Bush Fellows submit a learning log every six months during their Fellowship to share what they learn along their leadership journey.
Bush Fellows submit a learning log every six months during their Fellowship to share what they learn along their leadership journey.
Bo Thao-Urabe wants Minnesota to be an inclusive, thriving place for all communities. As a young immigrant to the U.S., she learned quickly how to help her family succeed in a system that lacked understanding of and commitment to refugees. Today, as leader of the Coalition of Asian American Leaders, she inspires others to develop community-centered solutions that bring about meaningful change. To become a stronger thought leader for her community, especially the next generation of Asian American leaders, she will take time to determine how to best tell and share the lessons she's learned on her leadership journey. She will also study the emerging field of solidarity economics to shed light on invisible practices employed by cultural communities to improve collective life.
KaYing Yang believes that her community’s prosperity and collective well-being will be maximized only when there is true gender equity. She also wants to be a force in the movement to shape policies that are equitable and inclusive of Indigenous peoples and people of color. To provide innovative and strategic leadership for her community, she will study successful approaches to gender justice in cultures around the world and strengthen her community organizing abilities with new knowledge of public policy making. As a long-time community advocate, she will work with her extensive network of leaders to document their social justice contributions as a source of inspiration for the next generation.
Hussein Farah wants his community to prosper by embracing technology to build financial stability. He believes that equitable access to information technology can drive a more inclusive and harmonious life for all Minnesotans, especially his fellow African immigrants. He seeks to be a forceful advocate for policies, resources and programs that ensure people of color participate in the high-tech sector. To grow into this role and to become a thought leader at the center of the digital ecosystem, he will expand his professional network, broaden his expertise in the field of information technology, pursue leadership training and study organizations with successful track records of attracting immigrant youth to the technology sector.
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. Joanna Ramirez sees women entrepreneurs of color — the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs — as a solution to the racial wealth gap. From her work with the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda), she knows that entrepreneurship among families of color increases income at significant rates. She wants to be at the forefront of creating a vibrant business ecosystem that supports women entrepreneurs of color. With the understanding that this work will take compelling leadership, she seeks to grow from successful program manager to strategic leader. She will immerse herself in leadership programs for women and study innovative social entrepreneurship models.
Siad Ali is passionate about creating a community where every student succeeds. His dedication to education grew out of his own journey from war-torn Somalia to Minnesota. He learned how critical it is for children to have equitable access to education and for a community to be committed to teachers and schools. A respected problem solver in his positions as outreach director for U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and as a director of the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education, he seeks to be a transformative leader in the education arena. He will earn a doctorate in educational leadership and study successful schools that serve a majority of students of color.
Heather Cusick learned first-hand the stabilizing force of nature when her struggling family moved to a 100-acre farm in rural Kansas. There, she found that the land had the power to heal. This childhood informed her lifelong commitment to environmental protection, especially to communities that are most deeply impacted by climate-disrupting pollution. As a senior leader with the Sierra Club, she led the organization's effective approach to carbon reduction in the electric sector. Now, she wants to expand her focus to agriculture and climate advocacy. With the understanding that this work will take new knowledge and compelling leadership, she will study agricultural models around the world, build equity and racial justice competency, and seek coaching to build a stronger public voice.
Jenn Faul wants to radically change how children learn about mental health. As a therapist and COO for the largest free-standing psychiatric and substance use hospital in her region, she recognizes that mental health is often a taboo topic. But she believes that early education in structured, supportive school settings can reduce stigma and dramatically alter how youth respond in times of struggle. To lead this large-scale community change, she seeks deeper knowledge of educational systems and greater insight into how to set and reform policy. With her Bush Fellowship, she will pursue an advanced degree in educational leadership.
Rose McGee knows that food connects. As the creator of the Sweet Potato Comfort Pie™ Approach, she has taken pies to Ferguson, Charleston and Pittsburgh following devastating incidents of racial and religious violence. She also brings hundreds of people together to bake pies and have tough dialogues around race. She knows that this approach helps people and communities bridge racial divides and embrace the hard work required for racial equity. To reach more young people with her novel approach, she needs to understand what new generations are doing to build resiliency and racial unity. She will visit numerous Historically Black Colleges and Universities to learn from and with intergenerational leaders. She will also seek coaching to develop a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Austen Hartke wants more faith communities to be safe and inclusive places for LGBTQ people. A bisexual and transgender theologian, he is passionate about providing the educational resources faith leaders need to welcome, accept and celebrate gender diversity. He knows that transgender youth do best when their parents are supportive, and parents do best when supported by a faith community. To provide the depth of leadership it will take to transform faith communities into affirming places for all, he will increase his knowledge of theology and gender theory and cultivate his own spiritual resilience. He will also travel throughout the region to better understand the needs of transgender people and how positive change happens in faith communities, especially in rural areas.
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.
