Announcing The 2021-2022 BCLI Fellows!
Aimee Vue is unabashedly from Minnesota. She has a deep passion for all things dairy, a strong aversion for unnecessary niceties, and believes that we do better when we all do better. Aimee is the Youth Philanthropy Manager at Youthprise and is the go-to person for all things YouthBank, a youth-led, youth-driven grantmaking initiative. She wants to channel her passion for getting young people into positions of power through YouthBank by making it a nationwide program. Her background includes a BA from Brown University, working on designing kombucha popsicles, and navigating the commerce committee at the Minnesota State Legislature. Aimee is also the co-president of the Brown Club of Minnesota, serves as a board member for the Southeast Community Organization, and was part of the 7th Cohort of the Headwaters Foundation’s Giving Project. She is an aspiring French chef, weekend kayaker, and the most New England-ish Minnesotan you’ll meet.
Akia Vang is a student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities studying environmental science, policy, and management. He is interested in protecting the environment as that itself is intrinsically valuable along with the fact that the natural world is directly linked with the health of people. Akia currently serves on a few local advisory bodies that he hopes will continue to include youth voices and integrate sustainability into planning for environmental and public health. In his free time, Akia enjoys going on walks and exploring the various parks, rivers and trails around the Twin Cities.
Chonburi Lee has a dual Master’s degree in Management Information Systems and Business Administration with graduate certifications in data analytics and project management from Metropolitan State University. He earned his undergraduate degree in Communications from Hamline University. Academically disciplined by the University of Minnesota and certified by the SCRUM Alliance as a SCRUM Master. He has great professional experience in project management, business management, mass communication, and consumer engagement. His extracurricular engagements include serving as a Board Member for the Midway Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Directors/Treasurer for New Millennium Academy. His favorite hobbies include fishing, pigeon racing, mowing the lawn, and podcasting. He is a devout fan of LOTR, Game of Thrones, and most orc, ogre, and wizard films.
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” –Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Chrissie Carver is a senior in the CAPS program at Bethel University pursuing a B.A. in organizational leadership. She serves as an associate pastor at The Potter’s House Apostolic Ministry in Burnsville, where she has the privilege to walk alongside people in their faith journey. She also has more than 15 years of experience providing high-level administrative support to teams and executives in the K-12 education, philanthropic, and non-profit sectors. In her current role at the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC), she has the opportunity to contribute to work that connects her faith and passion for racial and social justice. Chrissie cares deeply about communities of color having equitable access to resources and opportunities. Her mission is to eliminate barriers that keep people from reaching their full potential. In 2019, she launched The Lighthouse Community, a non-profit organization seeking to close the racial opportunity gap with a focus on education and wealth for youth and families.
Danielle Swift is a community organizer with a specific lens in real estate, land use and non-profit community development. She began her career working at Hiway Federal Credit Union. After eight years, she moved on to working in real estate sales with a primary focus on Saint Paul. Danielle is currently working as an Anti-displacement Organizer at the Frogtown Neighborhood Association, as a realtor with ABC Realty and serves on the Board of Zoning Appeals in the City of Saint Paul. In her personal life she is a social and racial justice activist and most importantly a mother to Elijah, Londyn and Soleil.
Kabao Xiong(Picture forthcoming)
Kabao Xiong is a Hmong woman with a love for mountains, short hikes and cycling adventures. She finds immense joy from nature, authentic friendships, the arts, and Southeast Asian foods. Kabao’s professional experiences include nonprofit work in social services, education access, and college and career exploration for low-income communities. Today, she works in philanthropy to support grantmaking in the areas of basic needs, economic development and health & wellness. As a Hmong refugee, Kabao is committed to social and transformative justice, which has been strengthened by tediously navigating through multiple cultural, educational and professional barriers over the years. Kabao spends her free time learning about personal finance, listening to socio-political podcasts and discovering her next DIY project on social media.
Mai Tong Yang
Mai Tong Yang was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and moved to Minnesota at a young age. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She was named one of five national finalists for the Boys & Girls Club of America Annual Youth of the Year award and was invited to the White House to speak with President Barack Obama on education and youth policy. She is passionate about amplifying youth voices, immigration reform, and family reunification. For three years, she served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in South Korea. Outside the classroom she ran a regional debate conference, cooking club, and coordinated a language mentorship program for North Korean defectors. Previously, she worked for the United States Congress and Minnesota State Legislature. Currently, she is a first-year law student at the University of Saint Thomas School of Law. During her pockets of free time, she enjoys listening to podcasts, watercolor painting, and going for nature walks with family.
Ricky Williams is a longtime community activist of two decades. He has been a Peer Support Specialist, supporting those with chemical and mental health issues in our communities. He has been an ordained pastor since 2018, serving at ICCM Life Center and Above Every Name Ministry in Saint Paul.
