His Excellency Joseph N. Boakai, Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, was in the Twin Cities October 24-26, 2015, to meet with the Liberian community and Governor Mark Dayton. The Twin Cities is believed to have the largest concentration of Liberians outside of Africa.
Health and wellness was the vice president’s main focus. The Ebola virus, the recent epidemic and the resulting strain on the healthcare system were planned topics of discussion with Gov. Dayton and representatives from North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.
This was Vice President Boakai’s third visit to Minnesota. As with previous state visits, His Excellency spoke of the need for education in order to help rebuild infrastructure, institutions and peace in Liberia. He gathered resources to help with the re-development of Liberia and is particularly interested in programs and scholarships in the areas of education, public policy and law enforcement leadership. This year’s visit included a stop at the University of St. Thomas. Todd Nagbe, a 2015 alumni of the university’s Public Safety and Law Enforcement Leadership (PSLEL) program, had spoken so highly of his St. Thomas experience that the vice president wanted to meet representatives from St. Thomas.
Dr. Deborah DeMeester, director of the PSLEL Program; Dr. Bruce Gleason, chair of Teacher Education; Dr. Terri Vandercook, chair of Special Education; and Jo Montie, program coordinator and instructor in Special Education and Gifted Education, were happy to host Vice President Boakai, Liberian Ambassador Jeremiah C. Sulunteh and a group of elders from the Liberian community.