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Last modified: December 04, 2023




Mayor Norton Honors 2023 Mayor's Medal of Honor Recipients

Mayor Norton Honors 2022 Mayor's Medal of Honor Recipients



2023 City of Rochester - News & Announcements


Mayor Norton Honors 2023 Mayor's Medal of Honor Recipients





Mayor Norton Honors 2022 Mayor's Medal of Honor Recipients


Extracted from City of Rochester website 


Post Date:12/05/2022

On December 1, 2022, Mayor Kim Norton honored 14 Rochester community members as recipients of the 2022 Mayor's Medal of Honor.

 Here are the recipients, with words from those who nominated them for the honor:

Bharath Wootla Artistic / Cultural Achievement Award 




Bharath Wootla is an outstanding nominee in Rochester arts and culture. By profession, he is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Mayo Clinic and a local photographer. By hobby, he is the owner of the Rochester, MN, Instagram page.

Through the Rochester, MN page, he and his wife, Alexandra, devote their energy to showcasing the diverse and ever-growing beauty of our local arts, culture, and food. He does this for free because he believes in the community and is passionate about supporting the city.

Attending local art or culture events or the latest restaurant opening without seeing either Bharath or Alexandra taking photos is difficult as they are often the first to spread the word. This passion and active position make him stand out among the many great people of Rochester, MN.

Awarding the Artistic and Cultural Achievement Award to Bharath would be an ideal way to honor the volunteer efforts of someone who so deeply believes in this city. I hope you consider this nomination and find inspiration in his work.

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Tiffany Alexandria Champion of Diversity Award 




Over the past few years, Tiffany's work as a food blogger and photographer has blossomed into a valuable community connector for immigrant entrepreneurs and people of color, as well as a culture-bearer and advocate for local foods, equity, and access to resources for traditionally-underserved entrepreneurs. She has bolstered area farmers markets and growers, started the wildly successful Night Market series of events, and created a website supporting Rochester restaurants during the pandemic.

Tiffany Alexandria would be an excellent choice for the Champion of Diversity Award. Her passion for sharing her native Taiwanese food and culture led her to become a local leader in culture and culinary exploration. She has worked tirelessly to unite and amplify the voice of Rochester's Asian community and many other ethnic food vendors in the Night Market downtown. Without a doubt, her work has bolstered the diversity of our city and left an impact on the entire town for years to come.

As a fellow citizen, I consider Tiffany a true champion of diversity, and I hope you also find that to be the case.


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Dan Fifield Community-Wide Service Award




In January 2021 I left an abusive relationship and came to Rochester to the landing. Dan Fifield was the first person to show me compassion during the recovery process and getting back on my feet. Dan has consistently been there for me and gone above and beyond the call of duty with nothing but compassion and grace & has become like a father figure for me. What he's doing with the landing MN has blown me away & I feel like he deserves recognition.

The Landing started in November 2018 when Dan and his wife, Holly, took the leap of faith and established The Landing Minnesota. What started as operating out of their trusty SUV turned into a mobile outreach unit, then moved into the old Silver Lake Fire Station, then shared space with the Salvation Army before opening their own building on 3rd Ave SE on November 12, 2022. Dan consistently displays a commitment to building trust with the clients who never have to question that somebody cares about them. Dan's reputation as a walking heart has earned him a special place in the hearts of many and he has earned this award for his dedication to the homeless population..... because everybody needs a soft place to land." 

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Mary Herbers Educational Excellence Award




Today, I am honored to be celebrating the life and legacy of my mom, Mary Quam Herbers.

For those of you who don't know, my mom recently passed away after being diagnosed with cancer in June. We are sad that she cannot be here today to accept this award, but we hope that this medal of honor helps cement her legacy as someone who embodied Educational Excellence in the Rochester community. 

Personally, I can think of no better person for this award. My mom worked as a paraprofessional at Elton Hills Elementary School for around 18 years, where she impacted an entire generation of students. She especially loved working with her Kindergarten students, and they loved her too. She had a special way of forming relationships with these students, and would go out of her way to check in on them and make sure they were taken care of. She was also a beloved coworker, and was a dependable and wise resource for admin, teachers, and other paras alike. And I know I may be biased, but it truly doesn't matter who you ask -- students, teachers, coworkers -- they all agree that my mom was uniquely talented, and a gift to the Elton Hills community. 

As we celebrate my mom today, I hope that she will be remembered for who she was -- someone who was uncommonly kind and patient, someone who believed in the power of education, and someone who changed the lives of hundreds and hundreds of young students. May her memory live on in all who were lucky enough to feel the warmth of her selflessness and love.

Accepting this award in her honor today is her devoted husband -- my dad, Jim Herbers. We love you mom. Thanks for everything. 

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James Marsolek Excellence in City Service Award 




Officer James Marsolek has been serving the Rochester community as a police officer for the last 14 years and is retiring in January 2023.

Since 2016, he has been on the department’s Community Action Team or CAT. CAT works to proactively solve problems, utilizing community partnerships and resources to help make the City a safer place to live, work and play.

In his role, Officer Marsolek has worked tirelessly at establishing relationships and building trust through outreach initiatives including the Cops and Kids Community Bike Program, Shop with a Cop, the Homeless Outreach Plan, Miracles & Heroes, the Police Athletic/Activities League and many more.

One of his more significant contributions has been Safe City Nights, a summer series of community engagement events launched in 2019 with the purpose of building positive connections between police and community members. From finding community sponsors to logistical planning to organizing participation to event promotion, Officer Marsolek was a key leader behind Safe City Nights. It’s hard to say for certain, but we’re pretty sure he visited with each of the approximately 5,450 people who attended the events last summer.

Officer Marsolek is well-known in the City, and if you ever ride, bike or walk with him, you can’t get far without people stopping to say hello. He takes community engagement to a higher level and does it with ease because of his friendly disposition, genuine care and concern and eagerness to help others. It is with great pride that RPD nominates Officer James Marsolek for a Mayor’s Medal of Honor.


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Aaron Benike Excellence in Industry Award 




Aaron Benike/Benike Construction came to the table read and willing to help. His involvement helped the city of Rochester prepare for and win the Global Mayors Challenge - $1M for the community/city to invest in getting BIPOC women into the non-traditional field of construction trades and the built environment. Aaron provided expertise, many hours of time outside his day to be a co-designer to make certain the needs of the BIPOC community were heard and addressed in our plan.  The openness, sincerity, dependability and participation in this project represent the best of industry and will only make our community better and stronger as a result of their participation.  Under Aarons leadership, Benike's continued commitment to women in the field is evidenced by their nomination of their employees and their participation in the NAWIC and other award and recognition opportunities for women.

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Rose Norman Heroism Award



 On March 30, 2022, my 9-year old granddaughter with severe autistic cognitive disabilities (and basically non-verbal) was visiting, and had wandered away from my home.  We immediately called 911 and urgently started searching.  Honestly, in the back of my mind was the thought that this could possibly end up being the worst day of my life.  Or, by God's grace, everything will just turn out fine.

Nearby, Rose Norman looked out her backyard window, noticed a young girl wandering alone, and could sense there was something not right about this.  Rose listened to her intuition and acted quickly, stopping her tasks and jumping in her car to track down the girl, and keep a persistent watch over her.

Rose spotted her again by the (usually very busy) 55th St. NW intersection across from Walmart.  My granddaughter then darted across on a red light, but Rose was prepared to drive out into traffic if needed to guard the physical safety of a vulnerable person.

My granddaughter then walked along the shopping center road by Texas Roadhouse.  Since Rose had quickly jumped in her car, she didn’t have her cell phone with her.  So she pulled into Kwik Trip to ask them to call 911, and then went back to find my granddaughter again (who she saw heading toward Walmart).  Back home, my wife then received a call back from 911 telling her a child was spotted near Walmart, so she called us searchers to tell us to head there.  Rose had gone in to inform Walmart about the situation, and immediately started searching herself.

Rose spotted my granddaughter in the back corner automotive area.  Right then, my granddaughter darted out the automotive area external door, headed towards the isolated woods behind Walmart.  In the woods she would have become much harder to locate and near Hwy 52 as well.  Rose informed the Walmart automotive employee about the situation, so he chased after my granddaughter and brought her back into the store until the police came.  

All these critical actions by Rose kept my granddaughter from potential serious harm.  Others in this situation might have let it pass or perhaps called 911, but Rose went above and beyond to ensure the safety of a child she did not know.


