2019 BCLI Cohort 7 Announcement

Leadership Development that Creates Ecosystem Change

Nexus Community Partners Announces the Seventh Cohort of their Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI)

They are organizers, government workers, parents and pastors. They work in the fields of food justice, housing, and education advocacy. They represent Woodbury to Shakopee. And they come from various multiracial backgrounds. Nexus Community Partners is proud to announce our 7th cohort of Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) fellows in the Twin Cities.

For more than 15 years, Nexus Community Partners has been dedicated to building more engaged and powerful communities of color. Through the work of BCLI, Nexus has continued to build sustainable and replicable models for community engagement and community orientated leadership development that strengthens communities.

The BCLI is a seven-month leadership program that identifies, trains, and supports placement of dynamic leaders of color and underrepresented communities onto publicly appointed boards and commissions in the Twin Cities. BCLI fellows help advance a racial and economic equity agenda across several sectors and issue areas. The cohort kicks off the week of October 7th.

The seventh BCLI cohort members are:

  • Abdulrahman Wako, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Ana Vergara, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Benjamin Yawakie, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Cherita Tenhoff, nominated by Simpson Housing Services
  • Diego Guaman, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Erica Valliant, nominated by the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood
  • Fatu Magassouba, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Jae Hyun Shim, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Linda Garrett-Johnson, nominated by the MN Council on Foundations
  • Magdalena O’Connor, nominated by Project for Pride in Living
  • Que Vang, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Ricardo Perez, nominated by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
  • Said Ahmed, nominated by Metro State’s MAPL Program
  • Tara Roberts, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Timothy Brewington, nominated by the City of Woodbury

The BCLI continues to build momentum within local governing bodies by creating opportunities for community members to become active decision makers. The incoming BCLI fellows join a network of 84 alumni, 44 of which have been successfully appointed on a board or commission or hold a high-level policy position, and all of whom are building and pushing racial, social and economic equity in the community. Alumni of the Twin Cities program include Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, MN House Representative Hodan Hassan, Metropolitan Council Representative for the 8th District Abdirahman Muse, Bush Fellows Roxxanne O’Brien and Carmeann Foster, Lower Phalen Creek executive director Maggie Lorenz, and local entrepreneur and former Metropolitan Council Transportation Advisory Board member Jamez Staples.

Biographies of each fellow can be found on Nexus’ website.

For more information about the BCLI, the launch or ways to become involved, please contact the program director, Ms. Terri Thao at or program coordinator Mr. Chai Lee at You can also check out Nexus’ website.