Sean Kershaw Named Vice President, Wilder Center for Communities

​​Sean KershawThe Amherst H. Wilder Foundation is pleased to announce Sean Kershaw has joined the Foundation as Vice President of Wilder Center for Communities.

Wilder Center for Communities builds the capacity of individuals, organizations and communities to address complex issues. As Vice President, Sean will oversee a wide range of community engagement initiatives, including leadership development programs, volunteerism, public policy and the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood.

“I’m excited to join an organization with such a strong commitment to Saint Paul,” says Sean. “I hope to build on that legacy to engage more people and institutions in creating a stronger community for everyone.”

Prior to joining Wilder, Sean was Executive Director of the Citizens League where he led initiatives that looked at higher education and workforce reform, mental health reform, aging, and most recently, policy questions related to tax-exempt parcels in Saint Paul.

“Over his years of leadership in Saint Paul, Sean has demonstrated that he can work to engage and activate a diverse sets of residents, leaders, and organizations to identify and form workable solutions to strengthen our community,” says Wilder President and CEO MayKao Y. Hang.

Wilder Foundation Opposes Federal Tax Bill

​​The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation joins many in Minnesota’s nonprofit community, a sector that employs nearly 12 percent of Minnesota’s workforce and partners with millions, in opposition to the federal tax bill because of buried provisions that will harm the most vulnerable among us in society – children, retirees, people with disabilities, workers, and families. The tax cuts would add more than $1 trillion to the deficit, and to pay for it, policymakers have clear plans to come back and deeply cut health care and other critical services.

With trillions of dollars over the next decade at risk, the tax bill under consideration and the budget resolution passed earlier this fall carry vast negative consequences that would affect millions of Minnesotans well into the future. Provisions in this bill run counter to what we see as necessary for young families and vulnerable populations to survive and thrive across the generations. We urge Congressional representatives to oppose the tax bill.
Two primary components that would have a negative impact on low-income people in the east metro and the essential role of nonprofit organizations in civil society:
  • Health care: The Congressional Budget Office analysis forecasts 13 million fewer Americans will receive health coverage if the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act is repealed. This includes 5 million fewer people enrolled in Medicaid, with an estimated 12,500 fewer people enrolled in the east metro.
  • Repeal of the Johnson Amendment: This would allow nonprofit organizations to endorse or oppose candidates for public office and make anonymous political donations tax deductible when funneled through 501(c)(3)s. To protect the nonpartisan role of nonprofits, we oppose repeal of the Johnson Amendment.

African American Babies Coalition Awarded Upper Midwest Emmy

AABC-Emmy-Group.jpg “Brains Are Built,” a public service announcement campaign aimed at supporting African American parents, has won a 2017 Upper Midwest Emmy Award.
The “Brains Are Built” campaign is a series of educational videos about key factors impacting babies’ brain development and parent child interactions through age seven.
The campaign was created by the African American Babies Coalition (AABC) in partnership with the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation and Twin Cities PBS (TPT). Throughout the campaign, video public service announcements featuring African American families sharing facts about healthy brain development were aired on TPT channels more than 5,000 times starting in June of 2016 and have been shared on numerous social media channels.
The goal of the ‘Brains are Built’ campaign is to share what is known from brain science and early childhood development research in a culturally relevant and accessible way with parents, grandparents and young people,” said AABC Executive Director Sameerah Bilal-Roby.
“We’re thrilled that TPT is being awarded from the work that AABC has produced and we are proud to have been a partner,” said Kirsten Johnson, Wilder Foundation community initiatives manager. “’Brains Are Built’ puts the spotlight on strong, resilient families sharing a message in support of their community and cultural heritage. Everyone involved in the campaign should feel proud about that.”

Wilder Joins Interest for Others Giving Platform

Interest for Others LogoWilder is one of 33 Minnesota charities selected to participate in the launch of the Interest for Others online giving platform. 

Interest for Others is an idea brought to life by retired Briggs and Morgan attorney Bill Dolan as a way for financial institutions’ customers to donate interest earned in their accounts to charities of their choice. Individuals can also make outright gifts. Dolan’s vision was that small amounts of interest could be aggregated and become much larger sums, all helping nonprofit organizations. The Interest for Others Foundation was created in 2014 and has become a 501c3 tax-exempt public charity. 

Interest for Others will pay all credit card and transaction fees for outright gifts made at

Celebrating the Life of the Rev. Mary McMillan

Reverend Mary McMillan, the first woman elected to the Wilder Foundation Board of Directors, has passed away at the age of 97. Reverend McMillan served on the Wilder Board from 1973 to 1989 and continued to be a friend of Wilder throughout the years. She was an outstanding community leader and volunteer, serving numerous organizations during her lifetime.


Dr. Fayneese Miller Joins Wilder Board of Directors

Dr. Faynesse Miller
Amherst H. Wilder Foundation is pleased to announce that Dr. Fayneese Miller, President of Hamline University, has joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Dr. Miller joins 11 other Board members comprising the governing body of the Wilder Foundation.

Dr. Miller joined Hamline University on July 1, 2015, becoming that institution’s 20th president. She is the first African American president in the history of Hamline and the university’s second female president. She has 30 years of academic and higher education experience. Dr. Miller was the first coordinator of education studies and the founding chair of ethnic studies at Brown University, where she served on the faculty for 20 years. More recently she served as the dean of the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont for nearly 10 years.

“We are excited to have Dr. Miller join our Board of Directors, “ says Alex Cirillo, Wilder Foundation Board Chair. “Her extensive experience in education and youth and her broad perspective will undergird our work with children, youth and families. We are extremely pleased to have this tie with Hamline University, another longtime Saint Paul institution. Dr. Miller’s commitment to community will help guide Wilder’s mission and increase its impact today and into the future.”

Wilder Announces New Vice Presidents of Programs

Pahoua YangNona Ferguson

The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation is proud to announce Nona Ferguson and Dr. Pahoua Yang have been promoted to serve as Vice Presidents of Wilder Programs.

Wilder’s direct services and programs offer hope and support to more than 10,000 of people each year, helping them reach their full potential. Under the leadership of Nona and Pahoua, Wilder Programs will expand to support even more children, adults and families in our community, particularly related to mental health and economic stability.

Nona Ferguson has been with the Wilder Foundation for 21 years and has held numerous leadership positions during her tenure. She has served as the Director of Family Supportive Housing Services for the past five years. In her new role she will oversee Wilder’s supportive housing and programs addressing basic needs, early childhood and aging services.

Dr. Pahoua Yang has been with Wilder seven years and has served as the Director of Community Mental Health since 2014. She will lead Wilder’s community mental health and school success programs.

Nona and Pahoua bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their respective roles. They have dedicated their careers to community service. “After launching a formal search, I was even more convinced that we had the right people here at Wilder that we could promote. Nona and Pahoua are extraordinarily committed to our mission, and have the critical leadership skills and competencies to bring us into the future,” says Dr. MayKao Y. Hang, Wilder Foundation President and CEO.

View the full press release here.

Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations Hold Moment of Silence

Thanks to all of the organizations and individuals who joined in a moment of silence on July 14. It was a powerful time for members of the nonprofit and philanthropic sector to come together as a community following all of the recent tragic events around the country and world.
Organizations that participated in the moment of silence are listed below. If you joined in this moment and are not listed here, please contact to be added. Thank you:
Bush Foundation
Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis
CommonBond Communities
Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy 
Girl Scouts River Valleys
Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota
Hope 4 Youth
Lifetrack Resources
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
McKnight Foundation
The Minneapolis Foundation
Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless
Minnesota Council on Foundations
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits AmeriCorps VISTA Program
Minnesota Council of Churches
Minnesota Philanthropy Partners
Minnesota Women's Consortium
Nonprofits Assistance Fund
Northside Funders Group
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Pillsbury United Communities
PRG, Inc.
Project for Pride in Living
Saint Catherine University Center for Community Work and Learning
Second Harvest Heartland
Springboard for the Arts
Springboard for the Arts - Lakes Region 
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
Volunteers of America of Minnesota
Walker West Music Academy
YMCA Twin Cities
YouthLink Minnesota

Related Resources

Wilder Receives $170,000 Grant to Support Kofi Families

The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation has received a grant from The William and Connie Carroll Endowment Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation to support families experiencing health and financial challenges.

The grant will support a rental assistance fund to subsidize housing for Kofi families with children struggling with mental health and behavioral challenges due to experienced childhood trauma. Kofi Services are culturally specific, school and home-based programs developed to increase the positive functioning of African-American youth.

“Health equity for our communities means our neighbors don’t have to make a choice between paying their rent and paying their families' medical bills. The Saint Paul Foundation is grateful to the donors who empowered us to help the network of nonprofits supporting families through challenging times,” said Ann Mulholland, vice president of Community Impact for Minnesota Philanthropy Partners.

Read more about this grant funding at Minnesota Philanthropy Partners.

Youthprise Awards Wilder 3-year Opportunity Reboot Grant

Youthprise announced today $3.75 million in grants to connect Minnesota’s opportunity youth with services and support that will lead to careers in high demand, like IT, health care, construction and manufacturing. Opportunity Reboot, a Social Innovation Fund (SIF) program, targets youth ages 14-24 who are either homeless, in foster care, involved in the juvenile justice system or disconnected from school and work. The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation is one of six organizations across Minnesota to receive a 3-year Opportunity Reboot grant. The grant will support culturally competent employment and educational programs and wraparound services for 44 to 65 homeless youth at Prior Crossing, a youth housing facility in Saint Paul.

“Opportunity Reboot will provide homeless youth a foundation for a better life. By focusing on the strengths of youth at a critical time in their lives, we will support youth in achieving their goals and reaching their full potential. Stable housing is essential to any education or employment gains these youth will make,” says Nona Ferguson, Director of Wilder's Family Supportive Housing Services.

Learn more about Prior Crossing.

View the full press release here.

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