Central Minnesota Community Foundation

Group of Children

The Central Minnesota Community Foundation recognizes individuals, couples, groups and/or businesses at their Annual Dinner in September for their work in our community.

Alex Didier Award in Philanthropy

Recognizes a person or couple who has significantly contributed to the field of philanthropy in the region.

Professional Award in Philanthropy

Recognizes the efforts of a professional advisor such as an attorney, accountant, financial planner, or other professional who has significantly contributed to philanthropy in the region.

Community Builder Award

Recognizes an organization which increases social capital through the bridging and bonding across our diverse community.

President's Award

Recognizes the efforts of an individual or group that has provided significant and long-term support to the Central Minnesota Community Foundation and the greater community at large.

ATHENA Award

Honors exceptional women leaders who inspire others to achieve excellence in their professional and personal lives. This award is presented by the Women’s Fund and sponsored by Granite Partners.


2021 HONOREES


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Dennis & Barb Gregory

Alex Didier Award in Philanthropy

Dennis and Barb Gregory have a passion for giving-back both financially as well as with their time. As children, their parents instilled the notion that it’s better to give than it is to receive, a message the Gregory’s whole-heartedly believe in. Over the past two decades the couple has contributed to numerous charities and volunteered their time for the betterment of the community. Barb credits her mom for being her ultimate inspiration to become a philanthropist. As a child, she volunteered with her mom at the local food shelf, a passion Barb has since passed down to her own children. Barb’s been a long-time supporter of the ROCORI Area Food Shelf. Dennis served as the past Board Chair of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation; in total he served a full nine years on the board. He also serves on the St. Cloud State University School of Business Advisory Council, Chair of Granite Charitable and a volunteer with the American Cancer Society’s local chapter. Barb and Dennis have established a Donor Advised Fund through CMCF in which they’ve made multiple gifts to local organizations throughout the past 16 years. Some of those organizations include the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central MN, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Good Samaritan Fund.

Click here for Dennis & Barb's award video.


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Melinda Gau

Professional AWARD IN PHILANTHROPY

Melinda has a passion for supporting her community and philanthropic mission within Central Minnesota. She first started at Quinlivan & Hughes P.A. in 1994, she is now the CEO. While working with clients, Melinda helps them achieve their philanthropic goals by guiding them on all of their charitable giving options. Her background of working closely with CMCF, helps her provide guidance to her clients. Although Melinda’s passion for law and helping grow the community are evident through her profession, her volunteer work is a great example of how much she gives back to the community. Melinda serves on the United Way of Central Minnesota's board, where she was Board Chair for two years. She also is on the St. Cloud Hospital Board among other past board positions. Aside from her work on local boards, Melinda enjoys volunteering for Wills for Heroes Kids Fighting Hunger.

Click here for Melinda's award video.


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Debra Leigh

ATHENA Award

A woman who has dedicated her career to the performing and visual arts, anti-racism training, leadership development of women, international education and prioritizing the success for under-represented students is the recipient of this year’s ATHENA Award, Debra Leigh. Currently, Debra is the Interim Vice President of Cultural Fluency, Equity and Inclusion at St. Cloud Technical and Community College. Prior to her role at SCTCC she’s spent the majority of her professional career at St. Cloud State University as the Director of Dance. In the community, Debra has been a member of several boards and organizations. Most recently she’s been the Chair of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation’s Board, with serving for six years as a member. The ATHENA Award is presented by the Women’s Fund of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation and sponsored by Granite Partners.

Click here for Debra's award video.


Alex Didier Award

  • 1997 – Alex Didier
  • 1998 – Don Watkins
  • 1999 – Andy Hilger
  • 2000 – Dennis Ringsmuth
  • 2001 – George Torrey
  • 2002 – Don and Arlene Helgeson
  • 2003 – Joan and Don Volkmuth
  • 2004 – Lee and Mary Torborg
  • 2005 – John and Mary Weitzel
  • 2006 – Tom and Joyce Schlough
  • 2007 – Norm Skalicky
  • 2008 – The Anderson Family-Jeanette, Rollie, Jim, and Barbara
  • 2009 – Nancy Ehlen
  • 2010 – Jim and Marion Miller
  • 2011 – Marilyn and Bob Obermiller
  • 2012 – Ben and Dorothy Gorecki
  • 2013 – Jerry and Elaine Bauerly
  • 2014 – Bob and Penny White
  • 2016 - Mimi and Dick Bitzan
  • 2017 - Gene and Sheelah Windfeldt
  • 2018 - The Bernick Family
  • 2019 - Tim Wensman and Janet Fischels-Wensman

President's Award

  • 2004 – Jack Happe
  • 2005 - F. Hilary Thimmesh
  • 2007 – Ed Henry
  • 2008 – Dave Noack, Dave Marquardt
  • 2009 – Kevin Hughes
  • 2010 – S. Colman O’Connell
  • 2011 – John Leisen
  • 2013 – Barb Carlson
  • 2016 - Dr. Leslie R. Green

Professional Award

  • 1999 – Jerry Thoreen
  • 2000 – Lee Hanson
  • 2001 – Doug Holzkamp
  • 2002 – Paul Steil
  • 2003 – Ted Dickinson (posthumously)
  • 2004 – Brad Hanson
  • 2005 – Cindy Faye Johnson
  • 2006 – Jerry McCarter
  • 2007 – Wayne Schluchter
  • 2008 – Mike Karl
  • 2009 – Colette Carlson
  • 2011 – Fred Shermock
  • 2012 – Steve Laraway
  • 2013 – Chris Shorba
  • 2014 – Bob Kovell
  • 2016 - Keith Finstad
  • 2017 - Tom Mathews
  • 2018 - Michael Noonan
  • 2019 - Lori Greenway

Business Award

  • 2004 – Bremer
  • 2005 – Bernick Companies
  • 2006 – Antioch/Creative Memories
  • 2007 – Sprint/St. Cloud Wireless Holdings
  • 2008 – Coborn’s Inc.
  • 2009 – Marco Inc.

ATHENA Award

  • 1988 - Susan Mackert
  • 1989 - Colman O’Connell
  • 1990 - Peg Meyer
  • 1991 - Ann Thelen
  • 1992 - Nancy Fischer
  • 1993 - Diane Gohman
  • 1994 - Diana Murphy-Podawiltz
  • 1995 - Dorothy Simpson
  • 1996 - Cheryl Lightle
  • 1997 - Connie Cross
  • 1998 - Sonja Sorensen Craig
  • 1999 - Patti Gartland
  • 2000 - Colette Carlson
  • 2001 - Marj Hawkins
  • 2002 - Sandy Neutzling
  • 2003 - Betty Schnettler
  • 2004 - Barb Carlson
  • 2005 - Joan Volkmuth
  • 2008 - Patt Adair
  • 2009 - Jan Bensen
  • 2010 - Elaine Bauerly
  • 2011 - Cindy Faye Johnson
  • 2012 - Molly Renslow
  • 2013 - Maxine Barnett
  • 2014 – Pat Welter
  • 2015 - Ann Cofell
  • 2016 - Lynn Grewing
  • 2017 - Linda Eich DesJardins
  • 2018 - Tarryl Clark
  • 2019 - Bernie Perryman
  • 2020 - Dorraine Larison

Community Builder Award

  • 2019 - GREAT Theatre