Thursday, April 29, 2010

@MinnesotaRising Conversation: You're Invited!

Just a few days after the one-year anniversary of the Minnesota Rising blog next week, it'll be time to start to manifest in the real world what I had hoped for this blog to be online. In the @MinnesotaRising Story, I laid out my thoughts about cultivating a group of peers, that over time and shared experiences, comes to power together with a shared vision for the common good. In effort to begin exploring this idea, and others, with relation to leadership development and community-building, I'm convening a conversation on Saturday, May 8, for those engaged with the various emerging leaders groups in the Twin Cities. See below for the Facebook invite (text below) and RSVP minnesotarising[at] if you want in.

Hi everyone,

On behalf of Minnesota Rising, I'd like to invite you to a conversation with young and emerging leaders across the Twin Cities. Minnesota Rising seeks to engage individuals and organizations focused on emerging professionals and leadership development based on the premise that our generational and geographic locations allow us the opportunity to come together, with our varied organizational and personal missions, to develop a greater vision and plan to strengthen our communities.

To that end, I'd like to invite you, your organizations, and anyone else you consider interested in the conversation around emerging leadership and community-building in Minnesota to participate in a conversation on May 8. The agenda would consist of informal and formal networking, mapping the various groups and efforts currently working to engage young professionals and emerging leaders, and an opportunity to brainstorm for future collaborative efforts, including joint events or an emerging leaders un/conference in Minnesota.

Following are event details:

Saturday, May 8, 2010
Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 55401
Room N-202

Thanks for your interest and willingness to engage! Thanks mostly for the great work you are doing on behalf of the rising generation in Minnesota.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Power and Possibilities: Balancing All Of Our Selves

Last week, I was fortunate to attend the Power and Possibilities Leadership Conference at St. Catherine University as a representative of the Minnesota Women's Consortium. In its third year, Power and Possibilities is a leadership conference for women of color and features a keynote speaker as well as the opportunity to engage with other participants in intimate table conversations.

This year's keynote speaker was Elizabeth B. Kautz, the current President of United States Conference of Mayors who is now serving her sixth term as the Mayor of Burnsville, having first gained office in 1994. Mayor Kautz is Chairperson of the Suburban Transit Association, as well as being co-Chairperson and co-founder of the Minnesota Regional Council of Mayors and representing Burnsville on numerous local, regional, state, and national boards.

Throughout her speech, she highlighted her expansive spiritual, community, and professional background. She spoke of the influence of her father on her life, her commitment to her faith tradition and its teachings, and her struggle with self-confidence when tapped to run for Mayor as the then-rookie on the City Council. The key takeaways from her words, as echoing the sentiment of those in the room, were:
  • Don't let others define you. They can have their definitions but you do not have to be held down by what they think. Similarly, don't let others' problems become yours. You only have so much energy and it should be invested in and focused on your work, rather than on the naysayers.

  • Don't take things personal. There will always be critics, regardless of the person, policy, situation. Taking things in stride is part of the work and can be used to strengthen your efforts if used constructively.

  • Mayor Kautz reserves her Sundays for herself and her family, leaving work and other matters aside in order to spend time with those most important to her.
Following the keynote speech, we turned to our table discussions for further insights and conversation. At table #13, our topic was, "Balancing All of Your Selfs," and was moderated by Kazoua Kong Thao, the first Hmong American to serve on the Saint Paul School Board of Education. She teed it up for us by sharing a number of her personal tips for life balance and wellness and others joined in. Check out the list of tips we compiled for balancing all of our selves:
  • Schedule walks in your day to clear the mind and engage the body

  • Spirituality, or whatever helps center your core, needs to be prioritized and addressed first

  • "I'm not your mom all the time." Setting aside time to simply be gives moms a chance to remember that their primary roles do not have to define their being at every given moment.

  • Yesaholics, "no" is a powerful tool in the fight against being overcommitted. Make sure to dole out your yes'es wisely and with complete certainty.

  • As you focus on what you want to commit to more and saying no to things you want less of in your life, make sure to also get together with friends on a regular basis so you aren't unintentionally blocking them out of your life.

  • Communicate your schedule needs and when you are "on" or "off." If others know that you shut your phone off at a certain time or don't respond to email immediately, they will be less likely to presume they can come to you at any old time. Your role is to help communicate boundaries and guidelines so you are ready and able to tackle the work when you are at your best.

  • Choose. Some of the things that we have to do in life, we do begrudgingly. If you are able to step back and to take a look at an activity or task as though you chose it (an attitude shift), it may offer you a different vantage point and help you to release grudges and be more content about something you'll have to do anyway.

  • For all you perfectionists: remember the phrase, "I care, but not that much." There is too much to be done for anyone to care about every little detail about every little thing every single time. It's important to care and to do as good a job as you can, but it's also important to be okay with that fact that you do what you can and that, ultimately, that's enough.
As one of my tablemates commented, this list is composed of things that we all intuitively know we should do, but the true challenge lies in the implementation. What do you think? Have you been able to implement any of the above tricks with any success? What about other life balance tips or ideas we left out?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good News: Happy 36th Annual National Volunteer Week!

It's the 36th Annual National Volunteer Week this week (April 18-24, 2010)! As Vice President of the Board of Directors of Kids 'n Kinship, I was pleased to submit this letter to the Thisweek Newspapers editor regarding the life-changing work of our volunteer mentors during this week and the rest of the year. See below for what Kids 'n Kinship mentors do daily, weekly, and all year long in fostering friendships and relationships that make a difference.

And let this be an encouragement that, despite the trying times and challenging economy, we can be part of making sure that newspapers and media also highlight the good news that happens each and every day in our communities. Happy Volunteer Week to you!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Announcing the Minnesota Idea Open Semi-Finalists!

I spent a grueling Saturday afternoon with the crew of Minnesota Idea Open Evaluators this past weekend. It was grueling not because of the company I kept or the task at hand, but rather because more than 400 ideas had been submitted across the state of Minnesota to combat the obesity epidemic we are facing. Ideas were wide-ranging; some were able to be grouped by the specific issue they were targeting - eating healthy, moving more; but mostly, they were all great examples of what community members can dream up when offered the chance to sit back and imagine.

Below, you'll see the email the MN Idea Open released announcing the 21 semi-finalist ideas now heading to the judges for further narrowing into 3 finalists. Starting May 4, 2010, all Minnesotans are invited to vote online for their favorite idea of those 3 and at the end, we'll have the winner of the Idea #1 contest of the MN Idea Open. Kudos to the Minnesotans and the Minnesota organizations involved in making the Idea Open a public space for practicing active citizenship and civic imagination!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Now recruiting: 2010-2011 Humphrey Institute Policy Fellows

Last month, the Humphrey Institute Policy Fellows program celebrated its 20th Anniversary with some 250 alumni members! I was excited to catch up with several of my counterparts from the 2006-2007 cohort, but also inspired by the numerous other stellar program participants throughout these years. To continue the legacy of this wonderful program, particularly in an era where few things last long, I want to help promote the 2010-2011 Policy Fellows program and encourage you to apply or invite someone you think may be a good fit to do so. Check out the program brochure (PDF) for more information and prepare to submit your materials by the application deadline of Monday, June 14.

Policy Fellows: 2010-2011 Policy Fellows Program Overview

The Policy Fellows program offers practical training in public affairs leadership for emerging leaders seeking new experiences and skills.

The program equips participants with three core leadership competencies to inspire, organize, and work effectively with others to advance the public good:
  • Mindfulness
    Assessing personal leadership style, understanding others, and taking informed risks
  • Strategic effectiveness in context
    Diagnosing opportunities and constraints, influencing the legislative and political process, and working effectively across public, private, and nonprofit sectors
  • Persuasion and collective action
    Negotiation and conflict management, building collaborative relationships with allies, and communicating persuasively and effectively
Since its inception in 1990, the Policy Fellows program has trained nearly 600 Minnesotans, many of whom are now influential figures in their communities and around the world. Begun by Vice President Walter Mondale and Ambassador Geri Joseph, the program was directed for a dozen years by former congressmen Tim Penny and Vin Weber. Today, nationally prominent political science professor Lawrence Jacobs directs the program, continuing the tradition of convening the best and brightest emerging leaders in Minnesota. Program activities are conducted by recognized leaders from business, government, and nonprofit organizations, as well as experts from the University of Minnesota and academic institutions around the country.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reportback: "Trailblazers: Charting a Course for the Future!"

You know how some days you feel like you've lived 3 days within the span of one because of the amount you'd learned, the people you'd met, and the things you'd done? This past Friday and Saturday felt like 6 days in 2, in a very good way. The 15th annual Leaders of Today and Tomorrow (LOTT) Women's Leadership Conference took place at the University of St. Thomas Law School in downtown Minneapolis and was rich with insights, inspiration, and a good amount of fun! If you couldn't be there, read below for some select tweets from the #LOTT2010 hashtag to get a glimpse into why these 2 days were 3x more than most.

No better way to kick off a conference to inspire young women leaders than with our Friday morning keynote speaker, Pam Wheelock:
  • "You will frequently not know when you make a difference in a person's life, but you have an opportunity to do so everyday."

  • "Leadership is not about the person, it's about the action."

  • Understand your values, because it takes less courage when you know you're acting in a way that aligns with your beliefs.

  • Successes come and go. Mistakes help you learn. But when you act in ways that don't align with your values, that's what haunts you.
Barbara Gorski, PhD shared her research in "Taking Charge of Your Time: Finding Work-Life Balance:"
  • The myth is that we love working. And we do, in the beginning. Alcoholics love beer, scotch, alcohol. In the beginning.

  • Work addicts exhibit the characteristics of overeating, bulimia, and over-workers. We're all so creative under pressure at 3am.

  • Work addiction is only one that is praised. We get awards for it - employee of the month. People brag about it, we encourage it.

  • Do you get an adrenaline rush from thinking about all the work you can do? Were you trained to "look busy" or be given something to do?
Talk about trailblazers! The elected officials in the "Taking Matters into Our Own Hands: Women Leading in Public Office" answered the question, "Do women lead differently?"
  • Panel included Rep. Laura Brod, Eveleth Councilor Liz Kuoppala, St. Paul Councilor Kathy Tingelstad, Rep. Tara Mack, Sen. Torres-Rey

  • Sen. Torres-Rey explained that state legislative process dictates that men and women participating in the system act similarly.

