Welcoming Community Advisory Committee

Northspan’s Welcoming Community program is guided by an advisory committee of individuals from a variety of different backgrounds and lived experiences, including a majority of members from historically underrepresented groups.

Vision: The Welcoming Community Advisory Committee builds conditions to address systemic barriers and create a genuine sense of belonging for all in northeast Minnesota. We build relationships through open dialogue and self-disclosure to ensure all stories are illuminated and heard. Through authenticity and trust, we unite to build a central hub and space for holding and healing that reflects our strengths, fosters understanding, and creates an enduring support network across the region.

Charges: We are representative, catalytic, and data-driven:

  • Representative – We strive to be reflective of the diversity of different cultures, racial and ethnic backgrounds, faiths, genders, sexual orientations, ages, abilities, and communities across all seven counties of northeast Minnesota. We bring our whole selves to discussions and are willing to have challenging conversations to ensure all viewpoints are at the table.
  • Catalytic – We provide a space for the impetus to create sustainable change. We maintain a big picture focus and take action to help our communities move the vision toward reality.
  • Data-driven – We carefully study our communities to understand their realities and look to proven methods to guide the initiative. We establish clear baselines, measure our efforts against them, and make decisions accordingly.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our work with a wide range of regional organizations and community members in order to build existing DEI networks, both formal and informal,” said Amber Lewis, Welcoming Community program coordinator. “We hope to gain cross-sector support for these efforts, raise awareness, and create more of a united front for welcoming work in the Northland.”

You can learn more about Northspan’s Welcoming Community program on the Northspan blog. If you’re interested in serving on the Welcoming Community advisory board or getting involved with the program another way, contact Program Coordinator Amber Lewis by emailing alewis@northspan.org.

Advisory Committee Members

Alicia Kozlowski, Minnesota State Representative

Amy Bergstrom, The College of St. Scholastica

Andy Frye, Director and Theater Artist

Beth Pierce, Iron Range Tourism & Hello Iron Range

Carl Crawford, City of Duluth

Diana Lawrey, Educator and DEI Trainer

Elena Foshay, City of Duluth Workforce Development

Elissa Hansen, Northspan

Frances Wittenberg, Edina Realty

Jebeh Edmunds, Jebeh Edmunds Consulting & African Heritage Commission

Jen Lien, Twin Ports Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi Group

Jennifer Aranda, UMN Extension Center for Community Vitality

Jessalyn Sabin, Minnesota North College

John Bennett, UMN Extension Center for Community Vitality

John Staine, St. Louis County and African Heritage Commission

Kayla Swanson, Itasca Economic Development Corporation

Keith Turner, The Promise Is You

Kevin Skwira-Brown, Cultural Fluency Associates

Kimberly Scanlon, Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging

LeAnn Littlewolf, AICHO

Mary Rapps, Generations Health Care Initiatives

Nathaniel Coward, Voices for Ethnic and Multicultural Awareness

Pakou Ly, Twin Ports Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi Group

Rebekkah Anderson, Wise Elephant Consulting

Seraphia Aguallo, Voices for Ethnic and Multicultural Awareness

Shawn Herhusky, Workforce Strategy and Talent Pipeline

Stacy Johnston, Audacity HR

Sumair Sheikh, Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Susana Pelayo-Woodward, UMD Office of Diversity & Inclusion

Tony Sertich, Northland Foundation