Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) Program Director Terri Thao and BCLI Alumna Sonya Lewis are hitting the road to help the State of MN promote the state boards and commissions!

Come to an upcoming information session in your region between now and December 14th to learn more about how you can connect, engage and participate in the policy decisions that impact YOU by serving on a state board, commission or task force! 

Click here to register for one of the information sessions!

 

  • Who should come? Anyone who is interested in learning about civic engagement, certainly 18 and young adults interested in learning more about this topic.
  • Why come? Learn about what opportunities are available to participate and effect change at the state level
  • Why serve?
    • Ability to shape and influence public policy through your knowledge and lived experience
    • Expand networks across the state
    • Understand how state government works, especially since there are several different agencies working on many different issues
    • Grow your personal & professional development skills
    • What do state boards and commissions do?
  • What do state boards and commissions do?
    • Review agency reports, state policies, plans and budget
    • Facilitate community input and incorporate public comments on policy
    • Research and inform the agency of critical issues
    • Make recommendations to agency
    • Make decisions on policies and implementation

Staff from the MN Department of Human Rights and Governor’s Office will be present too! Click on the following link to take you to main page where you can register as well. https://mn.gov/mdhr/news-community/diversity-inclusion/events.jsp

Register now!

On Thursday, November 12, 2015, the BCLI 2015 Cohort kicked off with their very first Issue Series. At the helms were the wonderful Diane Tran and Kristell Caballero Saucedo, both of LOCUS (of MN Rising). The topic of this first Issue Series was Intersectionality, or the critical theory of institutional oppression of individuals across all demarcations of their identities (gender, race, sex, class, etc.). The facilitators did a great job directing small group discussions after the “Who are you?” ice breaker. Ground rules were set for community expectations, and everyone seemed to enjoy engaging in the types of conversations they would not otherwise have at home or work, thanks to the safe space of this evening’s BCLI issue series. Thanks to Diane and Kristell for their leadership and insights. Below you will find some resources that the trainers shared at the Issue Series as well as some pictures.

 

Kyriarchy 101

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/04/kyriarchy-101/

 

Kyryiarchy Diagram

http://oppressionmonitor.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Kyriarchy-Diagram.jpg

 

Key & Peele code switch sketch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzprLDmdRlc

 

About LOCUS

http://locusmn.blogspot.com/

 

LOCUS Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/locusmn/

IMG_4600IMG_4599IMG_4544IMG_4576IMG_4574IMG_4541IMG_4532

 

“Boards and commissions are important bodies for impacting communities at the regional and local levels. They are instrumental in shaping key policy decisions, as well as designing and providing input on administration of city services. A unique partnership between the City of Minneapolis and Nexus Community Partners works to improve racial equity in board and commission membership, which in turn influences major policy decisions toward more equitable outcomes.

fellows

“The City of Minneapolis has over 50 volunteer-based boards, commissions and advisory committees, whose input and advice constitutes a major component of the City’s community engagement work. Approximately 600 volunteers serve on these boards and commissions.[1] As such, the City has seen board and commission service as an important leverage point for advancing racial equity. Currently, people of color represent 25 percent of the population, but only 16% of the membership of boards and commissions. It is projected that by 2040, people of color will be 40 percent of the population[2]. The City of Minneapolis recognizes that in order to be effective in their work and to truly represent the interests of all of the city residents, membership of the City’s boards and commissions must reflect the diversity of the community.” Read the full article here.

Nexus Community Partners is now accepting applications for the 2015-2016 Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI)!

 

The BCLI is now targeting boards and commissions in Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Saint Paul and Metropolitan Council committees. Click here to see all target seats.

Fellow Panel

WHY APPLY?

Knowledge Foundations
Learn about equity issues and strategies in the areas of economic development, health, affordable housing, transit and workforce development.

Technical Skills
Learn necessary skills to be an advocate commissioner such as Robert’s Rules of Order and interpreting municipal budgets.

Political Skills
Fine-tune your art of politics with applied learning activities in areas such as creating allies and negotiation and persuasion.

Expand Networks
Build relationships with other equity advocates in the areas of labor, government, nonprofits and business.


 Download the 2015-2016 Nomination Packet

All Nomination Packets are due Friday, June 26th by 12 midnight CST.

The fellowship runs from October 2015 – April 2016.


Learn more by attending one of our InformationSessionSIgn
BCLI INFORMATION SESSIONS:


About the BCLI

The Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) is a 7-month leadership program that supports, trains and places people of color and other underrepresented community members on publicly appointed boards and commissions that influence and impact equity in economic development, health, housing, transit and workforce development.

Questions?

Contact one of the BCLI staff: Terri Thao, Program Director, at tthao@nexuscp.org; Angie Brown, Program Coordinator, at abrown@nexuscp.org.

Nexus Community Partners is proud to announce the graduation of the 2014-2015 Fellows of the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI)! On Thursday, April 9th at the International Institute of Minnesota, we honored our fourteen graduates for not only their completion of the BCLI, but also for their continued commitment and leadership in driving equity on policy-making bodies at the city and regional levels.

Fellows

Check out the graduation photo gallery here.

Repa MekhaNexus President and CEO Repa Mekha kicked off the evening by introducing and expanding on the graduation theme: “The task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you,” (Ugandan proverb). After putting in seven months of work exploring equity issues and tools together, this cohort of fourteen has become a community, and it is from this community that collective vision, support and power will ensure their success as advocate commissioners. This message has fortified over these past seven months as a cohort, and now they begin their work individually, but never alone, on local boards and commissions – because sticks in a bundle are unbreakable (Kenyan proverb).

Check out this short video of the BCLI fellows’ year in review.

Sam GrantKeynote speaker Sam Grant, Systems Facilitator at Embody Deep Democracy, shared his words of wisdom with the graduates about the charge that awaits them as representatives of marginalized communities on local boards and commissions:

All of us as human beings have to be on a healing journey. First, you have to do the work on yourself. Second, you have to be a systems facilitator.

Being a systems facilitator is not about being the representative – it’s about shifting the paradigm. How can you as a facilitator of justice shift the space and culture of boards and commissions?

Representation can only account for a sliver of the truth – how can you be a source of truth? Always facilitate truth-sharing and truth-telling. Set up your board or commission on a story-listening session.

With these deep considerations in mind, three graduates stepped up to the microphone to share their experiences as BCLI fellows, and what it means to them in their systems work moving forward.

Fellow Panel

Jamez Staples shared his experience in the program building relationships, adding additional knowledge (even on subjects he was fairly familiar with) and his recent placement on the City of Minneapolis’ Clean Energy Partnership’s Energy Vision Advisory Committee (EVAC).

I found out about the Energy Vision Advisory Committee through one of our [BCLI Issue Series]. The EVAC is an advisory committee that makes recommendations to the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP)…a White House recognized partnership between the City of Minneapolis and the investor-owned CenterPoint and Xcel focused around the issue of mitigating climate change.

I seek to wear both hats when at that table of a business person, but also as a concerned citizen. As a citizen that seeks economic justice, I seek to be that voice at the table that asks the hard questions like, how is solar going to affect those that cannot afford to go purchase solar? As a business person, will there be any minority contracting and employment inclusion for projects that utilize public dollars?

Yolonde Adams-Lee used a powerful analogy comparing the BCLI community and the equity work of its graduates to farmers and tillers of soil and land.

As an African American and Native American woman, the land is very important to us. If BCLI is the seed, the soil is the investment and commitment of our community. We fellows are the plow, and we are planting in uncommon ground at these boards and commissions.

The last thing my sister said to me was, “Don’t drop the baton.” We have the drive to not drop the baton – we were born for this.

Sharing about his recent interview for the Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission with the Metropolitan Council, Chamath Perera said:

One question put to me by a Met Council member was, I felt, particularly important. He asked what was required beyond the recommendations of the plan. I did not see that question coming. I paused for a moment, I did not know what to say, really, and then I felt this shift and sense of power within, as I said, “You need to appoint people of color to commissions such as this.” That subtle shift, that sense of power within, I think was a moment I made myself visible and found my equity voice. And you my BCLI community made it possible.

RLM We Are the MainstreamThe graduates were gifted a Certificate of Achievement, as well as a signed copy of local activist and artist Ricardo Levins Morales’ work titled We are the Mainstream that included a June Jordan quote: “We will prevail because we have proven to the world and to ourselves that we are not ‘fringe elements’ or ‘special interest groups’ or so-called ‘minorities.’ Without us there is no legitimate majority. We are the mainstream.”

The BCLI has prepared these leaders to serve as the next generation of appointed officials who are representative of, and accountable to, the region’s communities of color and other underrepresented populations. Together these graduates join the inaugural twelve BCLI alumni as the strength of the equity movement continues to grow and shift, and the power behind each advocate commissioner expands beyond their individual representation to a truth-telling voice of the communities from which they are rooted.

THANK YOU to the entire BCLI community for the power and support you bring to these individuals and to the movement – and a special thank you to our funders, knowledge partners, training facilitators, guest speakers, Issue Series panelists, evaluators, nominators, fellows, alumni and selection committee members! Thank you all for your amazing work and commitment, and for helping with the continued development and implementation of this program! We couldn’t do this without you!

Keep an eye out for these upcoming 2015-2016 important dates! For more information about the BCLI, contact the program coordinator, Ms. Angie Brown, at abrown@nexuscp.org, or the program director, Ms. Terri Thao, at tthao@nexuscp.org.

Staff and Fellows

“Significant social change comes from the bottom up, from an aroused opinion that forces our ruling institutions to do the right thing.”

Senator Paul Wellstone 1944-2002

Join Us for Our Upcoming Webinar:

Building A National Network of Regional Leaders: Replicating the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute

Tuesday March 3, 2015| 11-12pm PST | 1-2 CST (Corrected Time)

Presenters: Uma Viswanathan, Urban Habitat and Terri Thao, Nexus Community

The Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) is a six-month fellowship that trains and places advocates from low-income communities of color onto local and regional boards and commissions through the Bay Area. Preparing mid-career leaders to leverage and enhance their knowledge, skills, and networks to enter political life, the BCLI is not just an individual leadership development program. It is a strategy to change the face of politics, creating a network of diverse and representative leaders who move racially and economically just policies at all levels of government.

During this webinar, BCLI directors Uma Viswanathan (Urban Habitat) and Terri Thao (Nexus Community Partners) will provide an overview of this innovative program and share their discoveries about the replication process as partners from different regions and organizations. Participants will be engaged in dialogue about potential future replications, including individual leader, organizational, and regional readiness for this type of program.

REGISTER HERE!

 

About Our Presenters

Uma ViswanathanUma Viswanathan, Director of Leadership Development, Urban Habitat

Uma Viswanathan is a leadership development professional with nine years of experience in national and global strategy and innovation, program and curriculum design and management. As Director of Leadership Development for Urban Habitat, she designs and implements leadership and educational initiatives to further Urban Habitat’s mission of bringing race and class to the forefront of policy decisions in the Bay. Uma directs the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI), In addition to directing the program’s design, curriculum content, recruitment and alumni engagement strategies, she is supporting its replication across the country.

 

Terri ThaoTerri Thao, Program Director, Nexus Community Partners

Nexus Community Partners is a community building intermediary working to build more engaged and powerful communities across the Twin Cities region.  At Nexus, Terri runs the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) which trains and places participants on publicly appointed boards or commissions with the goal to advance equity in the Twin Cities region.  Terri is an active community volunteer, serving on the boards of the Asian Economic Development Association, the City of St. Paul’s Planning Commission, CommonBond Communities and the F.R. Bigelow Foundation.

FellowsOn Thursday, October 9th, over 90 people gathered at the Dakota Lodge at the Division of Indian Work to celebrate power in community and to welcome the new Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) fellows into the BCLI family. These 15 fellows will be the next group of advocate commissioners advancing racial equity and social justice through locally appointed boards and commissions. Meet the fellows here.

The theme of the night was centered on the Kenyan proverb, “Sticks in a Bundle are Unbreakable;” the idea that we are more powerful collectively than we are as individuals. A panel of two social justice leaders, State Representative Rena Moran and BCLI Alum Roxxanne O’Brien, shared their experiences advocating and advancing equity, while staying grounded in the community. Check out the event’s photo gallery here.

Five key themes emerged from the panelists as messages to the fellows and broader community:

Panelists

  1. Being “in so deep, you can’t get out” – as a reminder to people who do community work that they do not have a choice because it affects them as individuals and their entire community; therefore, we share the collective responsibility to push for equity.
  2. People come to the work where they are; no more, no less. People come to these decision-making tables with only their experiences and it is our job to educate them on differences of opinion, strategies and impacts on underrepresented communities.
  3. Relationships, relationships, relationships. If we are not in the community, how will we know the pulse of our community? Being from underrepresented communities means we come to the work with these relationships and feel that pulse – therefore it is vital that we maintain those relationships to stay rooted and to uplift our communities together once we are on decision-making bodies.
  4. One-on-ones are a powerful tool. The reality is that in Minnesota, we have very few leaders of color at the capital, in elected office, and on boards and commissions. In order to change policies and incorporate equity into systems and institutions, we must find common ground with current leaders to reach some agreements – and one-on-one conversations are very effective at sharing and learning about each other’s stories, values and vision.
  5. We must break out of the matrix. Racial equity and social justice work can be exhausting – especially when caring for families, working one or multiple jobs, and also being expected to show up for rallies, meetings, events and/or one-on-ones. But in order to break the chain of systemic racism, we must show up and break out of the business-as-usual mode of operation. Look at what we can accomplish together in action – together we are unbreakable when we all realize our power and move collectively.

From the community members, to fellows, to alum, to the panelists and the organizers in the room – Nexus is looking forward to what we will accomplish together this year and to advancing racial equity and social justice in the Twin Cities region in the years to come.

We hope to see many of you at our upcoming Issue Series, which are open community events where we highlight the work of partners in the equity movement. Our first Issue Series will be on Organizing and Engagement on November 6, 2014, from 5:30-8pm at Gandhi Mahal in Minneapolis. Sign up to receive e-invitations three weeks prior to each event at www.nexuscp.org. Or contact the program associate, Angie Brown, for more information at abrown@nexuscp.org.

Artwork by Ricardo Levins Morales

Artwork by Ricardo Levins Morales

Developing Leaders to Advance an Equity Agenda: Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute Announces its Second Cohort!

Nexus Community Partners is pleased to announce the second cohort of the 2014-2015 Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI). The 15 cohort members come from various communities in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge working in community, non-profit and private sectors.

The BCLI will train and place these dynamic individuals onto publicly appointed boards and commissions in the Twin Cities. The fellows will have the capacity and community support to advance a regional equity agenda and serve as the next generation of leaders who are representative of, and accountable to, the region’s communities of color and other underrepresented populations. These fellows join a prestigious group of alumni, eight of whom serve on a current board or commission or at a high level policy position in government. Read more about our alumni here.

Nexus is proud to introduce this unique and powerful cohort and look forward to their futures as advocate commissioners and board members:

(Name, Nominating Organization)

Antrinita Wright, Neighborhood Leadership Program (NLP), Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
Carla Kohler, Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES)
Chamath Perera, Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA)
David Martinez, Wells Fargo Community Development Department
David Milton, Mastery Charter Schools / Harvest Education Network
Donna Evans, BCLI Alum
Emilia Gonzalez Avalos, Navigate MN
Falmata Bedasso, Oromo Community of MN
Jamez Staples, Community Elder
Leila Paye-Baker, Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO), City of Saint Paul
Nasser Mussa, Oromo Community of MN
Sonya Lewis, AFSCME 3800
Suyapa Miranda, BCLI Alum
Tescil Mason-Kimmons, BCLI Alum
Yolonde Adams-Lee, MN Department of Human Services

Fellows were selected through a competitive nomination, interview and selection process led by a committee of six community members and BCLI alumni. The final cohort reflects a balance in race, gender identity, geography, issue area, experience and target boards and commissions. Read more about the fellows here.

