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North Hennepin Community College Receives Insight Into Diversity 2021 Higher Education Excellence In Diversity (HEED) Award


BROOKLYN PARK, MN — Today, North Hennepin Community College (NHCC) received the 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. As a recipient of the annual HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — North Hennepin Community College will be featured, along with 100 other recipients, in the November 2021 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. This is the first time North Hennepin Community College has been named as a HEED Award recipient.


“I’m extremely proud of the diversity and equity work we’ve done at North Hennepin Community College, and this HEED award serves as a symbol of the great effort that’s been given by our community members to help our initiatives thrive and flourish. The year 2020 was an incredibly difficult one in the DEI space, and certainly as an institution located in ground zero of our nation’s racial reckoning. So, this HEED award is an incredible boost to our college spirit, and it’s a fantastic benchmark to inspire and motivate us to continue doing the great work we’re doing,” said Dr. Rolando García, president of North Hennepin Community College.


INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected North Hennepin Community College for its innovative initiatives that not only support their students and employees, but also reaches out into the broader local community. In 2020, guided by the leadership of Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. “Eda” Rassheedah Watts, the college embarked on an intentional racial healing journey that encompassed a range of programs designed to elevate conversations on race, identify opportunities for community action, and create narrative change for communities of color. As an institution located minutes away from George Floyd and Daunte Wright’s death, the college’s decision to amplify issues of race and equity for student success and a work culture of inclusion were more pertinent than ever.


Notable initiatives included the Racial Healing and Anti-Racism Community Outreach which provided community inclusion and learning opportunities with the City of Brooklyn Park, The Brooklyn Center Chief of Police and City Council members, and various K-12 leaders. The college also established its first Racial and Social Justice Leadership Scholarship to support up-and-coming student leaders. Stages of Equity, a cross-organizational initiative led by Dean Kathy Hendrickson of the School of Fine and Applied Arts, Global and Cultural Studies, introduced to the campus the richness of local and national artists of color through a three-day festival showcasing their equity-themed work. Also introduced in 2020 was the Be Bold-Break the Mold co-curricular student retention program which supports diverse women pursuing nontraditional careers. The cohort-based collaborative program co-designed by Nontraditional Careers Advisor Maria Vittone and the Diversity Department’s Dr. Eda Watts, combines local women business leaders as mentors, diversity and equity workshops, and internships that have led to successful job placements and 100 percent student retention! North Hennepin Community College’s diversity and inclusion initiatives certainly expands into broader initiatives that support the spectrum of diverse identities, yet at a time when our nation finds itself in the midst of a racial reckoning, NHCC is proud to lead by the front in race, justice, equity and inclusion work in Minnesota.


“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”


For more information about the 2021 HEED Award, visit insightintodiversity.com