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Women of Distinction Update:

In response to the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation, the YWCA Mankato has made the decision to postpone the YWCA Women of Distinction event until later this year. We will let you know as soon as we pick an alternate date.

Thank you again for your support of our honorees!

– YWCA Mankato has named, Margo Wallace Druschel, Yurie Hong, and Jean Keenan as the 2020 Women of Distinction Honorees. Young Woman of Distinction, Dr. Deb Bobendrier, will also be honored. The event and awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 2, at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center and is presented by Jones Metal, Inc.

Margo Wallace Druschel is a transplant to Greater Mankato from coastal Massachusetts, moving here 10 years ago. In her volunteer life, Margo is active in leadership with Fair Trade advocacy. She is a Steering Committee member and active participant in Mankato Fair Trade, the group that helped Mankato become the first Fair Trade Town in Minnesota in 2011. She volunteered for 10 years with the Mankato Area Adaptive Downhill Ski Program through Community Education and Recreation, and she’s active in leadership at St. John’s Episcopal Church, as well as on the Board of Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, community development, and housing organization. In her work life, Margo has served in a variety of college and university positions advising and supporting students and partnering with faculty colleagues to address barriers and make college and university more accessible to students with disabilities, students of color, first-generation college students and students from other language and cultural groups. Locally she worked for six years at Gustavus Adolphus College and is currently in
the new University Advising Center at MNSU. Margo’s most life-changing work was with Minnesota Council of Churches Refugee Services Office in Mankato. She led a small team of amazing individuals, most of whom had experienced their own refugee journeys, in welcoming individuals and families from Somalia, Sudan, and Ethiopia to life in Greater Mankato. Learning and serving across racial, cultural and
language barriers taught her about courage and perseverance and led to changes in her understanding and friendships she treasures.

Yurie Hong was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. A second-generation Korean American, she grew up in a multigenerational household with her parents, three siblings, grandparents, and an aunt and two cousins. Living in and around Koreatown for most of her life, Yurie attended both private and public schools in various parts of the city with widely differing demographics and resources. Her
experience with multiple forms of diversity in a variety of settings fostered an early awareness of the value of diversity as well as the barriers that often persist between groups of people who live and work in close proximity to one another. After receiving her PhD, in 2007, she began teaching at Gustavus Adolphus College. She is currently Chair of the Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies Department and is an
active member of the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies program. In early 2017, Yurie founded Indivisible St. Peter/Greater Mankato, a local chapter of a newly formed national movement that developed to fight against the increasing attacks on already marginalized groups (immigrants, refugees, gender and sexual minorities, people of color, etc.), American civil liberties, and the norms and institutions of our democracy. Indivisible St. Peter/Greater Mankato is a nonpartisan group dedicated to making people’s lives better and creating a more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive world through positive progressive action. The group seeks to educate, engage, and empower its members to act. It provides information and opportunities to get directly involved in the democratic process by attending rallies and demonstrations, communicating with their representatives on specific issues, and engaging in voter education and turnout at the local and national level.

Since 2004, Jean Keenan has been the Executive Director of Life-Work Planning Center; a Minnesota Displaced Homemaker program and a pre-employment program serving the women of the Region Nine Area since 1979. She holds a degree in Spanish and was teaching at a private high school, when she was offered her first position with a non-profit in 1994. That position was working as an advocate for Latino survivors of domestic violence in rural Minnesota. The decision to accept that position changed the course of Jean’s professional life thereafter. Since that time, she has worked in the non-profit sector serving survivors of domestic violence, young Latinx women, displaced homemakers and women in transition. For the last 26 years, Jean’s passion has been to work for the rights of disenfranchised women and their families; assisting them to find long-term solutions to assure their own safety and self-sufficiency. In 2007, Jean was recognized by Minnesota State University’s Office of Institutional Diversity for her work with the Latino community in South Central Minnesota. In 2009 she was an award recipient for her commitment to continuous improvement from South Central Workforce Partners. In 2011 Jean and Life-Work Planning Center were recognized by the Minnesota Women’s Consortium for Exceptional Achievement for Economic Justice. She is grateful that her personal and professional commitment met at a defining crossroads in her life and that she has been fortunate enough to earn a living while working to create a more equitable world for women and their families.

Dr. Deb Bobendrier is a chiropractor who co-owns Discover Chiropractic with her husband, Dr. Cuong Huynh, and she is a faculty member in the School of Health Sciences at Rasmussen College. She is also a mother to Aidan, age 2, and Daisy, age 1 month. She and her husband are both actively involved in the community through their service on the committee for the YWCA Girls on the Run 5K, and Dr. Deb is
also faculty in the YWCA Elizabeth Kearney Leadership Program where she shares her knowledge and expertise during the Power of Movement segment each month. In the past she has served on various committees including the Arthritis Walk, Relay for Life, Grow MANkato’s Mustache Bash, Cancer Prevention Study 3 through the American Cancer Society, and was Champion Runner at the Mankato Half Marathon for the YWCA Girls on the Run in 2016. She is passionate about serving her community and educating community members about the importance of health and well-being.

The event social hour and silent auction will begin at 5:00 p.m. in the Grand Hall at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center. New this year: trending appetizers like charcuterie boards, butlered appetizers and desserts will be served to guests in lieu of plated meals while local DJ and performer, Stacy K., fills the room with an empowering soundtrack. The social hour and renowned silent auction will be followed by the awards ceremony and honoree speeches.

7Also new to the event are Young Women Tickets, on sale for just $50 to women under the age of 30, supported by generous event sponsors. Single tickets are $75, a reserved table is $700. Tickets will be available for purchase online at mankatoywca.org/women-distinction or by calling YWCA Mankato at (507) 345-4629. Tickets will be available for purchase through March 26 or until they are sold out.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE