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Character Recognition Awards
Synergy & Leadership Exchange hosts the Character Recognition Awards each year to celebrate the exemplary efforts to develop character strengths and ethical leadership skills in young people. Attendees include leaders from education, business, government and non-profit sectors as well as legislators, teachers and students. The event includes a luncheon and program celebrating the honorees. Awards presented include the Minnesota Schools/Districts of Character, Minnesota Promising Practices AwardsMinnesota Ethical Leadership Awards, and Champion of Character Award.

2019 Event Summary
In celebration of Governor Walz’s proclamation of May 23 as Character Recognition Day in Minnesota, seven schools, three community programs and two “champions of character” were celebrated for excellence in character and ethical leadership development.
Dr. Archelle Georgiou served as the event emcee and Dr. Laura Bloomberg, dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota delivered an inspiring keynote. Craig Wethington, School Safety and Technical Assistance Center director provided a welcome from the Minnesota Department of Education. Senator Sandy Pappas, Representative Kaohly Her and Ramsey County Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire assisted with the awards presentations.

2019 Honorees:
  • Community of Peace Academy, Saint Paul
  • Avalon School, St. Paul
  • Community of Peace Academy*, St. Paul
  • Hennepin Gateway to College, Eden Prairie
  • Henry Sibley High School, Mendota Heights
  • Lakes International Language Academy, Forest Lake
  • Red Lake Early Childhood Center, Red Lake
  • Red Lake Elementary Complex, Red Lake
  • Benjamin B. Ferencz Fellowships in Human Rights and Law (World Without Genocide)
  • Minnesota Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (MN FCCLA)
  • Urban Learning Center After School Program (Hospitality House Youth Development)
Champion of Character:
  • Robert J. Brown, professor emeritus, University of St. Thomas
  • Stephen B. Young, global executive director, Caux Round Table
The inaugural Champion of Character award honors individuals who consistently demonstrate positive character as a visible role model. 
*Receiving national recognition from 

Thank you to the generous sponsors and donors that helped make the 2019 event a success!
Trust Sponsor:
  • Minneapolis Recruiting Battalion, U.S. Army
Courage Sponsors:
  • Bob Brown
  • Sourcewell
Respect Sponsor:
  • South Central Service Cooperative
Honor Sponsor:
  • The Craighead Family Fund
Donors (financial and in-kind):
  • GJB Images
  • Science Museum of Minnesota
  • Steven Wall & Taylor Nielsen, Ameriprise Financial
  • Strategic Financial Concepts Giving Fund
  • Deborah and Steve Yungner
For more information on sponsorship for the 2020 event, please contact Barb at or 507-389-5112.

Award Honorees with Plaque


“Character education is based on the deeply-rooted belief that in order to best educate our young people, we must acknowledge and impact the whole child. Our local, national and international community is in need not just of intelligent people, but of good people with strong moral compasses.” 
—Cara Quinn, Executive Director, Community of Peace Academy, 
2003, 2014, 2019 Minnesota School of Character and 
2003, 2014 National School of Character 

“Synergy & Leadership Exchange makes us stop and think about why we are engaged in our work. It reminds us that the most important things we deliver and work on, are creating ethical leaders and being ethical leaders ourselves. It underscores the essence that character costs!” 
—Shelli-Kae Foster YES! Program Director, 
2017 Minnesota Ethical Leadership Award honoree

"Civic education is a cornerstone of what makes Minnesota so special. We have long been home to responsible ethical leaders and residents who engage in civic life and contribute to our communities. Support for quality character education will strengthen Minnesota for generations to come.” 

— Steve Simon,
Minnesota Secretary of State 

Avalon School
Avalon School

Benjamin B. Ferencz Fellowships in Human Rights and Law
Benjamin B. Ferencz Fellowships in Human Rights and Law

Robert J. Brown
Robert J. Brown

Community of Peace Academy
Community of Peace Academy

Hennepin Gateway to College
Hennepin Gateway to College

Henry Sibley High School
Henry Sibley High School

Lakes International Language Academy
Lakes International Language Academy

Minnesota Family, Career and Community Leaders of America
Minnesota Family, Career and Community Leaders of America

Red Lake Early Childhood Center; Red Lake Elementary Complex
Red Lake Early Childhood Center; Red Lake Elementary Complex

Urban Learning Center After School Program
Urban Learning Center After School Program

Stephen B. Young
Stephen B. Young

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Synergy & Leadership Exchange
2075 Lookout Drive
North Mankato, MN 56003
2018 Member

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