Current Fellows

We are excited to welcome the new 2016-2017 BCLI Fellows!

Allysia Jenkins, Brooklyn Park
Nominated by:
University of Minnesota Nursing School

Target Commission: Brooklyn Park Human Rights Commission and Citizen Long-Range Improvement Budget

Allysia Jenkins, MA, RN is the Clinical Nursing Director of the Family Birth Center at Park Nicollet, Methodist Hospital. In this role Mrs. Jenkins supports large labor and delivery, postpartum and special care nursery team. Mrs. Jenkins is also an active member of the Health Partners Diversity and Inclusion Network and serves as an Equitable Care Champion.

In addition to her professional responsibilities Mrs. Jenkins is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota, where she is pursuing a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree in Health Innovation and Leadership. The focus of her scholarship is equitable care and health care disparities for minority populations.

Ayan Hassan, Minneapolis
Nominated by:  
The Wesley Center for Spirituality, Service and Social Justice at Hamline University

Target Commission: 
Minneapolis Public Health Advisory and State Advisory Council on Mental Health

Ayan Hassan has a postgraduate degree of Family Nurse Practitioner and Masters degree in nursing. Her role is to provide family-centered healthcare to patients of all ages. Her scope of practice encompasses health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis and management of common and complex health care problems. She has led many health and wellness programs for underserved communities and teaches weekly Yoga and nutrition classes for women and young girls to encourage healthier lifestyle.


Chakita Lewis, Minneapolis
Nominated by: 
Resources Health Center

Target Commission: 
Hennepin County Adult Mental Health Advocacy Board

Chakita Lewis is a Case Manager for Resource, Inc, the largest non profit in Minnesota. As a case manager, Chakita advocates on the behalf of all her participants to ensure they all have access to mental health services, chemical health, medical, social, financial, legal and housing services. Chakita currently sets on the Hennepin County Adult Mental Health Advocacy Board where she hopes to make a positive impact on mental health services and support on a macro level. Chakita holds a Bachelors of Science from in Public Health from St. Catherine University. She’s soon hopes to be working towards her master’s in Maternal and Infant Child Health.


use-hieuHieu Nguyen, Burnsville
Nominated by: BCLI Alumnus
Target Commission: American Indian Advisory Council, Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans

Hieu Nguyen is Hunkpapa Lakota, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Born and raised in Minneapolis, he is engaged in the Twin Cities Native community. He is eager to learn new skills and techniques to effectively help Native communities in the cities and on the reservations. He enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Hodan Hassan, Minnetonka
Nominated by: Project for Pride in Living
Target Commission: State Advisory Council on Mental Health, Housing Finance Agency, St. Paul Public Housing Agency

Hodan Hassan is a black/Muslim/immigrant/woman who is dedicated and passionate about community organizing and has spent the last 10+ years advocating for social and economic justice as well as human rights. Currently, Hodan serves as a chairwoman for Somali American Taskforce and works and works for Project Pride for Living as a social worker, prior to joining PPL, Hodan has worked at Hennepin County for many years.  In this role, Hodan provided leadership as client advocate, public health educator, service planner, State contracted liaison, and mental health practitioner. Prior to joining Hennepin County, Hodan spent many years at serving marginalized communities of Minnesota providing advocacy and training especially trainings related to gender based-violence and cultural competence.

Hodan has a Master’s degree from Augsburg College of Minneapolis majoring social work with emphasis on policy development and policy advocacy and minor in psychology. She also has BS from Metropolitan State University and a minor in public health. Hodan is licensed in the state of MN as a social worker and is trained as Dialectal Behavior Therapy trainer.



Jacquelyn Thomas, Saint Paul
Nominated by: Village PTSA
Target Commission: St. Paul Cultural STAR Board, State Workforce Development Council and Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage

Jacquelyn (Jacquie) Thomas is a native resident of St. Paul, where she also raised her daughter who is currently in high school. Jacquie learned early on that being black was not going to make it easy for being heard and/or being a part of decisions and policies that are made to govern the people, schools and communities in St. Paul. Jacquie grew up in a home with seven other siblings and sometimes other relatives; this taught her that family is key to your strength.  While growing up she learned that she had rights not just as a black person, but universal Human Rights in a broader context. At the young age of 13, she took part in a protest in her junior high school that was not recognizing, valuing or celebrating black people during Black History month. She participated in planning in the protest, where students of all cultures and ethnicity took part. The protest was successful. Today Jacquie is known as a champion for children and families; advocating, volunteering and serving on committees, boards, work groups and panels to make sure that the parent voice is heard, and the voice of black people as a whole is not left out of the process.

Jocelyn Beard, Minneapolis
Nominated by:
BCLI Alumnus
Target Commission: Minneapolis Arts Commission and Neighborhood & Community Engagement Commission

Jocelyn Beard is a native of Saint Louis, MO. She currently lives in North Minneapolis with her husband. Jocelyn is a nonprofit professional who has worked in the field of adolescent sexual health and recently worked on behalf of building and growing relationships that support young families’ future success. Currently, her role as a Community Relations Manger focuses on supporting domestic violence work. . She is an enthusiastic facilitator and trainer and truly enjoys helping people experience “Ah Ha Moments”. Jocelyn sees herself as a bridge for others. She is passionate about helping people move towards better future for themselves and their communities.

Jonathan Harris, Minneapolis

Nominated by: L.I.F.T to End Poverty
Target Commission: Minnesota Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage and Neighborhood & Community Engagement Commission

Jonathan Harris is a banker at Wells Fargo and an activist who is committed to providing real change to the people of his community. He has experience in rallying people together from all racial backgrounds to stand up and fight for equity. 

Manu Lewis, Minneapolis
Nominated by: 
BCLI Alumnus

Target Commission: 
Neighborhood & Community Engagement Commission (NCEC), Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission

Manu Lewis was born in Minneapolis and raised in Atlanta, GA. He believes that organizing is the best tool available to bring people and cultures together. His firsthand experience of the criminal justice system makes him a powerful advocate in our police accountability, voting rights and corporate accountability campaigns. He volunteers for Restorative Justice and often goes back into Minnesota prisons and jails to provide resource and inspiration for those most in need. He’s a longtime community leader, organizer and staff person at the Neighborhood HUB and believes in organizing his community to be part of the solution.

Salaam Witherspoon, Duluth

Nominated by: Community Action Partnership – Duluth

Target Commission: 
local commissions dealing with planning and human rights

Salaam Witherspoon’s main focus and goal is to help people understand things at a level to impact changeShe has a deep passion for community and equity. She currently serves as the chair of the youth chapter in the NAACP, Duluth Branch, and would like to see this branch develop more and flourish.  She is on the steering committee of the Health in All Policies, which is a three year campaign that will directly impact policies for equity, for all races.

Her goal is to ensure that a future is paved out for her children, and ensure she leaves a road map for success for them to not to have to struggle the way she does now. She hopes that  one day in some way be at the table with policy makers as well as making them.


Shannon Eckman, Saint Paul
Nominated by: Minnesota Homeownership Center

Target Commission: 
St. Paul Cultural STAR Board, St. Paul Human Rights Commission

Shannon Eckman lives in St. Paul with her husband and pets. Her social justice passion led her to affordable housing and works at the Minnesota Homeownership Center as a Program Manager. She currently sits on the Minnesota Association for Colored Counselors’ Advisory Committee. Shannon and her husband have started a small garden on a vacant lot in their neighborhood and relish in feeling connected to their neighbors. They enjoy traveling, trying new foods, playing board games, and spending time with family.

