Profiles of People

At the forefront of entrepreneurship
Using technology to aid learning and memory problems
A lifelong passion for working with parents
Building a "Beloved Community" through writing, teaching and dreaming
David Whitesock’s journey through addiction and life-changing work with Face It TOGETHER
Culturally relevant treatments for the Karen community

Learning Logs

Abiding by one of its five operating values to “Work Beyond Ourselves,” the Bush Foundation is committed to sharing what its grantees and Fellows are learning over the course of their journey. One way the Foundation does this is through Learning Logs. The logs draw insight from grantee reports and are designed to inform and inspire others across our region and beyond.
Community Innovation grant recipients publish interim and final Learning Logs during their grant term. It provides grantees with an active experience to pause and reflect on their own journey, and to gain insight into what fellow grantees are accomplishing.
“I hope reading these reports will inspire the broader field to shift how they think about problem-solving by reading about the experiences of grantees that are in the midst of doing it,” says Community Innovation Program co-director Molly Matheson Gruen. “The Foundation has a really unique platform to be able to do that. In some ways I see us as a megaphone; we can lift up our grantees, and we can connect them in a way that’s particular to our role in the broader system.”
Bush Fellows similarly connect with each other and the community through Learning Logs, published intermittently throughout their Fellowship.
“We hope that sharing the Fellows’ Learning Logs will inspire other people to think bigger and to think differently. It has the potential to influence the region’s leadership landscape,” Leadership Programs Director Anita Patel explains.
As the Learning Logs platform expands, the Bush Foundation will study the impact it has not only on the writers, but also on future recipients of grants and fellowships. Matheson Gruen explains it as a ripple effect: It begins with grantees, followed by inspired applicants, then the greater community.

Learning logs excerpts

From Community Innovation grantees & Bush Fellows

Executive Director of Springboard for the Arts
2014 Bush Fellow

Operate from abundance. Scarcity doesn’t feed you. Figure out what you can offer, maybe it’s money, or time, or space, or partnership or creative thinking and then offer it. Say yes to everything for a while until you learn more about what you should say yes to. Even then, make sure your “reckless yeses” outweigh your “prudent nos.” Share what you’ve learned as freely as you can.

Imam of Masjid in North Minneapolis
2014 Bush Fellow

One of my main focuses for my fellowship is to create new narratives of what it means to be a Muslim American. This endeavor can only be achieved with the proper infrastructure and supports. I’ve come to the realization that we must work to develop the support for the vision. This has shifted my focus and has been made a priority for our short-term work. Strategic partnerships are going to be critical to our success.

2014 Community Innovation Grant Recipient

If you could go back to the start of your grant period and give yourself one piece of advice or learning, what would it be? Why would this have been important?
Calm down, things will move much more slowly than you’d like, but it will be better and stronger because of it. Take the time to create more visual learning and communication tools and talk to consumers experiencing homelessness in a formal manner from day one. Had we known this from the start we would have avoided a lot of personal stress and some interpersonal conflict.

2013 Community Innovation Grant Recipient

What are the next steps or plans, if any, for continuing this project?
The impact of our work has evidently put so many possibilities within our reach in ways that were never imaginable a few years ago. Our next step, then, is to build on our successes and breakthroughs, facilitate a broader and deeper community ownership, and respond more effectively to overcome our identified blind spots.


Who is Irv Weiser?

board member Q&A

Get to know Bush Foundation Board member Irv Weiser

Can you share about your career and volunteer work?  

I went to law school in New York and came to Minneapolis in 1973 to work as an associate for Dorsey & Whitney, where I worked for 12 years. Later I left the practice of law and became president and CEO of RBC Dain Rauscher. I did a lot of volunteering for a couple reasons. One, I had the desire to give back. The other, frankly, is it was fun. You get a window into a broader community. During my tenure on the Bush Foundation Board, I have met people I don’t think I ever would have met otherwise.

Where were you born?

My parents were Holocaust survivors, and I was born in a refugee camp just outside of Munich in 1947. I lived there for two years before we moved to Buffalo, N.Y. There were a lot of different ways that parents and children dealt with the war. It was just something we never asked in our family. I think I was 21 the first time that I learned anything about my dad’s experiences in the war, and he told me everything since. I videotaped my father telling his life story, which was a great thing to do because he died 10 years after I did it.

What accomplishments and awards are you most proud of?

I get Father’s Day cards from my daughters that say I’m a great dad, and I get them every year. My wife and I have been married 46 years, and we have two adopted daughters from Korea.

Who has influenced your life the most?

My father. I think sometimes it takes a long time to realize what you learned from your parents. But I think my father was a very hard-working man. He worked six days a week, three nights a week. He always put family above everything else.

What is your favorite quote?

My father had a quote he used to tell us. “If I’m not for myself, who will be? If I’m only for myself, who am I? And if not now, when?” That has always guided my life. I’ve always believed you have to take responsibility for yourself but you have to hold the door open for others in front of you.

Andrea Jenkins

Fellowship: Five Years Out

Andrea Jenkins applied for a Bush Fellowship because she wanted to improve the ways in which transgender people were seen in the Twin Cities. In other words, she saw an opportunity to directly influence and lead change in her community.

“There was a deep need in the transgender community to build a leadership development program that was specifically targeting transgender people,” she says. Through that work and with the support of the Bush Foundation, Jenkins has developed herself into a national leader around transgender issues.

In her five years since becoming a Bush Fellow, Jenkins has spoken at various conferences, including the Trans Ohio Conference in 2013, and the Gender Odyssey conference in 2015—where she was a keynote speaker alongside fellow transgender activist and nationally acclaimed writer Kate Bornstein—and many more.

Jenkins is an accomplished poet, writer and performer who uses her art as a vehicle for transgender inclusion and equity. “My art is my advocacy, and my advocacy is my art,” Jenkins explains. “I really believe that art can have an impact on social change.”

Most recently, Jenkins has been integral in the Transgender Oral History Project, which is part of the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies at the University of Minnesota. The project comprises interviews with nearly 200 sources sharing their experiences as transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

“It’s the pinnacle of documenting and then offering those stories to the broader community,” Jenkins says, adding that the Fellowship has been a vital part of that sharing.

You might say Jenkins’s work is the culmination of a lifetime deeply rooted in achieving complete acceptance and integration of transgender people, and you’d be right.

“That’s the real reason why I do this work,” she says. “We have to create awareness, understanding, empathy, acceptance and inclusion of transgender and gender non-conforming people fully and wholly.”

Find Past Fellows

Search from an in-depth list of Bush Fellows from 1965 to the present.