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Posted on: December 17, 2021

HRRC Recognizes Sayali Amarapurkar with Tom Oye Human Rights Award

A 20-year resident of Edina working to end the stigma of mental illness in the South Asian community has been recognized with the 2021 Tom Oye Human Rights Award.

Human Rights & Relations Commission Chair Michael Epstein presented Sayali Amarapurkar with the award at the Dec. 7 City Council meeting. It’s the highest distinction presented by the commission.

Amarapurkar created the non-profit AshaUSA to address the stigma of mental illness, but the group now also helps recent immigrants adapt to life in the United States and plans activities for seniors. Through AshaUSA, she holds monthly online panel discussions on such topics such as breaking the stigma, autism and early intervention, domestic violence and infertility. Amarapurkar, who works as a cultural liaison for Edina Public Schools, also has a Hindi podcast about parenting.

“I am humbled and honored to be chosen for this year’s Tom Oye Award,” Amarapurkar said upon receiving the award. “It is heartwarming to see that the work I have been doing out of my own passions and interests got noticed. It is an affirmation of the work. This is just the beginning. There is a lot of work to be done!”

The award was established in 2006 in recognition of the late Tom Oye who was an early member of the HRRC and served on it for more than 30 years. Oye was also a Nisei soldier in World War II, a second-generation Japanese American who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In 2003, Oye received the Prize for Humanity by the Immortal Chaplains Foundation.

Nominees were evaluated based on their efforts to foster respect and dignity for others, model courage and/or compassion in the advancement of human rights, and demonstrate leadership by example for improving human relations or advancing human rights. 

For more information on the award, contact HRRC Staff Liaison Heidi Lee at 952-826-1622 or

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