One question the Women’s Foundation is often asked is how we select 25 leaders from eight diverse communities all over the state to join Minnesota’s first Governor-appointed Young Women’s Cabinet?
This fall, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, YWCA St. Paul, and the Governor’s Office of the State of Minnesota gathered together to collaborate and select 10 young leaders to join returning leaders (ages 16-24) from eight communities across Minnesota to become the third cohort of the Young Women’s Cabinet. A public-private partnership between the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the State of Minnesota, the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN) is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment to achieve equity in opportunities and to improve the lives of young women of color, American Indian young women, young women from Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ+ youth, and young women with disabilities.
Being appointed to the Young Women’s Cabinet is a great opportunity not only for the young leaders, but also for the state of Minnesota – our institutions and organizations, our present and our future. Since the launch of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota in 2016, the Cabinet has guided Minnesota’s leading research on the wellbeing of young women, directed nearly a half-million dollars in grants to nonprofits and individuals, and worked with Young Women’s Initiative Council of powerful leaders to advance equity. The process of selecting new leaders to join the Cabinet demonstrated YWI MN’s core commitment to equity in design and practice.
First, the selection committee looked to ensure equitable representation of the communities on the Cabinet. The new members of the Cabinet stood out as applicants because of their commitment to change in communities, experience in leadership, and desire to further develop their skills. As the Cabinet works to create a Young Women’s Initiative legislative agenda this year, new members of the Cabinet will be an asset. Applicants who may not have been afforded opportunities like this one in the past are clearly ready to step into their leadership now.
The results? The 10 young leaders selected to join the Young Women’s Cabinet this year lead with intersectionality, courage, and a fierce commitment to creating a Minnesota where all young women thrive. In addition to representing the eight communities that ground YWI MN — African American, African Immigrant, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian, Latina, young women with disabilities, and young women in Greater Minnesota — two new voices emerged. First, the Cabinet will be enhanced by three young women leaders who are also mothers. Their perspectives will help ensure the experiences and needs of young mothers in the state is represented in YWI MN. Second, the Cabinet will be joined by the unique perspective and knowledge of one young woman who identifies as a Middle Eastern. She connects her experience working with the refugee crisis in Syria to equity issues and solutions in Minnesota.
The process of selecting 10 incredible Cabinet leaders from a pool of dozens of incredible young women is not easy. What brings us joy is that all applicants will be invited to join the Young Women’s Initiative movement in other ways, because all women have a role to play within YWI MN. We are building a movement with the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, and the leaders we engage today are leading and will continue to lead Minnesota into tomorrow.
The entire process has been a win-win for Minnesota, and we can’t wait to see how the third cohort of the Young Women’s Cabinet will experience leadership development in partnership with the YWCA St. Paul, and ensure that the work of the YWI MN Council stays grounded in the lived experiences of the young women and youth from each community and the community-specific challenges and solutions they identified in the Blueprint for Action. See the press release announcing the new members and learn more about the Young Women’s Cabinet.
Written by Lulete Mola, vice president of community impact