CAC Participants

Cultural Agility Collaboration

Learning & Leadership Cohort Participants

Queen Booker is a professor of Management at Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU-Mankato). Although there is strong diversity on the campus, cultural differences remain very real and often hamper effective leadership. The desire to develop leaders who are culturally agile and who can successfully engage a diversity of perspectives, learn new processes and foster effective collaboration is what draws her to the Cultural Agility Collaboration–the opportunity to learn from others and to share what has been learned at MSU-Mankato.

Sherry Bruckner, originally from Wisconsin, lives in Alexandria with Lonzo, a bichon-shiatsu. She has worked with legal aid/nonprofits since 1999 and cares deeply about ethics, human dignity, and social justice. Reading, biking, hiking and traveling occupy her spare time. Her hope is to connect with others to find ways to address systemic issues, and learn new ways to begin important conversations about biases within my community.

StefanyStefany Calderon is currently a first-year student at St. Catherine University who is seeking life-changing experiences, which will help her grow as an individual. The CAC is a great opportunity to develop such goal as well as a great way to make personal and professional connections. In the future, not only would she like to continue volunteering but she also wants to develop a career in the healthcare environment.

Anita Chikkatur

Anita Chikkatur is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at Carleton College. Many of her courses involved a civic engagement component where students are working with K-12 students and teachers in the Northfield and Faribault communities. She looks forward to learning with and from fellow faculty members, college students, and community partners about how to bring a racial justice lens to the civic engagement work she and her students do at Carleton.

PhillipPhilip Cook is a junior in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota studying biology. He was born in England and visits his family in England and Greece every year. He likes to play soccer, travel, watch movies, throw pots on the ceramic wheel and listen to rap music. Philip was drawn to the CAC because he wanted to learn about social justice locally and be a part of a solution.

Jeff CornJeff Corn has been the Community Programs Coordinator for the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota for nine years. A core part of his work is managing CURA’s community-based research programs, including about 40 community-based research projects per year. Before coming to CURA, he worked for the Longfellow Community Council, as the aide for a Minneapolis City Council Member, and in the City of Minneapolis Intergovernmental Relations Department.

Carissa Chang CressCarissa Chang Cress works in marketing and communications at Scholarship America, the nation’s largest nonprofit, private-sector scholarship organization. She is passionate about alleviating socioeconomic disparities in our community, which stems from her cross-cultural work and volunteer experiences. Carissa is thrilled to join the CAC; she looks forward to conversations and efforts that foster racial equity and cultural competency within the life-changing opportunity of higher education.

Andrew CseterAndrew Cseter is Director of TRIO Programs at Metropolitan State University. One of his main interests is to create opportunities of access and success in college, especially for students coming from limited income backgrounds. He feels strongly that overcoming obstacles is about building confidence, creating a sense of belonging and purpose, and engaging in meaningful ways.  As a dual citizen, his core values include honoring everyone’s heritage and appreciation of globalization.

Christine DeLarbre croppedChristine DeLarbre works in community planning and development for the Federal Government. She has been working in the public and nonprofit sectors since 1995 and has aligned herself with communities and people who have experiences with marginalization, always seeking ways to confront and transform paradigms.  She enjoys living in South Minneapolis with her two cats and a dog.  She enjoys spending time with friends and family, doing yoga, cooking and crafting.

Dave EllisDave Ellis is the founder of Dave Ellis Consulting, a group dedicated to providing quality strategic planning and community engagement services utilizing Art of Hosting Conversations That Matter. He has hosted discussions with groups ranging from 10 to 1000 participants on topics from strategic planning for communities and nonprofits to community engagement with state and other agencies. He conducts training sessions on topics including race, power and privilege to equity/diversity and the implications of worldview.

Matt Frank cropped

Matt Frank serves as Program & Research Associate at Minneapolis-based environmental think tank Dovetail Partners, Inc. and as a voting member on the Macalester-Groveland Community Council’s Transportation Committee in Saint Paul. Matt has worked for companies in both the private and non-profit sectors and is passionate about urban agriculture, local food systems, sustainable landscape design, public and non-motorized transportation planning, renewable energy, community engagement and environmental and social justice. Matt believes everyone deserves access to healthy food, healthy environments and healthy communities.

Sophia GengSophia Geng grew up in China and found her second home in Minnesota. She teaches Chinese and Asian Literature at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. Sophia also writes poems and stories whenever she finds time. Besides reading, writing and hiking, Sophia enjoys spending time with her family. Sophia is excited to be part of the Cultural Agility Cohort because this opportunity will enable her to acquire new skills for cultural competency.

