Northspan’s Welcoming Community program is guided by a 30-person advisory committee with over 50% representation from underrepresented communities.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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