Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Bush Fellowships awarded to 24 who can use the $100K to develop leadership skills

The fellowships go to those in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and 23 area Native nations who show leadership accomplishments and “extraordinary potential.”

The Bush Foundation has awarded 2016 Bush Fellowships to 24 people who have shown leadership accomplishments and have “extraordinary potential.”

The annual fellowships are available to those who apply from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and 23 area Native nations.

Those selected receive $100,000, over one to two years, for learning experiences that will “increase their knowledge and develop important leadership skills and attributes, especially in the areas of communications, self-awareness, creativity, cultural competency and cross-sector leadership.”

Among this year’s fellows are state Rep. Kim Norton of Rochester, who isn’t seeking re-election this fall; MPR reporter Mukhtar Ibrahim; and former Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd Jourdain.

Article continues after advertisement

Bush Foundation President Jennifer Ford Reedy said the program has proved very worthwhile over the years. “The value of investing in people is apparent when you look at the accomplishments of Bush Fellows and their impact on our region over that past 50 years,” she said.

Since 1965, more than 2,200 people have received fellowships through the program, which allows recipients to use the funds for a self-designed learning experience, academic program or travel across the country to build connections with thought leaders on topics critical to their community.

Previous fellows include former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson and President Barack Obama’s Special Assistant for Native American Affairs Karen Diver.

The 24 chosen this year were selected from 465 applicants.

Next year’s application process opens Aug. 30, for those 24 or older, who live in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or one of the 23 area Native nations.

The Bush Foundation provided these brief bios of the 2016 fellows:

