Meet the Members
The 2017-18 cohort of the Community Equity Pipeline comprises 14 leaders who are supporting and championing state legislation proposed during the 2017 session of the Minnesota Legislature.

  Ethrophic Burnett

Ethrophic "E" Burnett

Ethrophic ("E") has a bachelor's degree in Paralegal Studies from Minnesota School of Business. She completed the Roy Wilkins Public Policy Class in 2017 and volunteers with her neighborhood association, park and school.
E came to Minnesota in 1996 and applied for Minneapolis Public Housing. She became part of the Hollman Lawsuit which provided her with housing in a predominately caucasian suburb for 12 years prior to becoming a homeowner in North Minneapolis four years ago. E is a mother of six children, which lead her to become actively involved in my new community. She enrolled and began working at Northside Achievement Zone which gives families a holistic wrap around community support.
 
E grew up in a family that was very much community and civically involved. Through CEP, E  wants to learn how not to be "on the menu" but actually sitting at the table being a part of the conversation on how to tear down systemic and institutionalized racism, and how we equip and empower POCI (people of color and Indigenous) to be actively involved in the beginning of the process and not just at the end to ask about outcomes. Says E, "I don’t want my children and grandchildren to continue to speak about affordable housing for all, equal pay, and policies that affect POC without them being at the table. I am one of the many leaders of POCI."

 Victor Cedeno

 

Victor Cedeno

Victor serves as the primary staff for identifying education policy innovations locally and across the country, and ensures these innovations are core parts of Generation Next strategies. He is also tasked with ensuring that Generation Next networks are supported, aligned, and working strategically to find and identify the most effective solutions to meet the coalition’s five key goals to close the achievement gap. Victor arrived at Generation Next after serving as City of Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s main Policy Aide on Education and Youth Policy.
 
Victor has dual degrees in Political Science and Psychology from Drake University and a Master of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He brings experience in economics, strategic planning and local policy as well as analytic and data analysis skills. He is passionate about providing opportunities to disadvantaged students and has experience working with high school students as both a debate coach and a college admission counselor. He has also planned multiple conferences to help college students prepare for, apply to, and finance graduate school.

 Abshir Colad

Abshir Colad

Abshir attended St. Cloud State University and attained a bachelor’s degree in planning and community development emphasis in public planning. He is currently employed with Doherty Staffing Solutions; a staffing agency as a bilingual staffing specialist. Abshir is passionate about community development in housing, transportation, public policies, justice, human rights and many more issues. He loves entrepreneurship and ideations. His goal is to go back to school and attain a master's degree in business administration or public policy, or a JD in international law, human rights or criminal justice. Abshir cares about international humanitarian and sees himself helping others. One day he hopes to work with the United Nations.

 Antonio Elias

 

Antonio Elias

Antonio Elias, a former student of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a Minor in Geography. During his college career, he engaged in various opportunities taking on leadership roles and reaching toward his professional career goals. Antonio started his career working with the Minneapolis Public Schools as an Academic Program Facilitator to support the Connecting Parents to Educational Opportunities Program (CPEO). The outcome of the program is to see the youths succeed by expanding their educational opportunities.
 
In his last year as an undergraduate, Antonio worked for the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs as their Legislative Policy Analyst to engage the Latino community in understanding the political system. He is a former Page Grant Scholar, Urban Scholar, and Capitol Pathways Scholar.
 
He's the co-founder of one of the first Spanish podcast in the nation, Hablando Franco, where he reflects upon the current state of political news while looking for opportunities to make an impact in the Latino community.

 Ruthie Johnson

Ruthie Johnson

Ruthie Johnson has a master's in Communication Studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her academic work focused on postcolonial studies, identity development and organizational culture. She has worked in several nonprofit settings and most recently has spent time in higher education working with first generation college students and students of color.
Currently her work is focused on housing equity with Urban Homeworks in North Minneapolis. All of her work has themes of community organizing and creating access into systems for communities of color. Ruthie hopes her participation in CEP will help grow her knowledge in policy and advocacy so she can continue to engage communities of color in systems change. 

 Willie Pearl Evans 

Willie Pearl Evans

Willie Pearl is a Women of Color Advocate, who empowers Women of Color to practice self-love and self- care. Willie Pearl is a first generation college graduate, lifelong educator and learner, and community enthusiast who inspires Women of Color in every stage of their healing journey. Willie Pearl highlights the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental wellness in her healing practice at St. Stephen's Human Services.
 
She enjoys writing, reading haiku, yoga and Zumba. Her hobbies include dancing, visiting Twin Cities' art events and museums.

Nicholas French

 

Nicholas French

​Nicholas French is a burgeoning marketer and changemaker in the Twin Cities. A graduate of South Dakota State University, he focuses his energy on serving Minnesota's vast community of nonprofits. His lived experience as a Vietnamese adoptee and his extensive volunteer work through the Catalyst Foundation powers his devotion to improve the mental health of transnational adoptees. He is particularly invested in elevating Asian American representation in municipal, state, and national democracies. If he’s not working on 2017 municipal election campaigns in his spare time, he’s probably enjoying a dark roast at a coffee shop. Nicholas hopes to earn a master’s degree in public health with an emphasis on health policy management.

Darius Gray

Darius Gray

Darius Gray is a lifelong Minnesotan that currently resides in South Minneapolis’ Powderhorn Neighborhood. He is a graduate of Augsburg College with a degree in Urban Studies. For the past five years he has worked as a community organizer with the Friendly Streets Initiative, and recently transitioned to be the organizing director with ReConnectRondo. He also works as the Storymobile manager with the St. Paul Almanac. He is working to deepen his understanding of cities and policy.
 
Beyond his work, Darius loves riding his bike and practicing Capoeira. He is a graduate of S.P.E.A.C (Sustainable Progress through Engaging Active Citizenship) through Hope Community. Darius joined CEP to gain a better understanding of our political system and how power is leveraged so he can effectively navigate systems of power.

 Tolulope Ola



 

Tolulope Ola

Tolulope Monisola Ola is a volunteer program director at Progressive Individual Resources, Inc. with expertise on the public health and rights-based responses to chronic diseases and its psychosocial impacts on African immigrants and refugees. She is a public health expert with experience in empowering and mobilizing communities to bring about social change through health education, sensitization and advocacy to create an environment that is physically, socially and culturally inclusive. She is a social researcher with experience spanning over eight years with a focus on the sociocultural determinants of health, diseases and well-being. The emphasis of her research is on the interface of health and human rights, drawing on the disciplines of public health and population studies while her recent research has focused on integrating psychosocial issues, cultural values and rights into sustainable management of chronic diseases.
 

 Gaonou Vang



 

Gaonou Vang

Gaonou is a second generation Hmong-American, born in California but raised in Minnesota. Gaonou graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology/Anthropology from St. Olaf College. Gaonou started organizing her first year of college and has since sought to empower communities who’ve traditionally been left out of the political system. She has explored the education system as a BreakThrough Twin Cities Teaching Intern; interned for the Minnesota Office to Prevent and End Homelessness; and volunteered for Dai Thao’s Campaign for St. Paul Mayor.
This past year, Gaonou participated in New Sector Alliance’s RISE Fellowship, and she currently works for FairVote MN as a lead community organizer. Gaonou is excited to take part in CEP and looks forward to building bridges with the community and future leaders of color.

 Joshua Vang

Joshua Vang

Joshua Vang is the Grants Administrator for Headwaters Foundation for Justice. He has played an active role with designing and facilitating youth development programs and workshops in his faith community on local, regional, and national levels for over ten years. Joshua has lived in the Twin Cities metro area for four years. He relocated to Minnesota from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Since moving to Minnesota, Joshua has expanded his experiences by working on electoral campaigns and community organizing. Joshua strives to create a world where all voices are present and valued at the decision-making table and a world where decisions are centered around the voices of the communities most impacted by those decisions.

 Robin Wonsley



 

Robin Wonsley

Robin Wonsley is a Southside Chicago native. She graduated from Carleton College with a BA in Women and Gender Studies on a full tuition Posse Scholarship. Upon completing her undergraduate studies, Robin traveled around the world on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to research effective re-entry initiatives and programs for formerly incarcerated women.
Since her Watson Fellowship, Robin has worked as a community organizer and nonprofit professional within various grassroots groups and organizations that are committed to eliminating racial and economic inequities within communities of color and working-class communities. Such organizations include the University of Minnesota, YMCA Twin Cities, Alliance Housing, the Sexual Violence Center, The Jamar Clark Justice Coalition, 15 Now Minnesota, the Movement for Black Lives, Socialist Alternative, the People’s Power Congress, and currently, Education Minnesota.

 Kalia Xiong
 

Kalia Xiong

Kalia Xiong received her B.A. in Political Science from Macalester College in 2016 and interned within the nonprofit sector for most of her undergrad career. She connected asylum seekers with free legal services at the Advocates for Human Rights and worked with Minneapolis public school students via the academic enrichment program, LearningWORKS. These experiences have solidified her passion for working with underrepresented demographics and her commitment to policy work that impacts these groups.
Kalia is also invested in higher education reform and hopes to advance policies that will make higher education more accessible to low-income students and students of color during her time with CEP. Currently, Kalia works with the Citizens League and manages their Capitol Pathways Program; a leadership and development program that provides college students of color legislative training and internship experience at the Capitol.

 Lauren Yates

 

Lauren Yates

Lauren Yates received her Juris Doctor from Drake University where she focused her studies on legislative practice. While at Drake, she successfully lobbied for children's education rights. As a Master in Law in Health Law student at DePaul University, she continued to advocate for amendments to Illinois health insurance privacy regulations that would help child identity theft victims proactively regain their identities prior to adulthood.
Now a Minnesota resident, Lauren joined Wilder's CEP to learn why Minnesotan communities of color remain segregated, both physically and ideologically. Lauren hopes with her new knowledge she will be able to more effectively support communities and organizations of color operate strategically. Her end goal is to ensure that disenfranchised communities thrive long term.
 
 
 

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