Anissa Keyes has worked in social services for over 20 years. She has worked in several capacities and has been practicing as a marriage and family therapist for the past four years. She has a gift of joining with people and walking with them during difficult times in their lives. She is a contracted professional with Metro Social Services, providing supervision and consultation to Clinical trainees and children’s mental health case managers. She is also the president of Arubah Emotional Health Services, a small group private practice with the goal to make mental health services accessible to all. Arubah is a Hebrew word for “restoration to sound health.” Anissa brings the concept of Love and Restoration into all of her work, understanding that God embodies the perfect definition of love and He restores. She understands that she is simply a vessel to assist in facilitating this process.
Ashley Oolman, disability inclusion consultant at Lifeworks Services, transforms workplaces through accessibility tools, evidence-based best practices, compliance assessments, speaking engagements, and leadership development facilitation. From large corporations to small businesses, she guides strategic inclusive hiring and retention initiatives to diversify talent and advance disability employment. With more than a decade of leadership experience in advocacy, employment and workplace culture, she understands how to navigate complex environments to provide insight for growth. She has worked with businesses including Securian, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Ameriprise. In addition, she has partnered with community organizations and school districts. Ashley has an M.B.A. with a concentration in human resource management and a B.A. in psychology with a minor in human development and family studies. She is committed to inclusion as a means to advance human rights for all people in all walks of life. Connect with her and learn more: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleyoolman/
Brandon Jones is a psychotherapist, professor, and consultant. He specializations in adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), historical and intergenerational trauma, social/emotional intelligence (EQ), leadership, and youth justice. Born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Brandon has survived living in a home of domestic violence and various other forms of trauma. Brandon holds a B.A. in sociology from the University of Minnesota, a master’s degree in community psychology from Metropolitan State University, and a master’s in psychotherapy (MFT) from Adler Graduate School. Brandon is a 2013 Bush Foundation Leadership fellow. He is also a professor at Metropolitan State University and Century College. He currently serves as the integrated services manager at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center. He lives by the motto of “live life with purpose on purpose.”
Brett Buckner is the managing director for OneMn.org, a statewide coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to Minnesota’s racial, social and economic equity and inclusion. A proud, life-long resident of North Minneapolis, Brett is a double graduate of Metropolitan State University with a B.A. in individualized studies (equity, engagement, and empowerment in the 21st century) and a master’s degree in advocacy and political leadership, and he is an alum of Hampton University. Brett is also a Roy Wilkins Community Fellow from the Roy Wilkins Center at the Humphrey Institute. Brett currently serves as the chair of the Common Cause – Minnesota advisory board, Chair of the Heritage Youth Sports Foundation, Co-Convener of the Minnesota African American Sports Hall of Fame, and is leading the community effort to redevelop North Commons’ Park. Brett is also a co-executive producer of the Hip-Hop & Politics Edutainment Network that produces the weekly broadcast – Beats, Rhymes, & Democracy on KFAI FM 90.3 and over 20 community podcasts.
Niila Hebert, CVA, is senior manager of volunteer relations with Girl Scouts River Valleys. Niila has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 10 years and has used her platform to be an advocate for volunteerism and advancing the profession of volunteer management. Niila is a trained mediator and has developed and facilitated trainings in conflict resolution, self-care and managing group dynamics, for various nonprofit organizations in the Twin Cities. Her passion for equity, inclusion and cultural competency has led her to become one of the first DEI Ambassadors and IDI Administrators for Girl Scouts. Outside of work, Niila is an active lobbyist for volunteerism, the Black community and the LGBTQ community. As the public policy Chair for MAVA, her commitment to legislative work and the opportunity to be a voice was reflected in the 2019 Volunteer Day at the Capitol, which she led and organized. Niila’s ability to bring high-energy, harmony, and positivity into any space solidifies that she is a G.I.R.L (go-getter, innovator, risk taker, leader). Niila received her B.A. in communications studies and minor in Black studies from California State University Long Beach.
Quincy Ballard is proudly from North Minneapolis and deeply engaged in communities of African descent in the Twin Cities. His passion is building strong connections across institutions to pool and leverage resources using strategies rooted in history and culture. His favorite identity and biggest motivation is being a father to his son. Currently, he is building his leadership skills through volunteering, mentoring, and engaging in trainings and fellowships. Some of the impact he’s made in the Black community that he is proud of is working directly with parents to build their capacity to manage their children’s education, reallocating over $200,000 of government funding to support community institutions and families, and organizing community conferences to raise awareness. He is happy to serve and looking forward to continually building and strengthening community institutions.
Rose McGee (creator of Sweet Potato Comfort Pie: a catalyst for caring and building community) is a recent Bush Fellow, a Minnesota 50 Over 50 honoree, and has been featured in the PBS documentary A Few Good Pie Places and TEDx Talk: The Power of Pie. She graduated from Lane College (an HBCU in Jackson, Tennessee) and also earned a master’s degree in education from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her employment with the Minnesota Humanities Center as a project officer provides professional development to educators and parents/families to strengthen relations with students. As an author, her works include the book Story Circle Stories and the play Kumbayah: The Juneteenth Story. In 2021, the Minnesota Historical Society Press will release her children’s book. She resides in Golden Valley and was recently recognized as Citizen of the Year and received the Bill Hobbs Human Rights Award.
Courtney Schroeder is a diversity and inclusion manager at General Mills. In his current role, he has responsibilities overseeing the company’s Employee Networks, leading the Courageous Conversation platform, and spearheading diversity recruiting efforts. Prior to General Mills, he was an audit manager at Deloitte & Touche LLP specializing in consumer business and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant. Originally from California, Courtney has found ways to both engage in the local community through nonprofits like Project for Pride in Living, as well as by taking advantage of the great music and food scene in the region. Courtney is a die-hard University of Michigan fan and enjoys the plethora of professional sports that the Twin Cities has to offer. In his spare time, Courtney loves to cook, walk the Mississippi and explore the many neighborhoods the Twin Cities has to offer.
Desralynn Cole is a race and equity program manager for the Division of Race and Equity at the City of Minneapolis. Currently Ms. Cole manages ReCAST – The Resilience in Communities After Stress & Trauma (ReCAST) program designed to assist high-risk youth and families to promote resilience and equity in communities that have recently faced civil unrest through implementation of evidence-based violence prevention and community youth engagement programs, as well as linkages to trauma-informed behavioral health services. Ms. Cole believes that in order to enhance and enrich the lives of individuals in her community, it is necessary to provide stable access to programs, meaningful, consistent services and resources that will serve as a guide to support them as they overcome many of life’s challenges. Desralynn is a skilled community advocate, researcher, and changemaker. Ms. Cole is the current president for the Minneapolis Urban League Twin Cities, Wellness Committee Chair for the City of Minneapolis Black Employee Network, and she holds a B.S. degree in psychology from Fisk University.
Marquita Stephens has been in the Twin Cities since 1999, working on behalf of children and families. The former president and CEO of the African American Adoption Agency, and community engagement lead for the Roseville Area School district’s 21st Century Grant, she is now responsible for developing the program content and organizational presence of the Urban League’s Education Intersection. Marquita has developed the Parent Academy, a Summer STEAM program, and deepened the Minneapolis version of the National Urban League’s Project Ready as Black Gems. These programs focus on programming for students across the Twin Cities in middle and high school, and for parents of elementary and middle school students. Marquita is also the facilitator for the Community Conversations of the City of Roseville arising after the shooting of Philando Castile, tackling such subjects as police/community relations and immigration reform. She is an avid moviegoer and enjoys swimming.