Dec 2016: Economic Development

On Thursday, December 8th, 2016, Nexus BCLI had its second Issue Series of the program year. At this event, we had three great guest speakers come share their experiences from their varied perspectives on the issues of economic development. In particular, they talked to the power of people organizing around the planning process. Guests were Vicki Moore, a veteran community organizer, Kate Lamers, a Minneapolis city planner, and Va-Megn Thoj, executive of the Asian Economic Development Assocation (AEDA). This event was hosted at the East Side Neighborhood Services in Minneapolis.

A full audio recording of the December Issue Series can be found below:




Nexus Community Partners is pleased to welcome Avi Viswanathan to our staff!  As Program Director for Nexus’ Institute for Community Engagement, Avi will lead the work of developing the Institute into a vital center for the learning and practice of community engagement, both locally and nationally.  Avi brings a long and deep history working with communities and across sectors to advance community engagement and racial equity. Most recently, Avi was a Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow with the Bush Foundation and has served on the Institute for Community Engagement’s Advisory Committee since March. We are very excited to welcome him to Nexus!

Nov 2016: Community Leadership

On November 3rd, 2016, The Twin Cities BCLI kicked off its first Issue Series in partnership with HOPE Community Inc., to talk about positional and community leadership. Executive Director Mary Keefe, along with Community Resilience Organizer Oduabaa and Director of Youth Leadership and Community Outreach Andrew Hopkins (Dhop) came to share their wisdom and experience about leadership. The guests had deep discussions about the differences, and sometimes overlap of what leadership means on an individual level versus the type of leadership and authority that comes from skills learned, groomed and given by official titles and positions.

A full audio recording of the November Issue Series can be found below:

Please welcome our new staff member Annelise!

  • September 26, 2016
  • By: Chai Lee
  • In: General

anneliseAnnelise came to Nexus in the summer of 2016 as an intern through New Sector Alliance’s nonprofit summer fellowship program. Her internship focused on supporting the Better Bus Stops program to promote transit equity in the Twin Cities region. Annelise: After my fellowship ended, I was hired on as a Capacity Building Assistant. In this role, I continue to primarily work on Better Bus Stops while also assisting with development & fundraising, and providing administrative support to the Director of HR & Finance.

I will be finishing up my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota this December. After graduation, I hope to continue the work that I have begun in the nonprofit world of the Twin Cities.

I am honored and proud to work with the dynamic, thoughtful, equity-driven leaders at Nexus. When I’m not at Nexus, I am studying, baking, or looking at French bulldogs on Instagram.


Did you know that nationally, 66% of businesses are owned by the baby boomer generation, with 85% of the businesses having no succession plans? As a result, many businesses could be closed, sold or relocated, leading to significant job and tax revenue loss. The trend however, presents a unique opportunity to transition businesses to employee ownership, thereby preserving jobs, keeping businesses local and creating ownership opportunities in communities of color.

In an effort to inform partners and develop strategies to capture this opportunity, Nexus Community Partners, the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and Oakland, CA based Project Equity will host a Funder Briefing on Wednesday, October 12th from 10:00 am to 12:00 PM in the Wellstone Center, located at 179 Robie Street East, St. Paul, MN 55107,

The funder briefing will present efforts underway nationally, and local data prepared by CURA that highlights the potential impact and opportunities for Hennepin and Ramsey Counties.

Please consider attending the briefing. It promises to be a lively and informative conversation. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Elena Gaarder, Program Officer,

Repa Mekha – President & CEO


Nexus BCLI Announces Its Fourth Cohort!

  • September 21, 2016
  • By: Chai Lee
  • In: General


SEPTEMBER 14, 2016

Building More Equity Champions:
The Twin Cities Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute Announces its Fourth Cohort!

Nexus Community Partners is thrilled to announce the selection of 16 fellows for the 2016-2017 Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI).

The BCLI is a seven-month leadership program designed to identify, train, and support placement of dynamic leaders of color and underrepresented communities onto publicly appointed boards and commissions in the Twin Cities. BCLI fellows help advance an equity agenda across several sectors and issue areas.

This group of 16 leaders also includes 2 fellows from Duluth, indicating the statewide reach and appeal of the program.

