Meet the 2022 Cohort & Core Connectors
Our inaugural 2022 Cohort joins our Core Connectors in this adaptive and emergent journey of creating meaningful exchange in and across our Minnesota communities.
2022 Cohort Connectors
Our 2022 Cohort is composed of 15 Minnesotans with varied experiences of leadership, career, geography, age, ability, expertise, gender, race, sexuality, culture, and class.
These leaders in the arts, community development, education, environment, healthcare, and business sectors represent many regions of Minnesota, including Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Clay, Hubbard, Lake, 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 the Frogtown/Rondo Neighborhood of St. Paul and Mahnomen County/White Earth Nation.
theater director, ecologist, writer, INFJ Jungian and Artemis archetype, rural art maker, educator, MUM of Millenials, kayaker & backpacker, alpine areas lover
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
Julie DrechslerSt. Paul
Mom, sister, favorite aunt, friend, keen quilter, farm kid, community builder, youth advocate, Aussie/American, LGBTQIA ally
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-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
Guillermo Enrique Narváez
Community advocate and activist - educator - parent - environmentalist - food explorer
Ginger PorcellaSt. Paul
devil-may-care rebel cowgirl; art instigator; dog snuggler; comedic relief; music maker and dreamer of dreams
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
Our Core Connectors, or Steering Committee, have been meeting virtually for over a year to ideate, co-create, and generate a pathway forward for the Minnesota Rural Urban Exchange.
Thankfully, we do not do this work from scratch. Launched first in Kentucky by Art of the Rural and Appalshop in 2014, the Minnesota Rural Urban Exchange leans heavily on the values, framework and insights of our friends in Kentucky. Through a virtual learning exchange, our Core Connectors received direction, guidance and experiential knowledge from our fellow Kentuckians. With their own perspectives, vision, and grounded reality of Minnesota, our Core Connectors are building off of this base to adapt the model for our place and people.
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
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