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Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative

A Collective Force for Gender & Racial Equity

The Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative brings together cross-sector leaders from government, business, higher education, philanthropy, nonprofits, and Minnesota communities to advance young women’s economic success through the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN).

About the Executive Council

Together, we are employing a collective impact model, convening cross-sector leaders to value, resource, and follow the leadership of young women.

The Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative is deepening understanding of gender and racial inequities and solutions in Minnesota to catalyze resources, and act within organizations to increase young women on the pathway to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs, and middle- and high-wage occupations by 20%. Through our practices and policies, we can be part of creating a stronger state for all young women, their families, and their communities. Our state’s future prosperity is interwoven, and Minnesota will benefit when young women pushed to the margins get exactly what they need to thrive.

The Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiative is committed to leading by example, holding ourselves and our institutions accountable, disrupting the status quo, dismantling barriers, and advocating for gender and racial equity. By listening to and investing in Black, Indigenous, and young women of color and young women experiencing additional disparities, we will drive social change and economic opportunities for young women in Minnesota.

Meet the Executive Council Co-chairs

Lt. Governor Flanagan

Lt. Governor Flanagan

Lieutenant Governor of the State of Minnesota

Gloria Perez

Gloria Perez

President & CEO, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota

Dr. Verna Cornelia Price

Dr. Verna Cornelia Price

CEO, The Power of People Consulting Group™

Meet the Executive Council

Gaye Adams Massey
CEO, YWCA St. Paul

Dr. Adriana Alejandro Osorio
Philanthropy Advisor, UNICEF USA

Melanie Benjamin
Chief Executive, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

Laura Bishop
CEO and Founder, Purpose Strategies LLC

Tish Bolger
CEO, Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys

Shelley Buck
Vice President, Prairie Island Indian Community Tribal Council

Kara Carlisle
Vice President of Program, McKnight Foundation

Cathy Chavers
Tribal Chairwoman, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa / President, Minnesota Chippewa Tribe

Dr. Annesa Cheek
President, St. Cloud Technical and Community College

Rebecca Crooks-Stratton
Secretary/Treasurer at Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux

Phillipe Cunningham
Former Minneapolis City Council

Joyce Ester
President, Normandale Community College

Irene Fernando
Hennepin County Commissioner

Joan Gabel
President, University of Minnesota

Steve Grove
Commissioner, DEED, State of Minnesota

Mitra Jalali Nelson
Saint Paul City Council

Dr. Eric Jolly
CEO, St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation

Lorna LaGue
President, White Earth Tribal and Community College

Emily Larson
Mayor of Duluth

Julie Maday
Chief Financial Officer, Independent Pet Partners

Nicole Matthews
Executive Director, Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition

Monica Meyer
Former Executive Director, OutFront Minnesota

Representative Rena Moran
Minnesota State Representative for District 65A

JoMarie Morris
Nonprofit Consulting and Immigration Attorney

Wendy Nelson
Chairwoman of the Carlson Family Foundation

Kim Norton
Mayor of Rochester

Dennis Olson
Commissioner, Higher Education, State of Minnesota

Tuleah Palmer
President, Blandin Foundation

Anita Patel
Vice President of Grantmaking, Bush Foundation

Ana M. Pérez de Pérez
Executive Director, discapacitados abriéndose caminos

Paul Pribbenow
President, Augsburg University

Maria Regan Gonzalez
Mayor of Richfield / Systems Director of Equity Initiative for M Health Fairview

Dr. Suzanne Rivera
President, Macalester College

Denise Rutherford
Former Senior Vice President, 3M Corporate Affairs

Sarah Stoesz
President and CEO, Planned Parenthood North Central States

Traci Tapani
Co-President, Wyoming Machine

Senator Patricia Torres Ray
Minnesota State Senator for District 63

Patti Tototzintle
Executive Director, Esperanza United

Dr. Padmini Udupa
Principal, Longfellow Alternative High School

Houston White
Founder, Houston White Men’s Room and Community Leader

Executive Council Pledge

By creating inclusive, equitable workplace policies and culture, Council members are shifting systems from within and directly investing in the success of young women. Through curated trainings, Council members accelerate their learning and share their wisdom and expertise to advance gender and racial equity.

Each Council member agrees to a personal pledge and an action plan for systems change through lived commitments to training, policy evaluation, and investing in young women and gender-expansive youth.

  1. Actively Listen & Learn
  2. Shift Systems
  3. Create Pathways