Current Cohort

April Bryant (she/her)

My name is April B(e). I am a generational change agent who honors and commits to learning more about myself and my ancestors to partner in helping shape our current and future generations. I come from love, humility, instinct and insight as well as from places of awe, gratitude, affirmation, ingenuity and developmental force. My people are all of me – body, mind, and soul… we are united. I am proud of my daughter – my J.ust A. S.ister A.way – (Jasa). Being an American Descendant of slaves who  is looking, fighting, finding, and always searching for a connection to find her native tongue that was stripped from me and my people generaitons ago. I feel awesome when I am able to partner. I feel awesome when I am able to learn. Home smells like the pages

Baki Baki Baki Porter (all pronouns)

My name is motor mouth, sweetie pie, zeamster, beloved… I am a culmination of my ancestors karmic debits and ties to shame. I come from Lilith’s sigh before her deep dive into the sea. I am from the awkward section of the Milkyway, from the Underground Railroad between Mars and Pluto. My people are preachers in the smoke circle. The mothers that pray for their trickster children. My people understand time travel, exist in the present, fully aware past, present, future are points on the spiral we all know. My people are the creative infiltrators who understand science and spirituality shake hands during eclipses and plat volleyball with light. My people love backyards and despise courtrooms. Deeply understanding to judge and punish with violence and isolation is to forget the lessons of our ecosystem(s). My people hate the news but read economic journal reviews. My people grow and tend to Gaia as well as their hearts. My people have reverence for their cultures and rub the coconut oil of solidarity into their knees and elbows every morning.

I am proud of the way I have begun to hug my wounded self. How I’ve turned to books, trees, and active listening. I’m proud of how I’ve gotten better at remember my principals not just when I feel joy, but also sorrow. I’m proud of all the chances I get to create as a multidisciplinary artist.

I feel awesome when I get to plan and set up an event for my people and delegate so we’ll I can listen to the music and laughter and discussions from outside or in the bathroom. When I work not against but with my anxiety and chronic pain.

Binta Kanteh (she/her)

My name is Binta Kanteh. I am the eldest daughter of an eldest daughter. I am a public policy professional in the Twin Cities.

My family is from Gambia, I am the great grand daughter of farmers.

My people are magnificent and generous.

I am proud that I incorporate my heritage, various cultures and faith practice into the work I do.

I feel awesome when my people are taken care of.

Home smells like- sometimes gun powder green tea, sometimes Thiouraye (traditional African incense), sometimes fried fish. Home sounds like lots of joking, storytelling and praise. Home feels like being enveloped in warmth.

If the value of our quality of well-being being connected to one another was shared by all people, maybe all people can feel home on this precious planet. 

Brenda Compean-Morales (she/her)

My name is Brenda Compean Morales. I am a first generation immigrant, college graduate, and first-generation professional. the 5th largest city in the world, Mexico City. I come from hard working immigrant parents. I come from a history of loving mothers, aunts, and grandmothers. I come from Southside Minneapolis.

My people are my boyfriend, family, friends.

I am proud of your my academic accomplishments but more importantly who I am as a person. I am proud of the love and care I give my family, friends, and community. I am proud to be an emotional and empathic person.

I feel awesome when I am in nature, with people I love the most.

Home sounds loud, with music blasting. Home is freshly made Mexican breakfast and agua fresca with my parents. Home is where my extended family gather to share a meal and catch up with each other.

If the value of empathy was shared by all people, maybe all people can feel home on this precious planet.

Carolyn Szczepanski (she/her)

I’ve lived many places — from Chicago to Houston, Switzerland to Australia — but St. Paul is my chosen home, the community I’m committed to. I’m a white-bodied, cis lesbian; a communications organizer, writer and designer; an eldest daughter, big sister and queer auntie; a meditator, cyclist / transit rider and life-long (un)learner. I’m most lit up by wandering in forests, loud EDM concerts, community coming together in public space, actively envisioning abolitionist futures, long walks or bike rides with friends, and connection and laughter with family. As I embrace my fourth decade of life, my highest aspiration is to find and cultivate a sense of purpose and true belonging in my own body, my community and my tiny place on this unfathomably beautiful planet and complex time.

Cherita Tenhoff (she/her)

I am a Black woman. I come from Peoria, Illinois. My people are Black people. I am proud of being able to help those that in need. I feel awesome when using my strength and skills to help others. 

My home looks like home were people can come over and chill and they don’t have to call first. They can feel like they are at grandma’s house.

If the values of giving, good morale, and love were shared by all people, maybe all people can feel home on this precious planet. 

EB Young (she/her)

Ebony Young (she/her/hers) is a proud parent and community organizer from Saint Paul, raised historically in the Rondo community, where she is now raising her family. She is a 2013 graduate from Century College with a Associates Degree in Criminal Justice Ebony is dedicated to representing and educating underrepresented communities in the education system. My daily inspiration comes from my children and the children in my community. Ebony began her career in 2014 at the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood for over seven years where I cultivated my dedication and commitment to the systems change and success for communities of color. I am now working at Voices for Racial Justice where I am able to facilitate conversations with Parents on system change. I enjoy spending time outside in nature, reading and spending time with family.