Allyson GreenAllyson Green serves as the Campus Kitchen Director at Augsburg College, working with students to make healthy food accessible on campus and in the community. With a background in environmental justice and environmental health, she was drawn to the CAC to meet leaders around the state working to break through the “’isms” that separate communities and to develop the awareness and skills to cultivate authentic partnerships that support community well-being.

TereseTerese Hermann is a mother, aspiring writer, and animal lover. Her 16-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son inspire her daily to be a better person. She works full-time at Kemps as the Customer Service Supervisor and attends St. Catherine University part-time as an English major. A former medic in the Army, she loves traveling, working out, and trying new foods. Due to the diversity of her friends and family, she is inspired to participate in the CAC with hopes of making positive changes not only for them, but for all within our community and campuses.

Jocelyn Hernandez croppedJocelyn Hernandez is finishing her senior year of high school while attending North Hennepin Community College. She is a work-study student in NHCC’s Diversity and Equity office as well as the leader of the Latino Success Initiative on campus. Jocelyn is very active on her college campus as well as in the community through working as a part of Voices for Racial Justice, the Cultural Agility Collaboration, and various presentations that promote racial justice and intersectionality. With a passion for intersectional liberation and the history of community organizing, Jocelyn wants to make change.

Gloria HondaGloria Honda has lived in Roseville, MN since 1989.  She is a member of FREC (Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative), an organizer of the Overcoming Racism Conference, a film and discussion series on race and racism, and serves on the Facilitators Advisory Board of the Racial Justice & Public Policy Department, Minneapolis YWCA.  She is active in her church community and in collaborative and consultative work for equity and inclusion promoting belonging, fun, freedom, and power.

Colette Hyman has been teaching U.S. History and Women’s & Gender Studies at Winona State University for 25 years. She is an active member of her faculty union and, having recuperated from the experience of establishing a Women’s Studies Program at WSU 23 years ago, she is now leading an initiative to establish an Ethnic Studies Program at the university.

AbduljabarAbduljabar Jillo attends Anoka Ramsey Community College and plans on transferring to Metropolitan State or University or the University of Minnesota. His goals are to sharpen his leadership skills and get higher education so he can serve as a role model for the young boys and girls in his community and also be the voice of the elderly. He wants to gain education to educate and help others.

Derek JohnsonDerek Johnson, the Director of St. Paul Initiatives for the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, works at the intersection of higher education and community. He directs the Jane Addams School for Democracy, which brings immigrant families, college students, and other community members together for dialogue and educational work. He also oversees a partnership that annually works with 750 teenagers and is on the Operations Team of St. Paul’s out-of-school network, Sprockets.

Cathy JordanCathy Jordan is Associate Professor in the Extension Center for Community Vitality and in Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. She is the founding editor of, a mechanism for the peer review and online publication of innovative products of community-engaged scholarship in forms other than journal manuscripts. Cathy conducts and teaches about community-based participatory research and conducts faculty development about community engagement. Respect for cultural ways of knowing are central to these efforts.


Sammi Korinek is a full-time student currently attending Inver Hills Community College and ultimately pursuing a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. A former linguist in the U.S. Army, her interest in the Cultural Agility Collaboration focuses on an ever expanding definition of accessibility. Sammi laughs uninhibitedly and is an enthusiastic early morning person.

Rebecca Krystyniak is Professor of Chemistry and Science Education and Director of the Teacher Preparation Initiative at St. Cloud State University.

Carol LaFleur croppedCarol LaFleur was raised white but is Native American. The married mother of seven, Carol has struggled with disabilities and adversities in her own life. Entering college in 2006 changed her path. Educated in both the classroom and the college community, she was able to create relationships across differences and to understand struggles. Her focus is the over-incarceration of poor youth of color and the prison pipeline system, and she believes it is imperative to focus on education as a way to change racial inequities.

Kyle LauKyle Lau is a third year student at the University of Minnesota majoring in biology and minoring in microbiology. He is a coordinator of a leadership development program, president of a global public group, teaching assistant for general biology, researcher studying antimicrobial peptides against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and volunteer in a hospital. His interests include microbiology, anthropology, mentoring, listening to stories, and playing badminton.

KabaoKabao Ly attends St. Catherine University and is majoring in Women and International Development. Living in a home packed with two sisters and four brothers, she is constantly on the lookout for conversations that deal with race and gender issues, not only with her siblings but also with her friends from The Saint Paul Almanac and SHE Pab. When she’s not busy creating dialogue, she enjoys taking long naps, being silly with her siblings, eating out with friends, and adventuring outdoors.

