Current Fellows

Announcing The 2020-2021 BCLI Fellows!

Alexandra Sicilait 

With over a decade of experience, Alexandra has worked in the arts, corporate, non-profit and public sectors, and has found her true passion in arts philanthropy, leadership, and social justice. A cultural diplomacy enthusiast from Haiti, she has worked at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, South Arts, the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and Creative Capital.

She has master’s degrees in Public Relations and International Relations from Syracuse University, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Communication from George Washington University. She has served on the Board of BURNAWAY, an Atlanta-based digital magazine of contemporary art and criticism from the American South.

When she is not working, Alex enjoys photography, graphic design, traveling, and drooling over her favorite magazine, the Monocle. Alexandra is a 2017 Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Leadership Fellow.

Angela Cuellar 

I’m 44-year-old Native American women. I have been through so much in life with racism, prejudice and forgot about that today It has made me the strong women I am, that I am able to stand on the front lines and advocate for others who are experiencing the same or similar issues and feel like they have no voice. Well I do and I am going to used it. With guidance and willingness, I am well on my way. I have worked in the homeless field for at 10 years, I do volunteer work on my own time. I am also available to help when needed. I just want to give back.

Angela Williams

Angela G. Williams is a former graduate of Roosevelt University in Chicago where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Master’s degree in Training and Development. She also holds a Paralegal Certificate from Harry S. Truman College. She is a small business owner of Housing Resource Network, Inc., an agency that serves the community through Landlord/Tenant relations and also YNIIGI, LLC – You Need It, I Got It, an event planning/support organization. She currently serves on the Board for Community Action Partnership of Hennepin County.

Carl Johnson

Rev. Carl Johnson moved to the Twin Cities in fall of 2016. He made connections in the neighborhood by volunteering in Dayton’s Bluff Elementary school and recruiting volunteers to serve Dayton’s Bluff Elementary and Recreation Center in various capacities such as organizing classrooms for teachers, Deep cleaning recreation center before school year cleaning and maintaining a peace garden. He also started a community garden at no cost to the rec center for teaching neighborhood kids how to grow vegetables. Reverend Johnson primary motivation was to end everyday hunger. Rev Johnson has held neighborhood specific block parties and seasonal events to uplift the neighborhood.

Carl has a mission to abolish food insecurity in major cities starting with St.paul believing that race and economic justice are tied to food. He is a pastor in the twin cities and formally  appointed committee member in the City of St.Paul of Food and Nutrition. He is on the leadership team of Mission St.Paul a gathering of St.Paul pastors that promote unity in the city of St.Paul.

Carl’s extensive knowledge of black culture and structures of identities in the black community has propelled his work with racial injustice. Carl often engages in circles and individuals cross-culturally to see communities work in unity.

He built partnerships with the school and eventually Indigenous Roots Cultural Art Center. They began to partner when Rev. Johnson organization started their social good enterprise Storehouse Grocers. Storehouse Grocers is specific to Dayton’s Bluff and is placed on 7th Street East. If it is an affordable and accessible grocery store that has fair bargain prices under $5.00. The grocery store has become a neighborhood hub to feed and help families that are entrenched in food insecurity. They give out 1600 meals a month during covid.

Clara Jung 

Clara Jung is a Korean immigrant who calls Minneapolis home. She was fortunate enough to return to Seoul as an adult, where she volunteered with organizations like People for Successful Corean Reunification, Korean Unwed Mothers Families’ Association, and spent time with her long separated family. This experience reactivated her connection to her Korean identity and her desire to continue cultivating belonging and justice in her home community in Minneapolis. Clara is currently a fundraiser at the University of Minnesota Law School, where she works with major donors to match their passions with the financial needs of the school. She interrogates traditions that have upheld white supremacy while excluding others, and works to implement practices within the field of philanthropy that include BIPOC donors and help advance the BIPOC priorities. Clara earned her B.A. in Religion, Sociology and Anthropology from St. Olaf College as the first person in her family to attend university. In her school’s tradition, she is an experienced musician and you can find her playing clarinet or dancing to jazz in her free time. She also enjoys volunteering with local nonprofits in homelessness prevention and community health, helping folks get out the vote, and baking cupcakes for her friends.

D’Andre Gordon

D’Andre Gordon is a rising senior at Metropolitan State University, where he double majors in Criminal Justice and Psychology. In addition to attending university full-time, he also works full-time at Catholic Charities as the Public Policy Advocate. He is originally from Jamaica and is passionate about increasing diverse representation at all decision making tables and access. D’Andre is committed to developing a career in public policy and law. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, concerts, taking care of pets, reading, cooking, outdoor activities, and trying new restaurants.

Ms. Jewelean Jackson

Jewelean Jackson is an Elder Community Servant, working toward the betterment of the universe beginning with her core family. Jackson is also a proponent of life-long learning, from cradle to grave, continues as a Very Involved Parent (VIP) to daughter, Thandisizwe and many other children of society. She is currently the Vegan Byy Nature Founding Project Director working to initiate  the Inaugural Vegan Minnesota Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School. Twin Cities Non Violence is an anti-violence endeavor that she embraces. Jackson recently had the honor of attending the 57th Anniversary March On Washington, as a member of the Josie  R. Johnson Leadership Academy. She says, “I am the first Community University Health Care Center Black Chair, as I’ve chosen to put the bulk of my time and energy into changing health disparities toward BIPOC. My legacy lies in creating positive societal transformations”.

