Several new Bush Fellows will work on disability issues

The 2024 Bush Fellowship Program has announced its 2024 fellows. Many of this year’s fellows will work on disability-related issues. […]

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The 2024 Bush Fellowship Program has announced its 2024 fellows. Many of this year’s fellows will work on disability-related issues.

The fellowships given by the Bush Foundation provide support to accomplished community leaders. The fellowships allow these leaders to take their efforts to the next level and ultimately have even greater impact within and across communities.

Up to 24 Bush Fellows are selected each year for a two-year program. Each receives a grant of $100,000 to fund their leadership plan. Fellowships can last anywhere between 12 and 24 months.

Nineteen Minnesotans, two North Dakotans and three South Dakotans are this year’s winners of the Bush fellowship. More than 600 people applied for the program.

Fellows with a disability focus in their work include:  Mari Tototzintle Avaloz wants to ensure Latine communities have access to culturally specific support needed to navigate complex health care systems involved with cancer. Being a primary caregiver to her sister, Maria, who died in 2019 from a rare form of ovarian cancer, exposed her to challenges her family faced, and even greater challenges experienced by other Latine families to receiving quality care when there are language, documentation and familiarity with navigating systems barriers.

She plans to enroll in an intensive Spanish immersion program, obtain a graduate social work license, learn from other healthcare leaders in the Latine and cancer community and complete courses to expand her leadership.  Adrean Clark is breaking communication barriers as an American Sign Language-speaking (ASL) deaf woman, forging her own path as an artist and writer. She co-founded a publishing company to showcase the work of sign language speakers, regardless of hearing status, after seeing few places for ASL deaf creatives to publish their work.

Clark established an online dictionary for written ASL that eventually became the ASLwrite method. She hopes to create opportunities for deaf communities to heal from the trauma of linguicism, and will pursue a Ph.D. at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, to expand her research on how ASL is represented on paper.  Arlene Krulish has a calling to end drug addiction in tribal communities. Growing up on the Spirit Lake Reservation, she saw an inadequate health care system and its harmful effects on Indigenous communities. Earning a degree from the University of North Dakota School of Nursing, she returned to her tribe, working for decades to improve access to and quality of health care on the reservation.  She focuses on helping people overcome addiction, drawing from Western medicine and ceremonial practices. Through her fellowship, she plans to enroll in a nurse practitioner program with a psychiatric mental health specialization, which would make her the first nurse practitioner enrolled in the Spirit Lake Tribe.

Manka Nkimbeng uses research and policy to address health inequities in African immigrant communities. She was raised by her grandparents in Cameroon where access to healthcare was limited. Living here, she continued to see ways in which healthcare systems don’t work well for everyone. That inspired her career working as a researcher and assistant professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She developed a dementia education program for African immigrants and implemented public health education for Black immigrants. Her fellowship will enable her to continue closing equity gaps in healthcare through coalition-building and conflict resolution. She also will develop an advisory committee for feedback and build her self-care practices.

Dr. Kasim Abdur Razzaq is dedicated to helping others achieve mental health and wellbeing. As a mental health professional, he has long been fascinated by how people understand complex ideas. He works to find ways to give people language and meaning for their personal experiences.

His experiences as a Black Muslim man have helped him understand the importance of cultural context and roots for the people he helps. He believes true healing for Black communities is tied to understanding the traumas that have affected all Black people. During his fellowship, he will focus on his own health practices as he works to build his capacity to inspire and support more Black mental health professionals.

Jamil Stamschror-Lott became a mental health therapist with the hope of preventing Black students from being misdiagnosed and wrongfully placed in special education systems. During his initial years of practice, he realized there were additional systemic challenges in the mental health care industry that specifically impacted marginalized groups.

He and his wife started a private practice, Creative Kuponya, to provide culturally responsive services — outside of the traditional medical model — to address these issues and better support his community. He is now working to build a pathway for more Black men in Minnesota to become therapists. During his fellowship, he will build coalitions, consult with leaders who have similar ambitions and seek personal training in fields like operations, nonprofit management and culturally specific therapeutic models.

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Mental Wellness