In 1992, Abdi Roble found a manual camera at a flea market. Captivated, he began taking photography courses at a community college and documenting the Somali immigrant and refugee experience. Ten years later, he founded the Somali Documentary Project with more than 10,000 images of Somali people in the Twin Cities, Rochester, Saint Cloud, Willmar and Pelican Rapids. Through his Bush Fellowship, he will acquire the skills to create a professional archive that digitizes and catalogues these images — the first of its kind in the world. Guided by the motto “Ummad aan dhigaal lahayni, waa dhaayo aan arag lahayn," - "A nation without archives is like eyes without sight,” he also seeks leadership training to support and inspire young people to document and archive their communities.
Abdi Sabrie believes in the power of education to be an equalizing force, yet daily he witnesses barriers and gaps in educational systems for students of color. He wants to diversify school boards, teachers and staff to reflect and better serve the changing demographics of Minnesota communities. As the first person of color elected to the Mankato School Board, he understands the lack of diversity in educational leadership. To become a powerful and persuasive leader, he will enhance his communication skills, meet with other school leaders of color across the country to develop effective diversity strategies and earn a master's degree in educational leadership.
Abdirashid Abdi envisions classrooms where the cultural values of English Language Learners are seen as an asset for learning, not a deficit. He seeks to improve academic performance by helping teachers better understand how a student’s cultural background shapes learning style. He wants to develop his leadership skills to coach K-12 educators and provide them with tools to transform the classroom experience for ELL students. He will use his Bush Fellowship to pursue a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction to enhance his leadership and expertise in the education arena. He also will conduct formal field research to impact teacher training.
Even though Adam Perry is living with a degenerative eye disease that has taken most of his usable sight, he believes he has never lost his vision. As a senior program director at Arts Midwest, overseeing complex international initiatives with musicians, authors and filmmakers, he knows that his disability doesn’t disqualify him as a leader. But he also recognizes that much of the world does not necessarily have the same understanding about people with disabilities. With his Bush Fellowship, he will grow his competency in cross-cultural communications and nonprofit management to continue his transition from “operator” to “leader.”
Ahmed Hassan wants to create a model of mental health delivery that is more compatible with the cultural beliefs, attitudes and needs of immigrants and refugees. As a refugee from Djibouti, he understands that many people in his community come to the U.S. with trauma and need mental health services. However, he also observes that many immigrants and refugees do not understand Western concepts and delivery methods and therefore do not access services. He will use his Bush Fellowship to expand his expertise in the field of psychology to better link cultural beliefs and stories with modern mental health practices. He also will grow his communication skills and develop a stronger professional network.
Language is the key to Alex Zeibot’s universe. Born Deaf in Riga, Latvia, and initially only exposed to language through text, he attended a Deaf school in St. Petersburg, Russia, where his life changed when he was introduced to a “manual” language. His journey brought him to the U.S. where he earned a bachelor’s degree from Gallaudet and a master’s in Deaf education from the University of Minnesota. Recognizing that Deaf students who graduate from high school have a median reading level a few grades behind their hearing peers—and that Deaf and hearing students learn literacy skills through entirely different brain processes—Alex seeks to develop an effective curriculum that helps Deaf children overcome the literacy gap. He will use his Bush Fellowship to earn his PhD.
Alice Musumba is passionate about helping immigrants thrive in Bismarck. She sees the positive impact they have on the wider community when they share their unique cultural identities and experiences. She wants to organize her fellow Kenyans in the Bismarck-Mandan area into a tight-knit community that provides the support that all newly arriving immigrants need to succeed. With her Bush Fellowship, she will study immigrant communities across the country, tap into their most successful practices for integrating new populations and apply those lessons in the Bismarck area. She also will pursue a doctor of public health degree to increase her knowledge of practical public health approaches and solutions for immigrants.
Amanda LaGrange believes the Midwest's generous business community provides fertile soil for social enterprises that hire adults facing employment barriers. As the leader of Tech Dump, a nonprofit that provides job training for people exiting incarceration and recovery programs, she sees the need for adults to regain dignity through work and for a workforce facing shortages to gain skilled workers. She wants to exponentially scale this social enterprise but understands her bold vision requires new knowledge, advanced leadership skills and an increased ability to take risks. She will study successful for-profit and nonprofit social enterprises around the country and seek business mentors to equip her for a new leadership trajectory.
Amelia Franck Meyer has learned a fundamental truth serving youth in the child welfare system: it takes healthy leaders to heal those they serve. She has transformed a small treatment foster care agency into an award-winning enterprise known for creating industry-leading outcomes in child placement stability, permanency and well-being. Now she will explore how to scale her ideas beyond individual youth to the bigger system. With the Bush Fellowship, she will focus on gaining the knowledge needed to advance her strategies for transforming the child welfare system.
