Humphrey School Recognizes Inspiring Local and Global Leaders with 2023 Public Leadership Awards

July 18, 2023
Graphic containing information about the 2023 Public Leadership Awards

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2023 Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Awards, who will be recognized at an awards celebration on September 21. 

This year's awardees are polar explorer and environmental ambassador Will Steger; explorer, educator, and philanthropist Ann Bancroft; former commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health Jan Malcolm; former mayor of Minneapolis Sharon Sayles Belton; and Minneapolis-based nonprofit Project for Pride in Living (PPL).

The awards were established in honor of the Humphrey School’s namesake, Hubert H. Humphrey, to recognize individuals who have contributed to the common good through leadership and service.

This year’s awardees join a prestigious list of recipients that includes pioneering scientist and community activist Reatha Clark King, Vice President Walter Mondale, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Friedman, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and longtime Minnesota Public Radio host Gary Eichten. See the list of previous award recipients.

This year’s awards recognize remarkable leaders who share a commitment to building community, lifting underrepresented voices, and demonstrating inspirational leadership to advance our common well-being as both local neighbors and global citizens.

About the honorees

Head shot of Will Steger

Will Steger is a legendary polar explorer who has traveled tens of thousands of miles by kayak, canoe, ski, and dogsled on some of the most significant polar expeditions in history. A formidable voice calling for the preservation of the Arctic and the Earth, Steger has continued his commitment to education and exploration through the Will Steger Foundation, embarking on expeditions to the Canadian Arctic to push physical limits, document a changing climate, and connect with communities around the globe. He established the Steger Center in Ely, Minnesota, in 2013, as a place for leadership and skills training. 


Head shot of Ann Bancroft

Ann Bancroft is a history-making explorer, educator, speaker, and philanthropist who is dedicated to inspiring people to follow their dreams and create change. She is the first known woman to cross the ice to both the North and South Poles, and the first woman to ski across Antarctica with Norwegian explorer Liv Arnesen. She is the founder of the Ann Bancroft Foundation, to empower girls to reach their full potential; and Access Water, an international collaboration to explore the complex stresses on the world’s water supply. Bancroft is recognized as one of today's most influential role models for women and girls. 


Head shot of Jan Malcolm

Jan Malcolm served as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for three governors, most recently Gov. Tim Walz. In that role, she led the state’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic in a time of great uncertainty. Throughout her career she focused on improving health care policies and practices, demonstrating her commitment to improving the lives and well-being of all Minnesotans. As a nationally recognized health care policy expert, Malcolm was among the first to highlight health disparities and the impact of social determinants of health. 


Head shot of Sharon Sayles Belton

Sharon Sayles Belton is vice president of government affairs and community relations for Thomson Reuters and former mayor of Minneapolis—the first woman and first African American to hold that office. During her term, she was credited with stabilizing neighborhoods during a time of racial tension and re-energizing the city’s downtown. She promotes health, social, and racial equity as a passionate advocate for the city of Minneapolis, by building coalitions and encouraging community involvement. 


Graphic logo of PPL - Project for Pride in Living

Project for Pride in Living (PPL) is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that provides transformative affordable housing and career readiness services to thousands of lower-income individuals and families each year, setting the stage for their long-term success. President and CEO Paul Williams (MA ‘90) is a Humphrey School alumnus and serves on  the Dean’s Advisory Council. He received the University of Minnesota’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2017.


The recipients will be honored at a gala event on Thursday, September 21, 2023 at the McNamara Alumni Center  in Minneapolis. A reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and program. Proceeds support the Humphrey Public Leaders Fellowship fund. 

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