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New Leaders Council

Our Board

Senior Co-Director

Lorena Pinto

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Lorena Pinto was born in Lima, Peru and moved to the United States as a child. She is the first in her family to graduate from college and is currently pursuing her graduate degree in Social Work. Lorena has worked in the non-profit sector for over a decade, serving at-risk youth, and women who experience homelessness, sex trafficking, and abuse. She works diligently alongside survivors training the community on the risks and impact of sex trafficking in our community. She has continued this work in Minnesota, as a Program Director for the P.R.I.D.E. Program.

Lorena is passionate about ending gender-based violence and advocating for vulnerable populations, but her ultimate passion lies in the anti-sex trafficking movement. She enjoys a healthy lifestyle, and spending time with friends. She looks forward to working alongside her NLC family and to a memorable year as the NLC Twin Cities Senior Chapter Co-Director. 

 

Deputy Director

Sarah Weiss

Sarah is a community organizer at heart and strives to cultivate systems change. Central to this mission is the idea that information and education are a catalysts for liberation. Her greatest professional objective is to provide communities with access to high-quality research and evaluation to ensure that everyone has the ability and resources to actively participate in democracy and social change.   

Currently, Sarah works as an Evaluation Specialist in the Equity Department at the Minneapolis Public Schools where she leads system level evaluations on district priorities and facilitates monitoring and compliance related to civil rights. Sarah also supports a variety of education and other social sector organizations with strategic planning, product development, and evaluation. In each of these roles, she leverages multidisciplinary experience in teaching, public policy, program development, and community organizing to build and sustain equitable systems. Sarah earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Education from the Evergreen State College and a Masters in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

 

Community Engagement Chair

Biiftuu Ibrahim Adam

Biiftuu Ibrahim Adam is an Oromo American woman. Her parents originate from Ethiopia. She was born and raised in Minnesota. She attended Hamline University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice. At Hamline, Biiftuu conducted grant-funded research pertaining to the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act and its impact on the federal prison population. The research focused on the racial disparities that the crack cocaine mandatory minimums birthed. She presented the findings at the annual conference for the American Society of Criminology in Washington D.C. Upon completion of her degree, she accepted a position at Cornerstone Advocacy Service where she served as a Criminal Justice Intervention Advocate. There she worked with individuals who experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

Currently she is obtaining a Masters in Criminal Justice and Criminology and works as the Crime Victim Liaison for the Bloomington City Attorney’s Office. She also works as relief staff for Alexandra House, which is a domestic violence shelter. She is driven to serve the community. Biiftuu believes it is critical to examine issues with a historical context and understand intersectionalities. She is passionate about addressing disparities in the criminal justice system, racial and social justice. Biiftuu has organized several fundraisers for victim service agencies in the community and has trained criminal justice professionals, educators, health care professionals, and etc. Biiftuu volunteers as an Oromo interpreter for individuals seeking asylum and proudly serves on Standpoints Board of Directors. She is excited to build with her NLC family.

 

Communications  Chair

Tolu Ajibewa

Tolu Ajibewa currently work at 3M has a Price Analyst. Before working at 3M, he worked as a Financial Analyst and a Fund Accountant. He was born and raised in Ibadan Nigeria, and at the age of Nine, his family moved to the United States for a better life. Tolu has benefited from being a part of healthy communities; he has found a way to give back by volunteering at a local shelter and raising funds for the National Society of Multiple Sclerosis. When he was younger, his father always tells him that “It takes a village to raise a child,” and being a Nigerian he has seen that come true and he uses that mentality as a way to try to help his community.  A graduate of the 2018 New Leaders Council Cohort. He enjoys biking, watching professional sports, and doing obstacle race. There are lots of people that inspire him, but his parents inspire him the most. He attended Minnesota State University – Mankato, where he earned his Bachelor degree in Finance, he later earned his Bachelor degree in Accounting at Metropolitan State University – Saint Paul, Minnesota. He currently resides on the East side of Saint Paul.

