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.
While most attorneys at this stage in their career are fighting to make partner, Christina Sambor is fighting human trafficking in North Dakota. The rural isolation, overburdened law enforcement agencies and explosion in transient populations in the oil patch have created conditions in which human trafficking can thrive. Christina is part of a burgeoning grassroots movement of legislators, survivors, service providers and others who are working to better understand and address what amounts to modern-day slavery. The Bush Fellowship will allow her to build skills that will be useful in the fight against human trafficking.
Corey Martin is driven to build resiliency, vulnerability and compassion into healthcare systems, schools, police departments, businesses and homes. He is a physician whose journey of self-reflection and growth led him to found the Bounce Back Project, a community initiative to promote health through happiness. He also is lead physician in Allina Health’s response to clinician burnout. He wants to incorporate positivity and resilience practices into his local health care system and improve mental health throughout his community. He will use his Bush Fellowship to pursue advanced leadership training, build his own mindfulness practice and become a certified facilitator in The Daring Way and Center for Courage and Renewal.
D.A. Bullock is a community organizer who uses art to supplant narratives of hopelessness with ones that promote and inspire collective understanding. He wants to foster a radical reimagining of north Minneapolis that impacts how long-standing community issues are addressed. He seeks to develop new social art and engagement practices to affect public policy change in the areas of criminal justice, economic development and social and racial justice. With his Bush Fellowship, he will lay the groundwork and prepare to study at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.
Dara Beevas believes that books can save lives, open doors and build bridges, especially in communities of color. As co-founder of the publishing company Wise Ink, she encourages authors to share powerful stories that ignite change, tolerance and growth. She believes that leadership comes down to a single virtue: courage. With her Bush Fellowship, she will grow her abilities to be a bolder, braver and more balanced leader. She will seek mentors who have demonstrated courage in their work and invest in training through the Center for Courage and Renewal, Yale Women’s Leadership Program and Women’s Leadership Retreat in Uganda.
As a member of the Granite Falls City Council for nearly four decades and mayor for 20 years, Dave Smiglewski knows first-hand the challenges and joys of community service. He is witness to an alarming decline in civic and community engagement particularly in rural areas, and wants to encourage young adults in his region to reverse the trend. Through his Bush Fellowship, Dave will finish his bachelor’s degree and pursue post-graduate education, studying the best methods to incubate, model and drive civic engagement.
David Whitestock understands what it takes to get well. Ten years ago, mired in drug and alcohol addiction, he began his recovery, learning what it takes to get and stay sober. Today, he has earned a law degree and is the nation’s first and only “addiction informatics officer,” working with Face It TOGETHER to lead the charge in using “big data” to promote a holistic approach to treating addiction. With his Bush Fellowship, he will explore ways to help nonprofits measure social impact and to be smarter at applying precious resources toward solving community problems such as addiction.
In her community-based work, Elena Gaarder finds herself returning over and over to the same questions: What mix of policies, investments, partners and initiatives truly would shift the balance so that disadvantaged neighborhoods become opportunity-rich communities? And importantly, what can she do differently to be a more effective leader? These questions will drive her Bush Fellowship’s focus on deepening her abilities to build successful alliances and partnerships and on increasing her knowledge of social enterprise and worker cooperative models that have proven to transform the economics of communities across the U.S.
Emmanuel Oppong knows that the words “mental health” are not found in many cultures, including that of his native Ghana. Yet as a counselor working with immigrants and refugees, he understands that many of these newly arrived people need support to deal with trauma and culture shock. He wants to build cultural sensitivity into and increased access to mental health services in Minnesota. In his dual role as Community Engagement Coordinator in the Mayor of Saint Cloud’s office, he also seeks to improve race relations in a city growing in diversity. With his Bush Fellowship, he will pursue learning and networking opportunities with experts in the fields of diversity, inclusion and trauma-informed therapy.
As founder of the Harvest Network of Schools, Eric Mahmoud is using education as the lever for changing the narrative of what’s possible for African American and poor children. His work is strongly rooted in the belief that children from even the most challenging circumstances can achieve at high levels if the adults who teach them are bold enough, organized enough and have faith enough in their abilities. With his Bush Fellowship, Eric will pursue advanced education and training from the country’s most effective educational practitioners and shadow successful educational CEOs from around the country, using what he learns to expand his successful Harvest Network.
Erik Bringswhite wants his community to raise healthy, ethical Native children. As a long-time foster parent and juvenile justice worker, he is a role model to many on the Pine Ridge Reservation and in the state of South Dakota. Now, he wants to increase his confidence and ability to bring the Native perspective to tables where decisions are made. He believes that courageous, confident Native leaders are vital for finding culturally appropriate, lasting solutions for their people. To become that bold leader, he will earn his master's degree in social work, develop cultural resources for raising healthy children and expand his connections with Native and non-Native leaders.
Ernesto Bustos knows that leaving an organization can be as challenging as running it. After more than a decade in multiple roles with Centro Campesino, including his current position as executive director, he is focused on who comes after him. He will use his Bush Fellowship to develop a system that inspires a new generation of youth leaders. He will grow his knowledge and skills through study and mentorship with innovative local and national leaders, transferring what he learns to his community to build the social, economic, political and cultural wealth of Latinos.
The drum, the heartbeat of Native nations, restored Floyd Jourdain as a young man 30 years ago when he sought sobriety. It carried him through his 10 years as tribal chair of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. Now he wants to explore how the drum can teach and promote healing and unity throughout Indian Country. With his Bush Fellowship, he will complete his bachelor’s degree, focusing on emerging research that shows how drumming can address the challenges of addiction while strengthening cultural identity in Native communities.
Gene Gelgelu envisions a Minnesota where African immigrants play a major role in the economy. He wants African immigrants to build wealth and sustainability as they become more deeply engaged in the region. An immigrant from Ethiopia, he understands the challenges of and opportunities for building full economic participation in a new country. Under his leadership, African Economic Development Solutions has incubated numerous culturally specific businesses and launched Little Africa, a creative placemaking effort in the heart of Saint Paul. With his Bush Fellowship, he will broaden his knowledge of regional economic policy, build a local and national network to lead more effectively and contribute to solving racial disparities in Minnesota.
Giovanni Veliz is the first immigrant police lieutenant in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and the former executive director of the Police Activities League. He is keenly aware of the challenges police departments have in building relationships with youth and communities of color, and is focused on juvenile outreach. Now, with his Bush Fellowship, he will deepen the strategic skills he needs to design solutions for improving youth health, development and leadership, and for enhancing the cultural competency of MPD officers. He will enroll in executive education programs at the Harvard Kennedy School and other educational institutions.
As one of Minnesota's civic leaders, Hamse Warfa is concerned about structural integration challenges new immigrants face, particularly immigrants in the Somali community. He bridges cultures through leadership and peacebuilding training, and wants to increase his ability to influence cross-cultural understanding. With his Bush Fellowship, he will develop a new platform that links more immigrants to mainstream systems on issues of education, health, economic empowerment and civic leadership while leading civic conversations that create more vibrant communities for all Minnesotans.
Heather Dawn Thompson wants to engage the private sector to assist the Great Plains Tribes in their efforts to build their strength and self-sufficiency. She is a national expert in Indian law and economic development who seeks greater expertise to respond to dwindling federal assistance and limited grant opportunities for Native nations. She believes that long-term self-sufficiency can come with growth in the financial proficiency needed to compete in a complicated private marketplace. She also believes strong leadership requires the wisdom that the Lakota language and values provide. She will use her Bush Fellowship to pursue corporate finance training, combining it with a focus on traditional Lakota values of leadership, language and self-sufficiency.