Hugo's CEO receives Henry Havig Award at annual Chamber of Commerce dinner

Kristi Magnuson Nelson has won several national and state awards in recent years. Now, she can add one more to the list: The Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce Henry Havig Award.

Kristi Magnuson Nelson
Kristi Magnuson Nelson. (Grand Forks Herald file photo)

The owner of a chain of grocery stores in North Dakota and Minnesota has been awarded the Greater Grand Forks business community’s most prestigious award.

Kristi Magnuson Nelson, CEO and president of Hugo’s Family Marketplace, was named the 44th recipient of the Henry Havig Award for Community Service Thursday, Jan. 23, at the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting and dinner.

Past Henry Havig Award recipient Don Fisk and Chamber President and CEO Barry Wilfahrt presented the award to Nelson before a crowd of more than 500 people at the Alerus Center.

Nelson led a Hugo’s expansion that now includes 10 stores located in Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, Crookston, Thief River Falls, Jamestown and Grafton. The 11th Hugo’s store is expected to open in the fall in downtown Grand Forks, at the same location her grandparents – Hugo and Dorthy Magnuson – opened their first grocery store in 1939. That store was called Pure Food Market; the downtown Hugo’s project is called Pure Development, a testament to that first store.

In 2014, Nelson was awarded the National Grocers Association’s Spirit of America Award. In 2015 she received the North Dakota Grocer of the Year Award. In 2019, she was honored by the Minnesota Grocers Association with the group’s Outstanding Grocer Award.


Nelson serves on the Prairie Harvest Foundation Board and the Altru Foundation Board. She has served on the Chamber Board of Directors twice and was the board’s chairwoman in 2017. She supports local children’s organizations, schools, the Community Violence Intervention Center, United Way, UND and local pet shelters.

Nelson, a Grand Forks native, developed an affinity for business and customer service while bagging groceries in her youth. In 1998, she began working alongside her grandfather, Hugo, and father, Curt, in the operations area of the family business. Nelson took over day-to-day operations of Hugo’s Family Marketplace in 2007 after her father died following a battle with cancer.

Named after the longtime businessman and community service advocate Henry Havig, the Award for Community Service was first presented in 1977. According to a news release, the award is considered the highest honor a person from the Greater Grand Forks area can receive for community service. Past recipients of the award determine who will be honored, through nominations from the community.

All-time winners, and the year for which they were awarded, are: Charles Goodman, 1977; Hugo Magnuson, 1978; Edward Lander, 1979; Thomas Clifford, 1980; Lawrence Bue, 1981; Harry Rice, 1982; Jean Kiesau, 1983; Clarence Sande, 1984; Edward Christenson, 1985; Don Miller, 1986; Ray Bostrom, 1987; Richard Fiala, 1988; Richard Wold, 1989; James Dalglish, 1990; Don Lindgren, 1991; Earl Strinden, 1992; Thomas McElroy Jr., 1993; John Marshall, 1994; Curt Magnuson, 1995; Patrick Dooley, 1996; James Gjerset, 1997; Ken Towers, 1998; Don Larsen, 1999; Walter Swingen, 2000; Hal Gershman, 2001; Robert Kerr, 2002; Marlan Helgeson, 2003; Bob Peabody, 2004; Greg Gerloff, 2005; Randy Newman, 2006; Dr. Robert Boyd, 2007; Dave McFarlane, 2008; Gordon Caldis and Gerry Joyce, 2009; Don Fisk, 2010; Wes Rydell, 2011; Judi Paukert, 2012; Henry Tweten, 2013; Jim Hansen, 2014; Duane Hafner, 2015; Marijo Shide, 2016; Lonnie Laffen, 2017; James R. Bradshaw, 2018; Kristi Magnuson Nelson, 2019.

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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