Colorful hands up in the air.

Omar Bonderud Human Rights Award

The Omar Bonderud Human Rights Award is presented by the Human Rights Commission to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to ensuring the rights of people in Bloomington. Omar Bonderud was the first Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission, formed in 1968.  

  • Apply online by Friday, August 28, 2020
  • Request a paper application by calling 952-563-8733.

Application guidelines

Nominations for the 2020 Omar Bonderud Human Rights Award will be available August 1, 2020.

Eligible recipients are individuals and organizations (business, volunteer, or religious groups) that have shown special efforts to ensure citizens of Bloomington equal opportunities in employment, housing, public accommodations, public services, education and/or represent a substantial effort toward educating, winning or preserving equality and justice for protected groups.


  1. Nominee(s) MUST have lived, conducted business or volunteered in Bloomington during the time of their contribution or accomplished their contribution to human rights in Bloomington to be considered for this award.
  2. The contribution MUST represent a substantial effort toward winning or preserving equality and justice for one or more groups of people whose circumstances make them subject to prejudice, discrimination or injustice. Vulnerable groups must be the “protected classes” defined in the Minnesota Human Rights Act §363A, namely, those who may suffer discrimination because of age, color, creed, dependence on public assistance, disability, family status, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation.
  3. The contribution MAY be in the form of one act or a series of activities over a period of time, which should be cited specifically within the application.
  4. The Bloomington Human Rights Commission MAY give priority to the nominee(s) whose contributions had an impact on a substantial number of Bloomington residents.  The Commission MAY give priority to the nominee(s) whose contributions affected more than one class of protected classes of people.
  5. Priority MAY be given to nominee(s) who protect and/or enhance rights outside normal employment, instead of to person(s)/organizations who usually perform these services as part of their job description or business plan.
  6. The Commission MAY decide not to give an award.
  7. The Commission MAY decide to select an individual or organization outside of the nomination pool who meets the established criteria.
  8. Bloomington Human Rights Commission members and City of Bloomington staff are ineligible for this award during the term of their service or for work accomplished for the Commission during their tenure, but may receive the award after they leave the Commission or Bloomington employment.
  • Apply online by Friday, August 28, 2020
  • Request a paper application by calling 952-563-8733.


A panel of judges will review the nominations. The Human Rights Commission will select the recipient(s) of the Omar Bonderud Human Rights Award.


Award recipient(s) will be recognized and receive a plaque at the December 7, 2020 Bloomington City Council meeting. Award recipient(s) may be video-taped for promotion and recognition purposes. All footage becomes the property of the City of Bloomington.

Past recipients

1974: Elbert Clark
Instigated hiring of minorities at Thermo King, in Bloomington, where he served as Industrial Relations Assistant.

1974: Robert Timpte
As Curriculum Coordinator for Bloomington high schools, introduced American Studies Program and Inter-Cultural History.

1975: Frances Berns
Sun-Current reporter/editor who was an activist for the rights of the disabled.

1975: David Cleary
Awarded for his work with persons who are mentally and physically disabled.

1977: Sally Bosanko
Former Human Rights Commissioner.

1977: Gail Cywinski
From Normandale Community College, organized Human Rights Day Observance.

1978: William V. Belanger, Jr.
State Senator who assisted the Commission in advocating for low and moderate income housing.

1978: Arlo Hasse
City staff member involved and committed to American Indian rights and culture.

1979: Evelyn Carter
Former Human Rights Commissioner and teacher in Bloomington schools.

1979: Donald Bartlette
City staff member coordinated the Office of Special Services. Served as a strong advocate for persons who are disabled.

1980: Patricia Helmberger
Former Human Rights Commissioner.

1980: Ellsworth Stenswick
Director of Special Education in Bloomington who worked with special needs children.

1981: Rev. Harry Stroessner
Former Human Rights Commissioner.

1983: Danny Berenberg
Owner of Lincoln Del who was recognized for his Kaiser Roll initiative and employment of persons with disabilities.

1988: Bill Kalina
Owner of Dave’s Shoe Repair and an actively involved citizen who worked towards employing persons with disabilities.

1989: Decathlon Athletic Club
Awarded for their employment training program for persons with disabilities.

1989: Mavis Klefsaas
ESL teacher in Bloomington, who was actively involved in integrating new families into our community.

1989: Hedy Bolden
Teacher in Bloomington who established a multicultural education program for the School District.

1995: Yvonne Price
Former Human Rights Commissioner who was active in helping people with disabilities find housing and employment.

1996: Eloise Kelle
Indian Mounds Elementary School teacher promoted self-esteem and respect of cultural differences in the classroom and community. Committed to establishing global human rights practices.

1997: Bloomington Airport Marriott
Accommodated, mentored and provided job training, through a Vocational Internship Program for Bloomington students.

1998: Paven Malhotra
Youth member of the Human Rights Commission used education through hate crime workshops to improve student awareness.

1999: Flora Tsukayama
Committed to community leadership, promoting diversity, volunteering and mentoring. Provides cultural exchange programs with the city of Izumi, Japan.

2000: Progressive Technologies
Offered employment to people who are developmentally disabled, focusing on their abilities and gifts.

2001: Dr. Ghafar Lakanwal
Founded Minnesota Cultural Diversity Center, that promotes multicultural understanding and inclusiveness in the workplace and community.

2002: Seagate Technology’s Diversity Action Council
Coordinated diversity training seminars, workshops and special events within the company to encourage understanding of cultures around them.

2003: The Toro Company
Promoted community projects and activities benefiting at-risk youth, elderly and civic organizations.

2004: Dinna Wade-Ardley
Diversity Coordinator for Bloomington Schools, 1995-2003. Started DDAC (District Diversity Advisory Council), 1995. Emphasized family involvement and collaboration with community agencies.

2004: Thomas Jefferson High School Diversity Committee 
Made up of students, faculty and community organizations committed to an inclusive environment in which all students feel respected and valued.

2006: Larry Yazzie
International lecturer, educator, performer and world champion fancy dancer. Dedicated to understanding and promoting bridge building through traditional and cultural diversity.

2009: Oak Grove Presbyterian Church
An outstanding community organization with a long history of working with community partners to improve the lives of the diverse residents of Bloomington.

2012: Robert “Bob” Peters
Disability advocate and educator. Work includes first statewide handicapped parking legislation, accessibility design for Mall of America and patient care practices at the Courage Center and Sister Kenny Institute.

2013: Stephanie Hope Smith
Worked with the Dakota people on organization and implementation of the 2011 World Peace and Prayer Day.

2014: Frank White
Leader in Human Rights Commission activities including Dred and Harriet Scott recognition and Black History in Baseball.

2014: Cornerstone
Statewide human trafficking program entitled, “Day One,” focuses on sexual exploitation, safe harbor law and no wrong door models that protect victims of trafficking.

2015: U.S. Chief Judge Michael J. Davis and Judge Donovan Frank 
Committed to equal justive through innovative programs implemented during their tenure in the U.S. Supreme Courts. Programs include the Dred and Harriet Scott, local naturalization ceremonies, Freedom Riders exhibit, and Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall.

2016: Normandale Community College
Selected for its work in inclusion and equity. This work included the President’s Council on Diversity (PCOD) as part of the College’s Diversity and Inclusiveness Campus Series. Which increase awareness, address biases (known and unknown), and promote acceptance.

2017: Artistry
Worked to make the arts accessible to all.

2018: Dennis Kane
Former Human Rights Commissioner.

2019: John Schatzlein
Awarded for his long history of advocacy for people with disabilities at local, state and federal levels.