The African American Leadership Forum’s Collective Impact Task Force includes 12 Black leaders from across Minnesota; each with a unique skillset and community engagement experience. These leaders are chosen via an application and interview process and focus on Education, Health & Wellness, Economic Development, and Family & Culture in the African American community to bring about change.

We recently reached out to one of our Task Force members to get their insights on what’s happening in the program.

AALF: What topics are you currently discussing in the program? How do they relate to your personal community engagement experiences in the Black community?

Oolman: The workstream I’ll be focusing on is economic development, and I’m excited because it doesn’t directly relate to previous community engagement experience. Throughout my career I’ve worked in disability advocacy, and most recently with youth to support positive Black identity for kids from transracially adoptive families. In 2018 I obtained my MBA and I love that I’m putting it to work with an organization I believe in and a space that means so much to me.

Of AALF’s four leadership personas (Ambassador, Builder, Influencer, and Thought Leader), which do you most identify with?

Builder. I like to flex my thought leadership muscle, but I’m the most effective when I’m in “building” mode. I will always be game for big picture discussions and brainstorming, but when I’m given concepts I can mold and bring to life, I come to life too.

What have you learned about your leadership style since beginning the program?

I’ve been so fortunate to work with a group of professionals that are intensely passionate and focused on the same topic. I’ve found it is easy to intently listen in this space because each person brings such a great perspective. Time with this group has also helped me carry myself more confidently when speaking about the issues we discuss because time and time again we have incredible and validating conversations that I bring with me into other spaces.

Why is AALF’s Collective Impact work relevant? Is there anything about the program or its structure that you find innovative or a new approach to solving challenges in the African American community?

Especially in a state that is segregated in many ways, it’s critical to have people who have lived experience leading community discussions. It is incredible to collaborate with folks that have so many things in common yet are so unique and different. There is something to be said about conquering your own challenges; that’s what AALF’s Task Force is doing. I love the Task Force and the work we’re creating together.

Are you passionate about improving the lives of African Americans? Apply for the next iteration of the program. Contact the program’s director, LaCora Bradford Kesti, with questions at lacora@aalftc.org.

You can also stay informed about the Forum’s programs and events by becoming a network contributor. It’s FREE and easy to join!