Q&A: JEDI Policy & Sustainability Intern Olivia Niska

Olivia Niska joined the Northspan team in late May 2022 as our Justice Equity Diversity & Inclusion Policy & Sustainability Intern. Olivia is a student at The College of St. Scholastica studying organizational leadership, marketing, and management while residing in Cook, Minnesota. During this summer internship, Olivia will conduct research related to understanding the best policies and practices in business, community, and other organizational entities supporting improving justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The research may incorporate a global reach, but special emphasis will be placed on understanding efforts by organizations in rural Minnesota and the northeast Minnesota region. The focused research area will include:

Seven counties:

  • Aitkin County
  • Carlton County
  • Cook County
  • Itasca County
  • Koochiching County
  • Lake County
  • St. Louis County

Six tribal nations:

  • The Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
  • The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • The Red Lake Nation

Here’s a quick Q&A with Olivia:

How did you hear about the internship and what made you want to apply? 

Northspan was suggested to me by some of my mentors at CSS Career Services, as I was searching for an organization that could offer me an internship under the broad areas of sustainability and economic development in order to qualify for an experiential learning grant from the college. Elissa reached out to me with a proposed project and it checked all of the boxes! I was excited to learn from individuals who are doing amazing work in local communities.

Can you tell us a little about what you’ll be working on?

Right now I’m assisting the Northspan team in compiling a comprehensive list of organizations in northeast Minnesota engaged in welcoming work. We’re documenting the whole process and I’ll put together a paper summarizing the JEDI policies and practices. Our goal is to create a database of JEDI policy resources plus a directory on welcoming efforts in the region.

Can you share what you’re looking forward to most about the internship?

I am most excited to be able to make new connections to people in the community who are working to create inclusive and economically sustainable communities across the region, along with understanding business practices that support this type of work.

For more information, contact Olivia at intern@northspan.org.