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Women leaders honored for community outreach, heroism

YWCA honored five women during its annual Women of Distinction awards luncheon in October, including Women of Distinction recipients (from left) Beth Bartlett, Renee Van Nett and Kathy Hermes; and Emerging Leaders awardees Princess Awa-ada Kisob and Ashley Compton. (Photo by Christy Foster of YWCA Duluth)

Out of 16 nominations, YWCA honored five women during its annual Women of Distinction awards luncheon in October, including Women of Distinction recipients (from left) Beth Bartlett, Renee Van Nett and Kathy Hermes; and Emerging Leaders awardees Princess Awa-ada Kisob and Ashley Compton. Both awards recognize women in the community who are role models, unsung heroes and generous community contributors who've overcome adversity, exhibit excellence in leadership and achieve extraordinary accomplishments to eliminate racism and empower women.

Women of Distinction awardee, Hermes, is a program coordinator for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. One of her primary responsibilities is to facilitate Together for Youth, a social support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and allied youth.

A former high school life science teacher, Hermes also serves runaway and homeless youth as the Duluth Area Outreach Educator for National Safe Place and as a HIV-testing outreach worker.

Van Nett, an employee liaison with the Bridge to Employment Program through Community Action Duluth, also works with youth, operating a foster home specific to American Indian children. Outside of her home and job, she serves in leadership positions on several community and nonprofit boards including the Damiano Center, Lincoln Park's Children and Family Collaborative, Cross Cultural Alliance of Duluth and Citizen Review Board.

A women, gender and sexuality professor, Bartlett was one of the founders of the women's studies program at University of Minnesota Duluth. Before establishing and teaching within the program, Bartlett was a professor in UMD's Department of Political Science. She also worked with the Duluth Chapter of the National Organization for Women, was part of the Greater Minnesota Women's Alliance and helped develop Project SOAR. She has also written several articles and five books, most recently "Making Waves: Grassroots Feminism in Duluth and Superior."

Emerging Leader awardee, Compton, is a housing case manager at Life House in Duluth and volunteers as a board member with All Nations and the Heading Home Governance Board for St. Louis County. Before joining Life House in 2015, she worked for American Indian Community Housing Organization in Duluth as a women's advocate at Dabinoo 'Igan shelter and as the program manager of Oshki transitional housing.

Compton earned her undergraduate degree in American Indian studies from UMD.

Also a UMD alum, Kisob earned her degree in international relations and currently works as a program director at Neighborhood Youth Services for Woodland Hills in Duluth. Through her work, Kisob provides oversight for a community-based youth serving agency that focuses on providing a safe environment for K-12 youth when school is not in session. She is also a women's advocate at Safe Haven in Duluth.

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