Published on June 16, 2007
CONGRATULATIONS COHORT 1 MAPL GRADUATES !: CONGRATULATIONS COHORT 1 MAPL GRADUATES ! Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership Graduation Ceremony May 12th, 2006 Nancy Brown: Nancy Brown Nancy says that MAPL has taught her to look at the bigger picture in social justice issues. 'Too often society focuses on individual responsibility for global problems; as an Environmental Studies major I became aware of what individuals can do to reduce their own effects on the planet’s health. MAPL took that mindset up one step to look at the systemic issues of environmental justice and has helped me to refocus my efforts on broader solutions that have far-reaching effects.' According to Nancy, being involved in the MAPL program helped her to realize that although she has an affinity for environmental issues; it is not at the expense of other social issues such as poverty, equality and justice. She notes that her classmates had the same sense of shared interests, and that they were able to compliment each other’s focuses – and benefit from it. Nancy says that her two MAPL internships were particularly valuable. Her internship with Mary Streuffert at the Twin Ports Area Nonprofit Coalition (TPANC) allowed her to meet many members of the nonprofit community in Duluth. 'With their input, I developed a public awareness campaign about the key role that nonprofits play in enhancing the quality of life that we all enjoy in Minnesota. It is time for nonprofits to get more recognition for all that they do, and I am gratified to see the plan in action.' Her other internship was with the City of Duluth’s Energy Coordinator, Sandy Sweeny, where, Nancy says, she was able to confirm her hope that Duluth will be a leader in new energy technologies and that she can play a personal part in that leadership. 'The generous support from our scholarship benefactors made the difference for me to stay in school, and I am forever grateful. Their support was a strong motivation to maintain high scholastic standards for myself and to be a good steward of their investment in my education. It absolutely made a difference, and one of my goals is to do the same for other students in the future. It is truly a pay-it-forward system with immeasurable benefits. Working with the members of my cohort has been the most rewarding part of the MAPL program for me. I have been continually amazed at the breadth and scope of their knowledge and wisdom, all punctuated with a sense of humor that can brighten the most difficult of days. Their combined experience and vision was a powerful source of learning for me, and there is no doubt that each one of them will be successful in their endeavors.' Residence: Duluth, MN Joanna Dornfeld: Joanna Dornfeld Joanna is Field Manager for HousingMinnesota, where she works to dramatically increase the preservation and production of affordable housing in Minnesota by raising public awareness, educating policy makers on housing issues, and translating the needs of people affected into community action. While working at HousingMinnesota, Joanna organized a Federal affordable housing and homelessness policy and budget briefing, which provided instrumental analysis of the President's budget and its impact upon Minnesota housing programs. The event was the first step in building a significant statewide network of advocates and citizens to weigh in with members of Congress about federal affordable housing and homelessness policy. Her prior political experience includes an internship with U.S. Representative Jim Ramstad and volunteering for the Chris Coleman for Mayor Campaign. According to Joanna, the most important thing she is taking from the MAPL program is the relationships she has developed – not only with the faculty and speakers – but more importantly her classmates and cohort members. Joanna credits MAPL with helping her develop her professional skills and create connections with many of the passionate leaders and advocates who are sure to shape the future landscape of Minnesota politics. The program also reinforced Joanna's desire to take part in creating a community in which she is proud to live. 'I am inspired on a daily basis by the change my cohort members are creating and I am looking forward to working with them in the future to transform Minnesota's political landscape.' Residence: St. Paul, MN Concentration: Nonprofit andamp; Community Advocacy Erika Frykman: Erika Frykman Erika is currently employed as the Northeast Minnesota Conservation Organizer for the Sierra Club. She organizes the 'Mining Without Harm' campaign, which addresses the environmental and public health impacts of new types of mining and metal processing in NE Minnesota. Last summer Erika volunteered with the Sierra Club Northstar Chapter as a Cross Country Mercury Pollution Advocate, traveling across the country to present to other advocates about mercury pollution from coal fired power plants. Erika also served as a Legislative Advocacy Intern with Parents United for Public Schools. She assisted the organization’s state director during the 2005 legislative session, wrote research proposals, helped prepare materials for parent resources, maintained a grassroots membership database and led a public awareness campaign for the organization. According to Erika, she came to the MAPL program with the question 'What can I do?' She wanted to find a way to use the compassion and drive she had developed in her previous studies. Erika says that she found that answer; acquiring the skills, strategies, and tools to apply herself as 'one that defends or maintains a cause' – an advocate. 