St. Paul Hmong Man One Of The Bush Foundation’s 24 Extraordinary Leaders

By Kathy Graves

The Bush Foundation today announced its 2018 Bush Fellows, 24 determined, adaptable leaders who are driven to improve their communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography:

The 2018 Fellows are:

Asad Aliweyd, Eden Prairie, MN

Roxanne Anderson, Minneapolis, MN

Yende Anderson, Plymouth, MN

Dr. Joanna Ramirez Barrett, St. Paul, MN

Erik Bringswhite, Pine Ridge, SD

Me’Lea Connelly, Minneapolis, MN

Robin David, Grand Forks, ND

John Davis, Lanesboro, MN

Jeff Dykstra, Edina, MN

Hussein Farah, Woodbury, MN

Jenn Faul, Fargo, ND

Shawntera M. Hardy, St. Paul, MN

Dr. Benson Hsu, Sioux Falls, SD

Neda Kellogg, Minneapolis, MN

Nicholas Kor, Minneapolis, MN

Amanda LaGrange, Hopkins, MN

Larry A. McKenzie, Minneapolis, MN

Abdi Sabrie, Mankato, MN

Dr. Tamim Saidi, Maple Grove, MN

Sean Sherman, Minneapolis, MN

Pheng Thao, St. Paul, MN

Nick Tilsen, Porcupine, SD

Sharon Kennedy Vickers, Eagan, MN

Rhiana Yazzie, St. Paul, MN

The Bush Fellowship provides Fellows with up to $100,000 over 12 to 24 months to pursue learning experiences that help them develop leadership skills and attributes. The Fellowship is distinctive in its flexibility, allowing Fellows to articulate what they need to become more effective and agile leaders. Fellows can use the funding to pursue advanced education, networking opportunities, and leadership resources, workshops and trainings.

“The 2018 Bush Fellows are exceptional leaders who have made the most of the opportunities in their lives,” said Bush Foundation Leadership Programs Director Anita Patel. “We believe the well-being of our region is directly impacted by investing in individuals who will shape the future. We are betting on the potential of these 24 Fellows to make a significant impact in their communities.”

A total of 751 people applied for the 2018 Bush Fellowship. The 24 Fellows were selected through a multi-stage process involving Bush Fellowship alumni, Bush Foundation staff and established regional leaders. Applicants described their leadership vision and passion and how a Bush Fellowship would help them achieve their goals.

The Bush Foundation will accept applications for the 2019 Bush Fellowship beginning August 7, 2018. The Bush Fellowship is open to anyone age 24 years and older who lives in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota or one of the 23 Native nations that shares the same geography.

More than 2,300 people have taken advantage of the Fellowship to become better leaders through a self-designed learning experience, academic program, or travel and research across the country to build connections with thought leaders on topics critical to their community. The Bush Fellowship counts among its alumni playwright August Wilson, Oglala Lakota painter and educator Arthur Douglas Amiotte, former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, author and storyteller Kevin Kling, South Dakota poet laureate Lee Ann Roripaugh, Minneapolis City Council Member Andrea Jenkins, and former special assistant to President Obama for Native American affairs Jodi Gillette.

About Pheng Thao

Pheng Thao wants men in his community to be active partners in ending domestic violence and sexual assault. He believes it is possible to create spaces where those who have committed and experienced harm can heal and ultimately thrive. He seeks to shift Hmong men’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors about gender, patriarchy and violence. To lead this change, he will strengthen his facilitation and communications skills and widen and deepen his understanding of the history and evolution of masculinity and manhood in Hmong culture. He will also use his Bush Fellowship to explore how matrilineal communities have dismantled patriarchal attitudes and to develop new ideas and images of Hmong maleness.