Felicia Orozco (she/her)

I grew up in a family and community focused culture. I love nature and sunsets. I believe that my place on this earth is to positively add to the lives of my family, friends, and community.

Jenny Srey 

I am a mother of six and daughter to refugee and adoptee elders who is passionate about being in a part of creating system change to bring out power and brilliance of people. I love eating and cooking Khmer food with my family and friends. I am the co-founder of ReleaseMN8 and a Humphrey Policy Fellow (2020).

Liz Kaufman (she/her)

Liz Kaufman (she/her) is a mother, facilitator, strategist, and advocate living on Dakhota land in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul, MN. She grew up in North Minneapolis and has lived in New York City, London, and San Diego. She identifies as a Korean adoptee, a multiethnic Asian American, and a woman of color impacted by global systems of displacement and rooted in transnational solidarity movements. She holds a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University and an MA from Hamline University and has worked at national legal and environmental organizations, nonprofits, grassroots community and wrap-around social service organizations, and broadly in education. Liz has organized around a variety of issues including Ethnic Studies, wrongful conviction, police violence, immigrant rights, youth leadership, and political prisoner campaigns, and professionally has been working in racial equity, public policy, and higher education. She is a member of several local and national organizations and is interested in explorations of transformative and visionary personal and collective work and how we can practice freedom in our daily lives.

Lora Pedersen (she/her)

My name is Lora Pedersen. I identify as a white, queer, cis-gender woman. I grew up in South Minneapolis but currently live in East St. Paul with my partner and our dog and cat. I enjoy experiencing life and my interests often change…. currently am interested in kickboxing and historical fiction graphic novels. Overall I like to move my body, express myself artistically, and think deeply about things. I think I am here on this earth to break generational patterns, build bridges, and stand in awe and curiosity of the beautiful things in the world around me.

Maila Lee (she/her)

My name is Malia Lee. I am a first generation American born daughter of refugee parents who grew up in the diverse neighborhoods of Frogtown, East Side, and North End. I have a background in Architecture, construction, urban planning, youth work, community organizing, and plan to create social change through impacting the built environment. 

I come from not having much growing up and being raised by a community of people. The feeling and value of community and caring for those around me is cultural and innately a part of me.

My people are my Hmong Community and the geographic communities I grew up in. (Including Frogtown, North End, and East Side Saint Paul)

I am proud of reaching the educational level and getting the career and life experiences I have.

I feel awesome when I excel at the skills and abilities I have and can use it to benefit friends, family, community, and myself

Home feels like familiarity

If the values of community and genuinely caring for each person was shared by all people, maybe all people can feel home on this precious planet. 

Murugi Matiga (she/her)

My name is Murugi Mutiga. I am generous and thoughtful. I come from the Agikuyu people of Africa. My people are spiritual and giving. I am proud of my family. I feel awesome when I hear the sound of laughter. Home smells and tastes like Mama’s cooking. If the value of Ubuntu was shared by all people, maybe all people can feel home on this precious planet. 

Naida Medicine Crow (she/her/winyan)

My name is Naida Medicine Crow. I am Winyan. I was born in Minneapolis or Bde Ota in the Dakota language. But I reside in Iminizaska (St. Paul). 

My people are Crow Creek Hunkpati Dakota Nation. How far I have come as a survivor and the resilience within me and that I keep going and I help others along the way in whatever way that is. 

I feel awesome when I spend time with family, when I see my Takoza smile and my daughter happy, I feel awesome being around my culture and spirituality and learning our traditional ways and spirituality, I feel awesome helping others, inspiring others, and just being a good relative and sending out good energy to those who might need to be uplifted and their voices heard.

Home [is] walking this earth, breathing this air, feeling the water on my feet, home is on my ancestral Dakota homelands, home is knowing my ancestors are here with me, home is knowing I can walk our Sacred Sites and still honor them and remember them and remember that I am always home and that they are always here. <3

If the values of Mitakuye Oyasin that we are all related and everything is interconnected and that what one does causes a ripple to others so if we do good, good will come back to us. 

Steel Williams (he/him)

My name is Steely. I am on a current journey to find my superpower or powers and educate and train myself on how to become the best version of myself. I believe deep inside I’m going to find something huge, and profound. I’m stuck in narrowing down choices and quite possible not narrowing it down and follow the current that has gotten me this far.

Tenzin Nyima (he/him)

My name is Tenzin Nyima. I am Tibetan/American. I come from Brooklyn, NYC. Me people are Tibetans/Americans/Indian. I am proud of being Tibetan! I am proud of who I am today. I feel awesome when I know I am supported. Home smells like masala! Home sounds like the cuckoo bird. If the values of compassion and empathy were shared by all people, maybe all people can feel home on this precious planet. 

Tiara Powell (she/her)

My name is Tiara. I am a women of God mother and Accounting Clerk. I come from Chicago. I come from family of mental health issues. I’m here to break the chain and renew our family values. My people are African American. I am proud of myself for wanting change. I feel awesome when my house is clean. Home smells like lavender. I love the smell of lavender. Iife the value of understanding was shared by all people, maybe all people can feel home on this precious planet.