MadieMadie McLeod is 21 years old and in her third year at Century College. She will be transferring to Saint Cloud State University in Fall 2015 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Leadership/ Organizational Communications. She is the Vice President of the Queer and Straight Club at Century and a member of Student Senate and the Student Life Committee. In her free time she loves to sing, and there is nothing better than a lazy day in bed with junk food and Netflix.

Cari MichaelsCari Michaels is an educator at the University of Minnesota Extension Children, Youth & Family Consortium. She works with community members to create collaborative networks, research documents, educational tools and trainings that reach historically underserved populations. Cari has worked with families in crisis and served as a county foster parent. She is drawn to the CAC in part because of her passion for creating purposeful relationships among campus and community people interested in strengthening families.

Luis Martin Ortega croppedLuis Ortega is a recent graduate of the University of Saint Thomas, where he received his B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor in Justice and Peace Studies. He will be attending medical school at the University of Minnesota this Fall and plans to pursue a Master’s degree in public health or medical anthropology as well. Right now, he is involved in community-based participatory research with West Side Community Health Services’ Somali, Latino, and Hmong (SoLaHmo) Partnership for Health and Wellness as a research consultant.

AwaleAwale Osman is an Academic Success Coach in the TRIO/Student Support Services program at Normandale Community College, supporting the academic and personal development of low to moderate income, first generation college students and students with disabilities. Awale earned his BA in Communication Studies with a minor in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Augsburg College. He most recently served as Community Outreach Coordinator for Minnesota Urban Debate League’s Somali Debate and the Spanish Debate leagues.

Kyle ParsonsKyle Parsons is a program specialist at the Minnesota Historical Society in the department of Inclusion and Community Engagement. His work includes instructing the History Museum Fellows program, which seeks to teach undergraduate students about historical and contemporary issues facing the museum field around diverse narratives, representation, and inclusive practice. Kyle is originally from Minneapolis and received his undergraduate degree from Marquette University.

Sonja PaulsonSonja Paulson serves as adviser to approximately 100 international students from 35 different countries at Concordia College in Moorhead. The CAC intrigued Sonja on multiple levels: She aspires to grow her cultural self-awareness and cultural agility, and she hopes to place herself outside of her comfort zone. Further, she is motivated to share best practices with colleagues from across the state.

Jamie Randall works as a Diversity Success Specialist at North Hennepin Community College, of which she is an alumna. She was a first-generation student who found an excellent support system while attending NHCC, and in that found her passion for helping other students achieve their educational goals. Jamie holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Augsburg College. She is originally from northern Wisconsin and is an enrolled member of the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe.

Jeanne Tramel Rasmussen

Jeanne Tramel Rasmussen has devoted her life to diversity and inclusion. She has worked at a range of nonprofit organizations focused on social services, taught English Language Learners, and volunteered with many advocacy efforts. Her hobbies include organic gardening and reading.


MeganMegan Rhein is a graduate student in the Leadership in Student Affairs program at the University of St. Thomas. Her interest in equity and social justice grew through her undergraduate work in justice/peace studies and influences her work as a Student Affairs professional today. Megan’s desire to provide the best educational opportunities and support for all students motivated her to participate in the CAC. She looks forward to collaborating with and learning from others.

Penny Rosenthal croppedPenny Rosenthal has been an Assistant Professor of Counseling and Student Personnel at Minnesota State University, Mankato since 2011. She is passionate about developing culturally competent counselors and creating a learning environment where all voices are included and supported.  CAC provides an opportunity to learn from and with others from across Minnesota.  Our current challenges to equity and social justice must be addressed as a community.

Abdi Sabrie, oAbdi Sabrieriginally from Somalia, has lived in the U.S. for thirty years and in Mankato for six years with his wife and seven children. Co-founder and director of the African Family and Education Center, he also co-founded and serves on the board of the Mankato Islamic Center and is Commissioner for the Region Nine Development Commission and a member of the Mankato Public Safety Advisory Board, Back-pack Program Advisory Committee, and Blue Earth County Child Protection Advisory Board. A 2012 National Jefferson Award recipient, equal education for all children is his biggest passion.

Dario croppedDarío Sánchez González was born and raised in Asturias (Northern Spain), and completed his graduate studies at UMass Amherst and Rutgers University. Currently he is Assistant Professor of Spanish at Gustavus Adolphus College, and he also teaches Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies courses. His main draw to join the CAC is to work on developing a community-based learning course linking queer theories from the Spanish-speaking world to queer cultural practices in Minnesota—and yes, bridging the gap between theory and practice.

Rachel Svanoe croppedRachel Svanoe, with a background in sociology, organizing and racial justice education, is working to develop Augsburg College’s Common Table space as a new place for collaborative initiatives that equip and connect students and neighborhood leaders for equitable leadership, building our collective capacity to make our community a more healthy and equitable place. She is excited to struggle with this group towards better models of ways that educational institutions can work towards racial equity and build the power of young people in our learning communities and neighborhoods.

