Meet the 2017 Twin Cities Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)
Hudo Ahmed received a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Healthcare Social Issues from the University of California, San Diego in 2013. Her experience as a refugee and being bilingual has aided her in her previous job as a Program Manager at Huda Community Center, a nonprofit that serves underserved and refugee communities. Hudo is passionate about assessing the needs of vulnerable communities in order to develop projects and programs to help alleviate the barriers to access to health that they face. Hudo values the importance of working with community members in a way that is culturally competent and respectful of diversity. Hudo recently graduated from University of San Diego's Nonprofit Leadership and Management graduate program with the hopes of increasing her impact within the nonprofit sector.
Cameran Bailey, Supervision and Logistics Coordinator, Yucatan Solar LLC
Cameran J. Bailey was born in Texas and raised on both coasts of the United States by a military father and teacher mother. He grew up attending private, public, charter, inner-city, and suburban based schools and colleges. His undergraduate studies yielded a B.S. in Civil Engineering with a minor in film studies. After working as a high school coach, teacher's aide, and then a utility-scale wind turbine Field Engineer, he moved to Minnesota to attain his Master of Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota. In 2015, he was selected to attend the Summer Institute on Sustainability & Energy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He and others were educated to make decisions about energy at the personal, civic, and global levels, in energy related fields including science, technology, entrepreneurship, economics, policy, planning, and behavior. Between June 2015 and May 2016, he and a small team co-developed and completed the "City of Minneapolis Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment." Since 2014 he has served on the Energy Vision Advisory Committee to the Clean Energy Partnership at the City of Minneapolis, the first-in-the-nation partnership agreement between a city and its utility providers. He is an active community member with the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association, as well as a Graduation Coach through Achieve Minneapolis at Edison High School. Currently, Cameran works for Yucatan Solar, LLC, as a Supervision & Logistics Coordinator on the Aurora Solar Project, the largest utility-scale, distributed solar PV project in the Upper Midwest region.
Cedrick Baker, Equity Manager, Metropolitan Council
Cedrick Baker works as the Equity Manager in the Office of Equal Opportunity for the Metropolitan Council. The Metropolitan Council is a regional policy-making body, planning agency, and provider of essential services for the Twin Cities area. In his role, he oversees the Equity Implementation Unit and assist in the coordination of organization-wide efforts to advance equity in policies, practices and procedures. He continues to find way to remove barriers that prevent access to opportunity for all regional residents. Before this role he worked in the organization’s Program Evaluation and Audit department where he performed financial, operational, compliance and performance audits for the Central Corridor, Southwest, and Bottineau light rail projects. Cedrick is a firm believer in serving his community. He currently serves as a Board Member for the North East Neighborhood Development Corporation, Commissioner with the Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Commission, and Big Brother with the Big Brother Big Sister Program. He completed a short appointment in 2016, after a board resignation, as a School Board Member for St. Paul Public Schools. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Florida and a Master’s in Public Administration from Georgia State University. Cedrick is a Florida native and enjoys reading, traveling, college football and participating in obstacle course races.
David DeGrio, Scientist, Upsher-Smith Laboratories
David DeGrio is a Scientist in the Pharmaceutical Development department at Upsher-Smith Laboratories where he established a 3D printing shop and continues to lead 3DP activities as well as the Quality-by-Design initiative to support the development of both new and generic drug products. David's main research focus aims to utilize 3DP principles to develop a platform for on-demand printing specialty and personalized medicines, and combination pharmaceutical products to treat a wide range of diseases. A particular area of interest relates to treatments with orphan designation, a designation for diseases with small patient populations that are often ignored by large pharmaceutical companies because they do not offer multi-billion dollar revenues. Prior to working at Upsher-Smith, David worked at 3M in the Early Pharmaceutics & Technology group from 2006-2008, and was a Chemistry instructor in the Minnesota State college system from 2006-2012. Outside of the pharmaceutical industry, David has spent considerable time working on K-12 education policy and was on the Minnesota Department of Education Committee on K-12 Standards in Science where he helped author the education standards used in our school system. He also served on the Board of Directors for Minnesotans United for All Families, the organization to defeat the 2012 amendment to limit the freedom to marry for LGBTQ Minnesotans. David is interested in finding ways for his industry to deliver more healthcare solutions to more patients while reducing the burdensome and restrictive costs that currently exist in the healthcare market. He also is passionate about ensuring equity in K-12 education and ensuring that all students are prepared to enter into adulthood with the skills necessary to be our next generation of leaders and innovators.
