Senator Mary Kunesh Honored for Legislative Work Protecting Families, Children, and Native Nations

Senator Mary Kunesh Honored for Legislative Work Protecting Families, Children, and Native Nations

ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Dec. 7, Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton) was honored with the 2023 Esther Wattenberg Policy Award for her exemplary legislative policy work, including strengthening the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA) and championing numerous issues related to Tribal nations.

“I greatly appreciate being recognized for my policy work and contributions to the welfare of children, families and Tribes in Minnesota,” said Senator Kunesh, Standing Rock Lakota descendant. “For seven years, I have worked to improve systems for our tribal nations, and it is rewarding beyond words to know that my work has played a part in keeping families together and helping young people retain connections to their culture and heritage. This past legislative session, I was privileged to work with countless people to in the effort to strengthen MIFPA, especially Rebecca McConkey-Greene. To sit alongside so many of my collaborators at the Esther Wattenburg Policy Forum — many of whom have worked for decades to preserve Native families and their culture — was an affirming and uplifting experience. I am thrilled to continue working with this dedicated community in the coming years as we build a state where all families, children, and Nations can thrive.”

Rep. Heather Keeler (DFL-Moorhead) received the 2023 Esther Wattenberg Policy Award for her legislative work as well. The Esther Wattenberg Policy Award Forum was hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare and Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.

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Mary K. Kunesh represents Senate District 39, which covers the communities of St. Anthony Village, New Brighton, Hilltop, Columbia Heights, Fridley, and a portion of Spring Lake Park.

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