An educator, a food service company and local high school student leaders received deserved recognition Thursday as pathfinders who help build community bridges of inclusion that promote the Mankato area as a place where diversity is welcomed and social justice for all is a goal.
Bev Mountain, Sodexo Inc., and the executive board of the Mankato East High School Student Council were recognized with the Pathfinder Award that in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. recognizes “initiators and action takers in the struggle for equal treatment, human rights and non-violence.”
The awards are given each year by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Board in association with the Greater Mankato Diversity Council and other community partners.
Each of the award recipients took action in some way to promote the goals and the spirit of King’s work locally. Mountain is program coordinator for the Mankato Area Public Schools Adult Basic Education program where much of her focus and energy has been getting skills and education to anyone who needs them, from those suffering from poverty and loss to new immigrants.
She has worked with the program for 20 plus years that helps people speak and write English, get the General Equivalency Degree for high school graduation and gets all people, no matter their background, started on a path to education, employment and self-sufficiency.
Mountain has been a tireless advocate for these programs and the people they help, noting she was once in a position to need the same kind of help years ago. Her colleagues see her as someone who is “first concerned with the needs of people we serve and then she figures out a way to meet that need.”
Sodexo Inc. provides the food service to Minnesota State University and has long been an advocate for diversity in its hiring and inclusiveness in its workplace environment. The company has operations in 80 countries and was recently recognized as the No. 1 company in DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for diversity.