Mae Seely SylvesterMae Seely Sylvester’s passion around developing functional pluralistic communities developed more than 20 years ago, when she worked as a St. Paul City Council aide and then director of the International Initiative in the Mayor’s Office. As a University of Minnesota employee, she served on the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCH) national work group on diversity and led a team in the MCH National Collaborative on Diversity. Moving forward, she hopes to promote the building of diverse communities through learning circles.

Joseph Lawrence Tadie croppeJoseph Lawrence Tadie is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Assistant Men’s Soccer Coach at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. He is also proud to have been part of the teaching team for SMUMN’s “Countdown to College” program, which breaks down barriers to higher education by engaging youth from under-resourced communities with the college experience through a two-week academic camp. Tadie will share things learned at SMUMN and also hopes to acquire skills that will make him a more able and agile cultural, social, and structural navigator.

Audrey Thayer croppedAudrey Thayer is an instructor for the Leech Lake Tribal College in the Arts and Humanities Department, located on the Leech Lake Reservation. Audrey has been around community organizing for many years with an understanding that leadership and education are critical in changing perspectives. She has been a servant in communities bringing hope to populations that feel disenfranchised. Learning new ideas and how to engage people is what has drawn her to the Cultural Agility Collaboration.

Beatriz TorresBeatriz Torres, Associate Professor in Communication Studies and Latin American, Latina/o, and Caribbean Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College, focuses much of her work on intercultural conflict and health care. With La Mano and KMSU radio, she developed the radio soap opera “Tests of Destiny: Stories of Love, Pain and Healing” to create space for dialogue about health issues. She is involved in a new project with Minnesota Network of Hospice and Palliative Care and Somali, Latina/o, and Hmong members, and a study of college students’ experiences of bullying in five countries.


Tin Trung Tran is a student at North Hennepin Community College. He will be on his way to a university to obtain a degree in communications, as well as education soon. He is an active person, enjoying anything outdoors or sports including long boarding and snowboarding, basketball, and tennis. He also enjoys getting to know people and learning.


CheeChee Vang, St. Catherine University class of 2015, is an Education and English major with a passion for education accessibility. After graduation, she seeks a vocation in an urban public school district or a higher education institution with the purpose of implementing changes to accommodate the growing diverse population in our society. She is excited about CAC to hear authentic insights from other participants in tackling the complex issues of equity.

Lyly Vang-YangLyLy Vang-Yang is very involved in the Diversity and Equity Department and the Student Senate at Inver Hills Community College. She was drawn to participate in the CAC because of how inclusive and encouraging the application was. She loves pasta, the color yellow, and her dog. In her free time, she enjoys starting DIY projects and reading Game of Throne theories.


Maigos VueMaigos Vue is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the Office of Family Engagement and Community Partnership at Saint Paul Public Schools. She recently graduated from the College of Saint Benedict with a Psychology major and is interested in pursuing further education in academic counseling in a few years. She really enjoys playing badminton, doing yoga, and being with her family and friends.

Antonia WilcoxonAntonia Wilcoxon has served as Director of Community Relations at the Minnesota Department of Human Services since June 2012; she previously worked as the disparities reduction consultant in the Office for Equity, Performance and Development. Before coming to DHS in 2004, she worked for nonprofit organizations, and she currently serves on several advisory boards. Originally from Vitória, Brazil, Wilcoxon first came to Minnesota as a foreign exchange student and attended high school in Lake Crystal, near Mankato.

Evelyn Witherspoon croppedEvelyn Witherspoon is a junior at St. Cloud State University majoring in Community Health with a minor in Psychology. She enjoys helping people with little and big things in life. She is the president of the Liberian Student Association at SCSU, is into fashion, modeling, and photography, and loves setting goals and achieving them in a timely manner.


Brandyn WoodardBrandyn Woodard is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, and has been moving progressively north from Webster University in St. Louis, to Central College in Iowa, and now to the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota. For the past 16 years he has worked in international and intercultural education. Being a part of CAC is for him a natural connection because of his belief in community working together to build up individuals and society.

Vang XiongBrian Xiong is a Board Member of the Hmong Archives and an Editorial Board of the Hmong Studies Journal in Saint Paul. He received his BA in Sociology and Justice Administration from Southwest Minnesota State University in 2006, a MS in Multicultural and Ethnic Studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2009, and is currently a doctoral candidate in the Counseling and Student Personnel Department at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He is a former Page, Wallin, and Cornwell scholar.