Robert Boos is a communications strategist, a creative technologist, and a former journalist. He consults on, manages and produces communications projects. He writes news and social media. He bridges communication, research, and data visualization. He visualizes and explains social demography using map-based data analysis methods. He can tell you a story and draw you a map. He is a 1.5-generation biracial immigrant from Thailand who grew up in the American southwest before relocating to the Midwest. He is a husband and father to two kids adopted from Thailand.
Saundra Massey is an American Descendant of Slaves (ADOS) who works to see the eradication of White Supremacy and that America “writes the check” due to all ADOS. Born in Selma, Alabama, Saundra witnessed friends and family returning from the Selma, Montgomery March, held on March 7, 1965. Many were bloodied and battered, some arrested, in what would become known as BLOODY SUNDAY. Two things occurred that day. First, White America witnessed the brutality captured on television by Alabama state troopers wielding whips, nightsticks, and tear gas on American Black citizens. The second was the death of childhood innocence with the understanding of the hatred of Black people demonstrated on the Edmond Pettus Bridge and the birth of a warrior against White Supremacy. Saundra is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker who earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree focusing on Social Work from the University of St. Catherine and a Master of Social Work Degree focusing on Program Development, Policy, and Administration from Augsburg College. Saundra has held multiple social work positions in the areas of education and health care.
Stephanie Jones is a community member and mother who is passionate about education, economic development, and justice for families affected by gun violence. She is a certified Doula and Birthing Educator focused on reducing maternal health disparities. She currently sits as Vice Chair of the planning commission for the City of Brooklyn Center. Stephanie has over 11 years of professional experience working in the field of marketing and communications. For the past six years, she has worked with Twin Cities R!SE, a local non-profit organization in North Minneapolis, whose mission is to transform lives through Personal Empowerment, career training, and meaningful employment.
Stephanie Shider is the CEO of Lady on a Mission LLC., and Founder of Girls on a Mission Inc. As an educator, mother, mentor and author, her mission is to dismantle the miseducation of what black and brown children are being told about their identity through the negative images that constantly bombard them in order to begin to love themselves just the way God made them, unapologetically. She shares her testimony of understanding her identity in Christ through her book I think I Like My Natural Hair. She has been an educator of 13 years, graduating from Rutgers University with a BA in dance and sociology and MS from Long Island University in Education. She has also received a Certificate in General Family Therapy. A founding member of DEW Ministries before relocating to Minnesota, Stephanie loves to share her gift of dance with the youth she works with as a bridge to help them unveil their own.
Temitayo (Temmy) Olasimbo is a first generation American, born to Nigerian parents. Temmy is a fierce equity fighter and a devout equitable solution explorer. She lived in Nigeria till the age of 10 and relocated to Cottage Grove, Minnesota to attend Park Senior High School. She graduated at 16 and enrolled at Augsburg College where she was the Co-Chair of the Pan African Student Union. She graduated with a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing and a minor in Political Science. She truly believes that equity work is “heart work” and has used her time to advance the cause. She served on the Washington County Equity and Integration Advisory Committee for 6 years pursuing solutions to racial and economic integration, increase student achievement, create equitable educational opportunities, and reduce academic disparities based on students ‘diverse racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. She is currently the Commissioner representing Woodbury on the Community Development Agency (CDA) board of Commissioners responsible for economic development and housing affordability. She is a Sr. Researcher at Best Buy, where she is responsible for defining industry leading initiatives to further research growth and day-day operations, continuous evaluation, and improvement of research processes to ensure efficiency and scalable solutions. She is the ideator/Creator of Onefest!, a two-day celebration focused on intentionally cultivating an organic inclusive environment celebrating the unique and diverse culture of the black community.
Veronica Rotich was born and raised in Kenya, came to the United States as an F1 student. She is a first-generation immigrant and understands the struggles women and youth from Africa go through. She is a cofounder of African Women and Youth Resource Center (AWYRC). They tackle any social issues going on with women from health care to housing. The organization is currently working on getting a shelter that’s culturally appropriate for women going through gender-based violence. Her passion is to bring resources to this underserved community.
Yariet Montes Huerta is a mother of four children and works part-time for the City of St. Louis Park and is a full-time college student. Her mother inspires her to take on different challenges in life and her children teach her to be patient, be kind, and to listen before speaking. She is excited to be here and be part of the BCLI program because this is one step forward to making a difference out in her community and uplift the voices that haven’t been heard in community for a very long time.
Yasmin Muridi is the director of non-licensed personnel at The Saint Paul Federation of Educators. She is currently working at Saint Paul Public Schools. She is a community organizer and is a passionate educator who supports our parents in their navigation of the school system. She is a leader for non-English speaking parents and helps them advocate to bring justice and fairness to them and their children.