Meet the 2023 Cohort & Core Connectors
Our 2023 Cohort, composed of first-year and second-year members of this two-year experience, joins our Core Connectors in this adaptive and emergent journey to create meaningful exchanges in and across our Minnesota communities.
2023 Cohort Connectors
24 Minnesotans with diverse backgrounds in leadership, expertise, geography, culture, class, age, gender, sexuality, and race
These leaders in the arts, community development, education, environment, healthcare, and business sectors represent many regions of Minnesota, including Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Big Stone, Cass, Clay, Fillmore, Hubbard, Lake, Lyon, Otter Tail, Ramsey, Scott, Winona, and Yellow Medicine counties. They commit to four community intensive weekend gatherings over a two-year period, where they set out to understand and value the culture, landscape, context and people of each place. This year’s cohort members look forward to Community Intensive weekends in Mahnomen/White Earth Nation and Winona County.
Artist, Poet, Writer, Advocate, and Activist
Anti-Racist, Avid Non-Fiction Reader, Advocate, Activist, Scientist, Safe Parent
Mom, Mayor, reluctant chicken farmer, community builder, advocate, storyteller, obsessive reader, easily distracted by plants.
Dancer, foodie, lover of life, Earth-whisperer, visionary, connector, communicator, social transformer
Connector, Healer, Weaver, Illuminator, Creator
Katie KangasHam Lake
rural enthusiast, chaos coordinator, mother of 3 girls, novice musician, clay-player, explorer of nature and small towns, avid learner, child of Christ
city mouse turned country mouse, scandinavian rosemaler, novice birder, community connector, pumpkin farmer, track coach
Arts advocate, metalsmith, connector, trivia aficionado, dog lover, gardener, baker, dreamer.
Mother, wife, sister, antie, grandma, artist, art advocate, avid learner, traveler.
community connector, daughter, sister, auntie, caretaker, artist, student and educator, place-maker, systems-thinker
Isaac RussellSaint Paul
Father, husband, policy advocate, community builder, eternal volunteer, recreational foreign policy pundit, martial arts practitioner, food enthusiast.
maker, outdoor-lover, runner, walker, bicycler, reader, art-lover, mother, community connector, food-lover
Grandfather, Pickleball addict, maker space advocate, sometimes extroverted, nature based, socially engaged artist, nonsectarian kayaker
Hawona Sullivan JanzenSaint Paul
writer, thinker, seeker, finder, mother, daughter, griever, traveler
St. PaulListener-Vibration. Heart Artist. Luth-opalian Sufi Dancer. Mixed Asian. Rural-Urban. Gen X-er. Community Song & Dance Leader. Budding Organizer & Storyteller.
Granite FallsDakota, mother, partner, midwife, decolonization activist, Indigenous animist, artist, ancestral femme, Sci-fi/high fantasy nerd
Laura JosephSt. Paulmother by choice, appreciator of slowness and rest, hoosher/small world maker, believer in embodied knowledge, seeker of meaningful/deep connections, curator
Penny KagigebiDetroit Lakes
Advocate for JOY and Mino-Bimaadiziwin (good life/good health) through Ojibwe Culture+Arts, QUEER2-Spirit, Relative-Mom-Grandmother-Wife-Niece-Sister-Auntie
Marcus LarsonJordanGardener, Painter, chameleon, Social Butterfly, YouTube addict.
Su LegattMoorheadartist, mother, daughter, photographer, rural advocate, connector, baker, love of the outdoors, musician
Jeremy RadtkeGranite Falls
Chronic optimist, Designer, Fun-haver, Communicator, Western MN advocate, Family guy, Lover of Adventure
Joy Davis RipleyWinona
Writer, photographer, artist, professor, mother, life partner, daughter, friend, cyclist, gardener, Southerner, introvert, person with disabilities
Mom, partner, daughter, granddaughter, sister, gardener-in-training, podcast junkie, journal keeper, evolver. Double Scorpio
Dan ThewisTwo Harbors
Father, Husband, Son, Brother, Teacher, Coach, Friend, Cook, Christian
The Core Connectors (or Steering Committee) design and facilitate this learning exchange from year to year
Minnesota RUX began in 2020 with a cohort of statewide Steering Committee members who stewarded the program's adaptation to Minnesota from the Kentucky RUX model (which began in 2014). In 2023, Kentucky RUX hosted their 27th community intensive in their 15th host community and now includes an alumni of 260 Kentuckians from 49 counties.
Joe AllenMahnomen; White Earth Nation
Project Director, Gizhiigin Arts Incubator
Father, Lakota, Ojibwe, Artist, Rural, Mentor, Entrepreneur, Introvert
Founder, Voices for Rural Resilience
Farmers daughter, mother, tomboy, social strategist, twin, scarf hoarder
Equitable Development Specialist, Region Five Development Commision
Wife, mother, planner, gardener, cook
Economic Development Specialist / Lead for MN Fellow, Southern MN Initiative Foundation
leader, dancer, friend, daughter and deep conversationalist
Executive Director, Art of the Rural
father, visitor, writer, artist, curator, zen wanderer, listener
Ashley HansonGranite Falls
Founder and Director, Department of Public Transformation and PlaceBase Productions
theater artist, enthusiast, climber, Leo, extrovert, adventurer, yogi
Lead for Minnesota Fellow, Grant and Program ResearcherNew Yorker, Runner, Improviser, Extrovert, Traveler, Barista, Rural Advocate, Advocate for Women
Executive Director, Region Five Development Commisionrural, feminist, gardener, bridger, spiritual, atheist, change agent, equity advocate
Salma Ahmed IbrahimHibbing
Lead for Minnesota Mental Health FellowSomali, Black, Muslim, Community Organizer, Writer
Founder 100 Rural Womenmother, sister, aunt, rural advocate, rural woman, curious, traveler, community servant, seasoned
Co-Founder & Minnesota Executive Director, Lead for AmericaDaughter, sister, Rural Advocate, Catholic, Thai-Midwest Fusionist, Eating with Hands Enthusiast
Jane LeonardSt. Paul
President, Growth & JusticeTwin, community builder from birth, family kin-keeper, Rurban advocate, flashlight/duct tape gal
Associate Vice-President, Office of Equity & Inclusive Excellence, Winona State UniversityBlack American man, Father, Husband, Meditator, Entrepreneur, Committed to bringing higher vibrations to the world.
Kathy MouacheupaoSt. Paul
Executive Director, Metropolitan Regional Arts CouncilHmong American woman, daughter of refugees, arts administrator, auntie, Saint Paulite, creative collaborator, optimist
Theater Director, Waseca Public Schoolscookbook collector, writer, gardener, coffee drinker, storyteller, and Meridenite
Director, National Advancement at Artspace Projects, Inc.Dakota, Arts Administrator, Social Justice Advocate, Brother, Uncle, Friend
Interim Executive Director, Arrowhead Regional Arts CouncilSon, grandson, husband, father, Community builder. committed to social justice
Community-engaged artist, freelancer, and muralista community organizer, muralist, a descendent of both Indigenous and settler heritage, emo/punk kid at heart, a pluralist, a sweet potato and squash chef
Cassie WilliamsInver Grove Heights
Labor Educator, University of Minnesota
Black woman, mother, artist, poet, educator
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Meet the 2022 Cohort and Core Connectors
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