Hussein Farah, Founder & Executive Director, New Vision Foundation
Charitable interventions in the form of scholarships enabled Hussein Farah to escape the life of a war refugee and attain the American Dream, including a successful career in nonprofit business development and IT entrepreneurship. He believes that education, with a particular emphasis in Information Technology, can be an effective tool to engage, and motivate disadvantaged youth and inspire them to be better global citizens. Hussein Farah founded the New Vision Foundation to target major investments in disadvantaged youth in the U.S, starting with his home state of Minnesota, and those in developing world, by creating opportunities and a pathway to professions in a diverse economy, as well as divert vulnerable minds from disconnection and hopelessness. He believes such interventions ripple outward to improve the diversity in 21st Century workforce, closing the persistent equity divide, and integrating disadvantaged communities in the global economy.
Sarah King, Deputy Director, Global Learning Lab Teach For All
Sarah King currently serves as the Deputy Director of Teach For All's Global Learning Lab. Sarah grew up in Chicago and attended Carleton College as a Posse Leadership & Diversity Scholar. After graduating, she returned to Chicago to work with incredible students and their families at an innovative college access start-up called the Schuler Scholar Program. These college access experiences (her own and those with her students) drive her conviction about realizing students’ leadership inside and outside of the classroom. Sarah went on to work at Teach For America for three years, supporting the launch of the Philanthropic Leadership Circle, a group of TFA’s most committed supporters grappling with key education issues such as racial justice, parent engagement, and more. Then, she worked on the program insights teams at Teach For All for three years to capture, codify, and disseminate insights from transformational classrooms across the Teach For All network. In her spare time, Sarah works on social justice issues and enjoys yoga, art, reading, and cooking.
Garrison McMurtrey, Outreach Director, Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar
Garrison McMurtrey currently serves as the Outreach Director in the office of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. His outreach portfolio includes the areas of Education, Workforce Development, Communities of Color, and Consumer Protection. As an Outreach Director he serves as the liaison between the Senator’s office and the many agencies, nonprofits, and businesses that pertain to his issue areas. Garrison is determined to promote a progressive agenda that connects to communities and motivates them to bring about positive change. He has seen the benefit of community organizing through his campaign work on Gubernatorial and Mayoral races in Mississippi and on President Obama’s 2012 reelection in North Carolina. Garrison also spent time in Washington, DC as a Communications Intern with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, working in the office of the Democratic Ranking Member for the Committee on Homeland Security. He is a graduate of Ripon College in Wisconsin, with degrees in Politics and Government and Communication. Currently he is pursuing a Masters of Public Policy degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Garrison is excited to be a part of the 2017 cohort and ready to learn about the different tools/ skills needed to ensure that he can be one of the effective leaders for many communities that yearn for change.
Vivek Nevile, Consultant, Robert Half Technology
Vivek Nevile is an Information Technology Consultant in the Twin Cities, whose focus has been the utilization of data science to drive strategy decisions. Vivek obtained his Bachelors in Science at the University of Minnesota where he pursued a dual degree in Biochemistry and Finance and a triple minor. He brings diverse experience within healthcare, energy and the financial sectors. He has consistently volunteered within the community for 18 years and believes strong community engagement can help lead to progressive bipartisan change. His passion is getting community members more engaged and active with the issues plaguing their neighbors. Dedication in the face of inevitable adversity is a value Vivek uses to guide his volunteer work, personal relationships, organizational involvement and professional career. He is looking forward to help invigorate and support the movement towards forward-thinking bipartisan impact the Fellows of New Leaders Council want to bring to the Twin Cities.
Lorena Pinto, Advocate for Sexually Exploited Youth, Cornerstone Advocacy Services
Lorena was born in Lima Peru and moved to the United States as a child. She is the first in her family to graduate from college and is currently pursuing her graduate degree in Social Work. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from San Diego State University. She was an active volunteer and intern at organizations like the International Rescue Committee and The University California of San Diego. Lorena has worked in the non-profit sector for over a decade, serving at-risk youth who experience homelessness, sex trafficking, and abuse. During a volunteer trip to Peru, she educated and mentored teenage girls with a history of sexual and domestic violence. After returning, Lorena received an opportunity to work as a case manager with sexually exploited youth at San Diego Youth Services. She worked diligently alongside survivors training the community on the risks and effects of sex trafficking of youth. Lorena has trained hundreds of community members such as teachers, attorneys, law enforcement, parents, students, and medical professionals. She has continued this work in Minnesota, as a youth advocate and community trainer for Cornerstone Advocacy Services. Lorena is passionate towards ending gender-based violence and advocating for vulnerable populations. Her ultimate passion lies in the anti-trafficking movement, lowering the demand, and eliminating stigma. In her spare time, Lorena enjoys a healthy lifestyle and spending quality time with her dog. She looks forward to her experience as an NLC fellow.