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Rozalina McCoy Human Services Award




Dr. Rozalina McCoy embodies the spirit of the Human Services Award as the Medical Director of the Mayo Clinic Community Paramedics program. Though her background is as a researcher studying the impacts of chronic diseases (especially diabetes), she took the leadership role of the Community Paramedics to create a new way to deliver medical care to patients in their homes to prevent unnecessary hospital and emergency department visits. The Community Paramedics serve patients without regard for ability to pay and meet patients wherever they reside. As the Medical Director, she is available to her team every day of the week to provide guidance regarding medical diagnoses and management. When Covid struck in March 2020, she quickly pivoted her team to provide medical assessments for the unsheltered population of Rochester when they became infected with Covid to ensure that they were receiving timely medical attention in the face of an unpredictable disease course. Her team reduced the burden on the overall health care system, reduced the risk of Covid spreading through a high-risk population, and most importantly, treated unhoused people as individuals worthy of the best care that could be provided during an international pandemic. As the crisis of Covid subdued, she created a clinic at The Landing for the Community Paramedics to provide continuity of care for the unsheltered population, ensuring that their immediate as well as chronic health concerns are addressed. Dr. McCoy and her team of Community Paramedics are meeting the needs of an underserved population in Rochester.

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Barbara Porter Jordan Legacy Award 


Porter Jordan


This year’s winner of the Legacy Award is quoted (in a 2010 interview) as saying:  “I am an African American. I am very proud of my culture and the rich history and legacy of African Americans in this country and around the globe. I consider it my mission to help young people know and understand our history and why it is an imperative for them to strive to achieve and to be successful! We all stand on the shoulders of so many outstanding individuals and it is unacceptable to be less than excellent in our own pursuits. I am also a woman and I value and appreciate all of the wisdom and accomplishments of women in my family and whom I have encountered throughout my life.” 

This year’s winner is currently an Education Administrator at Mayo Clinic where she has worked for about 30 years. She began back in 1992 as a Medical Meeting Planner, Secretary of the staff of Mayo Clinic Rochester and the Physician/Scientist Diversity Committee and kept moving up. She has a dual assignment with leadership responsibility as an administrator for the Mayo Clinic Quality Academy and the College of Medicine Office for Diversity.

I had the pleasure of serving as co-chair of the Jim Price for School Board Campaign when she first moved to Rochester (1994) and have continued to “bump into her” over the many years in her many roles in this community. 

In a 2009 Interview, Inspiring African American Woman in Education: Barbara Porter, I found this quote:  “I am on the boards of the Boys & Girls Club of Rochester, the Rochester Symphony Orchestra, the Rochester Area Foundation, and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.  I am active in my church, the Rochester Community Baptist Church.”  But there’s much more!

  • President at the Diversity Council
  • Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust Board of Trustees
  • Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce - President
  • Rochester Area Foundation Board of Trustees (Secretary)
  • Founding Board of the Boys and Girls Club (VP Support Services, Secretary, Director (2013-2018)
  • Rochester Branch of NAACP Leadership and Executive Committee - Secretary
  • MLK Day organizer and planner for many, many years
  • DMC Ambassador in 2013 when the bill passed

And so much more.

These days you can hear her talk about RISE—Reflect, Inspire, Strengthen and Empower—for the key themes guiding the work as we join hands to build a better community and society. Our annual RISE for Equity Conference provides a broad platform for the conversations we’ve been having with colleagues here and across the medical community, but we wanted to reach many (many) more individuals with the learnings from these in-person gatherings. Thus, the Mayo Clinic RISE for Equity podcast was born.

As you probably realize, this year’s well deserving recipient is the one and only, Barbara Porter Jordan.

An activist and advocate for diversity and building a more equitable world, she frequently says “The Struggle Continues.” And Barbara is there to see that we do the work right along side her.

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Fatuma Ahmed Mayor's Award 




Pamoja is a Swahili word that means “united.” Pamoja Women amplifies the voices of women and girls of East African heritage as we unite the community. Women are the backbone of the family, and family is the foundation of the community. We work to empower women and improve their lives through various means. We empower women by building their confidence and give them the platform to create opportunities to build the future of their families.

Fatma Ahmed is one of the co-founders of the Pamoja Women organization. She is a champion in the Somali community and believes in women’s health and women’s rights. She started Pamoja Women to empower the East African women and girls. She wants to make sure that the women are heard, not just seen. She fights for women empowerment.


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Sahra Omar Personal Achievement Award 



Sahra Omar is a good candidate for the Mayor's award for personal achievement. Sahra is a mother of seven - five daughters and two sons. She is an entrepreneur and a professional employee at Mayo Clinic as an MRI technologist and as a 3D imaging post-technologist in her recent role. She is also one of the owners of Remjoy Special Transportation. She previously worked at NIH in Bathest, Maryland, and at Laureate Institute for brain research as the chief research imaging technologist, before moving to Rochester with her family. Four of her children are graduates from Rochester Public Schools, and the fifth child will graduate in 2023. She balances her life being a mother and a professional employee and running her business with her sister and partner as a woman and minority-owned business, Remjoy Special Transportation. Sahra has achieved her personal goals of being a mother and professional. She holds a Master's degree in Public Health Law.


