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ND Nonprofit Awards

ND Nonprofit Awards Logo

The purpose of the NDANO Awards Program is to recognize the efforts of individuals and organizations working to advance the North Dakota nonprofit sector, strengthen communities and enhance quality of life in the state.

Congratulations to the 2019 North Dakota Nonprofit Award recipients!

Winners will be recognized during the Awards Luncheon at the 2019 Nonprofit Leadership Conference June 5-6 in Fargo. Purchase your ticket today.


Walt Odegaard Leadership Award

The Leadership Award is given to an individual who has made a difference by strengthening North Dakota and its nonprofit sector through his/her long-term commitment to leadership, volunteerism, and/or philanthropy. In 2007, it was renamed the Walt Odegaard Leadership Award in honor of one of NDANO’s founders. Individuals with more than 15 years of leadership experience are eligible for this award.

2019 Recipient

Franklin G. Larson

Franklin G. Larson is a philanthropist and founder of Starion Bank. Larson's philanthropy extends across decades and throughout the state to many missions. He and his wife JoAndrea also established the community foundations in Bismarck, Mandan, Oakes, Ellendale, Rolla, Dunseith and Bottineau. He continues to provide major support to these community foundations through outright gifts and through matching gifts that inspire others in those communities to contribute.

Partnership Building Award

The Partnership Building Award (formally Innovation Award) is given to an organization that has demonstrated community leadership and built partnerships within the North Dakota nonprofit sector. Nonprofits, for-profit businesses, government agencies, and educational institutions are eligible for this award.

2019 Recipient

Francesca Huelsman (left), FirstLink's Follow Up Call Team Project Coordinator and Jennifer Illich (right), FirstLink's Follow Up Call Team Program Director.

The FirstLink's Suicide Follow Up Call Team provides suicide support prevention services through follow-up calls with participants after they have been seen at a clinic or discharged from a hospital or emergency department. The program is also available to individuals who have used the 2-1-1 Helpline or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The team formed partnerships with 19 facilities in the state.

Emerging Leader Award

The Emerging Leader Award is given to an individual who has made a significant impact in strengthening the North Dakota nonprofit sector in a short amount of time through his/her commitment to leadership, volunteerism, and/or philanthropy. Individuals with 15 years or less of leadership experience are eligible for this award.

2019 Recipient

Billi Jo Zielinski

Billi Jo Zielinski is the president and CEO of Make-A-Wish North Dakota. Over the past five years, Zielinski has done an outstanding job of building Make-A-Wish North Dakota into a small but mighty team to grant about 50 quality, life-changing wishes each year. The chapter is more efficient and effective than ever, having granted their 900th wish this year. Zielinski also spearheaded the initiative to open a new, welcoming office that has space for and about North Dakota wish kids and their families. She often collaborates with other nonprofits and believes that in working together, we make a bigger difference.