MN Capitol Building

Public Policy

Advocating for systemic equity and opportunities so all Minnesotans thrive


Wilder's public policy work advances systemic equity and social and economic opportunities so that everyone throughout Minnesota can thrive. Our efforts have a special emphasis on supporting and strengthening the self-advocacy of people, families and communities who would be directly impacted by certain budget and policy proposals. We work closely with many nonprofit partners in coalition on a range of issues related to Wilder's mission.

Wilder’s policy priorities and yearly agendas respond to the context of the moment, but remain focused on the social and economic opportunities of our community. Our primary issue areas include health care, housing, mental health, aging, and other areas of critical importance in advancing Wilder’s mission.


Wilder's 2023 Public Policy Agenda & Updates

We understand that society has created advantages for certain groups and not others; we find ways to see and change how we are making decisions that impact marginalized or disadvantaged groups in unintended ways. Wilder welcomes the complexity that results because of the many differences that exist among groups in one place: race, class, sexual orientation, ability, gender, etc. We believe diversity adds value and makes us stronger. 

Informed by these values and principles, this legislative agenda reflects Wilder’s commitment to Lead, Support and Endorse efforts which promote the social welfare of persons resident or located in the greater Saint Paul metropolitan area and beyond. We acknowledging the disparate impacts, economic and otherwise, of longstanding public policy and the current public health crisis.

Legislative Updates

Introducing Wilder's Policy Family Advisory

We are seeking current and former Wilder program or service recipients to provide leadership and support in the creation of the 2024 Wilder… More about this article »

2023 Public Policy Roundup part 2: Housing and aging services

The 2023 Public Policy Roundup series continues with highlights of successes achieved in the areas of housing and aging services. The bills… More about this article »

2023 Public Policy Roundup: Education

It has been just over three weeks since the 93rd legislature adjourned, and we are happy to share that we moved a record number of… More about this article »
woman and man seated at a desk, speaking to a Minnesota senate committee
Tiffany Scott Knox, Executive Director of the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, testified in the Senate Education Finance Committee to support legislation that would support the Education Partnerships Program.
A group of Community Equity Program participants posing with three Minnesota legislators
Community Equity Program participants with State Representatives and POCI Caucus members Samantha Sencer-Mura, María Isa Pérez-Vega, and Kaohly Her.
Four women standing together inside the Minnesota Capitol
Members of our African American Babies Coalition & Projects (AABC) team with Deborah Watts (third from left) cousin of Emmitt Till and Co-Founder, Executive Director, President of the Emmitt Till Legacy Foundation.
Woman standing behind podium with four people behind her
Sonya Carruthers, a family peer specialist at Wilder, shared how she builds trust with families during the Mental Health Legislative Network press conference in March 2023.
two women sitting at a desk at the Minnesota Legislature
Pahoua Yang, vice president of Wilder Community Mental Health and Wellness, advocated for legislation to support our state’s mental health work force in March 2023.

Building BIPOC Power & Voice in Public Policy

Policy Pro Corner

Check out tips, strategies or resources that will help you to improve your policy and advocacy skills. You can find them all here as we continue to add more with each public policy update.

Tip #1: Know who represents you.

There are new elected officials in the state legislature, on county boards and in city governments. Knowing who to reach out to, is the first step in engaging. Look up who represents you at the following links:

Tip #2: Seek out alternative points of view.

In our era of heightened divisions and easily located echo chambers this can be a difficult and unappetizing task. The point of this isn’t necessarily to change your mind on an issue.

Reading an article about how and why people view an issue differently than you can help to clarify how to refine your position or approach to convince undecided people. To be clear, this only applies to good faith disagreements that are based in reality and not craven attempts to sow division.

Tip #3: Never be afraid to say “I Don’t Know.”

There will be times during your advocacy where you get a question that you don’t know the answer or due to nerves you forget the answer. It happens to everyone. The worst thing you can do is to lie and make up an answer, it will eventually come out.

The best option is to say something to the effect of “I don’t know the answer to that, but I will follow-up with you to get you an answer.” Extra Tip: if you say you are going to follow up, then you need to follow up. 

Tip #4: Create space for restoration and joy aka be kind to yourself.

Often times when we engage in policymaking work, we are focusing on issues that we care deeply about like access to basic needs or reforms to the systems that oppress us. Because of the gravity of these issues, it can be tough to convince yourself that taking a break is acceptable, but if you don’t make space to heal yourself, you will burn out. Here are a few things you can do to help remind yourself that it’s okay to take time for yourself:

  • Find a co-conspirator that you can work with to look out for each other
  • Create dedicated time on your calendar for something that brings you joy…and don’t cancel it
  • Celebrate when you get a win, even if it’s not the end of your journey

Tip #5: Do your best to learn the process or make a friend who knows it.

Most policymaking bodies from a neighborhood association to congress have rules and practices that shape their work, and most of the time they are unclear and confusing. Most of the time there isn’t a Schoolhouse Rock video to explain the process and missing a small step can set you back weeks or months.

Always try your best to understand all of the steps needed to pass a bill or ordinance or have someone in your community who can help answer questions. I would suggest starting with your elected official with your questions. If you’re someone who understands these processes, you should share this information freely!

Tip # 6: Lean forward and be comfortable not knowing everything.

Don’t know everything? Guess what, no one does! Your experiences, knowledge, and passion are valuable and important for lawmakers to hear. The Capitol can feel like an intimidating space and it’s common for people (especially from marginalized communities) to feel unqualified to share their valuable thoughts and expertise. (You have expertise in something valuable that others don’t!)

When you feel intimidated, think of the world we live in. Lawmakers and regulars at the Capitol certainly have their areas of expertise, but if there aren't gaps of knowledge, expertise, and perspectives at the Capitol, then why aren’t things better than they are? Empower yourself and your community to engage in the policymaking process. You don’t need to know everything to make an impact!

About Wilder Public Policy

Our Approach to Public Policy

Wilder’s public policy efforts advance social and economic opportunities so that communities we serve—and communities throughout Minnesota—can thrive.

  • We endorse and advocate for policies that will have these outcomes for low-income people in Saint Paul, the East Metro and across Minnesota.
  • We support and strengthen advocacy capacity of low income residents, people of color and indigenous leaders to influence legislative decision making and improve people's lives.
  • We leverage Wilder’s expertise and resources to support coalitions that advance our priorities.

Dan Buck

Public Policy Associate Program Manager

Michelle Koffa Dormoh

Community Equity Program Manager

Adrián Rafael Magaña

Director of Public Policy & Community Relations

Avo Markarian

Public Policy Projects & Evaluations Manager

The best ideas come when more voices are included in the process.

Check out Wilder's Community Engaged Public Policy Development process (CEPPD) that seeks to improve community engagement in public policy development.