'The experiences, the lessons I learned, and the relationships I made during my internships are invaluable to me. I am so glad that this program was designed in a way that fostered our growth as advocates in this hands-on way.' Residence: Duluth, MN Concentration: Nonprofit andamp; Community Advocacy Hannah Gallegos: Hannah Gallegos Hannah has been accepted to the Hamline University School of Law, and is a recipient of the Justice Thurgood Marshall Scholarship and the Brill Scholarship. She’s had public policy internships with ACLU-Minnesota and the YWCA of Minneapolis. She has also interned with the Indian Child Welfare Law Center, the Latino Midwest News and with Alpine Mortgage. Hannah has had the law in mind as a career for a long time and has worked as an assistant for several attorneys including Anne Tressler and Carolyn Agin Schmidt and the firms of Carr and Mankey, and DeLeon and Nestor. She is currently employed at Broadway Pizza in Robbinsdale, MN. Hannah says that her new friendships are the most important thing she is taking from her experience in the MAPL program – 'I have met a core group of dynamic women who have changed who I am, and who have made me a stronger person.' She adds that the program has helped her ‘find herself’ and be confident in who she is. Hannah credits MAPL's rigorous academic program with preparing her to be an effective advocate, and preparing her to make a real and lasting impact on public policy. Because of her class work, Hannah was confident that she could do well in her public policy internships, and she feels that MAPL has prepared her with the skills necessary to be successful in a real-life public policy department. Residence: Minneapolis, MN Concentration: Nonprofit andamp; Community Advocacy 'First, I would like to thank my Mommy, God and my loving family for their support. I would also like to thank our strong core of MAPL professors for their guidance and open door policy and our administrator, Julie Smith, for taking care of all of us. Finally, I would like to thank our generous funders for making the MAPL experience possible. JudyHawley: Judy Hawley Judy is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association. Judy stated in her application that she just wanted to do her job better, and she feels MAPL has helped her do that. One of her proudest accomplishments since becoming a MAPL student has been revamping her Association’s Government Affairs Committee. She established functional workgroups, so that the leadership is shared, there is mentoring between members, and each group is self sustaining, which will allow the committee to move forward as the members change. Judy’s volunteer work currently includes serving on the Board of Directors of the Northeast YMCA, and the Board of Education at Cross Lutheran Church. Before applying to the MAPL program Judy knew she wanted to go to graduate school, but had yet to find the best fit. One day while driving, she heard a MAPL promo on MPR, and she just knew that MAPL was the right fit for her. 'It was like when your child asks you—‘how did you know you were in love with your (now) husband?’ You can’t say how, you just know.' Judy has developed as an advocate and as a leader in the MAPL program. Judy cites having more confidence, more empathy for other points of view, and a better appreciation of power and control and how that influences the political process. Judy’s ambition is to continue to be involved in the political process as a lobbyist and grassroots organizer, in order to help Physical Therapists advocate on behalf of their profession. Judy believes that Physical Therapists need to understand that they can’t just be clinicians. She notes that 'They advocate well on behalf of their patients and clients, but I hope to help them understand their ability and obligation to advocate on behalf of the profession.' Judy values taking from the MAPL program a better understanding of what motivates action and a broadened perspective, which provides a better understanding of how things are connected. 'I was excited to be in the first cohort of this program. I have great hope for the program. Wy’s vision for this program is wonderful—giving people hope and functional capacity to work and effect the political process. As American citizens, we all are a part of the solution, whether we know it or not. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn more about how we can make a difference.' Residence: Oakdale, MN Kate Heider : Kate Heider Kate has just taken an exciting new job as the Sponsorship Manager at Common Hope, a nonprofit working to eradicate poverty in Guatemala through education, health care, housing and family development. Kate has held the position of Secretary of the Fillmore County DFL, and was an alternate to the 2004 MN State DFL Convention in Duluth. She has also been involved in other miscellaneous political campaign work like participating in parades and hosting candidate parties. Her volunteer work includes serving on the Lifespan Faith Development Council at her church, being a member of the Spring Valley Arts Umbrella, and volunteering at Open Arms of MN. Kate is already using all her new knowledge from the MAPL program in the first days of her new job. The program has made her more confident in her ability to identify effective strategies in the work of other advocates and political leaders. MAPL has also given her a new dimension and vocabulary to critically evaluate policy and policymakers. Kate says she appreciated MAPL’s exposing her to real-life advocates and political leaders instead of simply reading about them in textbooks. The guest speakers, she maintains, taught her the realities and pitfalls that leaders must consider. Kate adds that she values the experiences with her classmates and she wouldn’t trade the many van rides up to Duluth for anything. All in all, the program reaffirmed for Kate that she wants to have a career that makes a positive impact on her community – at the local, national and international level. Rural Fillmore County, MN – in the southeastern corner of the state – has the distinction of having one stoplight and three MAPL students. Kate Heider was the enthusiastic first of those three students. Here is the story behind her MAPL application: 'I heard about the MAPL program during my afternoon commute home on MPR when they thanked MAPL as one of their educational sponsors. Since I had never heard of the program before, I went online to take a look. When I read the course descriptions, I kept thinking ‘That sounds interesting… oh, that one looks really good too!’ My husband encouraged me to put in an application, and within a month I was traveling over 500 miles round trip each weekend to attend classes.' Residence: Spring Valley, MN Concentration: Nonprofit andamp; Community Advocacy 'The most important thing that I am taking from the MAPL program is the experience with my fellow students. I have been amazed by their intelligence, commitment and strength of character. Each week I leave class energized by the great discussions and innovative ideas of my classmates.' Lynn Ann Hollatz: Lynn Ann Hollatz Lynn Ann works in the Department of Planning and Development, Physical Planning Division for the City of Duluth. She is very proud of completing the MAPL coursework while working full-time, and she has been applying what she has been learning over the past two years. Her past advocacy experience includes being the chair of ISD #709 Citizen's Advisory Board in 1990, and volunteering in Duluth for three high schools’ Media, Political and Research Committees. Lynn Ann says that MAPL has given her more self-confidence and self-esteem. She also thinks that making new connections and learning the concept of 'framing' were important products of her MAPL education. She adds that she has expanded her abilities for critical thinking, negotiation, and speaking skills. According to Lynn Ann, MAPL has had, and is continuing to have, a very positive impact on her life: 'MAPL has introduced me to a whole new world, which I will enjoy continuing to explore.' Lynn Ann’s decision to apply to and attend the MAPL program was based on an interest in learning more about world affairs and the makings of our society, and a desire to use her knowledge and skills to make America better. Her path to the MAPL program is quite interesting – in high school her editorial was selected to represent her school at the Bemidji State Journalism Conference, however she pursued a music career instead of journalism, and later became a City Planner in the late 1980s. After enrolling in the MAPL program she recalls the reaction: 'I will never forget the looks on people's faces - my co-workers, children, mother, and siblings… They were all astonished. I think they had no idea that I had such a drive and desire.' Residence: Duluth Township, MN 'I would like to thank my wonderful mother, who passed away in October, 2005 shortly after I started the program. She was so proud of me and taught me to believe in myself. I'd also like to thank my husband, Scott, for putting up with my late night computer bouts, and for all of his assistance. Lastly, I thank Wy Spano, Roger Reinert, Tom Huntley, Mark McAffee(AFSCME), Yvonne Solon and all of the other people who helped me get my degree.' And thank you Co-hort #1!' Zachary Larmore: Zachary Larmore Residence: The Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul, MN Concentration: Labor Organizing andamp; Leadership When asked to summarize his political experience, Zach replied 'Every action is political.' Zach started volunteering at an early age. Zach says that when he was a child his aunt made him volunteer at a co-op while she flirted with the manager. He has also volunteered at the Harriet Island Labor Day Picnic, among other things. Zach is the General Manager at Big Discount Liquor. Although he is still 'a retail wage slave,' Zach says that MAPL has absolutely had a positive impact on his life. He adds that the program has shown him that there are practical applications for his long-held ideas and beliefs. In addition, he has a greater ambition to go out and work for things he has thought about for a long time, and he attributes this to the fantastic people he has met through the program. Zach shared that his proudest moment in the MAPL program was when he received praise from Rep. Mary Murphy at the end of a legislative hearing simulation. He added that he is also proud of graduating from college as a nontraditional student with honors. According to Zach, the connections and the possible opportunities are the most important things he is taking from the program; he values meeting so many wonderful people through the program – as Zach put it, people 'that know people that know people'. He adds that he is also taking away a wealth of newfound knowledge. Zach says he has developed as an advocate 'by listening very carefully to everything Marcia Avner said while I was lucky enough to be around her.' Zach clearly values his MAPL experience; here is the story behind his application to the program: 'I had just graduated in the spring from the ‘U’ and was starting to panic about not being in school (because, believe or not, I love being in school) and having to repay my loans when I saw The Program plugged in the U of M Political Science Department listserv. Plus, I wasn’t ready for the GRE yet and didn’t need to be.' 