2022 NLP Alumni
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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) 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2021 NLP Alumni
Hi, I’m Anh Dinh. I came from Vietnam and I want to introduce my cultures to everyone. Even though, I’m proud of where I came from, sometimes I still struggle with my identity and where I belong but I hope by being a part of this program, we can all help each other to navigate through these journeys.
Antiquika (Tika) Jones
My name is Tika Jones, and I am from St. Paul. I come from a family of strong, powerful women who continually are gracious and loving. Because of strong women, I am a woman who wants education to be accessible and relevant for all students, and I believe literacy is a right, not a privilege. It’s imperative to be a champion for children; therefore, my place is creating a safe space to motivate young minds.
My name is Blair. I am a celestial being. I come from many a light years away. My people are brilliant stars in the sky. I am proud of being part of the Universe. I feel awesome when I shine and others can see. Home smells like a cooling breeze on a clear night sky. If the value of the sun was shared by all people, maybe all people can feel home on this precious planet.
My name is Chelsea. I am queer and no, I won’t be elaborating. I come from the Arctic, Inuit, though I’ve never touched our land. My people are chosen family. I am proud of my integrity, my heart, my mind, and my commitment to growth. I feel awesome when held in community. Home feels like people, like places that only existed for a brief moment in time, like place yet to be. If the value of stewardship of the earth, radical community, radical love, and imagination was shared by all people, maybe all people can feel home on this precious planet.
I am first and foremost a child of God’s. I hold a different position in different people’s lives and different aspects of community. I am mother, grandmother, Minister, advocate, leader, organizer, teacher and student. I have done many things, but I am still discovering my place on this earth and the many facets of my character and Being.
My name is Eric Salinas. I am originally from South Texas and moved to Minnesota in 1999. I am a single father who manages a kitchen for Alamo Drafthouse movie theaters. I also DJ in my spare time and I’m also apart of several community endeavors like the Eastside skatepark taskforce, Dayton’s Bluff community garden, and Dayton’s Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services. I feel that community and my place in it is crucial to developing stronger bonds with all aspects of societies.
Nabad! My name name is Fadumo Mohamed. I am a community organizer in the Northwestern suburbs. I am of Somali decent and I grew up in Southern Minnesota. My conviction on what my place on earth is comes from spiritual tradition. It is to get to know the one source of goodness and to do that by being a better everyday.
Greetings!! My name is Hajaratu Jaafaru, my pronouns are She/Her & They/Them. I’m a local community organizer currently a part of the group Kreyatif Noir (Black Creative in Haitian Creole and French) Co-Founder and Co-Organizer and a Twin Cites Creative Artist! I come from a place of unconditional love, compassion, growth, interbeing, and the understanding of change being the only consistent thing in our lives. I’m proud of continuously putting in the inner and outer work into myself to experience the person that I’m growing and have changed to be, as well as always adapting to how that experience chooses to change. Thus, through healing myself I’ve seen how it’s helped heal others around me. I’m on a path of learning what it means to truly have unconditional love for myself and others, inner standing the belief that ‘we are all one’. I will not only just talk about how I want to move and better love this world but do so through my energy, voice, and most importantly through my actions and intentions. I feel awesome when I prioritize my spiritual, physical, mental, wellness, allowing me to be my most authentic and present self for me and for the people that I choose to love.
My name is Jazinae Patterson and I am a current Business Advisor for the Black Women’s Wealth Alliance. As a native of South Minneapolis, I attended Washburn Senior High School, and upon graduation in 2016, I enrolled at the University of Northwestern St. Paul with two full scholarships. As a triple degree holder in Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Biblical Studies, I am currently studying to get certified as an Economic Development Professional. I also plan to attend Law School to become a Civil Rights Attorney and work on Criminal Justice and Prison Reform. In addition to my role as the Business Advisor for the Black Women’s Wealth Alliance, I also work with the No Kids in Prison Fellowship with the Legal Rights Center.