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Kathy Scheid Senior/Elder Achievement Award




Kathy Scheid is Executive Director of Elder Network, a nonprofit organization that provides services to seniors and their caregivers in Southeast Minnesota, including transportation, friendly visiting and caregiver respite.

Kathy came to the organization during the pandemic and made sure no services were interrupted or compromised. As many nonprofits were forced to reduce services, Kathy expanded the organization.

She helped Elder Network become certified to teach the Program to Encourage Active Rewarding Lives (PEARLS), a program designed to reduce symptoms of depression in older adults. She also supported the launch of three Memory Cafes in our area.

She led her staff in implementing the Technology Assistance Program, which provides access to iPads and mobile hotspots for older adults, and instruction on how to use them.

Kathy regularly researches elderly needs and implements them into improving services. She values collaboration with other nonprofits, working with groups like Family Services Rochester to amplify everyone's efforts.

Before joining Elder Network, Kathy led a long career with American Cancer Society and with Olmsted County Public Health. When joining Elder Network, Kathy said, “Throughout my career, a major focus and passion has been helping people live their best lives or improve their quality of life, especially those 55 and better. I am excited and honored to be able to pursue this life’s work."

Kathy is a staunch advocate for Rochester's older adults, and her tireless work ensuring their wellbeing makes her worthy of the Mayor's Medal of Honor.

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Erik Noonan Sustainability Award




Erik Noonan would be an excellent choice for the Sustainability Award. Erik is on the board of We Bike Rochester and takes his commitment to safe, sustainable, and accessible transportation very seriously. He is the most active citizen in Rochester I have encountered in this regard.

In addition to his work advocating for sustainable infrastructure and transportation, Erik is always looking for ways to connect with other community leaders. He has taken enormous personal time to attend meetings in every corner of the city so regularly it could be a full-time gig!

Erik Noonan is appreciated by many of his fellow citizens, and his efforts will be felt in this city for years to come.


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 Anushka Kollengode Youth Serving Community Award




I have known this honoree since childhood and have the pleasure of seeing her grow up as a compassionate young woman who is most deserving of being recognized as a youth role model for serving the Rochester community. She is involved in several activities which match her compassion towards nature, women/girl empowerment and serving humanity in general.

She plays an active part in Girls Scouts and Sri Sathya Sai Education in Human Values Program (SSE). Both of these organizations place great emphasis on volunteering and community service.

Her leadership roles include being a Camp counselor and leading the initiative of educating the community on the proper disposal of E- waste, to name a few. Some of her volunteer activities include visiting and entertaining the elderly at Edenbrook senior living and during the pandemic, this honoree volunteered for almost 100 hours at Quarry Hill Nature Center removing buck-thorn weeds. Her compassion expanded to also volunteer her time to babysit the first responder's children during the pandemic.

In addition, one of the honoree’s passions is building awareness for the saving of our environment and to protect from climate change. She has built an app towards the proper disposal and recycling of materials and has won many remarks from local news outlets and organizations. This honoree is a member of Technovation SEMN board, where she serves as a role model and encourages young girls to consider this industry. 


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Post Bulletin Reporting








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Site Information
Project Phase Definitions
The following defines the various project phases:
  1. Available - a product, program or service is in production
  2. Develop - program or application is being developed
  3. Plan - idea is solid, stakeholders are identified, and there is strong commitment to go forward from all parties.
  4. Concept Phase - idea scoped out with enough details to give an early sizing and/or to build a proof of concept
  5. Pre-concept Phase - an early idea or a requirement.
About Beam
  • For the commercial sector, we tend to register startup activities (new companies and new commercial projects) that bring diversification and high-impact opportunities to the area.
  • For the non-profit sector, we wish to shine light on all the organizations and services that otherwise labor under relative obscurity.
  • Our hope is that will encourage cross-sector collaborations and creative solutions.

While there are a number of registries in the community,'s  distinct value is to pilot a database with a data structure and categorizations that answer the questions such as: What organizations or projects/programs in our community that have purported relevance with some of the over-arching focuses put forward by initiatives such as DMC, J2G and Health Improvements?

This database could be used as one of the ways to explore the capacities of the community. If you are someone on an exploratory journey to learn about the greater Rochester community. could be an interesting first step.

Links to Beam sub-sites 
Sample of Beam sub-sites: