2023 Minnesota Head Start Heroes


“2023 Head Start Heroes” were honored at the Minnesota Head Start Association’s quarterly meeting Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at the American Swedish Institute. The annual event recognizes Head Start staff, clients, families and advocates with awards and scholarships based on their participation, impact and advocacy for the association.

“I love the energy of this event,” association Executive Director Kraig Gratke told those in attendance. “It’s one of the few times we have family and kids come to a quarterly meeting. It’s awesome. It’s awesome to have all of you here.”

The “Heroes” were inspirational leaving the crowd awed by the passion and persistence they showed to go beyond what was expected of them. Head Started played a key role in their lives by giving their children a safe place to play and learn. Many of those recognized were able to use Head Start as springboard for their own growth, too.

From Alicia Rufus a single-parent struggling while homeless to Jaxson LaDoux whose medical conditions gave his parent anxiety about his inclusion to Jasabel Coleman who went from classroom aid to nursing student Head Start jumped start new paths for them all.

Their journeys to where they are today took years, but each of their relationships with Head Start helped them realize that nothing was insurmountable. Hard, yes, but with the support from Head Start staff around the state, anything became possible.

Below are the Class of 2023 Head Start Heroes:

Staff Member: Alicia Rufus – Tri-County Community Action Program (TCCAP)

Family Success: Crystal Goggleye & Justin Strait – Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA)

Family Success: Marlena Hanson – Inter-County Community Council (ICCC)

Child Success: Jaxson LaDoux – MAHUBE-OTWA Community Action Partnership

Local Advocate: Tyanna Bryant – Parents In Community Action (PICA)

Parent Scholarship: Jasabel Coleman – Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership (CAPLP)

High School Senior Scholarship: Austin Espinosa – Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC)

Mark Coleman accepted a 2022-2023 Resolution Posthumously Honoring The Life of Laurie Coleman by the National Head Start Association