  • Terry Austin, Brooklyn Park, MN — Terry Austin knows that a child’s relationship with his or her father has lifelong effects on health and development. He wants to grow his knowledge of systems and policies that impact fathers’ ability to be supportive resources for their children and build a counter narrative that combats widespread negative stereotypes of black fathers. With his Bush Fellowship, he will study interdisciplinary approaches that challenge men to show up, spend time and have fun with their children. With that knowledge, he will develop public events and a robust social media platform for a new fatherhood movement that tells a different story from the one that’s typically told.
  • Susan Marie Beaulieu, Baxter, MN — Susan Beaulieu teaches about adverse childhood experiences — ACEs — in Native American communities. Defined as traumatic events, ACEs can negatively impact child health and development and have long-term effects into adulthood. Susan is inspired by the power of resiliency and plans to explore traditional indigenous practices around mindfulness as strategies to promote greater wellbeing for Native American youth. She plans to use her Bush Fellowship to finish her Ph.D. and to invest in her own wellbeing, understanding that she must practice what she teaches to truly have a ripple effect in her community.
  • Eileen Briggs, Eagle Butte, SD — According to her friends, Eileen Briggs is a “galvanizer of people and of change.” She leads the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Ventures, a comprehensive project aimed at reducing poverty. She believes in the importance of being rooted in traditional cultural values and in a strengths-based approach comes to community development. Through her Bush Fellowship, Eileen will visit indigenous communities across Indian Country to learn about facing adversity, especially through women’s healing ceremonies. She will also enhance her facilitation and writing skills in order to help guide transformational conversations at home.
  • Lisa Brunner, Mahnomen, MN — As executive director of Sacred Spirits First Nations Coalition, a program serving Native women, Lisa Brunner advocates for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking. She wants to learn more about how other indigenous communities protect and heal their people through their cultural beliefs and practices. With her Bush Fellowship, she will travel to indigenous communities across the U.S. and Canada to investigate successful community-based practices, and how she can apply them to her ongoing advocacy and leadership work.
  • Carmeann Daisy Foster, Minneapolis, MN — Carmeann Foster is laser focused on one major goal: reduce the number of black youth in the juvenile justice system. She knows from personal and professional experience that African American youth and communities of color are disproportionately represented in corrections. Carmeann recently launched a nonprofit to create and provide innovative, community-centered rehabilitative solutions. Through her Bush Fellowship, she will investigate the most promising, culturally specific interventions for youth, complete her Ph.D. and grow her leadership network.
  • Julie Ann Garreau, Eagle Butte, SD — Julie Garreau has been the driving force behind the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP), developing it from a fledgling experiment to one of the nation’s most successful Native youth development programs. After years of leading CRYP, she now wants to ensure its future success by mentoring emerging Lakota leaders who can succeed her. Julie will use her Bush Fellowship to study Lakota teachings and effective Western leadership models, leveraging both to foster the next generation of leaders.
  • Betty Gronneberg, Fargo, ND — Betty Gronneberg is a new American and a software engineer with one big goal: She wants girls to engineer the world they live in — quite literally. Betty sees the gender disparities in computing and engineering jobs, and knows girls can be the driving force in technology, not just the basic consumers of it. In response to what she sees, Betty wants to foster opportunities for girls to connect with the world of coding and introduce them to careers in technology by creating an enrichment program. She will use her Bush Fellowship to strengthen her leadership expertise, study model organizations in the field and research ways to attract more girls to science, technology, engineering and math.
  • Nausheena Hussain, Brooklyn Park, MN — Nausheena Hussain is immersed in civic life, serving on boards, her local charter commission and as an election judge. She founded Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE), a leadership development nonprofit, to elevate Muslim women. Nausheena continues to examine why there are so few Muslim women in positions of power and wants to understand what could potentially be holding them back. She will use her Bush Fellowship to strengthen her nonprofit leadership and management abilities, seeking out mentors at the intersection of gender, race and religious identity.
Courtesy of the Bush Foundation
Mukhtar Ibrahim
  • Mukhtar Ibrahim, Vadnais Heights, MN — When Mukhtar Ibrahim emigrated from East Africa to the U.S. in 2005, he spoke little English. Today, as a reporter with Minnesota Public Radio, he is the first Somali-American journalist in the state to work at a major news outlet. He is also the founder of Sahan Journal, an independent news source for East Africans and Somalis who live in the Twin Cities metro area. He wants to close the cultural gap between long-time and new Americans through more balanced, in-depth and fair storytelling about immigrants. With his Bush Fellowship, Mukhtar will complete a master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University to advance his knowledge of long-form narrative writing, investigative reporting, digital storytelling and radio documentaries.
  • Lorrie Janatopoulos, Eveleth, MN — Lorrie Janatopoulos is the long-time planning director at Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, a social services nonprofit. She also is an LGBT activist on the Iron Range who recognizes that true community change requires relationships, long-term engagement and cross-sector collaboration. With her Bush Fellowship, Lorrie will pursue post-graduate work at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Kennedy School. She will also work at the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board to expand her network and learn more about rural economic and community development.
  • Dr. Tami Sue Jollie-Trottier, Belcourt, ND — Psychologist Tami Jollie-Trottier knows that the arts offer a creative outlet for a young person to build self-confidence and cultural identity. Her goal is to create a beautiful and safe haven where the young people of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa can discover self-expression and connect with elders through the arts. With her Bush Fellowship, she will devote time to growing her knowledge of Native arts and expressive art therapy, and develop an art studio open to the community on her reservation.
Courtesy of the Bush Foundation
Floyd Jourdain
  • Floyd Patrick Jourdain, Jr., Red Lake, MN — The drum, the heartbeat of Native nations, restored Floyd Jourdain as a young man 30 years ago when he sought sobriety. It carried him through his 10 years as tribal chair of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. Now he wants to explore how the drum can teach and promote healing and unity throughout Indian Country. With his Bush Fellowship, he will complete his bachelor’s degree, focusing on emerging research that shows how drumming can address the challenges of addiction while strengthening cultural identity in Native communities.