Jose Huape

Jose, a native of Los Angeles, has been a youth advocate, educator and mentor. He lived for the past six years in Portland, working as an educator who strengthened academic and career pathways for students of color in the STEM field and as a College Possible coach and now a Youth Specialist for Pillsbury United Communities. He graduated from Lewis & Clark college in Portland, and recently relocated to Minneapolis to pursue his Master in Public Health at the U of M-Twin Cities.

Mala Thao

Mala was born in Vientiane, Laos to a Hmong father and Thai mother.  She grew up in St. Paul’s East Side and currently lives in Frogtown.  Mala has been in the philanthropic sector for 20 years working as a fundraiser for 10 years before being a philanthropic advisor to many families for the last 10 years.  One of her passions is at the intersection of philanthropy and social justice.  There she is working to help philanthropy move from a deficit-based funding to a more asset-based approach: seeing communities as experts to their issues and resolutions.  Mala has a long history of serving on many boards and committees.

Nonkululeko (Nkuli) Shongwe

Nonkululeko Shongwe (Nkuli) was born and raised in South Africa and immigrated to the U.S. in High School. She is an organizer, facilitator, and cooperative enthusiast. For the past three years, she has had the privilege of working at Nexus Community Partners. Nkuli is the Community Wealth Building Program Manager. Her work focuses on elevating the organization’s community wealth building strategies and supporting Nexus’ cooperative fellowship programs. Nkuli is also is a second-year Master of Human Rights candidate at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. Her concentration focuses on economic, cultural, and social justice for historically marginalized communities. Nkuli graduated from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in 2017.

Octavia Smith 

Octavia (she/they) envisions a world where communities, especially those Black, under resourced, marginalized and historically oppressed, are autonomous in shaping their lives and delivering equitable policies for all. They believe deeply that in order to make space for such a world, old systems rooted in capitalism, white supremacy, anti-blackness and cultural genocide need to be abolished. Octavia is happiest when she is surround by community and her loved ones. She’s a foodie, bad dancer and while born and raised in the Bronx has come to call Minnesota home.

Samantha Sencer-Mura

Samantha Sencer-Mura grew up in Minneapolis and became passionate about closing the educational opportunity gap after her time as a student in the Minneapolis Public Schools, where she witnessed deep inequities within the system. She earned her B.A. in Critical Theory and Social Justice from Occidental College, and her Master’s in School Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Since 2017, she has been the Executive Director at 826 MSP, a youth writing, tutoring, and publishing center with a mission to empower the next generation of Twin Cities authors. During her tenure as Executive Director, Samantha has led the organization to build a satellite location at her alma mater, South High School in Minneapolis, and to join the 826 national network of youth writing centers. Samantha lives in the Corcoran neighborhood of South Minneapolis and enjoys cooking, reading and karaoke.

Shawn Sorrell

Shawn Sorrell is an experienced consultant with public and private entities in design and implementation of organizational change strategies and leadership development, dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion. Currently serving as the Diversity and Equal Justice Manager for Hennepin County Minnesota Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation, as well as Disparities Reduction Justice Domain Lead. Formally studied chemical engineering at Drexel University, sociology and psychology at the University of Delaware and is a native of Baltimore, MD. Spent several years working with community groups and religious organizations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware cultivating violence prevention programs and mentoring youth from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds. Community board participation with Avenues for Youth, Volunteer Lawyers Network, Woodbury YMCA and Woodbury Public Safety Multicultural Advisory Committee.

Stephannie L. Lewis

Stephannie L. Lewis is the Associate Vice President of Community Impact for the Greater Twin Cities United Way (GTCUW). At GTCUW, she drives the development and effective implementation of operations strategy, team performance and project management initiatives for the community impact team. Prior to joining the team at United Way, Stephannie as the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Social Impact Strategies Group (SISG). During her tenure at SISG, she also served as a visiting assistant professor at Macalester College teaching Black entrepreneurship. She holds a bachelor of science degree in sociology from Hamline University and a master’s degree in public policy the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

As a member of the Forge North Collective, Inclusive Capital Collective, and a former member of the City of Lakes Commercial Land Trust Exploratory Advisory Committee, Stephannie works to advance equity and inclusion in the Twin Cities entrepreneur ecosystem.

Steven Nelson

Steven Nelson raised his son with severe mental health disorder while going to college for Addiction Counseling. Steven has worked with so many organizations such as RCMHC and Mofas, trainings conference role in movies. DHS family service, want to make a difference on a higher level.

 

Tsua Xiong

Tsua Xiong completed his graduate program studies in Social Work from Augsburg University. He obtained a Master’s in Social Work degree and is currently working towards licensure as a LGSW (Licensed Graduate Social Worker). Tsua is in the role as a certified peer support specialist at Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in the SEA (Southeast Asian) Assertive Community Treatment model in adult mental health. Tsua strives to continue his peer work in becoming a national certified peer support specialist. He is deeply passionate in the field of mental health and is a person living with a mental illness. As a person with a lived experience, Tsua participates in advocacy and outreach in the community to raise awareness and address concerns in mental health. In his spare time, Tsua likes to hike outdoors in the wilderness and read different genres of books.