(Say my name. Use gender neutral pronouns)
Kenna-Camara Cottman is Black, non-binary, a cultural artist, and repping North Minneapolis. Kenna runs Voice of Culture Drum and Dance, where we create Black space for practicing cultural arts and liberation. Kenna has taught many things including Montessori elementary school, College level dance, and kickboxing. Kenna has worked many places including Franklin Middle School, TU Dance Center, and at a coffee shop. Kenna is a proud participant with BodyPrayers, The Wild Duo, and WE WIN, among other organizations. Kenna is the child of community parents Bill and Beverly Cottman, and the mother of Yonci Peaceful and Ebrima Baye. www.voiceofculture.org
My name is Lovetee Beyan Polahn. I am a full time Christian from a local church in Brooklyn Park. I was born into the union of Mr. and Mrs. John F. Beyan, from a small town called Ziggida, Lofa County, Monrovia Liberia. I am a single Mom with six Kids, two boys and four beautiful girls, I am also a Nursing Student at Anoka Ramsey Community College. One of my codes of value in life is to serve humanity. Currently, I served as a Tenants Organizer at GeorgeTown Park in Brooklyn Center for a little over one year. I am looking forward to the success of this program.
I am who I am because of us, because of my friends, family, cat, trees, air, neighbors, colleagues, elders, and the list goes on. My greatest joy is making new friends. I love to sit down and listen, knowing that what I’m about to hear will rock my world. When engaging in radical imagining, I envision a future that cherishes diversity and humility, one that prioritizes rest, creativity, and storytelling, a world where humans are in right relation with the many other beings that inhabit this earth.
I am a community organizer, political advocate and a Modiste. I have been speaking on my experiences with food and housing instability since 2017. My passion for buidling community with trans/non-binary/queer, BIPOC youth motivates my work. I have a focus on sustainability and mutual aid, which you can see in all of my work including my art. As a Modiste I design, mend, tailor, alter and upcycle clothing. Everything I make is made with second hand/recycled material. I believe that healing our communities starts with authentic expression and storytelling. I am very hype to use this opportunity to build connections and continue refining my skills. Stay connected with me through My Facebook Page or Instagrams @masonmodiste and @bibbitybobbityboy find me anywhere through linktr.ee/magicmodiste
My name is Sid, I try to be a good listener, I enjoy gardening and learning about plants. Watching cooking shows and eating new foods. I work with young children and community. My passions are hard to pin point but I think it mostly comes down to interactions. Generally I love to learn about as many different things as I possibly can. I am a South Minneapolis born, East Saint Paul resident. I come from close family and friends. From Minnesotans and Bahamians. I know I am still learning what my place on earth means to me.
Sierra Carter is a music executive by day and holistic counselor and healer by night! North Minneapolis resident, advocate for purpose & lover of the collective! With God’s Grace – Founding The Zen Bin in 2018, Sierra has curated a safe space for her community to have access To affordable mental and emotional health resources, holistic medicine and affordable fresh meals.
Dr. Tolulope Monisola Ola (She/Her/Hers) is the Founder and Executive Director of Restoration for All Inc; a nonprofit organization with the mission to nurture and empower individuals, organizations, and communities to renew, discover and restore their culture of well-being. She is a Mental Health Practitioner, African Storyteller, and an advocate for cultural healing through mind, body, and spirit practices. She is a Co-chair for the Mental Health and Wellness Action Team of Ramsey County Public Health. She is an entrepreneur and a social researcher with several journal articles, book chapters, and two books to her credit and has presented extensively on the role of culture in improving mental health and well-being at local, state, national, and international conferences. She has expertise in public health and rights-based responses to chronic diseases and their psychosocial impacts on immigrants and refugees from Africa. She is a public health expert with experience in empowering and mobilizing communities to bring about social change through health education, sensitization, and advocacy to create an environment that is physically, socially, and culturally inclusive.