The Bush Foundation today announced the selection of its 2019 Bush Fellows, 24 visionary leaders who are thinking big about how to invest in their leadership to creatively solve problems in their communities. That list includes Nawal Noor ’05, who studied finance while at St. Thomas.

Noor knows it is possible to create social enterprise businesses that effectively address economic disparities. The first East African developer and general contractor in Minnesota, she launched a successful business to build affordable housing, employing and training workers historically left out of real estate development and construction projects. She wants to scale her model and become a transformational leader who can create inspiring solutions to entrenched economic disparities, as well as establish a financing institution or lending model for those who find traditional financing tools incompatible with their core values and Islamic religious beliefs. To elevate her position in the community, she will pursue national leadership development opportunities, study social impact investing and learn from visionary leaders about how they investigate and solve pressing issues.

Nawal Noor ’05

The Bush Fellowship provides Fellows with up to $100,000 over 12-24 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 training.

“The Bush Foundation believes the well-being of our region is directly impacted by investing in individual leaders,” said Bush Foundation Leadership Programs Director Anita Patel. “We look to these 24 Fellows to help shape a better future for their communities.”

A total of 684 people applied for the 2019 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 think bigger and become more effective leaders.

The Bush Foundation will accept applications for the 2020 Bush Fellowship beginning Sept. 24, 2019. 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; James Beard Foundation Book Award winner Sean Sherman; former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson; author and storyteller Kevin Kling; Amelia Franck Meyer, named one of People Magazine’s 25 Women Changing the World; 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.

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