Mankato, Truman residents share the mic with Minn. leaders

New campaign aims to amplify women of color and bridge the racial divide

WATCH | Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan shares the mic with Anisa Omar (FULL)

NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Two women from Mankato and Truman shared the mic by taking over the social media channels of prominent female leaders in the state on Friday.

Anisa Omar, of Mankato, shared the mic with Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, while Melinda Kassandra Lopez shared the mic with FINNEGANS Brew Co. CEO Jacquie Berglund.

The inclusion of the two local women in this campaign was part of a collaborated effort between #SHARETHEMICMN and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota to elevate the work, lives and stories of the young Black, Indigenous, women of color and gender expansive women who are leading today..

The effort culminated in a celebration of female leaders from across the state taking over the social channels of cross-sector leaders in Minnesota to demonstrate the vision and solutions of Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota leaders across the state.

“Women’s history is being written today,” said Gloria Perez, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. “Each person sharing the mic on March 26 is leading now – not waiting for the future. Together, we are building power and relationships with young women and gender expansive people leading movements for social change and transforming the world by amplifying their voices, leadership, and solutions.”

Omar is a graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato and is committed to creating an equitable and just society for all individuals inclusive of race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and social class. She serves on multiple organizations and committees, such as YWCA Mankato, Ignite the Youth, Ignite Women in Politics, and the Mankato Public Safety Advisory Committee, and aspires to attend law school in the fall of 2022.

Kassandra Lopez graduated from high school in rural southern Minnesota, obtained a nursing degree and now attends medical school.

Each month, the social media channels of prominent Minnesotans are taken over by leaders from WFMN’s Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, including current and past members of the Young Women’s Cabinet who have been trained as policy advocates, directed nearly $1 million in grants to nonprofits and individuals to advance equity, and engaged in leadership development. Also sharing the mic are WFMN Innovators who received microgrants investing in their ideas and solutions to create a state where all young women thrive.

“Collaborating with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s Young Women’s Initiative is a natural fit for #SHARETHEMICMN because it supports our greater mission of making Minnesota a more equitable state. It’s important that we bring disenfranchised and often unheard younger women on the journey with us and help them amplify and expand the reach of their voices as it pertains to the impactful work they’re doing in their communities and our state,” said Jasmine Brett Stringer, founder of #SHARETHEMICMN and Carpe Diem with Jasmine.

Other featured mic shares on Friday included:

  • Dr. Anjali Bhagra, Professor & Medical Director of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, Mayo Clinic, who shared her Twitter mic with entrepreneur Hilal Ibrahim, founder of Henna & Hijabs, who shared her passion for fostering a health care system that is representative and reflective of its patients, including creating accessible and culturally appropriate health care attire.
  • Jeanne Crain, CEO of Bremer Bank, shared her mic on LinkedIn with Kathy Santamaria Mendez, a Young Women’s Cabinet alumna who shared her perspective on attending law school as one of few women of color.
  • Joan Gabel, President, University of Minnesota, turned the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Instagram channel over to Mercedes Van Cleve, a Young Women’s Cabinet member and founder of Chi Maingan’s 7th Generation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide culturally-based equine support services to Native youth across the nation.
  • Dr. Rachel R. Hardeman, the Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health & Racial Equity and the Founding Director of the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, shared her LinkedIn mic with Montana Filoteo, a WFMN Innovator alum, public health researcher, and creator of @theMYSTProject. They pursue research as an avenue for change, and challenge Minnesotans to invest in youth and recognize their expertise, innovation, and knowledge.
  • Duchess Harris, Professor of American Studies at Macalester College, shared her mic on LinkedIn with Amy Zhou, a Cabinet member who shared her perspective as a young, queer, Asian American woman fighting to take up space in government and policy, at a crucial point at the intersections of history, culture, identity, oppression, and power.
  • Heather Malenshek, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Land O’Lakes, was paired on LinkedIn with Benya Kraus, a Young Women’s Cabinet alumna and co-founder of Lead for America, who shared the story of rural homecomers, especially young women entrepreneurs who have returned to rural places and reinvested in the future of their communities.
  • Jasmine Brett Stringer, founder of #SHARETHEMICMN and Carpe Diem with Jasmine, shared her mic on Instagram with Ponny White, a member of the Young Women’s Cabinet who uplifted the importance of Black women’s and nonbinary people’s emotional and mental health as they lead movements, organize change, keep our leaders accountable, and advocate for their communities.

For more information about the movement, visit the respective websites of #SHARETHEMICMN and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

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