 

Recruitment/Selections Senior Co-chair

Brittany Rice

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Brittany Rice has a B.A. in Law and Society from Winona State University and a J.D. from William Mitchell College of law. Brittany Rice is currently a Project Coordinator for the Civil Rights Equity Division at the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, where she coordinates the Urban Scholars program and other equity-related projects. Brittany believes it is her life’s purpose to find ways to improve the lives of others who are disadvantaged by discriminatory systems. Though she is not following a traditional law career path, Brittany believes her legal education has prepared her well for a career in equity work. As a native Minnesotan, Brittany is grateful to be able to do such work in her home state.

 

Recruitment/Selections Co- chair

Samantha Sencer-Mura

Samantha Sencer-Mura is a Minneapolis native who became passionate about closing the educational opportunity gap after her time as a student in the Minneapolis Public Schools, where she witnessed deep inequities within the system. She earned her B.A. in Critical Theory and Social Justice from Occidental College, and her Master’s in School Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is the Executive Director of Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute, a creative writing and tutoring center serving over 1,600 Twin Cities K-12 students annually. Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute’s mission is to empower underserved K-12 students to think creatively, write effectively, and succeed academically alongside a community of caring volunteers. Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute is a chapter in development of 826 National, a network of creative writing centers with chapters in eight major cities. Currently, she is leading the efforts on the organization’s move from St. Paul to the Seward community of South Minneapolis, and is ecstatic to be building a youth writing center in the community she grew up and went to school in. She is also a member of the Global Shapers Minneapolis Hub, an initiative of the World Economic Forum that seeks to engage young leaders to create local and global impact, and a Director of her local DFL senate district. 

 

Curriculum Chair

Alexander Jaques

Alex was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and attended school in nearby Pulaski. After attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for choral music education, Alex moved to Minneapolis. In his first year of teaching middle school and high school vocal music in the Columbia Heights Public Schools, Alex was appointed to the position of school equity leader. He quickly built a large team of progressive teachers that worked to end racial disparities in their school while ensuring equitable outcomes for all students. In his role as equity leader, Alex facilitated professional development and racial justice training for teachers and staff throughout the school year and each summer.

In 2015, Alex was granted a graduate certificate in culturally responsive teaching. Through this course of study, he was connected with other educational professionals in the Twin Cities who were committed to progressive education reform and anti-racism. Interested in playing a more active role in policy and advocacy, Alex joined Educators for Excellence (E4E) as a teacher member and collaborated with other teacher leaders to develop and produce an action guide, which outlines recommendations for the elimination of racial disparities in discipline. Inspired by the idea of expanding his impact at a systems-wide level, Alex joined the staff of E4E as an Outreach Director in 2016.

In addition to his professional work and volunteerism in the Twin Cities, Alex remains connected to his alma mater where he serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Alumni Association. As a member of this board, Alex works closely with university administration to promote the general welfare of UW-Eau Claire and its graduates. Alex serves on the student recruitment committee, which, among other objectives, works toward achieving a more racially diverse student body.

Mentorship Co-Chair

Jokho Farah

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Dr. Jokho Farah is the Director of Quality/Population Health at People’s Center Clinics & Services, a nationally recognized community health center based in Minneapolis. She has over eight years experience in healthcare management, policy and public health. She trained as a general surgeon but developed a passion for primary care and quality improvement. Dr. Farah is responsible for developing, implementing and evaluating strategic initiatives focused on eliminating health disparities and improving population health. Using data analytics and predictive modeling capabilities, she establishes integrated approaches to care management that support the alignment and integration of services across the continuum of care for priority populations. 

 

Mentorship Co-Chair

Bryan Boyce

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Bryan Boyce grew up in Waseca, MN and graduated from Grinnell College before teaching high school English in Lesotho and the Rosebud Lakota Reservation and serving as Assistant Director of Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano, which he led to nationally recognized student gains. He is the Founder and Director of Cow Tipping Press, for which he is winner of Grinnell's Wall Alumni Service Award, finalist for Teach For America's Social Innovation Award, and recepient of a 4.0 Schools Tiny Fellowship. As the sibling of a brother with developmental disabilities, Bryan knows firsthand the value and richness of exchange across neurological difference. He seeks to give others this opportunity—an alternative to presuming deficit and pity—through the often inventive, radically self-representative writing of Cow Tipping authors. In his spare time, Bryan takes on the odd consulting side hustle, enjoys every single menu item at Taco John's, and strives to preserve a streak of having swum in outdoor bodies of water each of the past consecutive 136 months.

