Five Questions for: Diane Tran
Diane Tran, Project Manager at Grassroots Solutions, College of St. Scholastica alumna
1) What about your college experience influenced where you are today?
In my current community and professional work, I work to advance policy and social change through advocacy and education. It was during my time at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN that I was able to practice and develop insight into a great deal of the skills I now employ daily – understanding systems, building coalitions, and utilizing collaborative leadership skills. The Benedictine values of community, hospitality, respect, stewardship, and love of learning provided practical grounding for me as I pursued my academic studies and, I believe, were the most important part of the education I received as part of my undergraduate studies.
2) What is the most exciting thing that you do in your job?
I’m a project manager with Grassroots Solutions, a Minneapolis-based consulting firm specializing in grassroots strategy, training, organizing, and evaluation. We work with a variety of national, statewide, and local clients including nonprofits, government and associations, corporations, and candidates. My team works on both electoral and advocacy projects and I’ve been fortunate to engage on issues like promoting the clean energy economy, protecting antibiotic efficacy for human health through changing industrial farming practices, and preserving medical care for the poorest of the poor in Minnesota. I’m lucky to work with great people on behalf of important causes.
3) What book should everybody read, and why?
The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy, by William Strauss and Neil Howe, was published in 1997, and details the researchers’ theory of American history as a series of recurring cycles. As a student of history, it is fascinating to consider their proposed understanding of people and cultural shifts as part of larger archetypes and natural systems. As a citizen concerned by the partisan divide and political gridlock that seems today’s norm, it is comforting to take the long view that the current political and economic challenges we face are neither unprecedented nor new to the human condition. As they purport, “In nature, the season that is about to come is always the season farthest removed from memory. So too in American history, past and present.”
4) Who or what is inspiring your work these days?
Minnesota has a nationally recognized civic tradition and I’m proud to be a part of contributing to that trend. We Minnesotans vote and volunteer in record numbers and we are concerned about the well-being of our communities. I have served in recent years on the boards of directors for the Citizens League, Kids ‘n Kinship, National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP-MN), the Minnesota Public Health Association, and the Minnesota Women’s Consortium. I volunteer with youth and direct service programs at my church, teach courses on active citizenship for emerging leaders, and am pleased to be a part of the civic infrastructure of our great state.
5) What are you passionate about?
I’m the founding blogger for Minnesota Rising and am engaged in work to build relationships, trust, and a shared vision for the rising Millennial generation in Minnesota. Having been a youth, student, and community organizer, I recognize that young people do not have to wait for some appointed time upon which we can assume the mantle of leadership. If our generation is able to come together now because of our common experiences and a shared admiration for and commitment to Minnesota, we have that much more opportunity to continue our state’s historic legacy of educational attainment, economic vitality, and healthy communities. I invite any and all young Minnesotans interested in joining the discussion to contribute to the “Our Minnesota: Building A State of Trust,” cascading conversations tour and to work with us to develop the collective capacity of this generation for impacting Minnesota’s future.
We’re starting a new type of blog post, asking alumni of Minnesota Campus Compact member institutions about their civic experiences and reflections. If you have people you’d like to hear from or questions you’d like to ask, please let us know — or ask someone questions yourself and send us the results to share. Thanks!
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