The Northwest Minnesota Women's Fund Advisory Committee honored "Outstanding Community Builder" Ann Graham of Crookston at a reception Thursday at Minakwa Golf Club. Leonore Potter of Bemidji is also a 2012 Outstanding Community Builder.
People residing in the region nominated these women because of the impact of their lives and significant differences they have made in improving their communities as volunteers, mentors, in their chosen professions, and raising or supporting families.
A previous Community Builder honoree, Mary Beth Sargent, who nominated Graham, shared her thoughts about Graham.
"Ann is an active member of the community," Sargent said. "She has committed herself to helping young people, helping them develop into responsible, caring adults. She has worked with them in their schools, their church groups, and in various extracurricular activities. Ann's strength of character is her mentorship of and compassion for other people, she always takes the lead when someone is in need."
In 1985, Ann and her husband, Pete Graham moved to Crookston with their family. While raising her family, Graham chose not to pursue a professional career, but rather focus on community.
Graham first became involved in the Cathedral School and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. She has served on the school board and on the Respect Life Committee, is active in Parents Active in Catholic Education, and has been a religious education teacher for a number of years. She has served on several committees and helped coordinate not only youth activities for the local teens, but teens from throughout the diocese. She has also served as co-chairman of the Crookston United Way Campaign, helping to raise many dollars which in turn are distributed to organizations throughout the community.
In 1991, with Graham's leadership the return of the Miss Crookston Pageant was initiated. The pageant is a sold-out event every August during the Crookston Ox Cart Days Festival.
Since the inception of the Outstanding Community Builder Award in 1998, 39 women have been recognized for helping make northwest Minnesota a better place to live, work and raise families. Previous Community Builders from the Crookston community include: Betty Arvidson and Barbara Muesing (2011), Margee Keller (2010); Audrey Eickhof and Sister Dolores Norman (2009); Jenny Amon (2007); Bonnie Holmquist (2006); Mary Beth Sargeant (2004); Nell DeBoer (2002); Jeannine Windels (2001); Mary Ann Odland (2000); Liz Thompson (1999) and Kristin Anderson and Judy Dragseth (1998).