  • Tou SaiKo Lee, Saint Paul, MN — As a teen, Tou SaiKo Lee wandered down a troubled path before creative writing saved his life. His travels to Thailand with his grandmother to learn from Hmong people living in mountain villages further fueled his passion for the arts and his culture. Today, he uses the arts to encourage cultural identity and pride in youth in the Frogtown neighborhood. Tou SaiKo Lee wants to expand his impact by becoming a more adept cultural liaison to the arts. He will use his Bush Fellowship to build skills in business management, and to return to Southeast Asia to grow his ability to capture elders’ stories and make them relevant to young people.
  • Nevada Littlewolf, Virginia, MN — Nevada Littlewolf was the first Anishinaabe woman ever elected to the Virginia City Council and, at age 31, the only council member under the age of 55. That influential experience encouraged her to establish Rural and American Indigenous Leadership (RAIL), a nonprofit focused on growing women’s leadership in rural and indigenous communities. She wants to grow her ability to build RAIL into a nonprofit capable of serving a national audience. Nevada’s Bush Fellowship will provide her with the time and resources to finish her bachelor’s degree, explore positive women’s roles in other global indigenous cultures and seek additional training and coaching to build leadership skills.
  • Trista Louise Matascastillo, Saint Paul, MN — Trista Matascastillo is one of few to have served in three branches of the U.S. military. Often, she was the only woman in her command. After 16 years of service in the Navy, Marine Corps and National Guard, she was compelled to form the Women Veteran’s Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy and networking organization. She wants to respond to the growing number of women vets nationwide and to guide her organization as it grows from a working group to a robust nonprofit. With her Bush Fellowship, Trista will pursue post-secondary and graduate degrees to strengthen her leadership skills.
  • Dr. Yuri Rafael Nakasato, Fargo, ND — Born in Peru, Yuri Nakasato lived through a devastating earthquake, violent civil conflict and epidemics of tuberculosis and cholera. Despite the obstacles, he went on to earn degrees in medicine and business administration. With a “never give up and always get up” philosophy, he seeks to lead effective, large-scale change within the Sanford Health System to help patients get better, faster and on budget. To help him acquire the leadership skills to lead this change, Yuri will use his Bush Fellowship to pursue a master’s of consulting and coaching for change through a joint executive education program with Oxford University and the école des Hautes Etudes Commerciales de Paris.
Courtesy of the Bush Foundation
Kim Norton
  • Kim Norton, Rochester, MN — State Representative Kim Norton introduced legislation and rallied support for the Destination Medical Center (DMC), an economic development project aimed at positioning Rochester as a premier location for health care. Kim wants to help lead Rochester through the dramatic changes ahead, making sure that DMC works for the entire community. Her Bush Fellowship will allow her to complete a master’s degree at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and grow her transformational leadership skills through the Women in Power executive education program at Harvard Kennedy School.
  • Abdi Roble, Minneapolis, MN — In 1992, Abdi Roble found a manual camera at a flea market. Captivated, he began taking photography courses at a community college and documenting the Somali immigrant and refugee experience. Ten years later, he founded the Somali Documentary Project with more than 10,000 images of Somali people in the Twin Cities, Rochester, Saint Cloud, Willmar and Pelican Rapids. Through his Bush Fellowship, he will acquire the skills to create a professional archive that digitizes and catalogues these images — the first of its kind in the world. Guided by the motto “Ummad aan dhigaal lahayni, waa dhaayo aan arag lahayn,” – “A nation without archives is like eyes without sight,” he also seeks leadership training to support and inspire young people to document and archive their communities.
  • Dave Smiglewski, Granite Falls, MN — As a member of the Granite Falls City Council for nearly four decades and mayor for 20 years, Dave Smiglewski knows first-hand the challenges and joys of community service. He is witness to an alarming decline in civic and community engagement particularly in rural areas, and wants to encourage young adults in his region to reverse the trend. Through his Bush Fellowship, Dave will finish his bachelor’s degree and pursue post-graduate education, studying the best methods to incubate, model and drive civic engagement.
  • Yuko Taniguchi, Rochester, MN — Yuko Taniguchi was inspired by how fisherwomen in her native Japan used art to heal from the devastating grief and trauma of a tsunami. That inspiration fuels her work with the Arts at the Bedside Program at the Mayo Clinic, where she helps patients tap into their creativity to express fear, anxiety and grief. Through her Bush Fellowship, Yuko will explore the connections between art and resiliency both at the individual and community level. She will study with national experts who use the arts to connect mind, body and people.
  • Larry Tucker, Brooklyn Park, MN — Larry Tucker devotes his professional career to helping people change the direction of their lives and, he says, “write a different story.” Despite childhood adversity and becoming a parent when he was just 17, Larry earned both his bachelor’s and post-graduate degrees, and then founded Kente Circle, a successful mental health organization serving the community with a special emphasis on the needs of African Americans. With his Bush Fellowship, he will acquire the advanced leadership and business skills he needs to train the next generation of culturally competent mental health professionals.
  • Giovanni Veliz, Maple Grove, MN — Giovanni Veliz is the first immigrant police lieutenant in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and the former executive director of the Police Activities League. He is keenly aware of the challenges police departments have in building relationships with youth and communities of color, and is focused on juvenile outreach. Now, with his Bush Fellowship, he will deepen the strategic skills he needs to design solutions for improving youth health, development and leadership, and for enhancing the cultural competency of MPD officers. He will enroll in executive education programs at the Harvard Kennedy School and other educational institutions.
  • Hamse Warfa, Savage, MN — As one of Minnesota’s civic leaders, Hamse Warfa is concerned about structural integration challenges new immigrants face, particularly immigrants in the Somali community. He bridges cultures through leadership and peace building training, and wants to increase his ability to influence cross-cultural understanding. With his Bush Fellowship, he will develop a new platform that links more immigrants to mainstream systems on issues of education, health, economic empowerment and civic leadership while leading civic conversations that create more vibrant communities for all Minnesotans.
  • Martin Wera, Minneapolis, MN — Martin Wera sees the relationships between good food and good jobs through his focus on hunger relief and workforce development at Ameriprise. He is passionate about exploring ways to unite the food service industry and the nonprofit sector to create a more sustainable future for consumers, employers and workers. Martin will use his Bush Fellowship to learn from other communities that have successfully engaged multiple sectors to mutually solve food insecurity and labor shortage issues and bring this knowledge back to the Twin Cities.