MCKENZIE ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE EMPLOYEE RECOGNIZED FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE
The North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) recognized Yolanda Rojas, a McKenzie Electric Cooperative employee, with the Community Service Award at its 80th annual meeting Feb. 7. The award recognizes Rojas’ efforts to support English language learners and promote opportunities for integration and inclusion within the community.
“Inclusion for all is essential to growing a strong economy and building vibrant and resilient communities,” says NDAREC Executive Vice President and General Manager Josh Kramer. “Diversity, equity and inclusion have been cooperative values since the beginning, and Yolanda embodies these values. Her work to break down language barriers and build community has made a difference in the lives of many, and it’s an honor to present her with this award.”
According to 2020 U.S. Census data, the Hispanic population in McKenzie County has grown by 1,000% in the last decade. As most of the county’s residents are English-speaking, the influx of Spanish speakers resulted in confusion and miscommunication. In 2020, Rojas, a certified translator, founded the Hispanic Advocacy of North Dakota group, or HAND, which focuses on bridging the language gap between English and Spanish speakers.
HAND also plans to provide business, educational and financial workshops for the Hispanic community and create cultural exchange opportunities in the greater Watford City area. Each December, HAND hosts a traditional Hispanic Christmas, which is open to the public. Started in 2021, La Posada provides a sense of welcome to Hispanic residents, while allowing friends and neighbors to experience another culture. The event includes traditional food, piñatas and a short play depicting a traditional Hispanic Christmas.
North Dakota’s electric cooperatives congratulate Rojas on receiving this recognition and thank her for her service to her cooperative and community.
Every year, NDAREC recognizes individuals for their generous contributions to North Dakota’s electric cooperatives and the communities they serve. An eight-member committee of the NDAREC Board of Directors selects award recipients from nominations submitted by NDAREC’s members, which include 16 electric distribution cooperatives and five generation and transmission cooperatives.
NDAREC is the statewide trade association for 16 electric distribution cooperatives and five generation and transmission cooperatives operating in North Dakota. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to nearly 250,000 North Dakotans. NDAREC services include legislative advocacy, lineworker safety training, professional development, cooperative business development and communication services, including publication of the North Dakota Living magazine.