2012 Touch A Life Award – Audrey Nelsen

Audrey Nelsen has been named recipient of the 2012 Kiwanis Touch a Life Award.   Audrey has dedicated her life to the proposition that all women should be allowed full opportunity to participate in any occupation for which they are qualified.  Anything less than this will result in an impoverished society wherein the gifts of 50% of our people go unshared and wasted.

Those who have worked with Audrey in making our community a better place, a place where all contribute to the betterment of all, describe her as one whose motto is “service above self.”

The city of Willmar has frequently appointed her to serve in challenging roles, confident that she will do the right thing for our community, even though it may not be the popular thing.

Her long-time friend, Verna Kelly who served 12 years on the Willmar City Council, states that it was Audrey’s objectivity and her ability to avoid “petty politics” which made her effective as a Charter member of the Business and Professional Women’s organization, the Willmar Planning Committee, the Willmar Charter Commission and the Rice Hospital Board.

Perhaps her most challenging work for our city occurred when she served on the Willmar Planning Commission during the contentious Westwinds House Development project in 2007-2009.  Due in large to her bringing opponents and proponents of this development to make compromises, it became a reality which todays provides low-income housing.

Many people in our community credit Audrey with doing some of her most significant work while she served on the Willmar Charter Commission where she serves as secretary.  Her work on the commission was highlighted by her dedication to bring about much needed changes to a Charter which was out of date.

Dick Hoglund, former Mayor of Willmar, worked with Audrey and has said, “She brings enthusiasm and creativity to all that she does, and doesn’t seek the limelight.”

Audrey and her husband Paul, who live in Willmar, have three children:  Eric, Emily and Addy.  Pictured above his her family including her daugher-in-law Brenda and brother Warren Damhof.

Congratulations to Audrey!