WILLMAR -- Audrey Nelsen of Willmar has received the 2012 Kiwanis Touch A Life Award.
Nelsen 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 percent of people go unshared and wasted.
Those who have worked with Nelsen in making the 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 the 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 Nelsen'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 Commission, the Willmar Charter Commission and Rice Hospital Board.
Perhaps her most challenging work for the city occurred when she served on the Planning Commission during the contentious Westwind housing development project in 2007-2009. Due in large part to her bringing development opponents and proponents to make compromises, it became a reality which today provides low-income housing.
Many people in the community credit Nelsen with doing some of her most significant work while a member of the Willmar Charter Commission where she serves as secretary. Her work on the commission was highlighted by her dedication to bringing about much needed changes to a charter that was out of date.
Richard Hoglund, former mayor of Willmar, worked with Nelsen and has said, "She brings enthusiasm and creativity to all that she does, and doesn't seek the limelight."
Nelsen and her husband, Paul, live in Willmar and have three children: Eric, Emily and Addy.