Photo Courtesy YMCA Minneapolis

Kim Nelson, winner of the inaugural YWCA Woman of Power Award
Photo Courtesy YMCA Minneapolis Kim Nelson, winner of the inaugural YWCA Woman of Power Award

YWCA's Woman of Power Award 

Kim Nelson, a newly retired executive at General Mills who ran a $1-billion operating division, was named the inaugural Woman of Power Award winner at a YWCA event that brought together 900 women to raise nearly $550,000. The money is for programs designed to empower girls and address racial inequities. 

In an acceptance speech, Nelson said we are at a crossroads for women, “examining the power dynamic between men and women. As women, we have had enough. We have become unwilling to concede power, to allow ourselves to be victims of a man's power. We are standing up and standing in our power." This is good, she says, “Because the world needs us to be powerful. It needs our voices and it needs our values.” 

Nelson believes that "when women get power, they use it differently. Part of this is because we get power differently. It certainly isn't handed to us because we look the part. [We are] overcoming preconceptions, obstacles, and prejudices with results, hard work, and sacrifice. We fight for it." Knowing how it feels to be excluded, "we wield [our power] more inclusively. We have a sense of responsibility and a determination to help those who are perceived as powerless. Like children. Like first-generation Americans. Like our fellow sisters." 

Her hope is that "we live every day as Women of Power. Confident, courageous, and willing to help others." 

Nelson became a YWCA mentor to middle school girls more than 20 years ago. She was a member of the 2003 planning committee for the first YWCA “It’s Time to Talk” discussion about race relations. 

She is a founding member of Generation Next, working to close the academic achievement gap in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Nelson also was involved with Partners in Food Solutions, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that works to strengthen food security, improve nutrition, and increase economic development with Africa-based entrepreneurs. 

— reported by Mikki Morrissette

More Meals on Wheels 

Meals on Wheels is doubling the number of meals it serves in the Twin Cities area in 2018, from 500 to 1,100, thanks to growth of its Kitchen of Opportunities, which focuses on using fresh ingredients and from-scratch recipes whenever possible for individuals who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals. New chef Michelle Spieker says she is interested in using her skills "to help alleviate health disparities caused by lack of access to proper nutrition," as well as to help inspire "the joy that goes along with a good meal." 

Ten Plants That Changed Minnesota 

The book "Ten Plants That Changed Minnesota," written by Mary Hockenbery Meyer and Susan Davis Price, is distilled from a project that started with more than 100 different plants nominated by the public. A group of experts judged the plants on their impact on the state — positive and negative — based on environmental, economic or industrial, cultural/spiritual, historical, sustenance, and landscape. The book, written by a horticulture professor and gardening writer, describes both the economic advantages of plants like corn and soybeans, as well as its environmental drawbacks, and explores the controversy around genetically modified crops.

The final list: alfalfa, American elm, apples, corn, purple loosestrife, soybeans, turf and lawn grass, wheat, white pine, and wild rice.

Learn more at 

— Source: The Land Stewardship Letter