Brittany Rice, Project Coordinator, City of Minneapolis
Brittany Rice is a Project Coordinator for the Civil Rights Equity Division at the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights. In her role, Brittany assists coordinating the Urban Scholars program, which is a leadership and professional development program for college and graduate students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Brittany also works on other equity-related projects at the City of Minneapolis and contributes her legal skills where needed. Brittany is a former Urban Scholar herself and as a woman of color racial equity work is especially important to her personally and professionally. Brittany believes it is her life’s purpose to find ways to improve the lives of others who are disadvantaged by discriminatory systems. She received a B.A. in Law and Society from Winona State University in 2012 and a J.D. from William Mitchell College of law in 2015. Though she is not following a traditional law career path, Brittany believes that her legal education has prepared her well for a career in equity work. Born and raised in Minnesota, Brittany is grateful to be able to work towards equity-focused changes in her home state and is especially excited to be part of the Twin Cities Fellows for the New Leaders Council in 2017.
Nina Robertson, Program Manager, City of Minneapolis STEP-UP
Nina Robertson currently manages the STEP-UP program at the City of Minneapolis. STEP-UP is an internship program for Minneapolis youth who face some of the greatest barriers to employment. In 2016, STEP-UP created nearly 1700 internships. Nina’s role includes directly overseeing the STEP-UP Discover division of the program. She is responsible for recruiting new employers to hire STEP-UP interns, managing relationships with current agencies, ensuring all proper paperwork is completed, and facilitating supervisor trainings and orientations. Nina is a North Minneapolis native with a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She has over 7 years of youth development experience and is passionate about creating opportunities for youth to thrive and succeed despite adverse experiences. Nina has worked with the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Movement, the Minneapolis Beacons Network, YMCA Greater Twin Cities, Plymouth Christian Youth Center and more recently the Northside Achievement Zone where she served as the Expanded Learning Coordinator. Nina is thrilled to be a part of the 2017 NLC cohort and looks forward to working with other like-minded professionals dedicated to a progressive community.
Stephanie Rodriguez-Moser, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Lakewood Health System
Stephanie Rodriguez-Moser is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She began this career working as a peer counselor an urban Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinic. She currently works at a rural, critical access hospital in outstate Minnesota. In her work, she has been privileged to serve people of many races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and sexualities. This has led to her realizing the inequality in health that faces too many people in an otherwise healthy state. This has translated into a passion for improving equity and access, particularly within maternal child health. She is the current Chair-Elect of the Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition, and is working towards increasing equity and access within the state through legislation, education, and coalition building. Stephanie graduated in 2013 from Columbia College with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, with a minor in Women’s Studies. She is currently working to obtain her Master’s in Public Health, with a focus on epidemiology. Her plans are to continue fighting for equity and equality within the field of health. She is also involved with education and advocacy efforts within her county and community. She is excited to be part of the New Leaders Council, and grateful for the skills and experience that this will help her to hone.
George Shardlow, Legislative Coordinator, Minnesota State Council on Disability
George Shardlow has dedicated his career to promoting equity for marginalized populations. Currently, that commitment takes the shape of serving as Legislative Coordinator for the Minnesota State Council on Disability, a state agency that functions as a technical resource on issues of accessibility, human services and disability rights for the Governor, State Legislature, other state agencies and the general public. Prior to that, he was a community organizer for a neighborhood development nonprofit in Baltimore, conducted economic justice outreach for the Maryland Transit Administration and served as a Field Organizer for President Obama's grassroots campaign, in 2012. George was born and raised in Roseville, Minnesota. He's an alumnus of Luther College and received his Master's of Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He now resides in Northeast Minneapolis and channels his commitment to economic development into frequenting the neighborhood's breweries and brunch establishments.
Jillian Stockmo, Manager, School and Community Partnerships, Teach For America
Jillian currently serves as a Manager of School and Community Partnerships at Teach for America – Twin Cities. In her role she works towards building strong partnerships to help to put the region on a path towards educational equity. Prior to joining the Teach for America regional staff – she taught 1st and 2nd grade as a corps member at Sojourner Truth Academy in North Minneapolis after completing her undergraduate studies at Amherst College. When she’s not working at TFA, Jillian coaches’ youth and high school soccer, as well as being involved in the community as a Board Member on the Collective – a TFA alumni of color association.
Leona Thao, Independent Contractor
Leona was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma to Hmong refugees of the Secret War in Laos. She moved to the Twin Cities in 2013 to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA where she enhanced the fundraising capacity of K-12 public schools. In 2014, she received the Diversity of Views and Experiences Fellowship to pursue public policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. As a fellow, she participated in the Community of Scholars Summer Program at the University of Minnesota conducting research on the Minnesota Family Investment and Diversionary Work Program. During her graduate school training Leona had the privilege of working on a number of program evaluation, policy, and research projects such as the Minnesota Learning English for Academic Proficiency and Success (LEAPS) Act, Minnesota Family Investment Program, Minnesota Quality Compensation, Minimum Wage, Food and Health, and Youth Leadership, to name a few. Leona’s passion for social justice drives her eagerness to pursue policy-focused evaluation to reduce racial and gender disparities. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Oklahoma State University and received her Masters of Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in 2016.
