Diversity Award Recipients

 The Diversity Award program began in 2008 to recognize individuals or organizations who show exemplary insight and fortitude toward workplace diversity issues.

Nominations can be made for one of the following categories:

  • Individual
  • Organization/corporation
  • Group within an organization (ERG, diversity council, business resource)

    Award recipients will be celebrated at the Forum on Workplace Inclusion on March 20, 2014.

The Winds of Change Award goes to an individual or organization that:

  • Has demonstrated sustained support for advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace
  • Has raised awareness of workplace diversity and inclusion issues
  • Has been a catalyst for change regarding workplace diversity and inclusion and/or has impacted change within an industry, organization or local community 

The Friend of the Forum Award goes to an individual who:

  • Has demonstrated sustained support of The Forum
  • Has made significant contributions to The Forum in time, talent, leadership, content, vision or financial support
  • Has increased visibility or helped expand The Forum within the local community or throughout the United States
  • Has expanded the focus of The Forum as a nationally recognized premier diversity conference

The 2014 Diversity Award Recipients

Ken Charles (Winds of Change, Individual)

Ken Charles holds the dual titles of Chief Diversity and Chief Staffing Officer for General Mills.  With his team, he is responsible for attraction, inclusion and retention of talent in every diverse form and generating talent solutions that will provide winning results for General Mills around the world. He also has responsibility for General Mills $570 MM Supplier Diversity program.  Ken currently chairs the UNCF Twin Cities Masked Ball and serves on boards of the Minneapolis Urban League, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and National Black MBA Association.  He was recently listed as one of the 75 most influential people in the Twin Cities by Minnesota Monthly magazine and as one of the Top Executives in Diversity by Black Enterprise. Charles is a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and the Executive Leadership Council.

Stinson Leonard Street (Winds of Change, Organization)

Stinson Leonard Street is this year’s Winds of Change awardee in the organizational category. As one of the early Jewish law firms in the Twin Cities, Stinson has long shared a belief in diversity and inclusion: for example, they were the first major law firm in the state to add a woman partner to their ranks (1953). In this tradition and with a five point diversity action plan in place, the firm works to actively increase employment and partnership opportunities for all underrepresented groups. They are significant contributors to local law school diversity scholarships and multiple disadvantaged youth programs including the work study program for underrepresented urban youth at Cristo Rey High School. They have been recognized by Working Mother Magazine as a Top 50 Law Firm in the U.S. and A Great Place to Work in Minnesota. With clear examples of exceptional work from which to judge, The Forum is happy to present to Stinson Leonard Street its 2014 Winds of Change award. .

Kurt Wiger (Friend of the Forum)

Kurt Wiger is this year’s Friend of The Forum recipient. For eight years Kurt, the volunteer and intern coordinator at Courage Kenney Rehabilitation Institute, has been active with The Forum on its program and healthcare track committees, as a volunteer working in logistics and hospitality and a ceaseless advocate of the conference. Whenever there is work to do Kurt is there to count on, whether recruiting presenters, adding critical components to workshop creation or putting together new Forum concepts like the attendee content advisor. Because of his willing spirit, can do attitude and limitless commitment, The Forum is pleased to present its 2014 Friend of the Forum award to Kurt Wiger.

About the Artist

Arimoto was born in Nara and grew up in Kyoto, Japan.
As a child he was interested in nature and making things with various materials.
He left Kansai University to study at the International Design Institute in Kyoto.
A meeting with sculptor Shigeru Ueki became tuning point in his decision to begin creating wooden furniture and functional objects.
Afterwards, Arimoto married Diane Wright, a student of Kyoto Municipal Art School.
 They moved to Pittsburgh, PA and worked as a carpentry instructor for adult retraining in trade school. There, Arimoto started design/build furniture studio. Arimoto’s passion striving to build functional objects that combine nature’s inspiration and the element of time.

   Past Award Recipients

Friend of the Forum Award:

Elsa Batica (2013)
Lyle H. Iron Moccasin (2012)
Sue Plaster (2011)
Jim Burnett (2010)
Syl Booth (2009)
Terri Ricci (2008)
Vivian Tanniehill (2008)

Winds of Change Award:
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (2013)
Howard Ross (2013)
City of Brooklyn Park's Human Rights Commission (2012)
ConAgra Foods (2012)
Emily King (2012)
Chaplain John Morris (2011)
Dr. Reath Clark King (2010)
Deb Dagit (2010)
Lee Butcher (2009)
Ghafar Lakanwal (2009)
Richard (Dick) Gaskins (2008) 
Eric Watson (2008)



University of St. Thomas - Minnesota Opus College of Business