Four St. Thomas alumni are among the 24 Bush Fellows named for 2018.
The Bush Fellowship will provide Nicholas Kor ’11, Dr. Joanna Ramirez Barrett (mini-MBA), Dr. Tamim Saidi (mini-MBA) and Jeff Dykstra (executive MBA) with up to $100,000 over 12 to 24 months to pursue learning experiences that help them develop leadership skills and attributes.
Kor believes that organizing can change the world. Yet, he observes that Asian Americans are often left out of political and public discourse, which marginalizes his community’s voice. He wants to create a powerful, connected and civically engaged Asian Pacific Islander movement in Minnesota and across the country. Understanding that movements flourish based on the capacity of their leaders, he seeks to grow his confidence and skills to be a stronger, more liberated leader. He will form meaningful relationships with movement leaders across the country to understand how to grow and sustain coalitions and hone strategies to engage Asian Americans at a grassroots level.
Ramirez Barrett sees women entrepreneurs of color—the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs—as a solution to the racial wealth gap. From her work with the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (Meda), she knows that entrepreneurship among families of color increases income at significant rates. She wants to be at the forefront of creating a vibrant business ecosystem that supports women entrepreneurs of color. With the understanding that this work will take compelling leadership, she seeks to grow from successful program manager to strategic leader. She will immerse herself in leadership programs for women and study innovative social entrepreneurship models.
Saidi envisions a community where people of all faiths live peacefully without bigotry or discrimination. A refugee from Afghanistan who earned a doctorate in pharmacy after arriving in Minnesota, he has also become a part-time imam and activist with a passion for building trust and connections between Muslim Minnesotans and the wider community. Now, to be a transformational leader for his community, he seeks to maximize his efforts as an imam with the skills to bridge cultural and religious differences. With his Bush Fellowship, he will pursue double master’s degrees in Islamic studies and leadership.
Dykstra believes that cross-sector collaboration can result in powerful solutions to persistently intractable problems. As co-founder and CEO of Partners in Food Solutions – a successful consortium of global food companies that works with local food companies across Africa to improve food security and economic development – he has learned firsthand how partnerships involving public, private and nonprofit entities can drive social impact. He wants to become a leader who can wisely counsel others in this arena and wants to reflect on, and better understand, the components of leadership and principles of partnership that drive cross-sector success. With his Bush Fellowship, he will research other successful examples of partnerships, deepen his own leadership abilities and develop the tools and skills to coach the next generation of impact-oriented leaders.