 

Finance and Fundraising Co-Chair  

Juana Sandoval

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Juana Sandoval has worked in the transportation planning and engineering field for a decade. She believes that political change at the local level is a critical component to resisting harmful anti-progressive policies. Juana is a longtime STEM education advocate. She currently serves as Treasurer for the local chapter of the organization Women in Transportation Seminar. She is also the President of the local professional chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Juana volunteers as a mentor with the CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio) Youth in Action Program. Juana obtained her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from M.I.T. and her dual master’s degree in City / Regional Planning and Civil Engineering from Ohio State. She was born in Lima, Peru and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Juana plans to run for public office in the future.

 

Finance and Fundraising Co-Chair  

Amal Karim

Amal Karim is the National Policy Associate for Educators for Excellence. In her role, Amal works to elevate teacher voice on critical national policy initiatives related to educational equity. She also supports Educators for Excellence’s policy and advocacy work across six state chapters.


Originally from Bangladesh and raised in five different countries throughout her childhood, Amal identifies as a global citizen. As such, her primary policy interests include U.S. domestic education policy and international development. Amal is a former Fulbright Scholar and spent a year in Malaysia partnering with a local education non-profit to research best practices of classroom teachers and was also a former Teach for America corps member on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.


She has interned with organizations like Voice of America, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Minneapolis Public Schools. Amal received a B.A. in Politics from Pomona College in 2011 and a Master of Public Administration from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 2016. In her spare time, she enjoys hot yoga, street food from around the world, and befriending strangers’ dogs. She also serves as her ward’s representative to the City of Minneapolis’ Public Health Advisory Committee and volunteers with Pomona College’s admissions program.

 

Alumni Engagement Co-Chair

Ashley McCray

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Ashley McCray is a Chemical Engineer, Motivational Speaker, Public Servant, and Nonprofit Leader. As a Research and Development Engineer at General Mills, she is pivotal in launching, innovating, and renovating products for the multi-million dollar, Old El Paso brand. She is President of the Twin Cities Professional Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of minorities in STEM fields. Ms. McCray also sits on the Regional Board of Directors for NSBE. As a motivational speaker, she has served as the University of Pittsburgh’s Commencement Speaker, Minnesota State University at Mankato’s Keynote for their Diversity Day, and held various professional development workshops at conferences all over the country.

As a public servant, Ashley is a co-founder of Krate for Karagwe, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sending medical supplies to Karagwe, Tanzania, Co-creator of STEMulating Young Minds Institute, a training program for educators and community leaders interested in successfully teaching and engaging students in STEM principles, and a Big Sister in Big Brother/Big Sister Twin Cities. With these organizations, she has developed and implemented community-based engineering exposure and outreach programs across the United States. Ashley currently serves as ITQ Development Chair for General Mills’ Black Champions Network. Through Ashley’s content creation and leadership, the ITQ Development team supports evidence-based policies and practices to increase retention and job satisfaction for the technical talent of color in the global corporation.

 

Alumni Engagement Co-Chair

Janelle Shoemake

Janelle Shoemake holds a Master’s of International Development Practice from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, an LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights Law from St. Thomas University School of Law, and a Bachelors of Art in Global Studies from the University of Minnesota. Janelle has a passion for sustainable community development and advocacy. Janelle has traveled to over 25 countries, her background includes organizing and leading international projects in community development, developing strategic partnerships, human rights advocacy, grant writing, program design, and international humanitarian law. Janelle is a Minneapolis Global Shaper.

 
Atlanta - Augusta - Austin - Boston - Broward - Capital District NY - Chicago - Cincinnati - Cleveland - Connecticut - Dallas - Denver - Des Moines
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North Carolina - Oakland - Omaha - Orlando - Palm Beach - Philadelphia - Pittsburgh - Rhode Island - Sacramento - San Antonio - San Francisco - Silicon Valley
 

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