Community Builder Award

Icon of computer mouse pointer clickingNominate a 2023 Community Builder!

This recognition is presented each year to individuals, community groups and businesses who – through their volunteer or work life – build a brighter future for Burnsville.

Examples of community building include environmental stewardship, improving neighborhoods, volunteerism, youth leadership, and events and projects that build community pride and spirit.


  • 2023 nominations are open in August. (Submit a form with the link above or email 
  • The deadline for submissions is Friday, Sept. 1 at 4:30 p.m.
  • Awards will be presented at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 5:30 p.m.

2022 Community Builder Award Winners

The Burnsville City Council recognized 8 community members/organizations with their 2022 Community Builder Awards, presented this past October to:

Dr. Kathy Funston, ISD191: As director of strategic pathways and partnerships, Dr. Funston has worked tirelessly over the past seven years to build connections between the community and School District 191. She has worked closely with the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce to build the Business Education Network which provides learning experiences for students and prepares them to succeed in the workplace. Dr. Funston always works to provide opportunities for educators to learn how to best teach to prepare students for life after graduation. 

Hafido Hussein Shurie, community volunteer: 

Affectionately known as Mama Hafido, she has been described as "a great mother to all the people she meets." Hafido often brings food and drinks to Darulsalam Mosque and she contributes a significant amount of time to helping many in Burnsville. Her famous soup and generous food have been a comfort to many residents throughout the pandemic, as her smile and calming words of wisdom. Thank you, Hafido, for helping our community feel connected and cared for. 

Hafido Hussein Shurie's daughter accepting the award on her behalf
Jason Viana, Open Door Pantry: 

As the Executive Director of The Open Door food pantry serving Burnsville and the greater Dakota County, Jason is the driving force behind recent innovations that make the organization a leader in combating food insecurities. Providing food relief to more than 14,000 Dakota County Residents each month is no easy feat and Jason's collaboration with so many, including the City, Burnsville schools, the Burnsville Lions Club and local businesses and organizations helps bring fresh, healthy food to those who need it. 

Jason Viana accepting his Community Builder Award
Margaret Garvey, Burnsville Festival and Fire Muster: 

Margaret has been a vital contributor to the Burnsville Festival and Fire Muster since 2018. She serves on the board of directors and as a volunteer event committee member. She handles the research, recruitment and relationship building with all the vendors and worked to lead the efforts to attract more merchants of diverse products, food and backgrounds than ever before. On top of all of that, she assisted in developing the festival's brand-new website which required an abundance of time and detail. Thank you for your dedication to connecting and celebrating the Burnsville community, Margaret. 

Margaret Garvey accepting her Community Builder Award
Pat and John Christiansen, Foundation 191: 

Pat and John have supported District 191 and the Burnsville community in many ways for many years. This nomination focuses on their contribution to Foundation 191. Serving as a Burnsville High School Community Scholarship Program chair, Pat led the group in facilitating more than 100 scholarships totaling upwards of $130,000 for more than 80 high school seniors seeking post-secondary education. John serves as the board's treasurer and has gone above and beyond transitioning BHS to an established non-profit foundation. This contribution provides better organization in how it collects and distributes scholarship funds according to IRS rules. 

John and Pat Christiansen accepting their Community Builder Award
Skip Nienhaus, community volunteer: 

A familiar face here in Burnsville, Skip may have retired from his role in our Community Development department, but Skip's dedication to public service is stronger than ever. He's an active member with the Burnsville Festival and Fire Muster committee, the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce, the Community Foundation and serves on the board for Experience Burnsville. Skip is willing to lend a hand whenever needed. This year, he was an indispensable volunteer for the Burnsville Festival and Fire Muster operations from logistics to collaboration, he made sure the four-day, multiple-location event ran smoothly. Skip, thank you for being a community builder. 

Skip Nienhaus accepting his Community Builder Award
Traci and Jim Kubisiak, Kids 'n Kinship: 

Traci and Jim's dedication to youth in our community  is remarkable. This particular nomination notes their work through Kids n' Kinship. Traci and her entire family show up for their middle school mentee week after week, no more the obstacles that come their way. Highlighted for serving with Kids 'n Kinship is only a snapshot of the compassion and dedication they have to serving our community. Traci, Jim and their girls volunteer for many organizations including Girl Scouts, Girls on the Run, Be the Match, Feed My Starving Children and the American Heart Association. 

Traci and Jim Kubisiak accepting their Community Builder Award
Berean Baptist Church, School-a-palooza: 

Berean Baptist has been serving the Burnsville community for more than 50 years. Started in 2021, one of their best-known efforts is "School-a-palooza." This impactful event covers all back-to-school needs for families including interpreters in Spanish, Russian, Somalian, Ukrainian and American Sign Language, breakfast, groceries, haircuts, backpacks and school supplies, coats, boats, shoes and clothes for students all at no charge. This event is put on by about 400 volunteers and the church partners with local businesses to provide Burnsville families with everything they need for back to school without a heavy financial burden. 

Berean Baptist accepting their Community Builder Award