2018 Award Winners

Trent Griswold and Heather Griswold: Outstanding Adult Foster Care Award

Trent and Heather Griswold have been licensed foster care providers for Anoka County since 1995. They have shown a commitment to providing outstanding adult foster care services for all individuals -including those with high medical need. Trent and Heather work hard to make sure that clients receive high-quality, consistent, and professional care. They encourage community involvement and socialization among clients and extend to them the unconditional love of their family.

Past Recipients:

  • Robin Slothman (2017)
  • David and Vicky Warren (2016)
  • Kathie and Dan Peterson (2015)
  • Ronda Nelson (2014)
  • Kerry Anderson (2013)
  • Paula Beulks (2012)
  • Lois Baker and Fran Gallegos (2011)
  • James and Trudy Zalmosky (2010)
  • Cheryl and Jim Jernberg (2009)

Jo Agnell: Outstanding Volunteer Service Award; Carlton County Suicide Prevention Task Force

Jo Agnell has channeled her passion for suicide prevention and community connection into action through her volunteer work with Carlton County’s Suicide Prevention Task Force. In 2009, Jo had an idea to create a free Suicide Awareness Memorial Walk to remember those lost to suicide, connect to other survivors, and to connect people to suicide prevention and postvention resources. The walk has become a free, annual event in which those from all over the region and state join in and has also grown into an important event for Carlton County.

Past Recipients:

  • Mike Scanlan (2017)
  • Rev. Paul Johnson (2016)
  • Anna Smith (2015)
  • Helen Olson and Stephen Hodder (2012)
  • Gordon Schueller (2011)
  • Stan and JoAnn Holien (2010)
  • Jim Nichols (2009)

Marg Schmitz: Outstanding Staff Achievement Award; Traverse County

Marg has been working in Financial Assistance with Traverse County for over 33 years where she's made a significant impact in the lives of others. Marg extends genuine care and concern for not only her clients -but for coworkers as well.

She wears a number of hats -including that of Financial Assistance Supervisor, Fiscal Officer for MACSSA, and by filling in wherever she is needed on her team. Her care, attention to detail and to gaps in services has helped increase flexible funding for those who don't qualify for financial assistance services and has helped provide a buffer in case of emergencies.

Past Recipients: 

  • Sonhui Baker (2017)
  • Rae Zahn (2016)
  • Jay Kieft (2015)
  • Karen Kohler-Nelson (2014)
  • Susan Visker (2013)
  • Jeannie Pederson (2012)
  • Mavis Fritsch (2011)
  • Carrie Asmus (2010)
  • Amanda Wilson (2009)

Functional Industries, Wright Co, Central MN Mental Health Center, Vocational Rehabilitation Services: Community Collaboration Award

Functional Industries, Wright Co, Central MN Mental Health Center, and Vocational Rehabilitation Services advocate for the use of Individual Placement and Support (IPS). IPS is an evidence-based approach that helps people with serious mental illness to work in the community in all jobs -not just those set aside for people with disabilities. The IPS approach helps people find jobs that minimize or avoid problems. The collaborative has successfully assisted people with mental illness to become contributing members of their community and family.

Past Recipients:

  • Hennepin County Office of Multicultural Services (2017)
  • MN Communities Caring for Children (MCCC) (2016)
  • Crisite Intervention Team (2011)
  • Common Cup Ministry (2010)

Janita Dieger and Kevin Dieger: Outstanding Treatment Foster Care Award

Janita and Kevin Dieger go above and beyond to bring children into their family. The make sure that a successful environment is created for children in their care by making sure no one is left out, attending to unique personalities, and by requesting support and alternative parenting ideas for each child to thrive. Janita and Kevin involve the children in community activities and provide access to experiences that children enjoy. They often seek out training and resources specific to the needs of the children in their care and are involved in mentoring new foster families.

Past Recipients:

  • Deanna and Scott Solie (2015)
  • Lorraine Holdsworth (2014)
  • Julie Goldenman (2013)
  • Lolita Thomas (2011)
  • Chris and Kelly Evans (2012)
  • Tedmund and Margy Johnson (2010)
  • Jim and Jackie Feiler (2009)

Terryl Gordon: Individual Distinguished Service Award; Hennepin County

Terryl Gordon has advocated for others to participate in MSSA. She has worked hard on resources for foster parents and also children who are placed with them. She is very supportive of her clients. She always makes sure that her co-workers and those she supervises are supported. Terryl has made many contributions to MSSA over the past 3 years as a member and board member.

Past Recipients:

  • Paula Katzenmeyer (2017)
  • Mark Ponsolle (2016)
  • Trudy Eisenhauer (2014)
  • John Moline (2011)
  • RaNae Whitbeck (2010)
  • William Anderson (2009)

Fletcher Hinds: Morris Hursh Award; St. Louis County (retired)

Fletcher Hinds has contributed to the human service profession on a national level as a United States Marine Corps vertean, found of the Northland Vietnam Veterans Association, and founder of Veterans for Progress which has supported international humanitarian projects in Vietnam and Cambodia. Additionally, he has worked on legislative issues at the state level with the United Veterans Legislative Council and the MSSA legislative committee. Fletcher served as a social worker for 25 years in St. Louis county and in retirement, continues to advocate for Veteran Services.

Past Recipients: 

  • Stan Groff (2016)
  • Kari Jo Faulhaber (2015)
  • Victor Vieth (2012)
  • Amy Wilde (2010)
  • Senator Paul Wellstone
  • Esther Wattenberg
  • Laura Gaskins
  • Commissioner Amy Wilde
  • Victor Vieth
  • Senator Linda Berglin


Myra Purnell and Dwayne Purnell: Outstanding Child Foster Care Award

In the past six years, Myra and Dwayne Purnell have provided care for 37 children. They entered the system with the goal to break the cycle of abuse and neglect of children. They teach respect as a theme in their home -respect your elders, those in authority, each other, and respect for yourself. They emphasize family, community, and belongingness of the children they care for, and are committed to their success.

Past Recipients:

  • Todd and Sarah Randall (2017)
  • Mary Inwards (2016)
  • John and Margaret Anderson (2015)
  • Brandon and Shannon Wegner (2014)
  • Brenda Sandquist (2013)
  • Daniel and Amanda Schoenherr (2012)
  • Dianna and Gary Gilberg (2010)Mark and Kim Hassett (2011)
  • Sister Francette Malecha and Sister Margaret Roozen (2009)

Rebekah Nysetvold: Outstanding Student, Concordia College

Rebekah has consistently submitted exceptional work during her academic time at Concordia College. Upon her entrance to the social work program, she sought out many opportunities to explore various populations and settings and has been heavily involved in community volunteer work. She was elected by the Student Association of Social Workers (SASW) as organization president and under her leadership, the organization has expanded it’s activities and visibility on the campus and in the community.

Past Recipients:

  • Andrea Kittleson (2017)
  • Heather Bowman (2016)
  • Julie Jacobson (2010)

Marlys Lemke: Outstanding Retiree Award; Ottertail County

Marlys Lemke began working at Ottertail County Human Services while she was still in high school and retired in 2016. Her work as a case aide in the Child and Family Services Unit was where her ability to connect with and support children and families, made a lasting impact. She supported her co-workers and often served as a mentor to them. Her sense of humor, listening skills, and sense of calm helped her to stay on top of her work and to help families.

Past Recipients:

  • Ken Ebel (2017)
  • Theresa Melmer (2016)
  • Barb Doherty (2010)