Normandale President Dr. Joyce Ester appointed to Young Women’s Initiative Executive Council and Cabinet by Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan.

By Press Release Courtesy of Governor Walz Press Secretary Teddy Tschann

[ST. PAUL, MN] - Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today announced appointments to the Executive Council for the Young Women's Initiative and the Young Women's Cabinet. Normandale Community College President Dr. Joyce Ester was one of the appointees to the Executive Council for the Young Women's Initiative.

Both bodies of leadership are part of the Young Women's Initiative of Minnesota, a public-private systems change partnership with the Women's Foundation of Minnesota to achieve equity in opportunities and improve the lives of young Black, Indigenous, and women of color. The Executive Council includes leaders from business, academic, non-profit, and government sectors. The Cabinet is composed of young leaders from communities across the state that experience some of the greatest disparities in opportunities and outcomes. Appointments are effective through January 2, 2023.

"It's my honor to elevate the leadership of these extraordinary young women from communities across Minnesota," said Governor Walz. "The best way to ensure that young women have the opportunities and resources they need to thrive is by asking them directly what we can do to improve their community. I look forward to working with the incredible leaders on both the Cabinet and Executive Council to achieve a better, more equitable Minnesota." 

"I am encouraged by the growing number of young women leaders throughout Minnesota. Now more than ever, it is essential that we continue to uplift the voices of women from diverse backgrounds," said Lieutenant Governor Flanagan. "The Young Women's Cabinet is a demonstration of our continued commitment to center young women in our decisions to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. Thank you to the young women who applied and shared their powerful voices, ideas, and stories with us. We are so grateful for and inspired by every one of you."

"With the leadership of the Executive Council and the continued leadership of the Young Women's Cabinet, Minnesota is ready for a much-needed transformation that positions young women and their families at the center of solutions," said Gloria Perez, President & CEO of the Women's Foundation of Minnesota, and a co-chair of the Executive Council. "I look forward to partnering with the Young Women's Cabinet and the Executive Council to activate the power of our state's young women and achieve gender and racial equity. When young Black, Indigenous, and women of color in Minnesota thrive, all young women, families, and communities thrive."

Young Women's Cabinet
Aaisha Abdullahi - St. Paul, MN
Millenium Amha - St. Paul, MN
Sabrina Kubisa - Hopkins, MN
Amal Mohamed - Bloomington, MN
Amy Zhou - Minneapolis, MN
Chynna Mou - Minneapolis, MN
Trinity Hanif - Ostego, MN
Rahi Patel - Minneapolis, MN
Ashley Toledano-Solis - Bloomington, MN
Jaeden King - Onamia, MN
Mercedes Van Cleve - Prior Lake, MN
Scout Holding Eagle - Moorhead, MN
Anisa Omar - Mankato, MNH
elen Hedge - Minneapolis, MN
Deilyah Dexter - Onamia, MN
Nibraas Khan - Eagan, MN
Madison Finora - Duluth, MN
Sara Abraha - Oakdale, MN
Ella Weber - Crookston, MN 

Executive Council for the Young Women's Initiative
Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, Co-chair 
Gloria Perez, Co-chair of Council, President and CEO of Women's Foundation of Minnesota 

Verna Cornelia Price, Co-chair of Council, and CEO at Power of People Consulting Group
Adriana Alejandro Osorio, Philanthropy Advisor at UNICEF USA 
Ana M. Pérez de Pérez, Executive Director at discapacitados abriéndose caminos 
Anita Patel, Leadership Programs Director at Bush Foundation 
Annesa Cheek, President of St. Cloud Technical and Community College Cathy Chavers, Tribal Chairwoman of Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
Denise Rutherford, Sr. Vice President of 3M Corporate Affairs 
Dennis Olson, Commissioner of Higher Education 
Emily Larson, Mayor of Duluth 
Eric Jolly, President and CEO of Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation 
Gaye Adams Massey, President and CEO of YWCA St. Paul 
Houston White, H/W Men's Room Barbershop and Northside Advocate 
Irene Fernando, Hennepin County Commissioner 
Joan Gabel, President of the University of Minnesota 
JoMarie Morris, Non-profit Consulting and Immigration Attorney 
Joyce Ester, President of Normandale Community College 
Kara Carlisle, Vice President of Programs at McKnight Foundation
Kim Norton, Mayor of Rochester 
Laura Bishop, Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Lorna LaGue, President of White Earth Tribal and Community College
Maria Regan Gonzalez, Principal Sustainability Design Consultant at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota 
Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive of Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe 
Mitra Jalali Nelson, Saint Paul City Councilmember 
Monica Meyer, Executive Director of OutFront Minnesota 
Nicole Matthews, Executive Director of Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition 
Padmini Udupa, Principal of Longfellow Alternative High School 
Patti Tototzintle, CEO of Casa De Esperanza 
Paul Pribbenow, President of Augsburg University 
Phillipe Cunningham, Minneapolis City Councilmember 
Rebecca Crooks-Stratton, Secretary/Treasurer of Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Representative
Rena MoranSarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States
Senator Patricia Torres
RayShelley Buck, Prairie Island Tribal Council President 
Steve Grove, Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development 
Susan Bass Roberts, Vice President and Executive Director at Pohlad Family Foundation 
Suzanne Rivera, President of Macalester College 
Tish Bolger, CEO at Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys 
Traci Tapani, Co-President of Wyoming Machine Tuleah Palmer, President and CEO at Blandin Foundation
Wendy Nelson, Chairwoman of the Carlson Family Foundation  

About the Young Women's Initiative 
The Young Women's Initiative of Minnesota (YWI MN) is a partnership between the Governor's Office, the Women's Foundation, and the YWCA. The YWI MN includes a Cabinet, which is comprised of young women and gender-expansive youth aged 16-24, and an Executive Council, which is comprised of leaders from government, business, academia, philanthropy, and nonprofits.  

YWI MN centers the leadership and solutions of young women of color, American Indian young women, young women from Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ+ youth, and young women with disabilities. The initiative brings together nonprofits, businesses, government, philanthropies, and young women to promote equitable systems that benefit all, grounded in the belief that when young Black, Indigenous, and women of color in Minnesota thrive, families and communities thrive. 

The Young Women's Initiative of Minnesota has reached more than 4,300 young women and their families directly across intersecting areas of economic opportunity, safety, and leadership; made community investments of $1.76 million to 58 organizations, 80% led by women of color to advance the Blueprint for Action; engaged 91 women as members of the Young Women's Cabinet; made 78 "I Believe in You" grants, direct investments in the ideas and solutions of young women through the WFMN Innovators program; and published 10 original research reports focused on young women's leadership and solutions, including Impacts of the Young Women's Initiative on the State's Labor Market. The Young Women's Initiative's statewide partnership and direct investments in young women are now being replicated across the nation through the National Philanthropic Collaborative of Young Women's Initiatives.