As executive director of Local Initiatives Support Corporation - Twin Cities, Andriana Abariotes works with more than 30 different community-based developers and neighborhood partnerships to direct millions of dollars in investments to some of the region's most challenging neighborhood. Andriana sees an opportunity to dramatically improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods she serves by working to transform the relationship between health care and community development organizations. She will use her Fellowship to build the skills and relationships necessary to bring this vision to life.
Asad Aliweyd wants to develop transformative ways for Muslim people to build wealth. He believes a new, culturally responsive financing infrastructure that addresses current barriers can advance the economic well-being of Muslim Americans in Minnesota and beyond. He seeks to bring innovative change to financial institutions that deal with diverse communities. To elevate his leadership in the community, he needs to better understand Western and Islamic financing systems and to grow his connections. He will complete a doctorate in public administration and build a new network of community developers, financial institutions, policy makers, and academic and religious leaders.
Dr. Benson Hsu wants to revolutionize rural health care. As a pediatric intensive care unit doctor, he understands that the community's health is affected not only by access to health care but also by health behaviors, socioeconomic factors and the physical environment. He wants to integrate health care and community data to improve the way we care for the sick and the way we maintain health. He recognizes that this work will require strong leadership to bring together payers, providers and the community. To grow his abilities to lead in this arena, he will advance his data analytics ability, study design thinking to learn how to take an idea to action and strengthen his conflict and change management skills.
Betty Gronneberg is a new American and a software engineer with one big goal: She wants girls to engineer the world they live in — quite literally. Betty sees the gender disparities in computing and engineering jobs, and knows girls can be the driving force in technology, not just the basic consumers of it. In response to what she sees, Betty wants to foster opportunities for girls to connect with the world of coding and introduce them to careers in technology by creating an enrichment program. She will use her Bush Fellowship to strengthen her leadership expertise, study model organizations in the field and research ways to attract more girls to science, technology, engineering and math.
Brenda Hartman has lived nearly three decades longer than expected after receiving a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. Over those years, she has devoted herself to addressing the social, emotional and spiritual aspects of the cancer experience. She sees a strong need to promote a cultural shift in society’s response to death. She wants to introduce a narrative that counters fear and denial with a view of death as a healing process. She seeks new ways to incorporate end-of-life planning into training for healthcare professionals. With her Bush Fellowship, she will study end-of-life practices from different cultures, religions and spiritual traditions and grow her leadership skills through coursework and consultation.
Carmeann Foster is laser focused on one major goal: reduce the number of black youth in the juvenile justice system. She knows from personal and professional experience that African American youth and communities of color are disproportionately represented in corrections. Carmeann recently launched a nonprofit to create and provide innovative, community-centered rehabilitative solutions. Through her Bush Fellowship, she will investigate the most promising, culturally specific interventions for youth, complete her Ph.D. and grow her leadership network.
Catherine Squires wants to transform schools into spaces of intentional, intergenerational learning and healing. She seeks new ways to design learning programs that bring together underserved youth, adults and elders to reflect, share stories, reclaim their heritage and repair broken bonds. She wants youth to learn directly from the stories of elders and to make connections between historical challenges and contemporary issues. With her Bush Fellowship, she deepen her understanding of the connections between healing and storytelling at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, the Loft Literary Center and site visits to intergenerational healing programs in the U.S and Canada.
Charlie Thayer wants to make it easier for stories about Native culture to be told in the voice of Native people. Particularly stories of healing from historical trauma or its aftermath. His vision is to create a platform from which the voices of the seventh generation can educate, advocate and strengthen their communities. With his Fellowship he will gain additional academic credentialing and strive to deepen the trust relationships he’s established through his work with farmers and landowners for the Indian Land Tenure Foundation.
As a college student, Chris Francis learned personally the power of one effective teacher to inspire a student as both an artist and community member. Today, he is an artist, advocate and administrator deeply embedded in his South Dakota community. Chris would like to be that same kind of mentor to college students, particularly to help them understand the value and significance of the arts in communal life. He will use his Bush Fellowship to achieve a master’s degree that will provide him with the credentials to teach at the college level.
Chris Stewart has served on the Minneapolis School Board and is the founding director of the African American Leadership Forum. He will use his Fellowship to research, design and prototype a new model for a networked, intergenerational black leadership community that increases connectivity, reciprocity and equity in Minnesota's black leadership pipeline.