We invite partners and community members to join us for the BCLI Launch Event on Thursday, October 9th from 5:30-8pm at the Dakota Lodge at the Division of Indian Work, 1001 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55407. You’ll have a chance to meet our fellows and hear from a panel of long time local social justice leaders on the historical context and significance of people of color and other underrepresented communities joining boards and commissions. Panelists include State Representative Rena Moran, District 65A, and BCLI Alum Roxxanne O’Brien, Inaugural BCLI Cohort. Additional panelists to be announced.

RSVP for the 2014-15 BCLI Launch Event Here

For more information about the BCLI, the Launch Event, or ways to become involved, please contact the program associate, Ms. Angie Brown, at abrown@nexuscp.org, or program director, Ms. Terri Thao at tthao@nexuscp.org.

We are now targeting seats in Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Ramsey County and Saint Paul.

2013-2014 BCLI FellowsThe deadline for submissions is Friday, July 18th by 12 midnight CST
The BCLI fellowship runs from October 2014 – April 2015

We need to be running our own folks for seats by building power that pursues true democracy…We need to be developing leaders to be bold at those decision-making tables and to never leave their community behind. This is how we tell our own story. This is a story that tells everybody they can belong, and this is how we build our movement.”

Kandace Montgomery, BCLI ‘14

Why Apply?

  • Join a network of racial equity and social justice advocates influencing policy decisions on local and regional commissions.
  • Gain integrated perspectives on key local and regional racial equity and social justice issues: economic development, health equity, affordable housing, transit, and workforce development.
  • Participate in a facilitated learning community of trainers, advocate commissioners and elected officials who share best practices, lessons learned, and key concepts.
  • Learn commission skills like Parliamentary Procedure, media messaging, and municipal budgeting.

Download the full 2014-2015 Nomination Packet here.

 

Please note a change in nominations this year: Each organization and each BCLI alum may nominate only one candidate each year (see Page 5 of the Nomination Packet for more information).

Come to an upcoming Information Session!

Please RSVP to Angie Brown at abrown@nexuscp.org – please indicate which info session you plan to attend. Light refreshments will be provided.

  • Thursday, May 29th 5:30-7pm at UROC: 2001 Plymouth Ave N, Minneapolis 55411
  • Thursday, June 5th 9-10:30am at Hope Community Inc., 3rd Floor Loft: 611 E. Franklin Ave, Minneapolis 55404
  • Tuesday, June 17th 5:30-7pm at CLUES, McKnight Room: 797 7th St. E., St. Paul 55106
  • Thursday, June 19th 6:30-8pm at Brookdale Library, Room AB: 6125 Shingle Creek Parkway, Brooklyn Center 55430

Questions? Contact us:

Ms. Angie Brown
Program Associate
abrown@nexuscp.org
651-289-7029

Ms. Terri Thao
Program Director
tthao@nexuscp.org
651-379-0505

About the BCLI

Nexus’ Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) is a 7-month leadership program that supports, trains and places people of color and other underrepresented community members on publicly appointed boards and commissions that influence and impact equity in the Twin Cities Metro Area. Click here for more information about the BCLI.

Nexus Community Partners is proud to announce the graduation of our inaugural fellows from the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI)! Over 40 friends, family members, knowledge partners and supporters joined the celebration on Thursday, April 10th at the Minneapolis American Indian Center. We honored our twelve graduates as they move beyond the seven-month training toward placement and decision-making on local boards and commissions. Meet the graduates and see what boards and commissions they are seated on or targeting here.

13-14 BCLI Fellows

From left to right: Ilhan Omar, Abdirahman Muse, Cathy Jones, Naida Medicine Crow,
Kandace Montgomery, Maleta (Queen) Kimmons, Marsha Cressy,
Roxxanne O’Brien, Sammie Ardito Rivera
Not pictured: Cynthia Campos, Maggie Lorenz, Mee Cheng

Elder LeMoine LaPointe, who participated in the BCLI Launch Event, opened the graduation with a blessing alongside his two sons, Wakinyan and Thorne LaPointe, and relative Mi-zi-way Mi-gi-zi Desjarlait.

