MPCA’s Jennifer Nguyen Moore receives national award for community organizing

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Jennifer Nguyen Moore is a recycling administrator at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) by day and a nationally recognized community organizer by night and weekends.

Nguyen Moore recently received Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award celebrating women of color who are building a healthier, safer and more just world. The award comes with a $10,000 prize for her volunteer activities.

Local 301’s Nguyen Moore has been a recycling administrator at MPCA for nearly two years. She works to expand recycling markets and provide education resources throughout the state. She is co-chair of the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) Health Equity Advisory Leadership (HEAL) Council. The HEAL Council was created as part of a broader effort by MDH to address Minnesota’s disparities across various ethnic, racial and regional groups.  

Much of the work the HEAL Council did last year was pandemic-related. “A lot of the COVID-19 information developed by MDH was only in English and not available to people who don’t speak English, who are blind or visually impaired, or deaf residents. We wanted to make sure they got the same information others did, and we ensured there were translators and resources to prioritize this,” Nguyen Moore said. “It is important for us to push government agencies to become more equitable in programs, policies and initiatives.”

MDH representatives value the skills and experience Nguyen Moore brings to the council. “As a longstanding HEAL member and new co-chair, Jennifer demonstrates her passion and commitment to equality by asking thought-provoking questions, providing strategic direction and leading by example,” said Amy Maheswaran Lopez, health equity planner, Office of Minority and Multi-Cultural Health.

Nguyen Moore also serves as a bilingual election judge. “I speak Vietnamese. There are a lot of people who don’t feel like voting – one of the reasons is that they don’t feel welcome at a voting place. I thought it was important to show my face and show that we need to reflect people who live and work here,” Nguyen Moore said.

She said she is excited to be part of her first union community, “I like to be around folks who advocate for workers and want to do things for the greater good.” She added that she supports Local 301 donating funds it usually spends on member monthly lunch meetings to local organizations, like food banks, that need help now.

“It’s important to be a union member because we’re stronger in numbers and when we can all organize together; we can make impactful changes. We can’t push policy or legislation with just a couple of people; the more people we have, the easier it will be to reach equity,” she noted. 

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