'I’d like to thank everyone that put up with me over the course of the past two years, from Wy Spano all the way down. I don’t have a particular favorite moment, but several hundred equally important fond memories.' Liana Michelfelder: Liana Michelfelder Liana currently has two jobs. She is the Program Coordinator for RNeighbors - Rochester Neighborhood Resource Center, and she works as direct care staff for Cardinal of Minnesota, working with adults with special needs. Liana has interned for the Women’s Resource andamp; Action Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she focused on empowering students and faculty to work for social change and gender equality on campus through a variety of programs and services. She also organized the Experience Diversity Silent Auction and raised $6000 for the George Thompson Catalyst Fund. The monies raised were used for Prejudice Reduction Workshop funding. Liana says she deeply values the relationships and connections she has made in the MAPL program. 'I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to develop as a person and advocate with such talented and incredible people. I expect that as a cohort, and with each other’s support we will continue to learn and develop as activists, making a serious impact on the issues that we face .' According to Liana, she applied to the MAPL program because it offered a logical transition into the world of social justice. She explains that after graduating from the Women’s Studies Department at UMD, her awareness of such issues as poverty and gender and race disparities was raised. 'I reached a point where I could no longer remain indifferent. I knew that things needed to change, and that I had a responsibility to be part of it.' Residence: Rochester, MN Concentration: Nonprofit andamp; Community Advocacy 'I would like to thank Luke Tessum for his continual love and support, as well as my beautiful daughter Malia. I would also like to thank Mom and Dad, Bob and Bonnie Knutson, Beth Bartlett, and the entire Tessum family for their passionate belief in education, and constant encouragement over the last two years. When my Mother and Grandmother were young and attempted college and family, they were successful finally completing graduate school in their late forties. Due to their continual support and love I was able to accomplish it at twenty-four. Along with my daughter, the thought of them kept me motivated and inspired throughout this program. I am forever grateful for the impact they have had on my life.' Ida Rukavina : Ida Rukavina Concentration: Labor Organizing andamp; Leadership Residence: Ida currently lives in St. Cloud, but has tentative plans to move to Aurora, MN Ida is currently a Field Staff Representative with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 65. She has been an active volunteer with the DFL since age 7. Ida was employed with the Wellstone for Senate campaign as the 8th Congressional District Coordinator, and she also worked for the Dennis Kucinich for President campaign and Jim Oberstar’s campaign. In addition to working on other various political campaigns in Duluth, St. Cloud, and on the Iron Range; Ida has also worked in the Labor movement in these locations. Most notably Ida was an Organizer with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) Union Local 99, in Duluth. Ida learned of the MAPL program a year or so before it began while at a fundraiser in the Twin Cities. Wy Spano informed her about the plans for the program. As she recalls the situation, 'I said I might be interested in applying as a student. He responded that he thought I should be teaching with all that I have done! However, when I applied, they entered me as a student, so I guess his offer to teach was off the table.' Ida believes MAPL has made her a more effective advocate for the Labor movement and other issues that she is passionate about; she has learned better ways to research policy and effectively advocate for or against policy. She also values her wonderful classmates, who she is convinced will be changing Minnesota for the better. She says she is proud to be graduating with her Masters from MAPL, and is proud to be working daily for social and economic justice for the members of AFSCME and the rest of the Labor Movement. 'I want to thank UMD for having this program and Wy Spano and others for getting it going. I want to thank the professors who give up their weekends to teach an unruly bunch of activists and go-getters. And finally, my fellow classmates who made it enjoyable to give up my weekends for obtaining my Masters degree.' KathrynSabaka: Kathryn Sabaka Residence: St. Paul, MN Concentration: Nonprofit andamp; Community Advocacy Katie has volunteered on several different campaigns, and has held internships in public policy at Child Care WORKS!, community organizing at Outfront Minnesota, political research at the Minnesota Women’s Campaign Fund, and in the office of Senate Majority Leader John C. Hottinger. According to Katie, the most important thing that she will be taking from the MAPL program is the strong network of friends and allies that she has formed with her fellow students. On a personal and professional level, she has made friends here that have supported and challenged her continuously throughout the past two years. In class, she has witnessed the emergence of brilliant ideas and inspiring enthusiasm. There is no doubt in Katie’s mind that, as time goes on and their careers develop, she will continue to work together with her classmates as advocates and leaders for a better Minnesota. Katie credits the MAPL courses with honing her skills as an advocate. They have prepared her to enter the non-profit sector and the political realm of society as a professional who is practiced in research and communication methods, organizing and lobbying techniques, policy analysis and program evaluation, and various advocacy tactics. Furthermore, they have provided her with a solid groundwork of political thought and theory upon which her personal ideology will continue to build. Katie says MAPL has played a tremendous role in her professional and personal development, and has helped her to focus her career direction on working in the non-profit sector with public policy. 'I would like to thank Wy Spano for creating this amazing program, Julie Smith for helping it to run smoothly, and all of its Professors and students for invigorating it with enthusiasm, spirit, and laughter.' Sue Stromquist: Sue Stromquist Sue is the editor of the MAPL program’s newsletter, 'The MAPL Tree.' She is also the onsite technology guru. Sue is presently volunteering with Becky Lourey’s campaign for Governor. She was also recently hired as a campaign manager for Melanie Ford, who intends to run for St. Louis County Attorney. In 2004 she interned for America Coming Together and worked with Progressive Action. Sue says that her involvement with the 2004 election provided her with one of her proudest moments: 'On Election Day, after a woman voted for the first time ever, she told me ‘now that she had found her voice, she would never be silent again.’' Sue’s first political experience was working with It’s Time Minnesota. Sue is a Layreader and a Lay Eucharistic Minister in her church, and she is active at the state and national level with the effort for full inclusion of GLBT members. She has done volunteer work for years with Churches United in Ministry. Sue is also a ten-year volunteer with the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. Sue entered the MAPL program because it was the first Master’s program that seemed appropriate to her life and chosen occupations. MAPL has helped her develop as an advocate, as Sue puts it 'I have learned, I have had opportunities to talk about issues, and I have found my voice.' She also is taking with her a greater knowledge that democracy only works if it is participatory and we can assist others in finding their voice to participate. She adds that this Masters program has increased both her interest in politics and her determination to be an active advocate. Sue’s proudest personal accomplishment is 'That I am alive and sober to participate in both the program and my own life.' Residence: Duluth, MN Concentration: Nonprofit andamp; Community Advocacy 'A huge thank you to everyone who helped financially – Mike Ciresi, the Bremer Foundation, the Cruden-Riggs scholarship fund, and the Episcopal Church Women of Minnesota.' 'And thank you to all who supported me emotionally and put up with my moods while I wrote papers and most especially, thank you Beth for helping me to be the best person I am able.' Matthew Wohlman: Matthew Wohlman Matt is currently employed as a Legislative Assistant in the office of State Senator Yvonne Prettner Solon. He has also worked as a Campaign Manager for the Marc Kimball for State Representative campaign, as a Congressional Intern in both Minnesota and Washington D.C. for U.S. Senator Mark Dayton, and as a Campus Coordinator for the Mark Dayton for Minnesota Campaign. Matt credits the MAPL program with bringing together an unusually diverse array of academic, occupational and interest focuses. He adds that the program fosters lively camaraderie and a deep appreciation for policy discussion, problem solving and an innovative approach to building partnerships and effective political movements. Matt says that he has deep respect for the network that has formed among his fellow students. He states that 'This program is building future leaders who will be active participants in developing solutions to the challenging public policy discussions which come before us. The decisions that are made will affect the future of our neighborhoods, our community, our state and nation, and people across the globe.' Adding to his praise of the program, Matt explains that he feels MAPL has been crafted into a unique and world-class program, offing endless opportunities: 'As members of the first cohort, we were educated and trained with real-world experiences and hands on approaches to addressing important public policy concerns facing our state. We dissected dozens of policy issues, and were more than introduced to the rigors of analyzing, developing, framing and delivering public policy. The instruction was exceptional. Guest speakers were selected to reach a diverse cross-section of issues facing public life. Their level of skill and knowledge was tremendous, and they were incredibly committed to making sure we understood the foundation of how they framed their issues and developed a movement to create change. From building a network of eager, intelligent and talented public policy advocates, to refining the tools to create change in government, this program has had a profound impact on my life.' Residence: Minneapolis, MN Matt’s Volunteer Experience: As an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus, Matt was actively involved in a variety of on-campus activities. During his freshman year, he became a member of the St. Paul Student Union Board of Governors. From 1998-1999, he chaired the Finance Committee of the board and was responsible for presenting the Union’s $2.8 million dollar operational budget before the student fees committee. In 1999, Matt was elected President of the board and worked closely with student leaders on the Minneapolis campus to merge the St. Paul Student Union with Coffman Memorial Union. In 2000, he was elected Vice President of the merged Twin Cities Student Unions and coordinated a $6.9 million operational budget and worked with the board to direct the beginning phase of the $51 million Coffman Union Renovation. He was also elected to serve as the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Student Senator to the University and Student Senate. In 2001, he was elected President of the Senate. Matt has also been a participant in various food drives, and several foster care children holiday parties.