Human Rights Symposium
How to Nominate

Nominations for the 2019 Civil and Human Rights Awards are open through 11:59 PM on December 17, 2018. Nominations received after this date and time will be disqualified.

NOMINATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED. Winners will be announced at the Symposium on March 20, 2019.



  • To submit nominations online, go to
  • To submit nominations via email, send the completed nomination form to
  • To submit nominations in-person/via mail, deliver the completed nomination form to
    Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Department
    602 Robert D. Ray Dr.
    Des Moines, IA 50309
    (Delivery accepted from 8am-5pm)


Award Descriptions


Fort Des Moines Business and Organization Human Rights Award

The Fort Des Moines Business and Organization Human Rights Award recognizes a business or organization whose business practices or mission provide a platform for cultural diversity and equal rights for all. This business or non-profit organization

  • is dedicated to advancing justice, peace, and freedom for workers and community members
  • effectively implemented an equal opportunity/affirmative action program
  • exemplifies a diversified workforce with opportunities for upward mobility
  • fights against discrimination, prejudice, and the effects of past discrimination
  • fosters intergroup relationships among persons of different races, national origins, religions, gender expression, sexual orientations, abilities, etc.
  • devotes resources to the improvement of the Des Moines community

Dedication:  This award is dedicated to Fort Des Moines, the site of the first Black officer candidates for the United States Army in 1917 and included alumni and faculty from prestigious universities like Howard, Tuskegee, Harvard, and Yale. Following their service in World War I, these officers became noted journalists, civil rights activists, and lawyers. In 2018, the Commission voted to honor this segment of Iowa history for the officers who demonstrated their ability to perform civic duties despite the racial violence they faced, and the impact their service had in opening the door towards desegregation and integration in the military.

2018 Recipient: Central Iowa Center for Independent Living


Porter S. Dimery Sr., Youth Human Rights Award

The Porter S. Dimery Sr. Youth Human Rights Award recognizes a young, inspirational leader who has demonstrated an unyielding commitment to protecting civil and human rights in the Des Moines area. This individual

  • educates, advocates, and/or raises awareness of community social justice issues
  • creates opportunities and access to services and resources for others
  • leads peaceful efforts to engage in civil discourse for community-oriented solutions
  • advocates for the access, development, and/or improvement of the legal and justice system, community development, education, healthcare, etc
  • engages in efforts to ensure the protection of equality and opportunity for all

Age Restriction: Candidates must be 24 years or younger by March 1 to qualify.

Dedication: This award is dedicated to Porter S. Dimery Sr., who served on the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission from 1991-1998. Known as the "Gentle Giant", this lifelong activist was committed to the future of the community, especially for the children and youth, and pushed for changes that would improve the quality of life for all residents of Des Moines. In 2005, the Commission voted to honor his contributions for his ability to reach across the table and peacefully and civilly break down barriers for all.

2018 Recipient: Robert Nishimwe


Donna Russell Red Wing Human Rights Award

The Donna Russell Red Wing Human Rights Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a dedication to the fight against discrimination and injustice by utilizing, developing, and/or leveraging programs or activities to advocate, activate, and/or agitate the Des Moines community. This individual

  • is fearless, optimistic, and enthusiastic in leading equal rights efforts
  • stands with courage to protect the ambitions and rights of others through civil discourse and partnerships
  • serves the community as an advocate, activist, and/or agitator to raise awareness and/or advance the community's mission/issue
  • works within systems to affect change in policies or practices

Dedication: This award is dedicated to Donna Russell Red Wing, who served on the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission from 2016-2018. Donna's commitment to LGBT+ and Human Rights advocacy earned her the Walter Cronkite Award for Faith & Freedom and recognition from The Advocate as their 1992 Woman of the Year. Despite being dubbed "the most dangerous woman in America" by a conservative group, Donna found success in her activism by utilizing civility to interact with persons with different opinions around profound issues and challenging deeply held beliefs. In 2018, the Commission voted to honor her lifelong work as an advocate, activist, and agitator and memorialize her as an exemplary in the fight against discrimination and injustice.

2018 Recipient: Erica Johnson