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Campbell is Outstanding Community Builder

Mary Campell is pictured with Louise Jackson, left, and Marilyn Heltzer, right, Northwest Minnesota Women's Fund Advisory Committee members. Submitted Photo

The Northwest Minnesota Women's Fund recently announced the recipients of the regional Outstanding Community Builder awards: Mary Campbell of Bemidji, Sister Dolores Norman of Crookston and Audrey Eickhof of Crookston. People who live in the region nominated these women because of the impact their lives have had and the significant differences they have made in improving their communities as volunteers, as mentors, in their chosen professions, and in raising or supporting families.

The advisory committee of the Women's Fund hosted a reception for Campbell and her guests Oct. 17 at the Hungry Bear Conference Center. The other two recipients are being honored at individual events in their communities.

Louise Jackson, Women's Fund advisory committee member, moderated the event. NMF President Nancy Vyskocil spoke to the group about the work of the Women's Fund and its grant making and programs. Campbell's nominator, Kristie Jacobson, shared her thoughts about working with her.

"Mary is a great mentor, motivator and businesswoman," Jacobson said. "She does not hesitate to utilize her time and all her resources to help dozens of charities and community support organizations in their fundraising and educational agendas. She is easy to look up to and you can't help but learn from her. She is an excellent mentor and example of true professionalism."

Campbell's daughter Heather Campbell said her mother has been a strong role model and mentor to other women at her office, making sure that the work environment is equitable regardless of race, gender or ability.

"I think that the thing I admire most about my mother is the fact that she never let anything prevent her from succeeding," Heather Campbell said. "Her success and ability to overcome obstacles shows women that they can be successful entrepreneurs, civic engagers, and leaders."

Women's Fund advisory committee members Marilyn Heltzer and Jackson presented Campbell with a commemorative pendant. In her acceptance remarks, Campbell stressed the importance of teamwork and credited the work of many people who create successful events together.

"The Paul Bunyan Broadcasting team is able to use the stations as a community vehicle, getting out information and educating the public," Campbell said. "The listener team comes out and supports the events. The individual teams, such as Relay For Life, Radiothon volunteers and Stuff-A-Truck, are teams that I participate with.

"As Helen Keller said, 'Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,'" Campbell added.

During Campbell's 30-year career in broadcasting, she accomplished much as an individual. From her earliest radio job as an executive secretary at KDWB in Minneapolis, She excelled to become co-owner and CFO of Omni Broadcasting, the largest independent radio station group in the state.

Campbell is a business person who believes in community service at the local, regional and national level. She has been generous in her support of the Bemidji State University Foundation and other local nonprofits, and she volunteers her time for the broadcasting industry. Campbell's work as the driving force behind a nationally acclaimed child abuse prevention effort has been recognized at the highest levels by her peers and experts in community service.

Campbell's awards are many and she continues to draw recognition. She has received four Crystal Radio Awards for extraordinary community service from the National Association of Broadcasters; only one other station in the United States has received more than KB101 in Bemidji.

Campbell was honored by the Prevent Child Abuse America with its prestigious Donna J. Stone award, which is presented to an individual who shares the dedication of the Prevent Child Abuse America founder for whom the award is named.

The signature event of Campbell's many public service initiatives is the annual Radiothon to End Child Abuse and Neglect.

The first Radiothon was organized by Campbell and her current business partner, Lou Buron, at a Twin Cities radio station in 1987. When Campbell and Buron later formed Omni Broadcasting and moved to Bemidji, they saw the need for increased child abuse prevention education and funding in the communities served by their radio properties in the Bemidji and Alexandria areas. The first Bemidji Radiothon was launched by KB101 radio in 1989. KIKV-FM Alexandria followed with its inaugural Radiothon in 1990. The event continued to expand to other stations and counties in a joint effort.

Omni's 15 radio stations have raised more than $2 million to help end child abuse and neglect in Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater and Hubbard counties and all across Minnesota since the Radiothon's inception.

In June, Campbell will accept the National Association of Broadcasters' Service to America Radio Partnership Award. This singular annual award recognizes long-term dedication to community service. She will be the only person to receive the award twice in its 10-year history.

Campbell has made a difference in the lives of many residents in northwestern Minnesota. Tens of thousands of radio listeners have heard what they can do about child abuse and neglect, hundreds of thousands of dollars have helped support the child abuse prevention efforts in the counties surrounding Bemidji, and dozens of charities and community support organizations have been helped in their fundraising and educational initiatives by Campbell.

Campbell is the 31st Community Builder recognized by the Northwest Minnesota Women's Fund for helping the region be a place where women and girls share and use their personal strengths, talents and resources and where they are motivated, encouraged and welcomed to utilize their leadership abilities in home, school, work and community.