The fourth BCLI cohort members are:

Allysia Jenkins, nominated by The University of Minnesota School of Nursing
Ayan Hassan, nominated by The Wesley Center for Spirituality, Service and Social Justice at Hamline University
Chakita Lewis nominated by Resources Health Center
Hodan Hassan nominated by People for Pride in Living
Hieu Nguyen nominated by BCLI Alumni
Jacquelyn Thomas nominated by Village PTSA
Jocelyn Beard nominated by BCLI Alumni
Jonathan Harris nominated by Leading Individuals and Families to (L.I.F.T) to End Poverty
Manu Lewis nominated by Minneapolis Neighborhood & Community Relations
Salaam Witherspoon nominated by Community Action Partnership – Duluth
Sheronda Orridge nominated by BCLI Alumni
Shannon Eckman nominated by Minnesota Homeownership Center
Shaun Williams-Wyche nominated by Wilder Neighborhood Leadership Program (NLP)
Sindy Morales Garcia nominated by The Wilder Foundation
Susie Green nominated by Community Action Partnership – Duluth
Thamyr Goalafaie nominated by Department of Labor & Industry, State of Minnesota

The BCLI is building momentum within local governing bodies, as decision makers become not only representative of, but accountable to, our communities of color and other marginalized communities in the Twin Cities. The incoming BCLI fellows join 41 alumni, 24 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. Collectively we look forward to ensuring equitable outcomes in local and regional public policies. Biographies of each fellow can be found on Nexus’ website, The Twin Cities BCLI has been adapted from the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute originally created by Urban Habitat in Oakland, California.

Please help us welcome and celebrate the incoming cohort at the BCLI Launch Event on Thursday, October 6th,  2016 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm at Twin Cities campus of Saint Mary’s University (East Banquet Room) University Center, Twin Cities Campus, 2540 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404. The theme of this year’s launch is “Strengthening Champions for Equity”. Come meet the fellows, mingle with BCLI alumi, and hear from local leaders about the equity movement. The event is free, but please register online: (

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


Nexus is Hiring!

  • September 16, 2016
  • By: Chai Lee
  • In: General

Nexus is looking for an energetic, innovative and strategic thinker to lead the Institute for Community Engagement both locally and nationally.

Nexus Community Partners seeks a full time Program Director (40 hours a week, includes benefits) to support Nexus Community Partners’ Institute for Community Engagement (Institute). The Institute is a learning, practice, and leadership center designed for individuals, organizations and institutions from across the country to learn about authentic community engagement. The Institute is an evolution from the work of the Building the Field of Community Engagement ( and is a direct response to the growing demand for community engagement tools, knowledge and best practices from individuals, foundations, community-based organizations, government agencies and institutions.

Nexus Community Partners is a community-building intermediary whose mission is to “build more engaged and powerful communities of color by supporting community-building initiatives and foster social and human capital.”

 Position Responsibilities


  • Program growth and management responsibilities will include continuing the development of the Institute into its next phase of delivering high quality learning opportunities for local and national audiences; convening of partners; coordinating logistics; and leading program expansion and expenditures in accordance with the program budget.
  • Lead in researching and developing an earned revenue component of the Institute working in collaboration with the Director of Finance and HR.
  • Facilitate a cross-sector Advisory Committee that will help shape direction, strategy and implementation of the Institute.
  • Lead the design and coordination of the Institute’s learning opportunities, including the Engaged Learning Series, workshops, etc.
  • Develop and implement a communication’s strategy for the Institute including promotional materials, outreach materials, monthly blogs, website updates, and coordinate additional communication support, such as with consultants.
  • Develop and implement an evaluation system to ensure the Institute is reaching its goals and achieving its outcomes.
  • Supervise support staff, interns, and/or fellows

External Relations

  • Actively build connections, locally and nationally on behalf of the institute that will enhance the work and continue to build the field of community engagement
  • Identify and develop relationships with content experts to help develop and deliver content for the Institute.
  • Lead in the development and delivery of presentations at forums, conferences, workshops, etc.