The graduation program featured a slideshow of the various activities of this year’s program, including photos from our Saturday training sessions, the October Program Launch and from the BCLI Thursday Night Issue Series. The fellows then got a chance to share their stories of what this program meant for them personally and for the broader equity movement in the Twin Cities.

Fellow Panel

From left to right: Kandace Montgomery, Roxxanne O’Brien, Ilhan Omar, Sammie Ardito Rivera

“[I am] part of a group called Advancing Women’s Voices where we gather and we talk about leadership and power within the Somali community and what it means for women to have a voice…We decided to all nominate each other for this [BCLI] and I luckily got picked,” said Ilhan Omar, who was appointed Senior Policy Aide to Council Member Andrew Johnson after beginning the BCLI.

Roxxanne O’Brien spoke about her success on the Minneapolis Citizen’s Environmental Advisory Committee: “It was really frustrating the first few months…being one of the only black women on the board and trying to bring forth my values and experiences…[Until recently, when] we just finally had a unanimous vote to pass equity language to the City Council and the Mayor, which would [bring] some options for floods or emergency situations in our communities that would reach people in poor communities – would reach people of color.”

“I want to see more unity amongst people of color to rise together to get what we need…I was really excited about the possibility [in the BCLI] to work across culture with people working on different issues…I was seated on the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council this January…I’m glad to be able to expand my work of health and wellness and my knowledge about food systems and gardening within my own community, and larger systems change for all our communities,” shared Sammie Ardito Rivera.

Kandace Montgomery acknowledged that advancing equity through boards and commissions is but one strategy for systemic change: “It doesn’t stop at the city level. There are five legislators of color at the capitol…We need to be running our own folks for seats by building power that pursues true democracy…We need to be developing leaders to be bold at those decision-making tables and to never leave their community behind. This is how we tell our own story. This is a story that tells everybody they can belong, and this is how we build our movement.”

Check out the video of the graduation here, and the photo gallery here.

Wellstone MemorialThe graduates were gifted a Certificate of Graduation, as well as a signed copy of local activist and artist Ricardo Levins Morales’ work titled Wellstone Memorial that included a quote from the senator: “Significant social change comes from the bottom up, from an aroused opinion that forces our ruling institutions to do the right thing.”

Nexus President & CEO Repa Mekha concluded the event with the following remarks: “This is not about individuals, but about the power that comes when people from across cultures that have shared vision about change in this world weave themselves together, learn together, and commit together; that’s much more powerful than what any individual can ever do.”

The BCLI has prepared these leaders to serve as the next generation of appointed officials who are representative of, and accountable to, the region’s communities of color and other underrepresented populations – creating real demands and real change for our children, our community and the Twin Cities region.

BCLI staff would like to say a special THANK YOU to all of our funders, knowledge partners, training facilitators, guest speakers, Issue Series panelists, evaluators, nominators, fellows, selection committee members, and all of the BCLI community and family – thank you for all of your amazing work, and for helping with the development and implementation of this program! We couldn’t do this without you!

Keep an eye out for these upcoming 2014-2015 important dates! For more information about the BCLI, contact the program associate, Ms. Angie Brown, at abrown@nexuscp.org, or the program director, Ms. Terri Thao, at tthao@nexuscp.org.

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From left to right: Ilhan Omar, Abdirahman Muse, Roxxanne O’Brien, Cathy Jones, Angie Brown, Kandace Montgomery, Repa Mekha, Maleta (Queen) Kimmons, Sammie Ardito Rivera, Marsha Cressy, Terri Thao
Not pictured: Cynthia Campos, Maggie Lorenz, Mee Cheng, Naida Medicine Crow

“Significant social change comes from the bottom up, from an aroused opinion that forces our ruling institutions to do the right thing.” Senator Paul Wellstone 1944-2002