Monthly Archives: December 2011

Njeri Clement and NGATHA International

Check out former Student Leadership Summit Participant, Njeri Clement’s work through NGATHA International and Saint Cloud State University:
Ngatha International is a non for profit organization registered in Mn and in Kenya. NGATHA’s main objective is to restore hope and dignity to women and children in Africa.The 4th annual dinner fundraiser on December 3, 2011 held at The Rink Event Center in Monticello, MN was aimed at raising funds to provide food, school supplies for orphans whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS living in the Ngatha Orphange and Learning Center- Kenya.

Five Questions for: Diane Tran

Diane Tran, Project Manager at Grassroots Solutions, College of St. Scholastica alumna

1)     What about your college experience influenced where you are today?
In my current community and professional work, I work to advance policy and social change through advocacy and education. It was during my time at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN that I was able to practice and develop insight into a great deal of the skills I now employ daily – understanding systems, building coalitions, and utilizing collaborative leadership skills. The Benedictine values of community, hospitality, respect, stewardship, and love of learning provided practical grounding for me as I pursued my academic studies and, I believe, were the most important part of the education I received as part of my undergraduate studies.

2)      What is the most exciting thing that you do in your job?
I’m a project manager with Grassroots Solutions, a Minneapolis-based consulting firm specializing in grassroots strategy, training, organizing, and evaluation. We work with a variety of national, statewide, and local clients including nonprofits, government and associations, corporations, and candidates. My team works on both electoral and advocacy projects and I’ve been fortunate to engage on issues like promoting the clean energy economy, protecting antibiotic efficacy for human health through changing industrial farming practices, and preserving medical care for the poorest of the poor in Minnesota. I’m lucky to work with great people on behalf of important causes.

3)      What book should everybody read, and why?
The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy, by William Strauss and Neil Howe, was published in 1997, and details the researchers’ theory of American history as a series of recurring cycles. As a student of history, it is fascinating to consider their proposed understanding of people and cultural shifts as part of larger archetypes and natural systems. As a citizen concerned by the partisan divide and political gridlock that seems today’s norm, it is comforting to take the long view that the current political and economic challenges we face are neither unprecedented nor new to the human condition. As they purport, “In nature, the season that is about to come is always the season farthest removed from memory. So too in American history, past and present.”

4)      Who or what is inspiring your work these days?
Minnesota has a nationally recognized civic tradition and I’m proud to be a part of contributing to that trend. We Minnesotans vote and volunteer in record numbers and we are concerned about the well-being of our communities. I have served in recent years on the boards of directors for the Citizens League, Kids ‘n Kinship, National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP-MN), the Minnesota Public Health Association, and the Minnesota Women’s Consortium. I volunteer with youth and direct service programs at my church, teach courses on active citizenship for emerging leaders, and am pleased to be a part of the civic infrastructure of our great state.

5)      What are you passionate about?
I’m the founding blogger for Minnesota Rising and am engaged in work to build relationships, trust, and a shared vision for the rising Millennial generation in Minnesota. Having been a youth, student, and community organizer, I recognize that young people do not have to wait for some appointed time upon which we can assume the mantle of leadership. If our generation is able to come together now because of our common experiences and a shared admiration for and commitment to Minnesota, we have that much more opportunity to continue our state’s historic legacy of educational attainment, economic vitality, and healthy communities. I invite any and all young Minnesotans interested in joining the discussion to contribute to the “Our Minnesota: Building A State of Trust,” cascading conversations tour and to work with us to develop the collective capacity of this generation for impacting Minnesota’s future.

We’re starting a new type of blog post, asking alumni of Minnesota Campus Compact member institutions about their civic experiences and reflections.  If you have people you’d like to hear from or questions you’d like to ask, please let us know — or ask someone questions yourself and send us the results to share.  Thanks!

Student Profile: Tiffany Vang,College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, Jackson Fellow

Tiffany Vang

Through the College of Saint Benedict Jackson Fellowship I have been able to secure an intern position at TakeAction MN with the Hmong Organizing program. This summer has been an amazing experience. I have been privileged to work with so many  people from all kinds of organizations with a progressive agenda. I am currently working with the  Veterans Committee in partnership with the Special Guerrilla Unit Veterans and Families of U.S.A., INC. on getting Hmong veterans who fought in the Vietnam War era to benefits.

Being awarded the Jackson Fellowship has set a standard for me to be a leader with integrity and morals, and a positive agent of change. By being a Jackson Fellow, I see that people immediately expect something great out of me, and with those high expectations, I’ve started to see myself in that way.   Through the various leadership workshops and inspiring speakers we are able to meet, my definition and perception of leadership and followership has changed, and has empowered me to become a better and well-rounded leader. During this summer, the Jackson Fellowship has put a different lens in front of me where I see that I matter and can make great changes.

This fellowship has exposed me to many things that have changed the way I viewed my future career. I’ve become more focused and realistic about what I can do and have time for in my life rather than spreading myself too much on everything I care about. One of the most important things I learned from the fellowship is that first impressions matter and that you have to present yourself in a way that you want to be viewed. The exposure to the workshops and professional tips has helped me a lot during my fellowship and will continue to help me throughout my career.

I think grant writing was particularly informing and useful. I learned many things I didn’t know of and I find it to be incredibly important skill and knowledge to have especially if you plan to go into the nonprofit sector.