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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

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.”

An influential network of African American leaders and activists in the Twin Cities is harnessing its strengths to eliminate long-standing racial disparities.

The African American Leadership Forum members work in the public, private and nonprofit sectors to develop a common agenda that creates a more equitable, healthy and just community.

And it all began around AALF Co-Chair Gary Cunningham’s dining room table.

PORTRAITS BY DAVID ELLIS

Hair and makeup Amber Young

Find Past Fellows

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