The Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund recently named Deb Zak of Crookston as a 2016 Outstanding Community Builder. Outstanding Community Builder Awards are presented to local women who have demonstrated leadership in improving their communities in their chosen professions, as volunteers, as mentors and in raising or supporting families.

Since the inception of this award in 1998, 49 women have been recognized for helping to make Northwest Minnesota a better place to live, work and raise families. A reception in Zak’s honor was held October 12th at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

Deb, a lifelong resident of Northwest Minnesota, holds a Bachelor of Science in Vocational Home Economics Education and a Master of Science in Education/General Studies from the University of North Dakota.

Deb Zak, through several leadership roles, has made significant contributions to her community and the region. Since 1997, Deb has served as regional director for University of Minnesota Extension. Prior to her current role, she served as a Pennington County Extension educator.

Deb excels as an administrator who delivers programs that make a positive difference for women and families in the region. She was instrumental in delivering the Women Mean Business program in Thief River Falls. Her work with the Regional Sustainable Development Partnership and her service on the State Tourism Advisory Council has supported programs that contribute to the health and wellbeing of families and communities in Northwest Minnesota.

Deb Zak was one of the pioneers who launched the Red River Valley Emerging Leadership Program, which identifies emerging leaders in the region and fosters their desire to be active citizens in their communities. Zak has encouraged countless women to seek public office and serve in other public policy arenas and she has demonstrated leadership by facilitating local government innovation forums.

Another leadership legacy is Deb’s work with the White Earth and Red Lake Nations. She codirects the White Earth Academy of Math and Science, a White Earth Nation and University of Minnesota partnership since 1998.

Deb Zak has had a profound, positive, and enduring impact on the region, according to her nominators Barbara Muesing and Chuck Casey. “Her service and citizenship have significantly improved the lives of women and girls across Northwest Minnesota and beyond,” said Muesing.

The Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund is a component fund of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation. To make a secure online donation in honor of Deb Zak, please click here.