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Maple Grove Voice

Maple Grove, Brooklyn Park Residents Receive 'Unsung Hero' Award

Oct 21, 2018 02:26PM

Memoona Ghani of Maple Grove and Wynfred Russell of Brooklyn Park (photo provided by MCN)

A Maple Grove and Brooklyn Park resident were recently among four Minnesota community members to be selected for the 2018 Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero Award by the McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN).

Memoona Ghani (Maple Grove) and Wynfred Russell (Brooklyn Park) along with Joseph Day (Bemidji) and Carol Orban (Ely) were honored at a luncheon in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

The 2018 awardees, who will each receive a cash prize of $10,000 from the McKnight Foundation  Award, will also be recognized at the 2018 MCN Annual Conference on Thursday, Nov. 15, in St. Paul.

“We are extremely thrilled to be partnering with the McKnight Foundation to celebrate and recognize the incredible work of these award recipients,” Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Executive Director Jon Pratt said, according to a press release. “It was clear throughout the nomination process how much they were respected, not just by their nominators, but by the communities they have personally touched. What an inspiration they are to so many others who do impactful yet often unrecognized work in Minnesota and beyond!”

About the Maple Grove and Brooklyn Park recipients 
Memoona Ghani of Maple Grove – Memoona Ghani, a Pakistani immigrant, has devoted her time dispelling myths and negative stereotypes around Islam and the Muslim community. A business analyst by day, she creates change in the community through a number of volunteer positions, including as a certified speaker for the Islamic Resource Group, as the lead organizer for an initiative called IMPACT through the AlMaghrib Institute, and as vice chair for Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment, and much more.  

Wynfred Russell of Brooklyn Park – Wynfred Russell has dedicated his life to advocating for disenfranchised communities and advancing equity. An immigrant from Liberia, Wynfred is the founding executive director of African Career, Education and Resource Inc., an organization addressing the resource and information gap within the newer and longtime minority communities in the northwest suburbs of the Twin Cities. In addition to his work in his Minnesota community, Wynfred used his background in public health to manage the Ebola response team in southeastern Liberia and later served on a global polio eradication initiative in northern Nigeria for three years.  

In 2015, MCN partnered with the McKnight Foundation to coordinate and present the first-ever Unsung Hero Awards, honoring individuals who were doing life-changing work in communities across Minnesota with little or no recognition.

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