Local officials present annual citizen awards

by Sean Madigan

A University alumni and two faculty and staff members were honored Wednesday along with three other outstanding Twin Citians for their lifetime commitment to local and global work in international affairs.
Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, and the Hennepin and Ramsey county boards presented the six individuals with the sixth annual Twin Cities International Citizen Award at a dinner gala at the RiverCentre in St. Paul.
“It is an honor to receive the award as a Twin Cities international citizen,” Law School professor David Weissbrodt said.
Weissbrodt is a nationally renowned scholar of international human rights law. He is the founder of the Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis, one of the largest human rights centers in the state.
At the law school, Weissbrodt teaches human rights law, administrative law and immigration law. He founded the Minnesota Human Rights Center in 1988.
“We try to bring human rights concerns to campus and make them more visible,” Weissbrodt said.
In 1996, Weissbrodt was nominated by the Clinton administration and elected by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He is currently serving as a U.S. member for the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection for Minorities. He is currently performing a study on the rights of non-citizens for the commission.
Weissbrodt also serves as president of Readers International, an organization which works to publish oppressed writers’ books.
Throughout his 23-year tenure at the University, Weissbrodt has authored more than 90 publications, including 14 books, dealing with issues in international human rights law and immigration law.
Weissbrodt has also represented and served as officer for Amnesty International.
“Tonight’s event underscores the need for us to act locally and think globally,” award recipient Cynthia Myntti said. “I’m pleased to see so many Minnesota organizations that do just that.”
Myntti, a Senior Fellow at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and co-director of the Center on Women and Public Policy, is a specialist in women’s health, multidisciplinary approaches to research on health, international population policy, and gender and development.
Prior to coming to the institute in 1993, Myntti worked as a program officer for the Ford Foundation in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Cairo, Egypt. She is a regular consultant to the World Health Organization’s reproductive health program.
Myntti has published work on the impact of male labor migration on women, the cultural and economic context of women’s fertility, women and AIDS, and international family planning programs.
The late Cecilia Goetz, a University graduate student, was honored with a special award for her work in Uganda. Goetz, a health and human rights volunteer, was doing research on vitamin A deficiencies when she was robbed and murdered in a hotel room.
“I think her happiest time was recently when she returned to Uganda,” her father Frederick said. “I think she really felt she was able to help people on a grass-roots level.”
Leo Lara was honored for his work reclaiming the traditional music for displaced people of Ecuador.
William Rogers, the creator of the World Affairs Center, was recognized, as were Joan and Segundo Velasquez, creators of Mano a Mano, a non-profit organization that sent more than 3,000 pounds of supplies from Minnesota to Bolivia.