her tireless efforts to help ensure students have access to needed resources and can overcome barriers to their education and success. She also serves on several state boards through the teachers union and the Minnesota Department of Education.
Excellence in city service — Steven Schmidt
The general manager of Riverside Concerts was honored for bringing a variety of musical opportunities to city residents, from school and library programs to 29 years of free summer concerts in Mayo Park. Schmidt’s passion was also credited for helping bring the city’s newest program, the neighborhood forWard concerts, to life this year.
Excellence in industry — Naura Anderson
Anderson was recognized for operating an arts consulting business, providing marketing support, graphic and web design services, and arts programming for local nonprofit organizations, artists, entrepreneurs and community groups. As director of the nonprofit Threshold Arts, she works with the Castle Community to provide artist spaces, performance venues and cultural resources for the community.
Human services — JoMarie Morris
The executive director of the Jeremiah Program in Rochester, Morris was honored for her efforts to support single mothers and help them find paths out of poverty. She collaborated with local government agencies, businesses, community groups and others to initiate an effort that will construct a campus for participating families in Northwest Rochester. It will include 40 apartments and child development center.
Legacy — George Thompson
Thompson was honored for five decades of accomplishments and ongoing community support efforts, which presenter Ed Hruska said are too numerous to list. ”He has touched every sector of our community for over 50 years and is still involved in several areas – making a difference,” Hruska, a former Rochester City Council member, said.
Personal achievement — Andy Brownell
The host of “Rochester Today” on KROC-AM was recognized for outstanding achievement in overcoming personal disability in the service of others. Despite mobility challenges, Brownell was credited for striving to maintain independence and inspire others.
Senior/elder achievement — Jeanette Fortier
A volunteer at all three campuses of the Southeast Minnesota Madonna Living Community, Fortier uses her musical talents to enrich residents’ lives in a variety of ways. She was honored for her continued selfless efforts to promote wellness and stress management.
Sustainability — Ivan Idso
Idso became the first recipient of a new award created by Norton. He was honored for a variety of efforts to contribute to community sustainability, including helping organize a Climate Coalition, assisting with former Mayor Ardell Brede’s 100 percent renewable energy proclamation, serving as co-chairman of the annual Earthfest celebration and serving as a community inspiration by incorporating as many energy efficiencies and sustainable elements into his home.
Youth serving community — Anjali Donthi
Donthi was recognized for her community efforts and academic achievements, including years of success in the local Technovation program. Through the program, she has helped create computer applications geared toward addressing youth hunger, homelessness, problems that
immigrants face and mental health.
Mayor’s award — Jere Lanz
The artistic director and CEO of Rochester Symphony was honored for his impact on the lives of all ages. “For his distinguished 40-year commitment to the Rochester Symphony; his service to and with musicians, choral singers, audiences and the arts; and for his leadership in innovating ways to educate, engage and inspire area youth with offerings like Honk*Squeak*Scratch*Boom and fourth-grade concerts; and effort to reach new audiences with creative programs and free family programs; and for his unique ability to bring great music to life, I am pleased to recognize Jere Lanz with the mayor’s award for 2020,” Norton said.