In the midst of a flurry of photo taking after Tuesday’s Annual Meeting, Micheline Bayiha took a moment to reflect on being the 2016 recipient of the Don Shippar Community Leadership Award.

“I’m just really touched,” she said, trying to take in all the well-wishers who made their way through the crowd to congratulate her. “My head is just spinning.”

ALLETE Chairman, President and CEO Al Hodnik announced the recipient at Tuesday’s Annual Meeting at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

“Thank you for your generous spirit and the difference you’ve made in Cameroon and also here in Duluth,” Hodnik said.

Bayiha, a costing and pricing analyst for Minnesota Power, volunteers for the Cameroon Healthcare Development Program and Global Health Ministries to bring medical supplies and services to her native Cameroon. She also works with SPIN Worldwide Inc., an aid organization that renovates schools and sanitation systems and delivers school supplies, water filters and other needed items to Cameroon. In addition, she gives back in informal, personal ways by helping individuals in need in her adopted home of Superior, Wisconsin.

Finalists for the award were John Batchelder, a longtime member and officer for the Fraternal Order of Eagles; and Jennifer Peterson, a driving force behind the company’s Yellow Ribbon effort to support military-connected employees.

Hodnik called each to the stage to be individually recognized for their contributions. After the meeting ended, several people approached Bayiha about assisting her with her work in Cameroon, including LaMarr Barnes, senior executive vice president of marketing and strategy for U.S. Water.

Glen Holt, who volunteers with Bayiha for the Cameroon Healthcare Development Program, was at Tuesday’s meeting and said Bayiha’s honor was well-deserved.“She’s a loving, caring, remarkable person,” Holt said. “She’s provided an immeasurable amount of care and relevance to our program.”

Bayiha’s husband, Eugene, and sons John and Floyd also were there and spoke about how the desire to help others runs deep in their family. Much of that can be attributed to Micheline’s influence. 

“I don’t know any other way to live. This is what we do. This is how we live,” Floyd Bayiha said.

As the 2016 recipient, Bayiha receives a $2,500 grant from the Minnesota Power Foundation to be donated to the nonprofit of her choice. Bayiha has selected SPIN Worldwide. She also will serve a year as honorary member of the Minnesota Power Foundation board. 

The MP Foundation also is giving $1,000 grants to nonprofits chosen by Batchelder and Peterson. Batchelder’s grant will go the D.A.R.E. program in Itasca County and Peterson’s will go the Proctor Military Kids Club. 

The Don Shippar Community Leadership Award was established in 2010 in honor of former ALLETE Chairman, President and CEO Donald J. Shippar. The award is given annually to an employee who best represents the company’s long-held value of community engagement. 

MP Foundation board members selected the finalists and recipient. In addition to the grants, they also receive crystal awards.

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Pictured from left to right: Floyd Bayiha (son), Susan Bussa (SPIN volunteer), Eugene Bayiha (husband), Micheline Bayiha, John Bayiha (son), Glen Holt (SPIN volunteer), Father Andrew Ricci.

“I don’t know any other way to live. This is what we do. This is how we live,” Floyd Bayiha said.

PUBLISHED May 10, 2016, ALLETE Stream