Bush Foundation Selects 24 Extraordinary Leaders For 2022 Bush Fellowships

By Kathy Graves



The Bush Foundation recently announced the 2022 Bush Fellows, a group of individuals whose remarkable vision and drive are transforming communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography.

The 2022 Fellows are:

Kaltun Abdikarani, New Brighton, MN

Jaime Arsenault, Bemidji, MN

Tashina Banks Rama,Pine Ridge, SD

Rose Chu, Little Canada, MN

Prince Corbett, Saint Paul, MN

Comfort Dondo, Plymouth, MN

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, Saint Paul, MN

Rebekah Dunlap, Cloquet, MN

Mike Elliott, Brooklyn Center, MN

Devon Gilchrist, Minneapolis, MN

Emilia Gonzalez Avalos, Richfield, MN

Erin Griffin, Sisseton, SD

Bradley Harrington, Onamia, MN

Abdiaziz Ibrahim, St. Paul, MN

Rania Johnson, Woodbury, MN

ifrah mansour, Woodbury, MN

Hoang Murphy, Saint Paul, MN

Rahel Nardos, Saint Louis Park, MN

Shirley Nordrum, Laporte, MN

Janice Richards, Porcupine, SD

Artika Tyner, Saint Paul, MN

Lori Walsh, Sioux Falls, SD

Pahoua Yang, Cottage Grove, MN

Pang Yang, New Hope, MN

“Every year, the Fellows inspire us with their immense talent and even bigger ideas to make the

region work better for everyone,” said Damon Shoholm, grantmaking director for the Bush

Foundation. “We’re thankful for the opportunity to support their growth as leaders and their bold

thinking to create large-scale change.”

About the Bush Fellowship

The Bush Fellowship provides Fellows with up to $100,000 over 12 to 24 months to pursue education and learning experiences that help them develop the skills and relationships to foster large-scale change in their communities and region. The Fellowship is distinctive in its flexibility, allowing Fellows to define what they need to become more effective and equitable leaders.

Fellows can use the funding to pursue such things as education, leadership training, networking and mentorship.

This year, 468 people applied for the Bush Fellowship. Through an in-depth process that included interviews and mentoring sessions with community leaders, Bush Fellows alumni and Bush Foundation staff, applicants named the impact they seek and what they need to get to the next level of their leadership. The selection committees were comprised of individuals from a mix of sectors, geography, genders, and racial and ethnic identities to reflect the diversity of our region.

More than 2,400 people have received support from the Fellowship over the past 60 years. “The Bush Foundation has been honored to be part of their leadership journey and thrilled to witness the extraordinary contributions these individuals have made to their community, region, and world,” said Shoholm.

The Bush Foundation will accept applications for the 2023 Bush Fellowship beginning September 1. The Bush Fellowship is open to anyone aged 24 years and older who wants to build their ability to make change happen. Applicants must live in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or one of the 23 Native nations that shares the same geography.

About the Bush Fellows

PAHOUA YANG | Cottage Grove, MN

Pahoua Yang believes in the power of cultural healing. A leader at Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, the largest regional mental health provider for Southeast Asian communities, she understands how valuable culturally based healing can be yet how infrequently it is included in care. She wants to integrate  traditional healing practices within the formal mental health system to improve outcomes for her Hmong community. To lead this visionary expansion in mental health services, she wants to gain more expertise in traditional healing and health care policy to address harmful systemic assumptions and better understand where transformation is possible. She will also study inclusive leadership practices, connect with tribal nations and governmental entities that have piloted successful traditional healing as part of health care and engage the local Hmong community to build collective will for change.

PANG YANG | New Hope, MN

Pang Yang is on a mission to close the opportunity gap for Hmong students. She believes that Hmong language reclamation, student-centered learning and student mental health are crucial factors in addressing the gap. Her passion for helping Hmong youth led her to form the nonprofit MN Zej Zog and the National Hmong Language Coalition, a coalition that has 60+ Hmong language teachers working in a multi-state collective to preserve the language through mentorship and collaboration. Now she wants to develop innovative ways to connect more Hmong students to their language and culture and work to give Hmong language teachers the tools they need to be successful. To lead this change, she will improve her Hmong fluency, form broader networks and grow her financial and organizational leadership skills. She also, will travel to Southeast Asia to acquire knowledge and stories of the Hmong people.