A picture of Anita Patel.

Staff Note: Leaders changing our region for good

June 13, 2023

By Anita Patel, vice president of grantmaking

We are continuously inspired by the new ideas and creative thinking of leaders working to solve problems in our region. “Leader” conjures up different images for different people. When we talk about leaders, we mean those who activate to make change happen — regardless of their title, age, or where they live. We mean those who are inspiring and supporting others to solve problems and create new opportunities, within and across communities.

The 2023 class of Bush Fellows are leaders committed to doing just that — driving equitable, large-scale change to make our region better for everyone. They aspire to dig deep to transform their own leadership practice in an effort to help their communities thrive.

The new class of Fellows are already doing things like building intergenerational wealth centered in Hmong values; using social impact storytelling to shift narratives and concepts of justice; increasing civic engagement within rural immigrant communities; helping tribal communities reclaim their health and wellness; integrating mental health practice into the public sector workplaces; and centering families in the movement to prevent violence against Indigenous people. They all seek to grow their leadership in order to accelerate the change they believe is possible and make an even greater impact than they are already having. 

“As a 2015 Bush Fellow, I was inspired by the opportunity to make a deep impact in my community in South Dakota,” says Malcom Chapman, Bush Foundation grantmaking officer. “I saw a need to connect people across differences and my Fellowship helped me instigate change on a bigger scale. Now, as a staff member having the opportunity to participate in the selection process, I was struck by how many amazing leaders are in our region — and the vision that each person carries. When we review applications, it's not just reading words on paper, they represent what's possible for individual leadership growth, and ultimately communities thriving. It has made me appreciate the Fellowship even more.”

While we know that too many institutions and systems in our region don’t work well for everyone, we also know that it will take people in communities thinking bigger and differently to drive the bold changes needed. We’re excited to support these individuals on their leadership journey.

As you read about them, we hope you also find inspiration and ideas for action. Please reach out to the Fellows if you see opportunities to connect.