Current Fellows

We are excited to welcome the new 2017-2018 BCLI Fellows!


Azeta Garthune 

Azeta is a lifelong resident of South Minneapolis and has several years of experience in community-based work in the Twin Cities at various organizations including Hope Community, Minneapolis Public Schools, and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota at the Eastside Financial Center. Azeta completed the Community Organizing training SPEAC at Hope Community and now serves as an advisor to the Equity & Outreach Committee for the Kingfield Neighborhood Association. Azeta earned her BA in Sociology & Comparative U.S. Race & Ethnicity at the University of Minnesota and recently earned her MBA at the University of St. Thomas – Opus College of Business. She currently works as a marketing and business development strategist at 3M.



Baraka Tura 

Baraka is a native of Oromia, a land of Oromo people. Oromos have historically been subjected to political, social, and cultural injustice in Ethiopia. He currently lives in St. Paul with his wife and three children. Being a member of oppressed people, Baraka has always been interested in working with people who have been marginalized and disenfranchised. He has a B.A degree in Organizational Leadership from Bethel University and currently works with Hennepin County as a human service representative.He is passionate about poverty alleviation, specifically social business, entrepreneurship and educational disparities.

Christine McCleave

Christine Diindiisi McCleave, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, is Executive Officer for the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. McCleave’s grandfather attended Catholic Indian Boarding School in SD and Haskell Indian Boarding School in Kansas. Her great grandfather attended Carlisle Indian School. McCleave conducted her Master’s research on the spectrum of spiritual practices regarding traditional Native American spirituality and Christianity and the impact of the Boarding Schools on spiritual activities today. Her previous roles include Operations Manager at Aon Hewitt, an HR consulting firm, and Communications and Marketing Officer at The Indian Land Tenure Foundation. McCleave holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications and a Master of Arts in Leadership. She lives in Minneapolis, MN with her husband and two children.

Danisa Farley

Overcoming her own personal and familial challenges, Danisa began working to recover her life of various aspects.  She is a graduate of Metropolitan State University’s First College Program.  Danisa has a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a focus in Communications and Community Service.  She has worked in the Non-Profit sector serving a diverse range of populations. Danisa participated in groundbreaking work with the Department of Human Services and Minnesota State Supreme Court as a Parent Consultant with their Alcohol and Other Drug Project.   Danisa works in the Basic Needs Departments helping to connect individuals and families to food resources and other essential supports to assist them. She founded a faith-based organization whose goal is to address recovery from drug, domestic violence and other social factors that affect families.  She is dedicated to the process of Life-long Learning and believes that as she grows and shares what she has, it is an example and gives others inspiration to see and strive to reach their potential.


Esther Muturi

Esther Muturi is a dedicated member of the community who have worked tirelessly to supporting positive changes among individual and communities she serves for the last 9 yrs. Esther graduated with Masters in Social Work at the University of Wyoming, and currently works as mental health worker/ psychotherapist at Nystrom & Associates/ Family support Services Incorporated Inc in the twin cities. She was one of the leading organizer for a faith based African empowerment conference living in Minnesota. While in Wyoming she engaged in various community and advocacy program like Wyoming Geriatric Education Center. She is currently a member of MEGA Minnesota, Kenya Women living in Minnesota ( KWIM), and also volunteers at African Career & Education Resource, Inc ( ACER).

Jay Rathell

My name is Jay short for “Jasmond” I changed my name back in college when I grew tired of people butchering it. I am ecstatic to be part of the BCLI program for many reasons and opportunities. I am a husband and a father of two girls, residing in Robbinsdale. I moved around quite a bit when I was younger and it s hard for to me to consider one place home. That being said, Minnesota is home for now and this is where I want to impact my community. My previous community work include AmeriCorps, MN Aids project and a few others, but I’m most excited about getting an opportunity to sit on a city or government board to try and affect change.


Katrina Mendoza

I am Katrina Mendoza. Pronouns: She, Her. I consider myself to be an enthusiastic and multifaceted reproductive justice advocate with over ten years of experience in the sexual health field. Currently I’m blessed to be working with the Latinx community in Richfield and with youth in middle and high schools in the metro area. I also present to treatment centers, Girl Scouts, prisons and community programs as an Education and Outreach Specialist for Planned Parenthood and through my work with Family Tree Clinic as a Clinic Assistant and Hotline Specialist I serve the LGBTQI community. I have experience working for the Homeless community through Catholic Charities, Emma Norton Services and The YWCA of St. Paul. I love presenting, supporting and learning from people. I am passionate about empowering young people and folks in marginalized communities by encouraging, supporting and helping people identify their own strengths within self and within community.

Kye Allums

Kye Allums is a St. Paul-raised, graduate of George Washington University. He is a Black Queer Fluid Transgender person of color, who’s life has been primarily focused on LGBTQ activism through public speaking on gender inclusion in sports. Currently, Kye works as an Education Coordinator for Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition. His specific interests include gender justice, and health care access.


Lavasha Smith 

I am a 26 year old graduate from Augsburg college with a (BA) degree in Psychology and youth and family ministry. I have a six-year-old son and we are currently living in South Minneapolis. I am currently working in St. Paul as a case manager specifically in housing. I have an interest in working with under-served and under-represented populations. Identify with the community of African America Women and founded a women’s group in 2015.


Pa Kong Lee

Pa Kong Lee was born in Ban Vinai Refugee Camp. Her family moved to the US in the early 90’s. As a volunteer, educator, and advocate, she spends over 10 years working on poverty alleviations for underrepresented communities.

Lee has experiences in youth development, gender mainstreaming, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, community organizing, and volunteers recruitment and management.

Lee was a participant of the 2017 Minneapolis Leaders Making Our Voices Effective for Equity Leadership Program lead by the Coalition of Asian American Leaders. She is alumnus of the U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer ’12 and AmeriCorps VISTA ‘09. She received the Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship in 2013 to further her studies in community and program development.

Pa Kong Lee holds a MA in Sustainable International Development from The Heller School of Social Policy and Management from Brandeis University, with a BA in Women’s Studies focuses on Gender and Education from Hamline University. Currently, Lee is a board member for the Southeast Asian Diaspora (SEAD) Project.


Sandra Stearn 

Sandra is a dedicated resident of Brooklyn Park. She is passionate about community, children and equality. She has worked at Metro Transit in finance for over 20 years.

Sandra is very active in her community. Her volunteerism includes: Teach yearly for Red Cross Prepare for Disaster Program and Organize yearly with Motorcycle Associates: Back to School / Toys for Tots & Turkey Drive in Northern Minnesota.

In addition, she may fill in as a Shuttle Bus Driver for Saint Paul Homeless Shelters

Sandra has two adult children, one granddaughter, and a yellow lab.

Motorcyclist / Ride a Three Wheel Trike / Rode Motorcycle 9,000 miles this summer


Say Yang 

Say Yang (Ntxhais Yaj) has a background in community outreach and administrative coordination related to community and economic development that contributes to her role as the Program Coordinator at Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy. She has worked with residents, neighborhood organizations and government agencies supporting community development and civic participation in the Twin Cities. Her professional experiences include serving the Hennepin County Community Works programs and she was a past community advisory board member of KFAI, an independent radio station in Minneapolis. Say studied Community Development at Minneapolis Community & Technical College and a current student at Metropolitan State University in the Individualized Degree Program. She is devoted to addressing barriers, making connection and inspiring change.


Wayne Doe 

Wayne Doe is an experienced leader, business coach, and organization strategist.  He currently works at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, serves as Chief Editor at Voices Magazine, and runs DLinked Associates, a consultancy business he founded.

Wayne has served as a Wells Fargo Branch Manager, a Market Intelligence Representative, Executive Director of the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota, Chair of Wells Fargo Minnesota Diversity Council, Co-founded the Pan African Resource group and a member of the Contract Compliance Committee of the City of Brooklyn Park.

Wayne has received several commendations and awards, including Top Performing Branch Sales Recognition, Service Excellence Recognition, Volunteer Service Award, and Diversity Champion Award.

Wayne started his undergraduate studies at the University of Liberia and completed his Baccalaureate degree and a Master of Science degree from St. Petersburg Mining University. Wayne enjoys choral music, and helping individuals and organization succeed.

Yingya Vang 

Yingya is a young Hmong woman who is passionate about community organizing. Yingya is currently an elected board member of the Dayton’s Bluff Community Council. Yingya has also volunteered on three election cycles to encourage civic egagement and elect progressive minority community leaders. Currently, Yingya is working on Councilmember Dai Thao’s mayoral campaign, in hopes of connecting communities in Saint Paul and co-governing in City Hall. Yingya is also co-chair of Racial Equity on Johnson Parkway and Ames Avenue, which is an issue campaign that is fighting for racial equity and fair investment on the East Side of Saint Paul.

As a daughter of Hmong refugees, Yingya cares a lot about immigration reform, racial justice and taking down corporate greed. In Yingya’s free time, they like to hike, bike, swim, and watch political dramas/movies.


Yodit Tesfaye

Yodit  is a 1.5 generation Ethiopian-American immigrant who moved to Minnesota at a young age. She holds a Masters in International Development Practice- an interdisciplinary degree that draws from major disciplines such as education, public policy, public health, economic development and sociology from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. Yodit brings over 5+ years of experience addressing the opportunity gap in education. In her current role, Yodit provides technical assistance and support for the Achievement and Integration (A&I) program at the Minnesota Department of Education assisting participating school districts to increase racial and economic integration and reduce academic disparities based on students’ racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds. In her previous role, Yodit coordinated Collaborative Urban Educator’s East African Student to Teacher (EAST) program – a state-funded teacher pipeline program at Augsburg College that aims to diversify the K-12 teaching workforce.


========== RESOURCES FOR CURRENT FELLOWS ================



There are over 100 boards and commissions in the Twin Cities on which residents can serve and create meaningful change for our community.

Below are the links to the full list of boards and commissions in local  and state government entities:

City of Brooklyn Park Boards and Commissions: “The City of Brooklyn Park depends on citizen volunteers to advise elected officials and help them govern effectively.”

City of Brooklyn Center Commissions: “An advisory commission member must be a resident of Brooklyn Center and shall have a broad range of interests relative to the commission’s purpose.”

City of Minneapolis Boards and Commissions: “The City of Minneapolis has over 50 volunteer based boards, commissions and advisory committees; and appoints over 400 of 600 members. The City actively seeks applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences.”

City of Saint Paul Boards and Commissions: “The City of Saint Paul has over 30 boards and commissions to which the Mayor and the City Council appoint members. These boards and commissions cover a wide range of topics and appeal to a variety of interests, from public safety, education, and housing to economic development.”

Hennepin County Citizen Advisory Boards: “The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners appoints citizens and local officials to serve on the county’s citizen advisory boards, task forces and committees through an open appointments process.”

Ramsey County Advisory Boards and Committees: Ramsey County has over 25 boards and committees.

Metropolitan Council Advisory Committees:  The Metropolitan Council has several boards, commissions and advisory committees which may include local elected officials, representatives of partnering organizations, members of the public with expertise in specific areas, and people who represent specific geographic areas

State of Minnesota Agencies, Boards and Commissions: The State of Minnesota has over 200 boards and commissions. The vast reach and impact of the many state boards touch on all aspects of the lives, commerce and regulation of many things in our every day environment, from criminal justice to economic development, housing and more. The appointing authority to each board varies, from the governor to a cabinet official, but all applications go through the Office of the Secretary of State.


BCLI staff are very intentional about narrowing the above lists of all possible boards and commissions in the Twin Cities, and targeting a select few that have power and influence, and a range of professional experience levels. The BCLI targets board and commission seats that impact equity in our five core issue areas: economic development, health, housing, transit and workforce development.

Click here for the 2016-2017 Target Board and Commission Seats List

City of Brooklyn Center                                                                 

  • Financial Commission
  • Housing Commission
  • Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Planning Commission

City of Brooklyn Park                                                          

  • Budget Advisory Committee
  • Citizen Long-range Improvement Committee
  • Human Rights Commission
  • Planning Commission
  • Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission

City of Minneapolis                                                               

  • Bicycle Advisory Committee
  • Capital Long-Range Improvement Committee (CLIC)
  • Citizen’s Environmental Advisory Committee (CEAC)
  • Civil Rights Commission
  • Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council
  • Housing Board of Appeals
  • Minneapolis Arts Commission
  • Minneapolis Workforce Council
  • Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission (NCEC)
  • Pedestrian Advisory Committee
  • Planning Commission
  • Public Health Advisory Committee
  • Public Housing Authority Board
  • Zoning Board of Adjustment

City of Saint Paul

  • Board of Water Commissioners
  • Board of Zoning Appeals
  • Business Review Council (BRC)
  • Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) Committee
  • Community Health Services Advisory Committee
  • Cultural STAR Board
  • Food and Nutrition Commission
  • Human Rights & Equal Economic Opportunity Commission
  • Neighborhood STAR Board
  • Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Planning Commission
  • Public Housing Agency
  • Transportation Committee
  • Truth in Sale of Housing Board of Evaluators

Hennepin County

  • Capital Budgeting Task Force
  • Hennepin County Workforce Investment Board (WIB)
  • Human Resources (HR) Board

Ramsey County

  • Capital Improvement Program Citizens Advisory Committee
  • Continuum of Care Governing Board
  • Human Services Citizens Advisory Council (CAC)
  • Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Ramsey County Workforce Investment Board (WIB)

Metropolitan Council Committees

  • Land Use Advisory Committee (LUAC)
  • Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission (MPOSC)
  • Transportation Accessibility Advisory Committee
  • Transportation Advisory Committee (TAB)

State of Minnesota

  • American Indian Advisory Council
  • Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage
  • Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans
  • Crime Victims Reparations Board
  • Food Safety & Defense Task Force
  • Governor’s Workforce Development Council
  • Housing Finance Agency
  • Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs
  • State Advisory Council on Mental Health
  • Urban Initiatives Board

The BCLI does NOT target nonprofit boards. But there are lots of nonprofit board opportunities in the Twin Cities – some of which are passed along to Nexus to share with our networks. We will post these as they come along below.

Check out Board Repair – “Organized by and for people of color, Board Repair’s mission is to create a more effective non-profit sector by increasing participation of people of color on boards.”