Introducing our newest cohort from the Neighborhood Leadership Program! These thoughtful folks will walk alongside one another for 7 months in deep self-reflection. They will build self-awareness, practice working across difference, and engage in values-based action. Read their bios here!




Meet the 22-23 North Stars!

Check out these incredible cooperators! These fellows are brilliant and imaginative and kind. You don’t want to miss them. You can get a preview below, and read all about them here.

House of Culture
✨Jayanthi RaJaSa, Yonci Peaceful Jameson, Kenna-Camara Cottman
✨House of Culture is a cooperative manifestation based in the oral tradition and griot skills that form the foundation of Voice of Culture.

A Farm Called Home
✨Cal Adeboye, Lane Brown, Mari Fitch, Izzy Vielman, Mo Hanson, Jai Jami, Sun Kai
✨A Farm Called Home invests in Black and Indigenous future farmers by providing access to land-ownership and housing stabilization through cooperative development, education and environmental stewardship.

✨ Olivia Nichols, Sophia Nichols, Syreeta Sevé
✨The mission of Lupine is to restore relationship with the land, animal, human, and plant kin in our home of Mni Sota Makoce.

The Black Prosperity Cooperative
✨Alicia Clerk, Chakita Lewis
✨Our mission is to develop a sisterhood based on mutual respect, collaboration, inclusion, and shared economic opportunity.

Cultural Crops Cooperative
✨Mujahid Layton, Tenille Foreman
✨We seek to provide sanctuary to those seeking freedom from oppressive systems by modeling our ancestral agrarian & natural lifestyles on 20 acres of land in Georgia.

Boston Black Market and Enrichment Center
✨Jihan Thomas
✨We strive to be a place where Black people can gather to ideate, share the joy of the day, and just be.

Please join us in giving our new team member, Leanna Browne, a warm welcome! Leanna is a dancer, a teaching artist, a choreographer, and a connector in community. At Nexus, she’s a program associate working on the North Star Black Cooperative Fellowship. Right now, Leanna’s filling her cup through sharing space with folks and being in community. 

“I’ve been thinking about how it is very easy to be isolated right now. I am thinking about how community is being cultivated. Where can people gather and be their full selves? Being a part of North Star—a Black-led and centered space—where folks are able to gather around cooperation, Black liberation, and community wealth has been really special.”

Outside of work, Leanna has been getting energy from dance. For Leanna, “dance is a way to not only be connected to your body but also to connect to others. Reconnecting with yourself and with community is powerful! I want to cultivate spaces for folks to experience that.” If you want to dance with Leanna, she has a free Umfundalai (muh-foon-duh-luh) class coming up! Learn more here:

Read her bio here

Apply to Join NLP 2022-23

  • June 8, 2022
  • By: efireside
  • In: General

Apply today for Neighborhood Leadership Program 2022-23! Nexus Community Engagement Institute (NCEI) is excited to announce the 2nd year of Neighborhood Leadership Program (NLP) in Nexus soil.

NLP is a 7-month cohort experience for individuals to gather and organize stories—our personal and our shared knowledge. Our goal is to collectively clarify the narrative we want to shape the world. Narratives like these have the power to transform our future, our mindsets, relationships, power dynamics, policies, and flow of resources. The stories we tell about ourselves are everything.

Our program is open to applicants who are both early and seasoned in their leadership journey. At NLP, we are more interested in learning about your passions and commitment to shape change in community than in popularity, degrees or accolades. Everyone has something to learn and to share. Apply here and reach out to with any questions.

Last week, we wrapped up the 2021-2022 Pilot Neighborhood Leadership Program year!!! This was the first year NLP was housed on Nexus soil. Congratulations to the newest NLP Grads!

NLP celebrated by gathering in person for the first time in person, eating delicious food from Demera’s Ethiopian Restaurant, and sharing lots of hugs and laughter! Folks from the NLP community, including the cohort selection committee and Nexus Community Engagement Institute staff, joined to  celebrate the fellows.

Sydney Lattimer, also known as Divine Words, offered us a beautiful Radical Acts of Remembrance ceremony, where we honored our ancestors and remembered our way forward. Though we know we are now in each other’s ecosystems forever, we will miss regularly seeing the beautiful faces of this year’s cohort!

Are you interested in joining our next cohort? The NLP team is already busy preparing for the upcoming year—visit us here or reach out to us at for more information. Applications will open this summer! Stay tuned.

Nexus Worker Ownership Initiative is excited to be featured in a new report from the Brookings Institute. Read the Saint Paul Case Study here.

“Institutionalizing inclusive growth: Rewiring systems to rebuild local economies,” is a playbook of innovative economic development strategies. Through in-depth case studies, it profiles the wide variety of local public, private, and civic institutions stewarding their communities through the four pillars that drive inclusive growth: economic development, talent development, spatial development, and asset development.


A Note from Terri Thao

  • December 8, 2021
  • By: efireside
  • In: General

This year makes it 17 years I have been lucky enough to work for Nexus. And like 17-year-olds on the cusp of adulthood, it is with great sadness that I am announcing my departure from Nexus at the end of this year, on December 31, 2021.

When I started at Nexus, I didn’t realize what an adventure this would be to engage community and build wealth with amazing colleagues and community members who are helping to build a better world for all of us. 

