Theater founder Michelle Hensley, Hmong arts advocate Kathy Mouacheupao, renowned R&B figure Willie Murphy, educator Anton Treuer and greater Minnesota arts champion Amy Stoller Stearns are all winners of Sally Awards, handed out Monday at St. Paul's Ordway Center.

Named for Sally Ordway Irvine, who championed the center, and handed out since 1992, the awards come with $2,500 per winner. They honor vision, initiative, commitment, education and access.

Hensley founded Ten Thousand Things theater, a company that serves audiences in prisons and shelters, as well as the public. It won a prestigious Ivey Award and has performed in New York in partnership with the Public Theater.

Mouacheupao heads the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent, billed as the largest Hmong arts organization in the nation. It fosters artistic development through workshops, collaborations and mentorships.

Murphy, who was inducted in the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, is a composer and pianist who has played with Muddy Waters, Carl Perkins, Joan Baez and Jefferson Airplane, among others.

Treuer, a professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University and a MacArthur Foundation "genius" fellow, champions Ojibwe language and culture. He edits the only academic journal of the Ojibwe language. He has written eight books, including "Ojibwe in Minnesota," recently named "Minnesota's Best Read for 2010" by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Stoller Stearns is executive director of the Holmes Theatre at the Detroit Lakes Community Cultural Center. A transplanted Minneapolitan, she has helped build the nine-year-old venue into a performing-arts mecca for northwestern Minnesota. The Holmes has hosted the Canadian Brass and Ladysmith Black Mambazo among its hundreds of shows.

Rohan Preston • 612-673-4390