  • Participate in fundraising by co-writing and editing funder reports and/or proposals for the Institute.
  • Develop community awareness of Nexus and be a positive, dynamic presence for Nexus.
  • Function effectively as a leader and problem solver in order to ensure that the goals and objectives of Nexus are met.
  • Provide support as needed for other projects, such as the broader evaluation and communication for Nexus.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Bachelor’s degree preferred and/or 5-7 years relevant experience in nonprofit and/or community work.
  • 5+ years’ experience in leadership positions, either in community, a volunteer position, or past employment.
  • 3+ years’ experience working in partnerships and collaborations cross-sectors and with multiple partners.
  • Understands and embraces efforts that promote racial, social and economic equity and asset-based community change.
  • Proven ability to facilitate dynamic groups that have different levels of knowledge and/or understanding.
  • Demonstrated experience taking ideas from conceptualization to implementation.
  • Demonstrated understanding of and experience with authentic community engagement.
  • Experience designing and/or delivering high quality, interactive learning opportunities.
  • Ability to think strategic and long-term while managing multiple projects and deadlines.
  • Capacity to work cross-culturally to achieve understanding and results. Ability to establish and maintain trust readily with a diverse set of partners.
  • Demonstrated understanding of the role culture and history has as a foundation for building strategies in cultural communities.
  • Knowledge of research methods and practices.
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills
  • Proficient computer skills including Microsoft Office programs (Excel, Word, and PowerPoint). Design skills a plus.
  • Must have personal transportation available for use, ability and willingness to travel on occasion.

The ideal candidate would be able to start November 2016.

Nexus offers a competitive salary and benefits package.

Salary range: $70,000 – $80,000 (plus benefits)

The Program Director will report to the Director of Strategic Development.

Qualified candidates should send a resume and cover letter via email by October 7th, 2016 to:

Felicia Ring

Nexus Community Partners

2314 University Ave W, Suite 18

St. Paul, MN 55114


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How is your bus stop experience?

  • August 30, 2016
  • By: Chai Lee
  • In: General

Metro Transit wants to hear from you!

In the Twin Cities region, Metro Transit riders took 85.8 million trips on buses and trains in 2015! Bus ridership accounts for the majority of these transit trips —about four out of every five trips.

Metro Transit is currently investing $4M in bus stop improvements to enhance access to employment and educational opportunities for communities of color and low-wealth communities in a program called Better Bus Stops. The Better Bus Stops program is improving the experience for thousands of Metro Transit customers who use transit on a daily basis and fulfilling Metro Transit’s commitment to regional transit equity.

Up to 200 new customer waiting shelters in are currently being added to Metro Transit’s service area, with a priority investment to communities of color and low-wealth communities. Half of the shelters are at new locations and the rest replace existing shelters, according to Metro Transit’s equity plan.

In 2015, the Community Engagement Team (a partnership between Nexus Community Partners, the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs) awarded contracts to 11 community-based organizations in Minneapolis and St. Paul to engage transit riders in their communities to provide valuable feedback on their bus stop experience. Ultimately their feedback will guide the future policies of Metro Transit.

In addition Metro Transit wants to hear from you! Your voice will impact Metro Transit’s shelter placement, bus stop improvement guidelines and how Metro Transit can enhance regional equity and access to education and employment opportunities.

Metro Transit’s survey

To learn more about Better Bus Stops go to

Please join us on Wednesday, September 14th for our third conversation in our Community Wealth Building Learning Series: “Infusing Investments to Expand Community Wealth Building Initiatives.” In this session, we will explore the Community Wealth Building framework and “lift up” financial models that contribute to local and broad based ownership. Presentations and discussion will focus on cooperative financing, community sourced capital and the role of philanthropy in supporting for and non-profit business enterprises. We hope you can join us!

When: September 14th from 9:00am to 12:00pm (light breakfast & networking from 9-9:30)

Where: UROC, 2001 Plymouth Ave N. Minneapolis

Guest speakers include:
  Ricardo Levins Morales/RLM Studios, Artist, Author and Activist
Kim Arnone/Vice President, Cutting Edge Capital (Oakland, CA)
Joe Riemann/Associate Director, Shared Capital Cooperative
John Fetzer, Program Officer, Northwest Area Foundation


Engaging Community for Better Bus Stops!

  • August 15, 2016
  • By: Chai Lee
  • In: General

In 2015, the Community Engagement Team (a partnership between Nexus Community Partners, the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs) awarded contracts to 11 community-based organizations to engage transit riders in their communities as part of Metro Transit’s Better Bus Stops program. The program is investing $4M in bus stop improvements to enhance access to employment and educational opportunities for communities of color and low-wealth communities in the Twin Cities. To learn more about the great engagement work that the Harrison Neighborhood Association is doing for the Better Bus Stops program to advance transit equity, read this exciting article: