Guy Bowling is empowering fathers of color in Minneapolis and wants to improve police relations. In Maple Grove, Farhio Khalif is advocating for East African women and girls. In Lauderdale, police officer Matthew Koncar wants to boost public trust of police.
The three are among 24 winners of the Bush Foundation’s competitive annual fellowship, the St. Paul organization announced Tuesday. While the selection process occurred long before the death of George Floyd, which has galvanized the Twin Cities and the world around racial justice and police reform, the community leaders — two-thirds of whom are people of color — are part of that push for change, said Anita Patel, the leadership programs director at the Bush Foundation.
“This group is really committed to racial equity in real ways,” she said. “This is an investment in leaders for decades to come.”
Each of the fellows will receive $100,000 over a year or two to fund a college degree, networking, coaching, workshops or training to boost their leadership skills.
Of the 24 winners, 16 are Minnesotans. Besides Bowling, Khalif and Koncar, the Minnesota winners are Amira Adawe of St. Paul, Evva Karr of St. Paul, Kirsten Kennedy of North Branch, Ani Ryan Koch of Minneapolis, Allen Lewis of Virginia, Dr. Brittany Lewis of Minneapolis, Dr. Essa Mohamed of Rochester, Vayong Moua of Eagan, Benjamin Schierer of Fergus Falls, Jenna Udenberg of Two Harbors, Kayla Yang-Best of St. Paul, Dave Anderson of Minneapolis and Roque Diaz of Minneapolis.
Recipients from North Dakota are: David Archambault II of Cannon Ball, Laetitia M. Hellerud of West Fargo and Matuor Dot Alier of Fargo. From South Dakota: Valeriah Big Eagle of Rapid City, Joseph Brings Plenty of Eagle Butte, Amanda Carlow of Pine Ridge, Beau J. White of Kyle and Dr. Meghan Curry O’Connell of Elk Point.
About 750 people applied for the annual award, which is open to anyone who is 24 years old and older in the three states or American Indian communities within those states.
The fellowship program has been around since the Bush Foundation was founded in 1953 by a 3M executive. More than 2,300 people — including community leaders such as former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and author and storyteller Kevin Kling — have gone through the program.