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Press Release

Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan Announce Appointments to the Young Women’s Initiative Executive Council and Cabinet

Young Women's Initiative of MN. When Black, Indigenous, and young women of color in MN, all young women, families, and communities thrive.

[ST. PAUL, MN] – Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today announced appointments to the Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative and the Young Women’s Cabinet. Both bodies of leadership are part of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, a public-private systems change partnership with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota to achieve equity in opportunities and improve the lives of young Black, Indigenous, and women of color. The Executive Council includes leaders from business, academic, non-profit, and government sectors. The Cabinet is composed of young leaders from communities across the state that experience some of the greatest disparities in opportunities and outcomes. Appointments are effective through January 2, 2023.

“It’s my honor to elevate the leadership of these extraordinary young women from communities across Minnesota,” said Governor Walz. “The best way to ensure that young women have the opportunities and resources they need to thrive is by asking them directly what we can do to improve their community. I look forward to working with the incredible leaders on both the Cabinet and Executive Council to achieve a better, more equitable Minnesota.”

“I am encouraged by the growing number of young women leaders throughout Minnesota. Now more than ever, it is essential that we continue to uplift the voices of women from diverse backgrounds,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan. “The Young Women’s Cabinet is a demonstration of our continued commitment to center young women in our decisions to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. Thank you to the young women who applied and shared their powerful voices, ideas, and stories with us. We are so grateful for and inspired by every one of you.”

“With the leadership of the Executive Council and the continued leadership of the Young Women’s Cabinet, Minnesota is ready for a much-needed transformation that positions young women and their families at the center of solutions,” said Gloria Perez, President & CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, and a co-chair of the Executive Council. “I look forward to partnering with the Young Women’s Cabinet and the Executive Council to activate the power of our state’s young women and achieve gender and racial equity. When young Black, Indigenous, and women of color in Minnesota thrive, all young women, families, and communities thrive.”

Young Women’s Cabinet

  • Aaisha Abdullahi – St. Paul, MN
  • Sara Abraha – Oakdale, MN
  • Millenium Amha – St. Paul, MN
  • Deilyah Dexter – Onamia, MN
  • Madison Finora – Duluth, MN
  • Trinity Hanif – Ostego, MN
  • Helen Hedge – Minneapolis, MN
  • Scout Holding Eagle – Moorhead, MN
  • Nibraas Khan – Eagan, MN
  • Jaeden King – Onamia, MN
  • Sabrina Kubisa – Hopkins, MN
  • Amal Mohamed – Bloomington, MN
  • Chynna Mou – Minneapolis, MN
  • Anisa Omar – Mankato, MN
  • Rahi Patel – Minneapolis, MN
  • Ashley Toledano-Solis – Bloomington, MN
  • Mercedes Van Cleve – Prior Lake, MN
  • Ella Weber – Crookston, MN
  • Amy Zhou – Minneapolis, MN

Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative

  • Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, Co-chair
  • Gloria Perez, Co-chair of Council, President and CEO of Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
  • Verna Cornelia Price, Co-chair of Council, and CEO at Power of People Consulting Group
  • Adriana Alejandro Osorio, Philanthropy Advisor at UNICEF USA
  • Ana M. Pérez de Pérez, Executive Director at discapacitados abriéndose caminos
  • Anita Patel, Leadership Programs Director at Bush Foundation
  • Annesa Cheek, President of St. Cloud Technical and Community College
  • Cathy Chavers, Tribal Chairwoman of Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
  • Denise Rutherford, Sr. Vice President of 3M Corporate Affairs
  • Dennis Olson, Commissioner of Higher Education
  • Emily Larson, Mayor of Duluth
  • Eric Jolly, President and CEO of Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation
  • Gaye Adams Massey, President and CEO of YWCA St. Paul
  • Houston White, H/W Men’s Room Barbershop and Northside Advocate
  • Irene Fernando, Hennepin County Commissioner
  • Joan Gabel, President of the University of Minnesota
  • JoMarie Morris, Non-profit Consulting and Immigration Attorney
  • Joyce Ester, President of Normandale Community College
  • Kara Carlisle, Vice President of Programs at McKnight Foundation
  • Kim Norton, Mayor of Rochester
  • Laura Bishop, Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Lorna LaGue, President of White Earth Tribal and Community College
  • Maria Regan Gonzalez, Principal Sustainability Design Consultant at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
  • Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive of Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Mitra Jalali Nelson, Saint Paul City Councilmember
  • Julie Maday, Senior Vice President, Best Buy
  • Monica Meyer, Executive Director of OutFront Minnesota
  • Nicole Matthews, Executive Director of Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition
  • Padmini Udupa, Principal of Longfellow Alternative High School
  • Patti Tototzintle, CEO of Casa De Esperanza
  • Paul Pribbenow, President of Augsburg University
  • Phillipe Cunningham, Minneapolis City Councilmember
  • Rebecca Crooks-Stratton, Secretary/Treasurer of Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
  • Representative Rena Moran
  • Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States
  • Senator Patricia Torres Ray
  • Shelley Buck, Prairie Island Tribal Council President
  • Steve Grove, Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development
  • Susan Bass Roberts, Vice President and Executive Director at Pohlad Family Foundation
  • Suzanne Rivera, President of Macalester College
  • Tish Bolger, CEO at Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys
  • Traci Tapani, Co-President of Wyoming Machine
  • Tuleah Palmer, President and CEO at Blandin Foundation
  • Wendy Nelson, Chairwoman of the Carlson Family Foundation

About the Young Women’s Initiative

The Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN) is a partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Women’s Foundation, and the YWCA. The YWI MN includes a Cabinet, which is comprised of young women and gender-expansive youth aged 16-24, and an Executive Council, which is comprised of leaders from government, business, academia, philanthropy, and nonprofits.

YWI MN centers the leadership and solutions of young women of color, American Indian young women, young women from Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ+ youth, and young women with disabilities. The initiative brings together nonprofits, businesses, government, philanthropies, and young women to promote equitable systems that benefit all, grounded in the belief that when young Black, Indigenous, and women of color in Minnesota thrive, families and communities thrive.

The Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota has reached more than 4,300 young women and their families directly across intersecting areas of economic opportunity, safety, and leadership; made community investments of $2 million to 58 organizations, 80% led by women of color to advance the Blueprint for Action; engaged 91 women as members of the Young Women’s Cabinet; made 78 “I Believe in You” grants, direct investments in the ideas and solutions of young women through the WFMN Innovators program; and published 10 original research reports focused on young women’s leadership and solutions, including Impacts of the Young Women’s Initiative on the State’s Labor Market. The Young Women’s Initiative’s statewide partnership and direct investments in young women are now being replicated across the nation through the National Philanthropic Collaborative of Young Women’s Initiatives.

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