Emilia Gonzalez Avalos receives the Edwina Garcia Community Builder Award
Richfield, Minn. (December 16, 2022) – At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Richfield resident Emilia Gonzalez Avalos was presented with the Edwina Garcia Community Builder Award, in recognition of her outstanding work supporting both her local community and the global community.
The city council created the Edwina Garcia Community Builder Award in 2020 to annually recognize a resident who personifies the community’s core values and demonstrates outstanding leadership that makes Richfield a better place to live, learn, work and play. The award is named after Edwina Garcia, a longtime Richfield resident who represented Richfield for decades at both the local and state levels.
Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez presented the award on behalf of Edwina Garcia, who could not attend. "It's such an honor to be celebrating you tonight Emilia,” she noted. "Having our community in this room together is very powerful, and I would not be the leader that I am without you and your leadership.”
Since 2012, Ms. Gonzalez Avalos has worked to create and expand the organization Navigate MN, which she co-founded as a student. Navigate MN began in response to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which sought to create a pathway to legal immigration status for young undocumented people that came to the country as children. Under the leadership of Gonzalez Avalos, the organization is now a nationally recognized and respected Latinx-led advocacy network, operating under the name Unidos MN.
Unidos MN’s work includes representation of workers in the meat packing, service, construction, and janitorial industries. They aim to reduce structural harm and promote, “an abundant vision for a multiracial democracy that works for everyone.”
As the Executive Director of Unidos MN, Gonzalez Avalos has led the organization’s expansion from a team of two, to a full-time staff of 15 employees in three local offices. Unidos works with elected leaders and policy makers at all levels, and across party lines.
“I'm very excited about the possibilities of the future. I'm very grateful, and this brings me joy.” shared Ms. Gonzalez Avalos. “My family are great supporters and inspiration. We went through really hard times, and I think it's important for the legacy of everyone to not forget what we have learned [during hard times], and really fight hard on the things that we believe.”
Previously, Ms. Gonzalez Avalos has received numerous awards and accolades, most recently receiving a Bush Foundation Fellowship earlier this year.
Ms. Gonzalez Avalos currently attends the University of St Thomas for a BA in Theology, and Individualized Studies in Public Health and Finance. She is the mother of 3 and caretaker of her covid-19 survivor father.
”Emilia is such an asset for Richfield and to our entire communidad,’” noted Regan Gonzalez. “I am thankful to be able to honor you tonight, on behalf of Edwina Garcia, who can't be here today, but also as the mayor of Richfield and a good friend of yours. It's been so beautiful to lead together. Felicidades."