Michaela Seiber (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) wants South Dakota to be a more welcoming, supportive place for LGBTQ people. As a young person who struggled to find acceptance and gay role models in both her white and Native communities, she knows personally the vital importance of social support. She believes that lack of inclusion has a major impact on physical and mental health but notes that little data is available on the LGBTQ community in her region. To advance a health equity agenda for LGBTQ people, she will connect with experts around the country who are conducting research about the health disparities of this population. She will also strengthen her leadership and communication skills to build the confidence she needs to speak publicly.
Maria Regan Gonzalez believes that collaborative leadership creates room for more voices in decision making. As the first Latina mayor in Minnesota, she understands that bridging across difference is essential for the next generation of leaders. She wants her city of Richfield to serve as a laboratory for how to build opportunity for all in the midst of widening disparities. To lead this large-scale work, she will study alternative models of governance and engagement in the U.S. and around the world that connect political leadership, cultural identity and spirituality. She will also seek coaching to enhance her ability to inspire and unify diverse groups of people during complex times.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
John Davis’s passion is rural. He imagines thriving rural communities that use the arts and creativity to solve local challenges, drive sustainable economic development and address obstacles to change. He seeks the tools, experiences and opportunities to broaden his scale of influence to be an authentic and compassionate thought leader for people in rural communities across the country. To amplify his voice for rural advocacy, he will partner with the Rural Policy Research Institute and regional colleagues to study effective rural strategies and to better understand the correlation of public policy and rural sustainability.
Kristin DeArruda Wharton wants to redefine the rural health care model. She seeks to combine expanded opportunities for nurse practitioners to provide whole-person care with a focus on social and community factors that influence well-being. She believes this holistic model could deliver solutions to rural areas that struggle to maintain strong local health care systems. With her Bush Fellowship, she will pursue education as an integrative nurse practitioner and study successful rural models that bridge the divide between health care and community sources of health and vitality. She also will expand her network of health, policy and community mentors to increase her reach and effectiveness as a rural health advocate.
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.
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.
Jeff Dykstra believes that cross-sector collaboration can result in powerful solutions to persistently intractable problems. As co-founder and CEO of Partners in Food Solutions, a successful consortium of global food companies that works with local food companies across Africa to improve food security and economic development, he has learned firsthand how partnerships involving public, private and nonprofit entities can drive social impact. He wants to become a leader who can wisely counsel others in this arena and wants to reflect on and better understand the components of leadership and principles of partnership that drive cross-sector success. With his Bush Fellowship, he will research other successful examples of partnerships, deepen his own leadership abilities and develop the tools and skills to coach the next generation of impact-oriented leaders.
Marcus Owens is a fourth-generation North Minneapolis resident who is deeply invested in the health of his community. A corporate-turned-nonprofit leader, he employs research, data and anecdotal information to understand the root causes of problems. He wants to study communities with proven records of improving quality of life and bring innovative ideas about successful community development back to the north side of Minneapolis. With his Bush Fellowship, he will seek training with national and international experts in the field of innovative community development, increase his knowledge of wealth-building strategies for low- to moderate-income communities and develop the skills to be a leader who drives sustainable change.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Melissa Boyd wants to help lead the movement to re-stabilize and renew the Ojibwe language in the homelands of her people, starting in the classrooms of youngest learners. Her goal is to create Ojibwe schools recognized for both cultural and academic excellence. She will explore how to replicate in her community the ways the Hawaiian nation created nearly 20,000 proficient indigenous speakers. To master her craft and advance her leadership skills, she will use her Bush Fellowship to finish her bachelor degree in elementary education, complete a certificate of contemporary indigenous multilingualism at the University of Hawaii and study behavior design through Stanford School of Medicine and the engagedIN behavior design firm.
Me'Lea Connelly knows economic power is one of the strongest ways to resist oppression. That belief drives her work to support the powerful vision of North Minneapolis with a community-owned financial institution that builds equity and access to resources. Her goal is to establish the first Black-led financial cooperative in Minnesota. She wants to lead from a position of strength and confidence, with deep knowledge of both the financial cooperative industry and community organizing. She will pursue an MBA in cooperative and credit union management, seek Black financial mentors around the country, and build a network of allies, investors and partners to advance her leadership and vision.
Yende Anderson has a bold vision to address the shortage of primary care physicians in the region and the lack of diversity in the profession. In her work to integrate international medical graduates into the health workforce, she sees the under-utilization of highly skilled immigrants and the systemic barriers they face. She wants to lead a movement that creates alternative pathways for them to work as physicians in the U.S. To achieve change of this magnitude, she will grow her capacity to build and sustain coalitions. She will also earn her master’s degree in health care administration, research countries that have created alternative licensure and work with mentors to improve her change management skills.
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.
Hsajune Dyan often reminds himself and his students that a thousand miles begins with a single step. A Burmese refugee, he has embraced determination and persistency in his own life and work with Saint Paul Public Schools. He is a passionate advocate for English Language Learners, serving as a bridge between newcomers and the school system. He is equally passionate about the success of his small but growing Karen community in Minnesota. With his Bush Fellowship, he will strengthen his leadership and planning skills and enhance his network to better help immigrants and refugees become well-educated, prosperous members of their new community. He will pursue an Ed.D. in education leadership at Bethel University.
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.
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.