Leadership that Drives Equitable Change: Announcing BCLI Cohort 9

At Nexus Community Partners, we believe that when we make decisions that affect all of our lives – across race, place, gender, and more – we all must share the power in making those decisions.  

But for too long, publicly-appointed boards and commissions have been a “hidden” layer of power making decisions about our communities, without our communities. And, increasingly, it is clear we need people in government who are accountable to their communities, and who are fighting for policies that direct resources to the people that need it most. We need to build the government that we want to see.   

Over the past nine years, Nexus been this work through our adaptation of the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI),* a seven-month leadership program that supports, trains and helps place BIPOC community members on publicly appointed boards and commissions. 

Today, Nexus is pleased to announce the 16 fellows in our ninth cohort of the Twin Cities BCLI. From Woodbury to St. Louis Park, from St. Paul to Brooklyn Center, they represent a wide swath of geography and demographics, talent, and life experiences. Fellows are working to advance equity across sectors and issue areas, such as economic development, health, housing, transit, and workforce development. The 2021-2022 cohort kicks off this week with a private virtual opening dinner and online training session.

The 9th  BCLI  cohort  members are:  

  • Aimee Vue, nominated by Youthprise
  • Akia Vang, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Chonburi Lee, nominated by Hmong American Partnership
  • Chrissie Carver, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Danielle Swift, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Kabao Xiong, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Mai Tong Yang, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Ricky Williams, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Robert Boos, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Saundra Massey, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Stephanie Jones, nominated by Brooklyn Center
  • Stephanie Shider, nominated by Nexus staff
  • Temitayo Olasimbo, nominated by Woodbury
  • Veronica Rono, nominated by BCLI alumni
  • Yariet Montes, nominated by St. Louis Park
  • Yasmin Muridi, nominated by BCLI alumni

The BCLI continues to build momentum and challenge the status quo within local government by supporting fellows and alumni to bring their full selves, their responsibility to their communities, and their distinctive cultural perspectives to these governing positions. 

The incoming BCLI fellows join a network of 114 alumni. Over half of them have been appointed to a board or commission or hold a high-level policy position, and all of them are building racial and economic equity in their communities.   

 Alumni of the Twin Cities program include Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MN-05); MN House Representative Hodan Hassan (DFL-62A); Metropolitan Council Representative for the 8th District Abdirahman Muse; Bush Fellows Roxxanne O’Brien and Carmeann Foster; Lower Phalen Creek executive director Maggie Lorenz; Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Minneapolis Ron Harris; Executive Director of Minnesota Voices HwaJeong Kim; 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 program manager Chai Lee at 

*The BCLI is adapted from a model created by Urban Habitat in Oakland, California.