Shaun Williams-Wyche, St. Paul

Nominated by: Wilder Neighborhood Leadership Program
Target Commission: State Advisory Council on Mental Health, St. Paul Police Civilian Review Commission

Shaun Williams-Wyche is a research analyst at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and a professor of Political Science at Metropolitan State University. A Texas native, He received his A.S in liberal sciences from El Centro College in Dallas Texas, his B.A in political science and anthropology from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Williams-Wyche is the project lead on Minnesota’s legislatively-mandated goal to increase the state’s college education attainment rate to 70% by 2025, while simultaneously reducing attainment disparities by race. Recently, the Office of Higher Education and the Minnesota State Demographer’s Office co-authored “Educating for the Future: Baseline Estimates of Minnesota’s Educational Attainment,” giving the clearest snapshot ever of educational attainment in Minnesota. Dr. Williams-Wyche also works closely on financial aid and student loan debt in Minnesota.

use-ShorondaSheronda Orridge, St. Paul

Nominated by: BCLI Alumni
Target Commission: Governor’s Workforce Development Council, St. Paul Human Rights Commission, and The Council on Minnesotans of African Heritage

Dr. Sheronda Orridge is Owner / Operator of Loving Spirit Life Coach Academy LLC. She is also a Holistic Life Coach, Holistic Life Coach Trainer, Community Organizer, Spoken Rap Artist, Writer, Motivational Speaker, Community Consultant, Certified Doula, Certified TOP Facilitator, Event Planner, Curriculum Developer, Cater, and Spiritual Ordain Minster.

Dr. Sheronda holds 2 Bachelor’s Degrees one in Metaphysical Theology and the other in Metaphysical Science, a Master’s Degree in Metaphysical Science and a PhD in Holistic Life Coaching from the University of Sedona and is currently working on her second Ph.D. in Relationship Dynamics. Dr. Sheronda was awarded the 2015 Community Educator Unsung Hero Award from Minnesota (Community Caring for children (MCCC), 2014 Honoring Sisters Award (Spokesman Recorder Newspaper), 2012 Adult Leadership Award (Leap Forward Collaborative), 2012 Parent Leadership Award (Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota), and the 2011Community Honor Roll Award (Frogtown Neighborhood Association).

Sindy Morales Garcia, Coon Rapids
Nominated by: The Wilder Foundation
Target Commission: Met Council’s Equity Advisory Committee and MN Council on Latino Affairs

Originally from Quetzaltenango Guatemala, Sindy comes from a family of community organizers. Her family’s narrative of struggle, resilience, and disruption led her on a personal and educational journey to deepening her understanding of liberation, healing, and social justice.

Driven by a commitmnt to equity and wholeness, Sindy works with the Wilder Foundation’s Community Initiatives team to catalyze the cultural shifts needed to co-create sustainable and transformational change towards racial equity. Her work is informed by a rich tapestry of experiences in higher-education advocacy, community collaborations, and faith-based activism in the Twin Cities and New York City. As a facilitator, Sindy enjoys cultivating spaces of meaningful reflection and dialogue that enable participants to strategically advance new thinking and action in their lives and work.

During her free time, Sindy loves to dwell in the life-giving energy of nature, laugh, eat delicious food, and work up a good sweat in kickboxing and karate.

Susie Green, Duluth
Nominated by: Community Action Partnership – Duluth

Target Commission: local commissions dealing with planning and human rights

Susie has worked extensively with people from many cultures and races to do community engagement as a way to get involved and gain the tools necessary to get out of poverty. In essence, she encourages participants to find their voice in the systemic issues of race and poverty in order to beat the poverty trap and make change for the people. Through her work in nonprofits, she has gained foundational experience in community organizing, policy work and social asset building. Joining the Twin Cities BCLI is another step in her amazing journey to empower the people.

In her off time, she and her three wonderful children like to take road trips . She also enjoys walking swimming a good book or watching adventure movies.


Thamyr Goalafaie, Minneapolis use-thamyr
Nominated by: 
Department of Labor & Industry – State of Minnesota

Target Commission:
 Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council and Citizen’s Environmental Advisory Committee

Born and raised in Boston, Thamyr Golafaie is the third oldest of seven children and the oldest of three girls. Thamyr attended Cornell University and spent a semester at The University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Having graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in both sociology and government, she subsequently became interested in both environmental protection and issues concerning equity. A recent transplant to Minneapolis, she has a strong interest in working at any level of government in either of these areas. She hopes to attend graduate school in the near future and is yet to decide on which area to study.

========== 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.”