  • St. Paul Councilwoman Tingelstad was only woman elected in 1998. In 2010, she's only woman again. But this time, she's President.

  • Women legislators care less about credit than men. We don't care who gets acknowledged for cleaning house so long as it's clean!
In the midst of this recession, take a few tips from the "Resume and Interview Strategies: Successful Job Searching" session:
  • Buy answer time during an interview by drinking water or repeating question back.

  • One trick of the trade according to panelists - wear a watch because interviewers are checking for it as sign of time management.

  • Use the STAR method for behavioral-based interview and resume. Situation | Task | Action | Results to deliver the information that the interviewer needs.

  • Students in particular, take interviewing on as assignment to ready for workforce. Write out answers, your stories, and practice.
Thinking about graduate school? Here are a few things to keep in mind from the "Life Long Learning: Is Graduate School for You?" session with representatives from Capella University, General Mills Human Resources, and the University of Minnesota.
  • Master's programs usually more similar in coursework to undergrad, though levels of work and time ratcheted up. Also time-limited.

  • PhD programs are more research, writing, and critical-thinking. You have to be extremely self-directed and manage the time.

  • In a Master's program, you working with existing theories to direct your study. In a PhD program, you're creating new theories.

  • Main point is that whatever program(s) you choose, it still in the end is about what you want to do with your career.

  • Due to recession, many companies are pulling back from offering tuition remission as part of employee benefit packages.

  • However, a good number of (generally) larger companies provide education assistance. Best time to negotiate is when offer is in hand.
This year's conference was an amazing success - to get in on the fun next year, visit the LOTT website for Program Director, Allie Moen's contact information and additional details on opportunities for involvement. Finally, thanks again to our fabulous photographer, Benitez!

Monday, April 12, 2010 Minneapolis 2010 Nonprofit Career Fair and Working for Change Conference

It's springtime again, which means rebirth around and within, new opportunities, and the Minneapolis Nonprofit Career Fair! This event is open to all job- and internship-seekers, is free of charge, and will be held in conjunction with the Working for Change conference taking place at the University of Minnesota's Coffman Memorial Union. Read on for the event announcement and drop in to share in the spring fever and perhaps hatch a new idea or opportunity!

The Minneapolis Nonprofit Career Fair is generously co-hosted by these University of Minnesota departments: the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs Career Services, the Community Service-Learning Center, the Health Careers Center, as well as the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. This year, the Minneapolis Nonprofit Career Fair is joining with the Working for Change conference. The conference runs from 10:00am to 4:00pm and the career fair will take place from 12:00pm to 4pm.

12:00-4:00pm: Nonprofit Career Fair

The nonprofit career fair will consist of:
  • An informal networking period for nonprofit recruiters and representatives from local colleges and university offices of career services.

  • The fair itself, where job seekers can distribute resumes and speak with nonprofit recruiters about current and future employment, internship, and volunteer opportunities.

  • Free information sessions offering nonprofit career advice to all job seekers.
10:00-4:00pm: Working for Change Conference

The Working for Change Conference explores social justice-oriented careers, with a particular focus on jobs in the nonprofit sector. There will be speakers, workshops, and panels throughout the day. Attend only those sessions that interest you, or come for the whole day. Career professionals will also be on hand to review and edit resumes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Transform University Avenue with Public Art Saint Paul and Wing Young Huie!

Wing Young Huie's work showcasing beloved and diverse streets in Minnesota and the people whose lives are lived on and around them has always engaged me. I recently gave a friend a copy of Lake Street, USA, and am excited now to learn of the opportunity to help make the University Avenue Project a reality. Public Art Saint Paul is welcoming volunteers to help Wing Young Huie's photographs transform Saint Paul's University Avenue into a six-mile public gallery, revealing the everyday realities of the diverse neighborhoods connected by this urban thoroughfare. A bit about the project below, but visit The Language of Urbanism: A Six-Mile Photographic Inquiry website to learn more and to register to volunteer with fundraising, exhibition set-up and installation, project sites, and community events. See you on the street!
  • Hundreds of images will be displayed in windows and on buildings from the KSTP Tower to the State Capitol.

  • Each night at a landmark projection site, Wing's images will be shown on 40 foot screens, accompanied by a soundtrack from local musicians. Monthly cabarets will feature live community performances and new media presentations.

  • A two-part book from the Minnesota Historical Society Press documents this extraordinary project.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

2010 Census: Make Sure You Count!

It's Census Day! Have your turned in your 2010 Census form? As part of efforts by the Office of Civic Engagement at the University of Minnesota - Duluth (UMD), I'm excited to take part in a panel discussion later today entitled, "You Don't Count." The discussion will center around the importance of civic engagement for college students, current trends in engagement at UMD, and the implications of the 2010 Census in our state and community. If you're up north, feel free to stop by the Kirby Lounge to participate in this educational and engaging conversation!

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