Clare Verbeten, Party Affairs Director, Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party
Clare Verbeten currently serves as the Party Affairs Director at the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party, where she works with local DFL activists and volunteers across the state. Clare was born and raised in Roseville, a suburb right outside the Twin Cities. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Law and Society, Cum Laude, from American University in Washington, D.C. Clare was the first person to graduate from American University’s prestigious 3-Year Politics, Policy and Law (PPL) Scholars Program. Clare demonstrated her passion for protecting and expanding the right to vote as a part of the Voter Expansion Department at the Democratic National Committee and Hillary for Minnesota’s 2016 Voter Protection Team. As a former Political Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT) intern for Women Winning, a organization that elects pro-choice female candidates to all levels of public office throughout the state of Minnesota, she worked on Peggy Flanagan’s campaign for State Representative. Clare is currently working to build the next generation of women leaders in Minnesota as a member of the Women Winning Launch Committee. Clare was inspired by her mother’s life and success to empower others, particularly women of color. Her mother, Ramata Verbeten, is a Senegalese immigrant. She is a survivor of physical and sexual abuse, as well as female genital mutilation. At 12 years old, she was pulled out of school to serve as a housekeeper. Clare’s mother, now a successful small business owner, taught Clare to take advantage of the opportunities she never had and always give back to her community. Clare looks forward to developing her career within the Democratic Party and seeking public office in the near future.
Janelle Wahutu, Co Founder & President, Tembo Community Partners
Janelle Wahutu is a community developer with a Master’s of International Development Practice from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, an LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights Law from St. Thomas University School of Law, and a Bachelors of Art in Global Studies from the University of Minnesota. Janelle has a passion for sustainable community development and advocacy. Janelle has dedicated her academic and professional career to human rights advocacy and community development. She has traveled to over 25 countries, her background includes organizing and leading international projects in community development, developing strategic partnerships, human rights advocacy, grant writing, program design, and international humanitarian law. She is fluent in English and Spanish. Janelle is the co-chair of the Minnesota Women’s Consortium and has a consulting firm. Janelle enjoys salsa dancing and checking out the local craft brew scene, and is proud to be from Minneapolis.
Kjensmo Walker, Consultant
Kjensmo Walker is a passionate advocate for equitable access for all. She is a leader at the intersections of disability, transportation, policy, accessibility, leadership development, automation, and equity. While in college, Kjensmo received a scholarship to study accessibility of large-scale transit stations during study abroad in Vancouver, Canada. She was awarded a student leadership award upon graduation for her work creating access and challenging the norm in productive ways. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban Studies from the University of Minnesota in 2011. A strong activist for policy changes affecting people with disabilities at the state level, Kjensmo received an All Star Advocate award from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) in 2013. The District Councils Collaborative of St. Paul and Minneapolis (DCC) hired Kjensmo into her dream job when they hired her as a Trusted Advocate. In this pilot project, Kjensmo was a liaison between transit planners and persons with disabilities during a large-scale expansion and redrafting of the local transit routes in response to a new Light Rail line entering service. After successful completion of this project, Kjensmo moved into the office of the DCC where she assisted with writing and production of an Accessibility Survey and Report. This survey and report documents access challenges for pedestrians with various disabilities throughout the Light Rail corridor. Today Kjensmo advises the local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the Metropolitan Council, as Chair of the Transportation Accessibility Advisory Committee. In this role she works create equity for persons with disabilities throughout the transit system and policy systems that the MPO adheres to.
Sarah Weiss, Evaluation Specialist, Minneapolis Public Schools
Sarah is an education transformation catalyst who strives to co-create and sustain equitable education systems. As an Evaluation Specialist for the Minneapolis Public Schools she leverages multidisciplinary experience in teaching, public policy, program development, and community organizing to drive innovative research and evaluation to promote district accountability. With a Master’s Degree in Mind, Brain and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she works to translate her knowledge regarding the implications of trauma on development to build holistic, culturally relevant learning environments. In her current position, she develops and evaluates researched-based frameworks to support social and emotional development, non-exclusionary discipline reform, and system wide equity. As a Minneapolis native, she is committed to promoting education as a facet of democracy, and is ultimately focused on the application of data and research to strengthen the capacities and engagement of students, families, educators, and administrators in the local community.