The Citizens League honored former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, and former Sen. David Durenberger.
The two were honored for innovative leadership and a commitment to public service.
Sayles Belton was the first woman and first African-American to be elected mayor of Minneapolis. Serving from 1994 to 2001, Sayles Belton achieved national recognition as an expert on public/private partnerships in public safety, neighborhood revitalization, and economic development.
Prior to becoming mayor, Sayles Belton served on the Minneapolis City Council for 10 years (1984-1994) and was council president from 1990-1994. She co-founded the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter in 1976, the third battered women’s shelter in the country, the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault, an organization that advocated for policies and resources to help sexual assault victims and the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit organization that guides individuals onto the path of sustainable homeownership and good financial health.
Sayles Belton is currently the vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Alliance for Thomson Reuters.
Durenberger was elected to the U. S. Senate in 1978. He was re-elected in 1982 and 1988, and retired in January 1995, becoming the longest serving popularly elected Republican senator in Minnesota history.
During his three terms, Durenberger served on several Senate committees, including the Finance Committee, the Committee on Governmental Affairs, the Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the Select Committee on Intelligence. He was considered the leading Republican authority on health care policy.
Durenberger served as Citizens League board chair in 1997.
Upon retirement from the Senate in 1995, Durenberger continued as a leader in health policy, helping found the National Institute of Health Policy at the Opus College of Business in the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, as well as its now popular Masters in Health program.
“Despite different backgrounds and political parties, Mayor Sayles Belton and Senator Durenberger share a deep, long-standing commitment to finding common ground, developing a true civic culture, and advancing community-driven solutions to improve the lives of Minnesotans,” said Pahoua Hoffman, Citizens League executive director. “Minnesota is the fortunate home to these two leaders, whose legacies have inspired countless others throughout the state.”