On the 20th anniversary of his death, we remember Senator Paul Wellstone as an ardent supporter of nurses, workers’ rights, and Minnesota communities. His activism for underserved communities and work as a legislator inspired a generation of Minnesotans to get involved in politics, many for the first time
He made such an impact that we began awarding the Paul & Sheila Wellstone Social Justice Award in 2003 to honor a nurse, elected official, or community leader who demonstrates a lifetime achievement of working to better the lives of others by increasing their access to quality healthcare. The recipient speaks out courageously and consistently for others as Paul and Sheila Wellstone did during his career in politics and community activism, and whose unwavering voice on behalf of those who have none is clear and undiminished by political tides.
This year’s honoree is Representative Liz Olson. Prior to running for office, she demonstrated her commitment to increasing the Duluth community’s access to quality healthcare throughout her community outreach and advocacy work. This year, she championed the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act, helping to draft the bill and introduce it at the legislature. She was a tireless advocate of nurses and met with nurses time and time again throughout the session to refine the bill and build a co-governance relationship.
Nominations for the 2023 Paul & Sheila Wellstone Social Justice Award will open this Spring.