The Brookings Human Rights Commission announced Dianne Nagy as the recipient of the 21st annual Dorothy and Eugene T. Butler Human Rights Award. Nagy was recognized for demonstrating quiet yet determined commitment to inclusivity in the city of Brookings.
Mayor Keith Corbett presented the Butler Human Rights Award to Nagy during the Oct. 27, 2020, city council meeting.
“Dianne’s tireless willingness to engage others on issues of human rights is a leavening agent in the dough of our community,” said Phyllis Cole-Dai, who along with Nagy and others created the Brookings Interfaith Council in 2010. The Brookings Interfaith Council is a diverse group of people who meet monthly (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) to discuss various faith traditions, often within the context of a specific issue or concern. She provides the perspective of the Baha’i Faith in the council’s dialogues.
In 2016, Nagy petitioned the Brookings Human Rights Commission to publicly reaffirm the city’s commitment to equity and social justice and was one of the primary drafters of the resulting city of Brookings Resolution of Inclusivity, which was adopted by the city council. As a result, the HRC created an inclusivity team, on which she served. This team worked for over a year with the Brookings Public Schools to promote inclusive programming. This led to the formation of a formal district-level inclusivity committee with representatives from each school and an administrative team.
In spring 2017, Nagy, on behalf of the Brookings Interfaith Council, submitted a successful mini-grant to purchase “Welcome, Neighbor” signs for community residents. The grant was matched by the HRC, enabling the purchase of 240 signs. When demand exceeded supply, Nagy helped find funding for additional signs that now are visible throughout Brookings.
Nagy did more than lament the demise of general civility in today’s society. She co-convened an open discussion group based on Parker Palmer’s book, “Healing the Heart of Democracy: the Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit.” This action resulted in a meaningful yearlong public discussion group in 2017.
Some of Nagy’s other activities include Brookings County Youth Mentoring Program (mentor) and the Brookings Area Habitat for Humanity (director 2005-2012, 2015-2018).
Ruth Harper, the 2016 Butler award recipient, said “Sometimes it is more important to consistently show up and involve others than to offer large donations; sometimes it is the quiet but insistent voice that has the greatest resonance for justice. Dianne Nagy makes Brookings a more accepting, affirming, humane community.”
In her career as a research administrator at SDSU, Nagy ensures compliance with human research protocols as well as other governmental regulations regarding research. She also led SDSU service-learning programs as a part of SDSU’s Diversity Enhancement Office for five years.
Nagy was born in Oregon, grew up in Guam and Greece, went to school in Ohio, and moved to Brookings from St. Louis in 2001 when her husband (Michael) joined SDSU’s English faculty. She has worked at SDSU since 2002.
The Dorothy and Eugene T. Butler Human Rights Award is named after the Butlers in recognition of their lifelong advocacy in human rights issues on the local, regional, national and international levels. The annual award recognizes significant volunteer efforts on behalf of human rights. Previous honorees, in addition to Dorothy and Eugene T. Butler Jr. are: Philip and Winnie Baker, First United Methodist Church, the Rev. Carl Kline, the Rev. Scott Miller and Lisa Wolff, Margaret Denton, Steve Marquardt, Lawrence Novotny, Charles Woodard, Geoffrey Grant, Timothy Nichols, Scott Nagy, Ann Marie Bahr, Phyllis Cole-Dai, Harriet Swedlund, MaryJo and Richard Lee, Ruth Harper, professor Doris Giago, Allen Branum, and Aki and Tomoko Ichinomiya.