Minneapolis, MN — Mikisha Nation is on a mission to ensure that young people have greater power in the decisions that shape their lives. As executive director of Teach for America Twin Cities, she has led high-level change to build equity into the educational system. She believes in nurturing youth leadership as an influential force for both the present and the future. Influenced by her Jamaican culture, she embraces the wisdom of youth perspectives and the invaluable exchange of knowledge across generations. She envisions an education system that is student-centered and community-informed, with an unwavering commitment to anti-racism. She is inspired by the rise in students who are mobilizing to address the most pressing issues affecting our communities. To effectively lead in this moment, she seeks to enhance her communication skills and storytelling abilities while immersing herself in the study of youth-led movements. After leading in education during a pandemic and a time of racial reckoning, she will prioritize time for rest and renewal.
What has informed your approach to leading change in your community?
My background is in education and youth development. As a result, my approach is informed by the urgency I see with young people and how they are advocating for better experiences in their schools. This urgency drives me. But I also know the work must be done in restorative ways. I've learned that when you disrupt and challenge "the status quo," the status quo will disrupt you. Systems are extremely resistant to change. So, I need to be resilient and prepared to do this work sustainably.
I'm grateful for the efforts my late father made to educate me on life growing up. He cultivated and fostered my abilities as a leader and changemaker. I learned a lot from him and his encouragement allows me to move forward with purpose and confidence. I'm also informed by other leaders, like Trista Harris (BF'15) and Tawanna Black (BF'14), who lead with unity and a powerful vision for the future.
If you could have a dream dinner party, who would sit at your table?
It would be an eclectic bunch. I would have students there for sure, like Walter Cortina, who is the co-founder of Bridgemakers, a youth-led organization. I’d also have the last three educators who won Minnesota Teacher of the Year, along with business and government leaders and Nelson Mandela!
What is your favorite quote or expression?
“Each and every one of you has the power, the will, and the capacity to make a difference in the world in which you live in.” - Harry Belafonte