The 2023 award recipients are Trahern Crews, Rayona Kardell, Rose McGee and Asha Shoffner.
The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation is proud to announce the recipients of its 2023 Facing Race Awards, honoring four Minnesota-based anti-racism advocates who have made notable strides toward fostering a state where all communities and people thrive. The award recipients are Trahern Crews, Rayona Kardell, Rose McGee and Asha Shoffner.
“We are excited to celebrate and hold up those in our community who are standing up against racism to make Minnesota a better place to live, work and grow,” said Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., president and CEO. “This year’s Facing Race honorees are incredible examples of how each person’s voice can make a positive difference in our communities and across our state. I am humbled and honored to recognize their contributions.”
This year’s Facing Race award recipients will be celebrated during a 30-minute program streamed live on our website on October 12. The program will be hosted by Dr. Jolly and Chief Operating Officer Nadege Souvenir.
About the 2023 Facing Race Honorees
Trahern Crews is the co-founder and lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Minnesota – one of the nation’s most active chapters. As a reparationist, social justice advocate and grassroots organizer, the Saint Paul native strives to make Minnesota a more equitable state.
Over the course of his career in activism, Trahern has led the Saint Paul Recovery Act Community Reparations Commission and worked on the Minnesota Migration Act. He has also run for public office as a member of the Green Party and is currently working with other leaders to put together a textbook on how to create social change in an effort to pass down their strategies and techniques to the next generations.
Rayona Kardell is one of two client advocates at Breaking Free, a nonprofit that assists clients who have experienced sex trafficking or sexual exploitation. She is passionate about helping her clients overcome the barriers they face and achieve the goals they’ve felt they would never reach.
“Rayona goes out of her way to bring clients food and hygiene items at their homes or treatment facilities after already putting in her eight hours for the day,” said her coworker and nominator. She has helped women, both young and old, break generational curses and find purpose, using her life experiences to provide clients with love and inspiration when they need it the most.
Rose McGee is an activist who uses an unlikely tool to advocate for justice – sweet potato pies. Since 2014, after the murder of Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri, Rose has been delivering comfort to those impacted by racial trauma with what she calls ‘the sacred dessert of Black culture.’ Since then, she has expanded her concept to Sweet Potato Comfort Pie®, an organization that serves as a catalyst for caring and building community.
With the help of volunteers, Rose has baked and delivered over 4,000 pies across the country in response to racially driven events in Charleston, South Carolina; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Standing Rock and our very own Twin Cities.
Asha Shoffner is her most authentic self when she’s surrounded by nature. She leads Saint Paul Parks and Recreation’s outdoor and environmental education work. She has initiated and managed groundbreaking programs to create opportunities for Black, Indigenous and People of Color in the Twin Cities to enjoy the outdoors. In the past year, Asha has organized 45 BIPOC-specific events, reaching over 500 people.
She is the founder and creator of BIPOC Outdoors Twin Cities, a safe and welcoming space for BIPOC and queer folks to experience the excitement of fishing (including ice fishing) workshops, cross-country skiing and snowboarding lessons, Indigenous plant medicine hikes, camping/canoeing trips and more.
“ This year’s Facing Race honorees are incredible examples of how each person’s voice can make a positive difference in our communities and across our state.”
Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., president and CEO
About the Facing Race Awards
Established in 2007, the Foundation’s Facing Race Awards honor Minnesota’s anti-racism activists who work tirelessly to change the narrative on race and create communities where everyone feels safe, valued and respected.
Nominations for the Facing Race Awards are open to the public each year. The 2023 recipients were chosen by a selection panel made up of past Facing Race Award recipients. In addition to the award, each honoree will receive a grant for the nonprofit of their choice
Editor’s note: For media, find the press release, recipient photos, biographies and more in the Facing Race Awards press kit.
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