According to the University of Colorado website, the George Norlin Award is conferred to “outstanding alumni who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their chosen field of endeavor and a devotion to the betterment of society and their community.”
Nikhil Mankekar is the youngest person to receive the prestigious award. Nikhil was recognized for his work in Boulder as a champion for diversity, inclusion, gender equity, the LGBTQ+ community, the homeless and more under-resourced and under-served communities in Colorado.
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Nikhil is a civil rights and human rights leader, and a past two-time Chairman of the City of Boulder Human Relations Commission who feels guided by his lived experience.
Mankekar says he is proud of his work addressing bias and hate crimes. “I was able to spearhead changes and updates to the city’s biased-motivated hate crimes law that has enhanced prosecutorial ability, has added protections for religious expression, and new ways of supporting victims. What’s really special about this is these are the most difficult and challenging laws to get convictions on.”
As an Indian and Sikh American, who’s made Boulder his home, he faced discrimination and decided instead of changing himself to fit in he would change the community around him to make it more equitable and inclusive.
Mankekar says he is humbled and grateful to be the recipient of this award. “It gives me a moment to pause and reflect on a kind of a lifetime of work around social justice, civil rights and human rights issues that I’ve done. I just planned to continue carrying on and doing the same thing.” He continued, “it’s really special to be receiving this recognition and this award now, because it shows that not only was I ahead of my time, but I’m also on time now to address these issues of civil and social investment.
“We’re seeing racial justice, racial equities, social equity, all issues that a lot of people are now paying attention to. I think there’s a lot of momentum and energy and wanting to do more. I see that there is a lot of hope for the future when good people come together and can work on good things. Humanity’s best days lie ahead of us.” Mankekar said.