Erika Bailey JohnsonErika Bailey-Johnson is in her ninth year as the Sustainability Director at Bemidji State University and Northwest TechnicalCollege in Bemidji, Minnesota. Sheworks in the Ganawendakamigaawigamig(Office of Earth-Caretaking or Sustainability Office) and has recently become the Coordinator of the academic program, People and the Environment. She completed her BA in Biology from the University of Minnesota, Morris and her Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from BSU. She speaks at regional and national conferences on BSU’s unique sustainability model which includes a wellness component and an emphasis on integrating indigenous voices.
Michael BirchardMichael Birchard has a Master's degree in Social Responsibility and Bachelor's degrees in American Studies, Human Relations, and Minority Studies. He has worked at North Hennepin Community College for nineteen years and currently serves as the Diversity and Affirmative Action Officer. He has dedicated his life to advocacy work for low income and underserved populations. He currently leads the Diversity Success Initiatives at NHCC and has seen unprecedented rates of success amongst underserved students. He has taught courses on democratic citizenship, Race in America, human relations, leadership, and community organizing at North Hennepin Community College, Saint Cloud State University, and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Gerry HuerthGerry Huerth is an elder from Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation in Northern Wisconsin. A faculty member at North Hennepin Community College, Gerry is a wise, gentle and loving guide to his students. He has co-founded many important initiatives at North Hennepin Community College, including the American Indian education work, the Black Men’s Leadership Movement and NHCC’s annual Earth Week program. Gerry has also worked on several successful grant collaborations with Hennepin County Green Partners Environmental program, and has been a pioneer in connecting sustainability and diversity work. A recent graduate in St Mary’s Masters in Educational Leadership, Gerry empowers students to fulfill their leader within through his model of compassion, kindness and mistake-making.
Beth Mercer TaylorBeth Mercer-Taylor serves as Sustainability Education Coordinator at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Since 2008, she and her team have offered a wide variety of curricular and co-curricular sustainability programs for students. Growing up white in a family and place that spans American socio-economic categories, Mercer-Taylor got involved in anti-racism, equity and human rights efforts early, and still works to show up for racial justice, on campus and in her community. With a belief in making room for creative approaches, she brings arts, music and performance into sustainability initiatives. Her background includes degrees in law and public policy, legal practice, organizing experience and service as a city councilmember and planning commissioner. At the University, she supports the Sustainability Studies Minor, which is an interdisciplinary, free-standing program serving nearly 150 undergraduates, and works with a student team to develop community-building events and new initiatives touching hundreds of students and community members. Serving as the principal investigator (PI) for two projects on environmental education and greening schools, Mercer-Taylor also leverages academic sustainability research to benefit K-12 teachers and students in Minnesota.
Ana MunroAna Munro teaches Creative Writing and Community Organizing at North Hennepin Community College. She co-founded North Hennepin’s Sustainability Committee and American Indian Education and Advisory Groups, and coordinates the annual Minnesota Annual American Indian Civil Rights Tour, a five day-immersion tour for American Indian high school and college students to learn about their identity, culture and heritage. Ana has facilitated multiple sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion trainings, events and workshops, including presenting at AASHE’s annual conferences and the New Zealand’s Association for Research in Education 2015 Emancipation through Education Conference on Maori Homelands. She is a graduate of Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Closing the Achievement Gap Institute, and a Doctoral Candidate of Higher Educational Leadership at St Cloud State University, focusing on creating systemic change in higher education for students of color and American Indians.
Dr Whitney Harris’s own story runs deep. As the son of civil rights activists in Louisiana, Whitney developed an interest in diversity early on and was exposed to an array of topics including ability, race and gender. At school and in his community, Whitney advocated on behalf of his sister with disabilities. He also participated in civil rights marches and demonstrations alongside family members to encourage awareness for important issues, and he watched his mother tirelessly advocate for civil and women’s rights.
Dave LarsenDavid E. Larsen was born and raised on the Lower Sioux Reservation in Morton, Minnesota. A Viet Nam era Navy veteran, David completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology at Southwest State University in Marshall, Minnesota. He went on to study at the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois where he completed a fellowship in Dakota History. He was appointed to Chair the first American Indian Advisory Council to the Minnesota Historical Society. David was elected to three terms as Chairman of the Lower Sioux Tribal Council. For over 15 years, he served as a resource to the People’s Institute for Survival and beyond, conducting national workshops on undoing racism. He spent 20 years as an educator for both Morton School District and Redwood Falls Schools. David has taught American Indian history and cultural studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities as well as at Mankato State University. He is one of the leaders of Minnesota’s American Indian Civil Rights Research Tour, a collaborative partnership between North Hennepin Community College, Robbinsdale Area Schools, Bemidji State University, the University of Minnesota, Anoka Hennepin School District, Columbia Heights School District, Fond du Lac Tribal College and the Lower Sioux Community.
