The Minnesota Governor’s Community Council on Inclusion and Equity is poised for a transformative role with state government. Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan have announced the appointments of Antony Stately, Desralynn Cole, Rachel Zhang, Bernadette Burnham, Dr. Rebecca Evan, Elda Macias, Emmanuel Oppong, Georgia Miller-Kamara, Pleasant Radford, Natalie Ringsmuth, Myat Thanda Tun, Kenneth Rodgers, Ravyn Gibbs and Maryam Nur.
“The Community Council will play a key role in our efforts to transform the work and practices of state government to be more inclusive and equitable,” said Walz. “I applaud the appointees for committing themselves to public service and dedicating their talents and efforts towards fostering a Minnesota where people of all races and all walks of life can succeed.”
The council will advise and collaborate with the One Minnesota Council in achieving its goals to design, create and implement effective, inclusive and equitable practices for the state to address disparities and inequities in our communities. The Community Council, in collaboration with the One Minnesota Council and state agencies, must prepare a report to the governor on an annual basis. The report will provide an update on the status of the Community Council’s work and recommendations for an effective, inclusive, and equitable state government.
Rodgers is well-known in Minnesota disability circles. He is disability programs coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). Previously he worked as a teacher and as a cardiac RN at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Rodgers received a bachelor’s degree in human services and education from California State University at Fullerton and a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a graduate certificate in holistic health studies from St. Catherine’s St. Mary’s campus. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute School of Public Affairs.
Oppong is the community engagement director in the mayor’s office for the city of St. Cloud, and adjunct faculty at St. Cloud State University. He is a licensed professional clinical counselor, a national certified counselor, and a Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy approved supervisor working primarily with marginalized communities, underserved immigrants, refugees, and the BIPOC population. Oppong served on the State Advisory Council on Mental Health from 2016 to 2020. Oppong earned a master’s degree in community counseling psychology from St. Cloud State University and completed the Harvard University strategies for leading successful change initiatives professional development program.
“The Community Council’s work is to help create an inclusive and equitable Minnesota where everyone – Black, white, brown, and Indigenous – has the opportunity to live a full, beautiful life,” said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan. “Today’s appointees all have demonstrated a firm commitment to serve our communities and fight for a fairer future. I am thrilled about their appointments and hopeful for the progress yet to come. This work requires Minnesota to be “all-in” to close gaps and provide opportunities for everyone in our state.”
“The administration has prioritized equity from day one. The Governor’s Community Council, in partnership with the One MN Council, will collaborate to create a plan to advance equity in Minnesota, and work to realize the vision of One Minnesota” said Chris Taylor, chief inclusion officer.
Other members come from an array of backgrounds. Stately is CEO of the Native American Community Clinic in Minneapolis. Cole is race and equity program manager in the Minneapolis City Coordinator Office. Zhang is CEO of the Rochester Community Initiative.
Burnham is vice president of Education Minnesota. Evans is assistant professor in the College of Management at Metropolitan State University. Macias is senior director of customer insights and experience design at Securian Financial.
Miller-Kamara is an education support professional (District 287) and child protection social worker for Hennepin County. Radford is health equity officer at UCare. Ringsmuth is an anti-racism trainer at St. Cloud State University and is executive director at #Unitecloud. Tun is program manager for diversity, equity and inclusion and organizational development and learning, Fairview Health Services. Gibbs is on the staff of the U.S. Senate. Nur is executive director of Lead the Way MN.