Sharon Sayles Belton is not new to breaking down barriers and receiving awards. She is the first African American and the first woman to be elected mayor of the city of Minneapolis from 1994 – 2001 and was honored in 2017 with a bronze bust at Minneapolis City Hall. This year, she’ll add another accolade to her mantel with the YWCA Minneapolis’ 2019 Woman of Power Award.
Reflecting on her career, Sayles Belton said it was seeing the destruction of the Rondo neighborhood in St. Paul where she grew up that inspired her lifelong pursuit for justice, equity and advocacy.
“I pledged years ago to fight for justice and equality and be an advocate for civil and human rights,” said Sayles Belton. “I’m honored to share this recognition with my family and my community who have helped shape the foundation of my commitment to public service.”
Sayles Belton is a nationally recognized expert on public safety, neighborhood livability, and public/private partnerships. She is an advocate for youth development, neighborhood development and many public policy issues relating to women, families, children and racial equity.
Throughout her career, Sayles Belton has been a key leader in the establishment of nonprofit organizations like Tubman and the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
“I nominated Sharon because her leadership has been deeply impactful in the Twin Cities and, frankly, across the nation,” said Mallory Mitchell, YWCA Minneapolis board member. “She has consistently placed equity at the forefront of her public service and she continues to improve the lives of underrepresented communities through her professional and philanthropic endeavors.
“Sharon’s impact can be seen in the scores of people of color elected to public office since her eight years as mayor and the continued success of her economic development, anti-racism and women’s empowerment initiatives.”
The YWCA Minneapolis established the Woman of Power Award last year to honor women across the Twin Cities who have demonstrated commitment, enthusiasm and support for the mission of YWCA Minneapolis.
— Information, photo and video provided by YWCA Minneapolis