OzaawaagwaneyaashOzaawaagwaneyaash (Randy Gresczyk) from the eagle clan, is an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe. Randy is a very active member in the randy.jpg Twin Cities American Indian community, and a singer for Red Bone Singers, a traditional Native American Drum Group. Randy completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota where he majored in History and American Indian Studies. He currently works for the Robbinsdale Area School District as an Ojibwe Language Specialist and an American Indian Home School Liaison. He is an instructor of Ojibwe Language at Augsburg University. He is also an instructor of Ojibwe Language and Ojibwe Culture and History at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
Robert RiveraRobert Rivera is the Director of Family and Community Engagement for Robbinsdale School District, where he advocates for students and families of color and rivera.jpg helps them navigate the education system. As a first generation immigrant from Nicaragua, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, Robert knows first-hand the struggles of urban students and their families, and is dedicated to creating opportunities for success. Having served in the Air Force as a Database Analyst on active duty for six years, Robert was the recipient of an Air Force Achievement Medal for creating a database that pinpoints maintenance requirements for F-16s. After separating from the military, Robert returned to education, earning a Bachelor's in History and Education from Augsburg College and a Master’s in Education from Hamline University. He was the former Assistant Director of Hamline University’s Center for Excellence in Urban Teaching, where he forged partnerships between schools and colleges and non-profit and for-profit organizations, to create educational equity.
Jocelyn HernandezJocelyn Hernandez is a third year student at Augsburg college pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in history and leadership studies. She brings a unique perspective to community organizing and racial justice through her experiences as an undocumented student from Mexico, leader of the Latino Success Initiative at North Hennepin Community College, an urban scholar at the Metropolitan Council, and now the Community Engagement intern at the City of Brooklyn Park. She has turned her passion for community organizing and racial justice into action through her leadership in Students for Change, a student of color group at North Hennepin Community College focusing on holding the college accountable for racial equity and her work as a trainer with the immigrant rights movement, Cosecha. She is known as a fiery leader for racial justice and a firm believer in learning from our past. Jocelyn plans on becoming a professor of sociology and a historian, leading with her love and knowledge of the history of social justice movements and critical race theory. Teah MannehTeah is a current student at North Hennepin Community College. Born in Liberia but raised in America, his family fled to the United States seeking refuge after escaping Liberia's brutal civil war. Like many immigrants, they struggled, moving around constantly from one apartment to another and sometimes to different states.Teah, a member of the Black Men’s Leadership Movement and founder of National Speaking Society, an online news site, believes that regardless of one’s current residence, education or social status, one must never depart from his/her roots.
Eric Munguia CuautleEric is an NHCC student and graduate of the community Organizing class, which helped him become more involved on campus. Eric is now the leader of NHCC's Latino Success Initiative, mentors 5th graders and is a member of NHCC's Presidential Advisory board for students of color.
Taylor RiveraTaylor Rivera is a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU, and recent North Hennepin Community College graduate. She studies broadcast and digital journalism at ASU, where she works as a student reporter for the Arizona State Press. As a student at NHCC, Taylor worked with Teah Manneh, on All Healing Comes From the Earth, a documentary about the 2016 Native American research tour, a partnership between NHCC, BSU, and Robbinsdale Area Schools. Taylor also received a grant from Hennepin County in 2016 to develop a movement at NHCC to promote more physical activity outdoors for community college students and county citizens during the winter season called “ NHCC Take a Hike,” earning her a Green Partners certificate of completion.
Antonio SmithAntonio Smith has served the Brooklyn Park community for over 10 years. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Minnesota State University - Mankato and a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Humphrey School, University of Minnesota. In 2009, he and 30 other members of the Community Engagement Initiative’s Core Planning Team created, designed, and developed core values and the mission statement “ Brooklyn Park, a thriving community inspiring pride where opportunities exists for all”.
Since 2013, Mr. Smith has work at the City of Brooklyn Park. Currently, he is Community Liaison and team lead for the Cities United and My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiatives. As an overview he builds and sustains relations with underrepresented populations in the community, bridge any gaps between underrepresented populations, city services and community resources, and ensures that stakeholders voices are heard in an effort to inform decision makers so that sustainable decisions are made. He is known for getting the job done and done right. If you ask him his favorite Brooklyn Park Core Value he will boldly answer “Diversity Enriches Community”!
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