For the past 17 years I have been fortunate enough to be apart of this work through the East Side Housing Initiative, Center for Working Families, and even the Beehive technology project. Interwoven throughout was being able to fund amazing BIPOC-led organizations and organizations engaging and working with BIPOC communities in places like North and South Minneapolis, and my East Side of St. Paul.

And for the last ten years, I have been so honored to have adapted and run the Twin Cities Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI). I cannot believe that we are in our 9th cohort. I am so proud of what we have done with the BCLI. I truly believe that we are contributing to the movement and helping set up our communities for long term success. I leave the Twin Cities BCLI to my super amazing partner in crime, Chai Lee.

Over the course of my 17 years at Nexus, I have been honored to get to know and work alongside some of amazing community leaders— like Lupe Serrano, Elder Atum Azzahir, Ricardo Levins Morales, and Paul Fate—all who have provided much wisdom and amazing models of leadership. 

And to all the other amazing folks I’ve met—I have enjoyed building connections with you all in community and across different sectors (even over Zoom!). Not only is it about the work, but I love hearing stories about your families, your communities, and what drives you to do this work. And of course, I want to send love to my awesome Nexus colleagues who have made the 17 years so enjoyable. From the bottom of my heart, this Hmong girl says ua tsaug/thank you!

As for my next adventure, I won’t be too far away. Starting in mid-January 2022, I will be a Program Director at the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies leading their Local Initiatives and Opportunities program. I am excited and will certainly be bringing all that I have learned to this new position. I know our paths will cross again and look forward to connecting with you all to create a powerful future together.


Introducing the Tapping the Potential Playbook

  • November 12, 2021
  • By: efireside
  • In: General

These past few years have been hard. As we navigated the hardships of transitioning to online trainings starting in 2020, the team at the Nexus Community Engagement Institute (NCEI) longed for ways to connect to community and share a little bit of us with those we hold so dear despite being physically apart.

When we were in physical space with each other, we invited people to bring their full-selves, we engaged senses and centered wellness and joy, surrounding participants with food, music, people, toys, coloring sheets, and more throughout the sessions. There was something special about being present with community members—giving hugs, sharing stories, laughs, and food together.

It was challenging to transfer that beauty to online sessions, whether we were hosting, attending or facilitating. We longed to and needed to engage and welcome our whole selves and bodies in our training spaces.

After hosting our first online Tapping the Potential of Community Engagement series in 2020, the NCEI team and co-facilitator Nicque Mabrey brainstormed ways we could host virtual trainings while engaging with our bodies in the ways we did when hosting the series in-person. From this desire emerged the idea of creating our Playbook!

What is the Playbook?

Designed by Nexus Communications Manager, Elly Fireside-Ostergaard, the Tapping the Potential of Community Engagement Playbook is intended to be another resource for people to learn about community engagement while interacting with music, dance, body stretches, coloring, and reflection questions. While enjoying the Playbook, we invite you to connect with your inner child that embraces messiness, goofiness, and joy.

Who is this for?

The Playbook was made for participants in the Tapping the Potential of Community Engagement series to follow along the curriculum but is also a resource for any community members looking to engage in fun activities and community engagement practices and principles from home.

Check it out!

We encourage you to print the Playbook, use its resources, and ignite your inner playfulness as we continue to move through this global pandemic and remain connected to each other and our joy!

Download the Playbook here!

Nexus Community Partners Announces the 9th Cohort of their Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) 

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 Ninth BCLI cohort members are:  

  1. Aimee Vue, nominated by Youthprise
  2. Akia Vang, nominated by BCLI alumni
  3. Chonburi Lee, nominated by Hmong American Partnership
  4. Chrissie Carver, nominated by BCLI alumni
  5. Danielle Swift, nominated by BCLI alumni
  6. Kabao Xiong, nominated by BCLI alumni
  7. Mai Tong Yang, nominated by BCLI alumni
  8. Ricky Williams, nominated by BCLI alumni
  9. Robert Boos, nominated by BCLI alumni
  10. Saundra Massey, nominated by BCLI alumni
  11. Stephanie Jones, nominated by Brooklyn Center
  12. Stephanie Shider, nominated by Nexus staff
  13. Temitayo Olasimbo, nominated by Woodbury
  14. Veronica Rono, nominated by BCLI alumni
  15. Yariet Montes, nominated by St. Louis Park
  16. 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 the program director, Terri Thao at or program manager Chai Lee at You can also check out Nexus’ website,, and on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @nexuscp. 



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



Did you hear that the People’s Canvass (formerly Knock Knock LLC) has become a worker-owned cooperative?

The Minneapolis team that built the nation’s largest deep canvassing team in November, and collected 16,000 signatures to put the Yes ‘4’ Minneapolis public safety initiative on the ballot, has broken new ground as the United States’ first political canvassing worker cooperative. Nexus Worker Ownership is proud to have supported them through this process.

“I’ll be the first to say it — I knew nothing about how any of this co-op stuff worked. I’m a canvasser. I go to the door and I talk to people about issues in their community,” said Charlie Bartlett, a lead trainer at The People’s Canvass and a member of the co-op transition team. “But working with Nexus gave us a vision and a pathway to achieve that vision. In the same way we feel called to do the work to improve our communities, the folks at Nexus are called to make that work itself more equitable.”

Are you interested in practical resources to rebuild, reestablish, and reignite your businesses through worker-ownership? Contact Nexus Worker Ownership Initiative for a free consultation at