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.
Nick Tilsen creates pathways out of poverty for people on Pine Ridge Reservation. As the founding executive director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, he has led large-scale efforts to build hope and prosperity for his fellow Oglala Lakota people. Now, he seeks to launch a national collective of Native leaders who can advise tribes, funders and organizations on the most successful approaches for Native people across the country to build financial and philanthropic infrastructure that will change power dynamics and support the self-determination of Indigenous people. To transition from a place-based leader to a large-scale, national mentor, he will seek counsel from other high impact social entrepreneurs and adopt a leadership path that models a culturally appropriate, healthy work-life balance.
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.
Sherman Patterson wants to end the culture of gun violence in Minneapolis. An audacious goal, but few are better suited for the job than Sherman. A public safety policy aide for former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. A community liaison for Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau. A resident of a Minneapolis neighborhood notorious for gun violence. He has built the connections and earned the respect, both in the corridors of power and on the street corners, that are necessary to tackle this issue. Sherman will use his Fellowship to devise and implement a wide range of strategies to combat gun violence in our communities.
As a Cook County Commissioner, and former mayor of Grand Marais, Minnesota, Sue Hakes knows that rural communities are wrestling with big challenges that require strong leaders. She also knows that the challenges of small-town politics prevent many locals from stepping up to leadership positions. That is why Sue is working to build up leadership capacity in Northeastern Minnesota by serving as a mentor to individual leaders and forging partnerships between government, public and private sectors. She will use her Fellowship to pursue graduate education at the University of Minnesota, Duluth and at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Susan Beaulieu teaches about adverse childhood experiences — ACEs — in Native American communities. Defined as traumatic events, ACEs can negatively impact child health and development and have long-term effects into adulthood. Susan is inspired by the power of resiliency and plans to explore traditional indigenous practices around mindfulness as strategies to promote greater wellbeing for Native American youth. She plans to use her Bush Fellowship to finish her Ph.D. and to invest in her own wellbeing, understanding that she must practice what she teaches to truly have a ripple effect in her community.
As a journalist, corporate PR manager and consultant, Syl Jones has spent his much of his career at the intersection of healthcare and communications. Merging that experience and his background as a playwright and producer of award-winning videos, Syl aims to address racial healthcare disparities by working with physicians and public health officials to craft films, theatrical presentations and journalism to move our region to create a more equitable health care system. To that end, he will use his Fellowship to pursue a master's degree in narrative medicine at Columbia University in New York City.
When she isn't developing, improving and disseminating world-class neurosurgical techniques for Medtronic's Deep Brain Stimulation Therapy, Sylvia Bartley is thinking of ways to address the disparities in educational success between African-American and Caucasian children. Specifically, she is interested in figuring out how to take the success of high-achieving schools like Minneapolis's Harvest Network and develop an adoptable turn-around strategy that can help close the achievement gap. The Fellowship will allow Sylvia to take time off from Medtronic and focus her time, energy and considerable intellect on this important work.
Psychologist Tami Jollie-Trottier knows that the arts offer a creative outlet for a young person to build self-confidence and cultural identity. Her goal is to create a beautiful and safe haven where the young people of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa can discover self-expression and connect with elders through the arts. With her Bush Fellowship, she will devote time to growing her knowledge of Native arts and expressive art therapy, and develop an art studio open to the community on her reservation.