The League of Minnesota Cities has been named one of 30 finalists for the 2020 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Organizations must be nominated by a National Guard or Reserve employee in their organization. The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) operates the program on behalf of the secretary of Defense to recognize employers that have demonstrated support to Guard and Reserve employees through their leadership and practices, including adopting personnel policies that make it easier for employees to participate in the National Guard and Reserve.

This year, ESGR received 2,623 nominations for the Employer Support Freedom Award. Minnesota employers Ecolab and Zlimen & McGuiness have also been recognized in the list of finalists. ESGR is expected to announce 15 winners of the Freedom Award in mid-June. The League received the Pro Patria Award in 2019, which is the highest award available for recognition at the state level.

New employees

The League, in partnership with the cities of Delano and Minnetonka, has hired two new fellows for the Minnesota Cities Fellowship Program.

Rebecca Gaida is a recent graduate of the Master of Public Administration Program at the University of North Dakota, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree in public affairs. Gaida’s career goal is to work in a nonprofit or public-sector organization in the field of community development. She began employment with the City of Delano on May 18.

Hanna Zinn is currently enrolled in the Master of Public Policy program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, with a focus on financial management. She received her bachelor’s in public administration from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. Zinn will begin employment with the City of Minnetonka on May 26.


Evan Tsai joined the League on April 20 as a defense attorney with the Insurance Trust. Tsai received his bachelor’s in political science and philosophy from the University of Minnesota, and his Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law. His most recent work experience has been as an assistant public defender for the Second Judicial District of Minnesota. He has worked with the Ramsey County Public Defender’s for the past 15 years. He served as an adjunct professor of law at William Mitchell and currently serves as a community faculty member at Metropolitan State University and as an adjunct professor of law at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. Tsai also previously served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed to the Far East. He currently volunteers with the Minnesota Assistance Council for Volunteers. He also enjoys playing musical instruments.