A group of Midwesterners have big ambitions — from creating zero-waste communities and making places more LGBT-friendly to improving the Standing Rock reservation's health care system and getting more black female leaders in the public sector.
Now, 24 community leaders will have some extra help in pursuing those dreams after the St. Paul-based Bush Foundation named them Tuesday as the recipients of its competitive fellowship. Nearly 700 people in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota applied this year for the fellowship, which awards up to $100,000 over a year or two to fund a college degree, networking, coaching, workshops or training to boost their leadership skills.
"They've made change already … this will give them new and even stronger networks," said Anita Patel, the leadership programs director at the Bush Foundation. "They have visions for themselves, for their communities, for the change they seek that are so bold, so unique."
The fellowship program has been around since the Bush Foundation was founded in 1953 by a 3M executive. More than 2,300 people — including well-known community leaders such as former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and author and storyteller Kevin Kling — have gone through the program.
"It's helped them lead in different ways … and inspire other leaders," Patel said of the fellowship.
This year's Minnesota fellows are: Siad Ali of Minneapolis; Heather Cusick of Minneapolis; Kate Davenport of St. Louis Park; Norma C. Garcés of Richfield; Maisha Giles of Oakdale; Miigis Gonzalez of Duluth; Ashley Hanson of Granite Falls; Austen Hartke of St. Paul; Hudda Ibrahim of St. Cloud; Jeannie Krull of Moorhead; Rose McGee of Golden Valley; Nawal Noor of Minneapolis; Maria Regan Gonzalez of Richfield; Tony Sanneh of Bloomington; Amie Schumacher of Waite Park; Alex West Steinman of Plymouth; Bo Thao-Urabe of Eagan; Ia Xiong of White Bear Lake; Tou Ger Xiong of Woodbury and KaYing Yang of St. Paul.
The North Dakota fellows are Jana Gipp and Joseph McNeil, both of Fort Yates. From South Dakota, Sarah Pierce of Black Hawk and Michaela Seiber of Sioux Falls were selected.
Anyone over 24 years old from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or 23 American Indian tribes in those states can apply for the 2020 program; the deadline is Sept. 24.