On The Move

Meet recent Bush Fellows who are heeding the call for civic leadership

Ernesto Bustos, Owatonna, 2015: As the executive director of Centro Campesino, Bustos fought for immigrant and migrant worker’s rights for more than a decade. He hopes to further advance Latinos in his community through the development of a new organizational structure that will inspire the next generation of diverse leaders.

Lorrie Janatopoulos, Eveleth, 2016: After 16 years as the planning director at the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, Janatopoulos joined the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board to learn more about economic development in her region. The LGBT activist started post-graduate work at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Kennedy School, and hopes to make the Iron Range a more equitable place for women, girls and people of color.

Arlene Jones, Nisswa, 2013: To combat food insecurity and create sustainable local food supplies, Jones builds food systems in central Minnesota with a focus on Amish, tribal and Latino growers. That vision came to life with Sprout, a food hub and warehouse facility that distributes food from over 40 regional producers. Sprout coordinates farm-to-school programs in six Minnesota schools, runs a Community Supported Agriculture program and supplies local restaurants with fresh produce. The food hub also rents out a licensed kitchen to community members and hosts a year-round, indoor market for locally produced food and art.

Nevada Littlewolf, Virginia, 2016: At 40 years old, Littlewolf not only went back to school to get her Bachelor of Fine Arts, but she also stepped into a new role as executive director when she founded her nonprofit, Rural American Indigenous Leadership (RAIL). She aims to build up her own capacity as a leader, so she can encourage more rural and indigenous women to get connected to civic leadership and local government opportunities in their communities.

Sue Hakes, Grand Marais, 2014: She unseated two incumbents to serve as both Cook County Commissioner and mayor of Grand Marais, and used her Fellowship to not only become a better leader herself, but to help others do the same throughout the chunk of northeast Minnesota she calls home. As a field organizer for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in Ohio and as a board member at RAIL, she’s a staunch supporter of women in their bid for political and community leadership. 

Abdirizak Mahboub, Willmar, 2010: Mahboub received a master’s degree in public affairs at the University of Minnesota and went on to found West Central Interpreting Services, where he now employees more than 30 people. The company president is part of a growing network of small business owners who hope to increase economic and cultural opportunities in Wilmar to keep the town thriving.

Laura Connelly, Grand Rapids, 2015: For the past 12 years, Connelly has advocated for rural families that experience domestic violence. Her next dream is to create a social justice design studio in northern Minnesota that uses human-centered design to close the services gap between what rural residents need and what organizations in their communities provide.

Brent Olson, Ortonville, 2012: Every morning, Olson browns homemade sausages and cooks up eggs in the small town café he refurbished and opened four years ago. For him, that work gave locals an option to find quality food at an affordable price, and added a small slice of vitality back to his rural community. However after years of mornings that start at 6 a.m., Olson wants to hammer out not only what’s next for the cafe, but for himself, too.

Kim Norton, Rochester, 2016: With the Destination Medical Center on Rochester’s horizon, Norton wants to ensure the city grows in smart, sustainable and innovative ways. She served as state representative for 10 years, and now has her eye on Rochester’s mayoral race in 2018. Through her Fellowship, she enrolled in the Harvard Kennedy School to get her master’s degree through its Women in Power program. She will also travel to five German cities to study sustainable and clean energy through a University of Minnesota sponsored exchange program.

Yuko Taniguchi, Rochester, 2016: While the Rochester medical community makes plans to become a Destination Medical Center, Taniguchi wants to ensure that goal doesn’t overshadow the needs of local residents. Inspired by Japanese fisherwomen who use art to heal, she researches creative activities that promote healing, wellness and resiliency. Her ultimate goal is to develop an art-based resiliency center for the Rochester community.

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The Fellowship is a recognition of extraordinary achievement and a bet on extraordinary potential, with up to $100,000 to invest in leadership development.