MHP is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2019 Outstanding Advocate awards! These awards recognize community members and selected organizations for demonstrated dedication to affordable housing. During the 2019 session, these advocates engaged their elected officials, motivated others to advocate, and raised the public profile of affordable housing issues. They shared personal and professional experience to further MHP’s policy agenda and secure more resources for affordable housing.
From left: MHP Policy Director Elizabeth Glidden with Outstanding Advocates Sarah Larson, Buffy Beranek, Jonathan Weinhagen (accepting the award on behalf of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce), and MHP Executive Director Anne Mavity and Deputy Policy Director Libby Murphy. Not pictured: Sheila Kiscaden, Marie Rivers, and Linda Soderstrom
MHP’s work would be impossible without the partnership of these outstanding individuals. We’re incredibly grateful for all the ways in which they used their voices, ingenuity, talent, and resources to draw attention to housing as a critical public issue. These awards are a small gesture in appreciation of big contributions!
2019 Outstanding Advocates
- Buffy Beranek, Executive Director, Southeast Minnesota Multi-County Housing and Redevelopment Authority
- Sheila Kiscaden, Olmsted County Commissioner
- Sarah Larson, Housing Development Specialist, Landon Group
- Marie Rivers, President, Sven Clogs
- Linda Soderstrom, Community Organizer
- Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce
Buffy Beranek, Southeast Minnesota Multi-County Housing and Redevelopment Authority
Executive Director at Southeast Minnesota Multi-County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (SEMMCHRA), Buffy has spent her career fighting for access and funding for basic social needs – health, education and now housing.
During the 2019 session and beyond, Buffy ardently supported MHP’s agenda. By engaging directly with legislators through multiple trips to the State Capitol, including a trip to testify on the Homes for All legislative agenda, Buffy drew attention to key solutions to address Minnesota’s need for affordable housing including local housing trust funds and the affordable #HousingTaxCredit.
Sheila Kiscaden, Olmsted County Commissioner
Commissioner Kiscaden has spent her career finding solutions to complex problems through public service, consulting, and volunteer initiatives. She served four terms in the Minnesota Senate before beginning her service as an Olmsted County Commissioner in 2013. Commissioner Kiscaden served on the Governor’s Task Force on Housing in 2018, identifying strategies to address Minnesota’s housing need now and in the future.
Throughout the 2019 session, Commissioner Kiscaden testified in committee, lobbied lawmakers, spoke at press conferences, wrote op-eds, and recruited endorsers for the affordable #HousingTaxCredit. As a former legislator, her relationships and insight were critical to MHP’s progress. Commissioner Kiscaden leveraged her political clout to advance affordable housing for all Minnesotans, urging key lawmakers and leadership in both parties to recognize the need and implement solutions.
Sarah Larson, Landon Group
Every single time MHP urged advocates to call or send a message to lawmakers, Sarah Larson took action. She went to bat, educating and challenging her representatives, in ways that went above and beyond what MHP asked of her. Her testimony in support of the affordable #HousingTaxCredit, articulated powerful messaging that was repeated and amplified by MHP and the Homes for All coalition throughout the 2019 legislative session.
Sarah has nearly 20 years of experience working with for-profit and nonprofit developers pursuing affordable housing developments, with a particular focus on supportive housing for Minnesota’s most vulnerable populations. She’s tackled projects that range in size from single family homes to multi-family buildings with budgets in excess of $20 million. Recent projects include providing financial consulting for a project providing housing for young adults aging out of foster care and providing project management for a senior housing development in South Minneapolis.
Marie Rivers, Sven Clogs
Marie shared her personal story as a small business owner who has faced challenges recruiting and keeping employees because of the lack of housing in her community. Through videography, a major article published in the Star Tribune, and compelling testimony before the House Taxes Committee, Marie personalized a key theme articulated by housing advocates throughout the 2019 legislative session – Minnesota businesses and working people cannot thrive without more affordable housing.
Marie has been making clogs for more than 25 years. Located in Chisago City, Sven Clogs produces thousands of pairs of wooden soled clogs each year. Highly skilled workers craft the clogs, utilizing wooden bases shipped from Austria and Sweden and leathers and Sheepskin from U.S. suppliers.
Linda Soderstrom, Community Organizer
By sharing her personal experience and her passion for public engagement, Linda has motivated elected officials at the local and state levels to bigger and bolder commitments to affordable housing and tenant protections. Linda is a relentless and consistent advocate for affordable homes and ensuring tenant voices are central to decision making processes. In 2019 alone, Linda helped motivate new advocates to participate, met with elected officials about affordable housing needs, spoke at Homes for All rallies, worked with a major media outlet on a short film about affordable housing, and raised the profile of affordable housing as a major public issue.
Linda knew nothing of deeply affordable housing or lack thereof in Minnesota, until she herself was directly impacted. She is a native of Elgin Illinois, attended Carleton College, St. Mary's University and Southeast Technical College, with degrees in in Fine Arts, Human Development, Licensed Practical Nursing and Health Unit Coordination.
Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce
The Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce works to sustain and enhance the economic opportunity, growth, and prosperity of the 11-county Minneapolis-Saint Paul region. The Chamber has identified housing as one of three key advocacy priorities alongside transit and workforce, recognizing that housing is essential to the prosperity of the region and the success of people at all incomes.
During the 2019 legislative session and beyond, the Chamber drew attention to affordable housing as a critical issue impacting Minnesota's economic competitiveness. Chamber President & CEO Jonathan Weinhagen was a consistent and passionate advocate for housing investments. Through public events and commentary, engagement of its members, and strategic assistance on policy solutions, the Chamber used its influence to ensure that elected officials understood housing as an issue of importance to the business community. The Chamber lent momentum to the affordable #HousingTaxCredit by promoting it as a proven solution to address Minnesota's pressing need for housing.
MHP Executive Director Anne Mavity recognized these Outstanding Advocates through a formal presentation of awards on Wednesday, May 29.