Commission honors local leaders

Published 10:23 am Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Several Austin residents had their moment in the spotlight Monday for becoming shining examples of local human rights work.

The Austin Human Rights Commission honored five groups for human rights causes.

—Mower County Attorney Kristen Nelsen, Assistant Attorney Jeremy Clinefelter, Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger and Capt. Dave McKichan for their leadership in Mower County’s policy to not prosecute undocumented residents if they are the victim of a crime. Mower County staff agreed on the policy last year after encountering a victim of domestic violence who was an undocumented worker. Though Mower County officials are still working a few things out, Nelsen said setting up a way for undocumented residents to report violence without fear for themselves has been met with much support.

Email newsletter signup

“We all firmly believe that people deserve to be free from violence,” she said. The annual HRC awards went to:

—Danielle Borgerson-Nesvold, head of the Community Against Bullying, who helped start CAB in February and brought in international speaker The Scary Guy to Austin schools in October to promote peace and combat bullying. Borgerson-Nesvold said the award was a reflection of the community’s work and thanked her family for inspiring and encouraging her. The positive feedback for CAB’s efforts was encouraging as well.

“It brings a huge amount of hope,” she said.

—Riverland Community College’s Amnesty International group, which has organized several events highlighting local and global human rights causes including the Ciudad Juarez murders and homosexual intolerance. Adviser Maria Lechelt said the group plans to address more issues in the future.

—Jennifer Lloyd, a Sumner Elementary School Spanish teacher and Constellations program coordinator for her diversity work at Sumner. Lloyd has sponsored families through the Mower County Mentoring program and holds weekly English classes for Latino families who don’t speak English. She has also coordinated several after-school programs, from The Schoolyard program through Cornerstone Church to the Constellations program through Sumner.

“Her impact on youth, adults, and families is endless,” said Tina Strauss, Sumner physical education teacher.

Lloyd was humble about the award, saying she felt it was a reflection of the work Sumner is doing regarding diversity and integration.

“It’s just nice to be recognized for all of the little things,” she said.

—Carolyn and Dr. Fred Bogott, who have helped many international scientists at The Hormel Institute through their mentorship program. Though the Bogotts weren’t able to attend, Virginia Larsen partially read a letter from Institute Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong and praised the couple for helping to pair researchers and their families with community members who could help them get acclimated to life in Austin.