Michael Strand fears our technology has compromised our ability to tackle complex challenges. Issues that could easily be resolved through conversation are now recast as "zero-sum" games with a clear "winners" and "losers." Social media has amplified this transformation by creating a digital distance between people. Michael, an assistant professor and department head of visual arts at North Dakota State University, will use his Fellowship to increase his depth of knowledge in complimentary fields such as rhetoric and communications, then leverage this knowledge to expand the depth of his artistic practice, and finally work with North Dakota State University Extension Services to introduce his work to the community.
Michael Walker’s goal is to awaken the greatness within young black men. As director of the Office of Black Male Student Achievement for Minneapolis Public Schools, he wants to change the way young men believe in themselves and how the community views them in return. He envisions a community where young black men define their own values and dreams, achieve their rightful success and are seen as productive members of society. To advance his expertise and leadership, he will use his Bush Fellowship to finish his doctoral degree, strengthen his research skills and become a certified trainer on Psychological First Aid and Trauma in the Black Body.
Mohamed Ahmed uses popular culture to promote peace, democracy and anti-extremism with youth. Through his organization, Average Mohamed, he speaks to thousands of youth and creates safe, healthy spaces for difficult conversations. He also consults with the Department of Homeland Security, Attorney General’s Office and State Department. Now, he wants to develop his personal leadership abilities to help others carry the messages of Average Mohamed to a wider audience. With his Bush Fellowship, he will finish his bachelor’s degree in communication studies, seek mentorship from other successful anti-extremism programs across the country and build his leadership skills through formal communications training.
When Mukhtar Ibrahim emigrated from East Africa to the U.S. in 2005, he spoke little English. Today, as a reporter with Minnesota Public Radio, he is the first Somali-American journalist in the state to work at a major news outlet. He is also the founder of Sahan Journal, an independent news source for East Africans and Somalis who live in the Twin Cities metro area. He wants to close the cultural gap between long-time and new Americans through more balanced, in-depth and fair storytelling about immigrants. With his Bush Fellowship, Mukhtar will complete a master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University to advance his knowledge of long-form narrative writing, investigative reporting, digital storytelling and radio documentaries.
Natalie Bergquist tells her students at Lower Brule Community College that college is their “sanctuary from negativity.” That is something she learned first-hand as a single mother, pursuing her college degree as a nontraditional student in her 30s. In her eyes, education does far more than provide credentials; it proves a person’s determination to seek a better life. Today, as president and CEO of Lower Brule Community College, Natalie works to instill hope and support lasting change in her students, most of whom come from backgrounds that offer little support for higher education. With her Bush Fellowship, she will pursue a doctorate in higher education, with a focus on tribal college leadership.
Nausheena Hussain is immersed in civic life, serving on boards, her local charter commission and as an election judge. She founded Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE), a leadership development nonprofit, to elevate Muslim women. Nausheena continues to examine why there are so few Muslim women in positions of power and wants to understand what could potentially be holding them back. She will use her Bush Fellowship to strengthen her nonprofit leadership and management abilities, seeking out mentors at the intersection of gender, race and religious identity.
Neda Kellogg recognizes her young self in the Black female teens she works with in Minneapolis. She understands the barriers they face, their inherent potential and their need for support to transition successfully into adulthood. She seeks to inspire them through her own leadership and through role models who look like them. To increase her leadership in this arena, she seeks greater understanding of the systemic and personal barriers she and the young women she serves face. With her Bush Fellowship, she will take time to reflect, study and develop successful strategies with the assistance of strategic coaches.
Neil Linscheid wants to start a national conversation about how to design a better, more human-centered approach to the work of community development. In his role with University of Minnesota Extension, he sees committed people struggle with solving difficult community challenges. He wants to bring together the fields of community development and human ergonomics to improve the way these workers are trained, supported and equipped. With his Bush Fellowship, he will compete a PhD in human factor and ergonomics, apply his newly acquired knowledge to community development and increase his strategic communication skills to share the need for and impact of his work.
Nevada Littlewolf was the first Anishinaabe woman ever elected to the Virginia City Council and, at age 31, the only council member under the age of 55. That influential experience encouraged her to establish Rural and American Indigenous Leadership (RAIL), a nonprofit focused on growing women’s leadership in rural and indigenous communities. She wants to grow her ability to build RAIL into a nonprofit capable of serving a national audience. Nevada’s Bush Fellowship will provide her with the time and resources to finish her bachelor’s degree, explore positive women’s roles in other global indigenous cultures and seek additional training and coaching to build leadership skills.
Nicholas Kor believes that organizing can change the world. Yet, he observes that Asian Americans are often left out of political and public discourse, which marginalizes his community’s voice. He wants to create a powerful, connected and civically engaged Asian Pacific Islander movement in Minnesota and across the country. Understanding that movements flourish based on the capacity of their leaders, he seeks to grow his confidence and skills to be a stronger, more liberated leader. He will form meaningful relationships with movement leaders across the country to understand how to grow and sustain coalitions and hone strategies to engage Asian Americans at a grassroots level.
Nimo Farah knows the power of storytelling. As an artist, she wants to affirm and empower the leadership potential of young Somalis through stories that pull from Somali tradition and culture. Nimo will use her Bush Fellowship to gain a masters of arts in leadership so that she can work to understand how to better use arts and culture to engage immigrant youth in making the challenging transition of living in a dual culture.
Pheng Thao wants men in his community to be active partners in ending domestic violence and sexual assault. He believes it is possible to create spaces where those who have committed and experienced harm can heal and ultimately thrive. He seeks to shift Hmong men’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors about gender, patriarchy and violence. To lead this change, he will strengthen his facilitation and communications skills and widen and deepen his understanding of the history and evolution of masculinity and manhood in Hmong culture. He will also use his Bush Fellowship to explore how matrilineal communities have dismantled patriarchal attitudes and to develop new ideas and images of Hmong maleness.
Rhiana Yazzie uses storytelling to create original work that reveals the complex, beautiful reality of Native Americans. She wants to help Native people reclaim their narrative and to change the way they view themselves. She believes that the self-expression found in playwrighting, acting, design and filmmaking can help people find their place in the world. But as the head of one of the only Native-focused theater companies in the country, she is often isolated in her leadership. With her Bush Fellowship, she will seek connections with aboriginal theatre companies around the globe and pursue coaching to develop a strategic leadership plan that reflects her artistic ambitions and cultural values.
Lakota peace-making has a long tradition in Richard Iron Cloud's family--his grandparents participated in the 1851 and 1868 Peace Treaty at Fort Laramie both as leaders and interpreters. Richard will use his Bush Fellowship to complete a Ph.D. in psychology and focus his dissertation on Indigenous peace-making systems. The increased knowledge and leadership capacity he will gain through the Fellowship will support him in bringing a peace-making structure to his work for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, where he is charged with updating and maintaining its natural resources code.
Robin David wants her community to become a national model for how to welcome New Americans and help them build the collective strength of the region. The founder of a refugee integration program, she has witnessed New Americans’ positive impact on the state and sees their great civic potential. Now, through her Bush Fellowship, she seeks to expand her influence by building a bigger base of knowledge and ideas through connections with national immigration experts and organizations. She will also grow her skills to more effectively foster understanding between New Americans and the elected officials, policy makers and business leaders in her state.
Roxanne Anderson believes vital, visible transgender leaders of color can make our communities stronger. Rox intends to be that kind of leader in Minnesota by helping shape and create places where LGBTQ people thrive. To assume this position of leadership, Rox seeks a deeper understanding of the community's needs and mentoring to build unity among people and organizations serving transgender people of color. Through the Bush Fellowship, Rox will develop business acumen and credentials, work with coaches to articulate a healthy leadership development plan and form connections across the country with transgender leaders of color.
As co-artistic director of Penumbra Theatre Company, Sarah Bellamy imagines a future where Penumbra is not only the nation’s leading African American theater troupe but also a beacon for reigniting a shared civic passion and responsibility for healthy communities. To achieve that vision, she knows it will take a whole new way of thinking about the structure and operations of Penumbra. Sarah will use her Bush Fellowship to work with innovative leaders to harvest the best thinking on how arts, education and advocacy can work together to create lasting social and economic equity.
Scott Glew is convinced that the health of our communities depends on how well we prepare the next generation for civic life. He enlisted in the Army National Guard shortly after 9/11 and was later deployed to Iraq, where he directly felt the human impact of war. Today, as a teacher he finds that most American children are disconnected from the realities of global conflicts, which take place thousands of miles away and involve only a small percentage of the U.S. population. He is passionate about moving social studies education to the forefront of student learning. With his Bush Fellowship, he will earn a PhD to build the knowledge he needs to influence a systemic change in education. He also will pursue opportunities to further understand how to build and maintain peaceful, democratic societies.
Chef Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota Sioux, knows that food is the heart of every culture. He also understands that his fellow Native Americans were stripped of their connections to Indigenous food systems and practices. To build his community's physical, economic and spiritual strength, he wants to reconnect Native communities with traditional food knowledge and to Native agriculture systems. While he began this work as founder of The Sioux Chef and NATIFS, he now seeks to become the visionary leader his community needs through building an extensive global network and gaining deeper knowledge of Indigenous culture and foods. With his Bush Fellowship, he will research, create, cultivate and share Indigenous food systems and further his Lakota, Ojibwe and Spanish language skills.
Sharon Kennedy Vickers aims to make Minnesota the best place in the country to launch and grow technology products that have a positive social impact. She wants to lead a “tech for good” movement, harnessing the power of inclusion, technology and community assets to drive equitable economic opportunity and growth for all Minnesotans. In particular, she wants to make sure communities of color have the resources and access to bring game-changing ideas to the marketplace. To ensure her capacity to lead, she will improve her communication skills and build strategic relationships with local, national and international tech leaders. She will also pursue advanced education in strategy, technology innovation, artificial intelligence and human-centered design.
Shawntera M. Hardy imagines a world where demographics do not define a person's destiny. As Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, she has seen firsthand the challenges entrepreneurs of color face. She wants people of color and Indigenous communities to share in the state's prosperity and be governed by equitable policies. With the belief that the most effective leaders are learners first, she will pursue advanced training in business administration, executive leadership and design thinking. She seeks to expand her understanding of the business ownership system and to study promising ideas and models that deliver practical and creative solutions.
Shelley Madore wants people with disabilities to live a life of self-determination. Her goal is to develop resources for parents and teachers to help students gain important life skills by the time they graduate. As a mother of two children with special needs and a former state legislator, she has developed programs and advocated for policy to expand opportunities for youth transitioning into adulthood. Now, with her Bush Fellowship, she will build her credentials for leading systemic change by completing a bachelor degree in disabilities studies at City of New York School of Professional Studies and by expanding her network of peers in disability advocacy.