More than 1,000 people gathered at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis for bushCONNECT 2015. The Bush Foundation partnered with more than 40 organizations to create a day-long event designed to inspire, equip and connect leaders from across the region.

Opening Keynote for bushCON

Opening Keynote

Comedian Cameron Esposito discussed the intersection between comedy, resilience and leadership. 

Improve Crash Course

Improv Crash Course

The Theater of Public Policy taught attendees how to “save the world without a script” during an improv workshop.

Speed Consulting

Speed Consulting

Attendees had the opportunity to get advice on a range of topics from 14 experts in fields including finance, advocacy and marketing.


Leadership Salon

Leadership Salon

General Mills executive Kim Nelson (middle) was one of several community leaders who led intimate, small-group conversations on leadership.

Story telling

The Power of Storytelling

The Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute and 826 National led a session on storytelling. Attendees worked together to write and publish a short story in one hour.

Morning Fill Up is a unique speaker series in Rapid City, S.D. Created by the Numad Group, Morning Fill Up brings in speakers from the region and beyond for a 24-hour community engagement blitz that includes dinner with community members, a public conversation and a number of small group meetings. The result is more opportunities for residents to engage with the speaker on different topics in different ways. In less than a year, Morning Fill Up has built a loyal audience in Rapid City and inspired others to bring this model of engagement to their communities.

Morning fill up

John Yellow Bird Steele

Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele speaks to guests before his Morning Fill Up interview in November 2015.

Morning fill up

Dennis Dugaard

2015 Bush Fellow and Numad Group Principal Matt Ehlman (right) interviews South Dakota Governor Dennis Dugaard (left) in October 2015.

Morning fill up

Lorane Coffin

Sister Lorane Coffin was the featured guest in January 2016.

Morning fill up

Hot Ticket in Town

Even with a 7 a.m. start, Morning Fill Up events are routinely sold out.

Connect: TEDx Events


2015 Bush Fellow Sherman Patterson talked about his efforts to end the culture of gun violence in Minneapolis

posed group


Speakers, performers and hosts gather for a group photo before the TEDxFargo event in July 2015.


TEDxGrand Forks

2013 Bush Fellow Heidi Demars delivers a presentation titled “DIY Community Building: Leading with Authenticity, Heart and Hustle” in February 2016.



Redwing Thomas discusses his work developing Dakota language education materials.



1 Million Cups founder Nate Olson talks about supporting entrepreneurs.

Lunch   Event 
People talking Event  Talking 

Row 1, Left to Right

1 • The Foundation hosted a dinner in October 2015 to celebrate the 2013 Bush Fellows. 2015 was the final year of their Fellowship journey.

2 • 2003 Bush Fellow Vickie Allen (left) shares a laugh with 2013 Bush Fellow Bruce Thao. Allen serves as a leadership coach for many Bush Fellows.

3 • 2013 Fellows (left to right) Rena Moran, Chaka Mkali and Habon Abdulle celebrate the completion of their Fellowship.

Row 2, Left to Right

4 • The 2015 Bush Fellows started their Fellowship journey at a two-day retreat in May that included a welcome reception in downtown Minneapolis.

5 • Bush Foundation Board Chair Pam Moret greets guests at the Foundation’s South Dakota reception in August 2015.

6 • Nearly 225 people attended the South Dakota reception held at the Icon Event Center in downtown Sioux Falls.

Row 3, Left to Right

7 • Bush Foundation Vice President, Native Nations Jaime Pinkham (right) connects with Nick Tilsen, executive director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation.

8 • More than 150 people attended the North Dakota Reception held at the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck.

9Scott Davis (Rebuilder Cohort 1) connects with another guest during the Foundation’s North Dakota reception in April 2015.

Connect: Regional Events

The Bush Foundation sponsors regional events to help strengthen networks and share knowledge.


Circle of Giving

2013 Bush Fellow Anton Treuer was a featured speaker at the Tiwahe Foundation’s Circle of Giving: Renewing Community event at the University of Minnesota in November 2015.

Duluth Event

Design Duluth

The Duluth Art Institute’s “Design Duluth” event series brought people together for community conversations about Duluth’s visual and cultural identity.

Sioux Falls event

OTA2015: Sioux Falls

OTA Community Manager Angela Tewalt (left) welcomes 2015 Bush Fellows David Whitesock (center) and Malcom Chapman (right) to OTA2015: Sioux Falls. OTA (pronounced oh-TAH) events connect creative problem solvers across Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Connect Four

Philanthropy 2.0: Radical Collaboration

The Charity Review Council’s 2015 Forum focused on the importance of networking and collaboration in any effort to effect community change.