Impunity In Our Own Backyard

image_2017-04-12_00-22-45_10Reprinted from Global Rights for Women, read the article on Medium.com here

By Amy Lauricella (Pictured)- Global Rights for Women Staff Attorney

I am deeply troubled that while we at Global Rights for Women(GRW) have been sharing Minnesota’s legacy on domestic violence legal reform with the rest of the world, women in our home city have been left without meaningful access and support from the criminal justice system. Don’t get me wrong. I have never been a police officer and I know from those I have worked with that their jobs are dangerous and challenging. But I also know from my work with victims that the interaction between a first responder — often law enforcement — and a domestic violence victim is absolutely critical. During that contact, the system should be designed to get victims the support they need to stay safe and ensure that abusers knows there are swift consequences for their behavior. Advocates know how difficult it is for victims to successfully leave abusive partners. Victims know from experience that they are most at risk for severe harm when they flee. Being met with indifference or disbelief by law enforcement colludes with the batterers’ threats that, “no one will help you.” The conduct of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) is reinforcing this message.

At the direction of the Minneapolis Police Conduct Oversight Commission (PCOC), the Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR) investigated how the MPD responds to 911 calls reporting domestic violence. The outcome was a PCOC Report uncovering a devastating trend of non-intervention.

According to the report, MPD officers are not making arrests or even writing reports as required by department policy in the vast majority of domestic violence calls — those that entail assault, threats, or fear of harm. MPD officers are arresting and/or writing reports in only19.98 percent of calls to 911 for help with a domestic violence incident. Imani Jaafar, one of the authors of the report, has noted that the arresting rate was even lower. Minnesota law affords broad protection to officers who believe they have probable cause to make an arrest in a misdemeanor domestic assault case, but clearly the MPD is not communicating to its officers that they should be availing themselves of this protection in order to better serve victims.

The 19.98 percent Minneapolis arrest/reporting rate stands in stark contrast to other Minnesota cities. In Duluth, Maplewood, and St. Paul, for instance, the rates of arrest and report writing are significantly higher. Domestic violence practitioners, victims, and abusers alike understand that a call to the MPD for domestic violence is unlikely to result in an arrest. Many in Minneapolis know that people can commit domestic abuse with impunity. When one man moved from Minneapolis to Duluth, his mother remarked to an advocate that “you take this a little too seriously up here” when discussing his criminal sentence. There have been cases in Minneapolis where it takes multiple calls to 911 to warrant adequate police response, a lack of which can contribute to homicide.

In Minneapolis, domestic violence victims are left with little protection or recourse when police fail to write a report. They are also likely to experience other negative impacts, including distrust of the criminal justice system, problems with family court proceedings, lack of access to advocacy and resources, and even employment consequences. The lack of a police report also leaves the criminal justice system with no history of the incident and, therefore, unable to respond effectively later on in the likely event that the victim is suffering a pattern of abuse. Safia Khan’s important work at the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women highlights the fact that early and effective intervention by law enforcement in domestic violence cases in collaboration with community advocacy programs reduces the “repeat victimization or even homicide.”

Chillingly, the Minneapolis rate of 19.98 percent for arrests and/or reports in domestic violence calls does not differ from the rate at which arrests and/or reports are made in other types of assaults, evidencing a dangerous culture of apathy among the MPD ranks. According to the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, one in three women have been victims of physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. While I do not know the likelihood of getting assaulted by a non-partner during the course of ones’ life, I am certain it is significantly lower than one in three. And despite this smaller group of victims, the MPD’s response rate is exactly the same.

This concern about apathy is buttressed by the report’s finding that the only factor determining whether a victim receives an adequate response from law enforcement is the identity of the officer. “Report or arrest rates differed by as much as 25 percent based on which officer responded. Differences in rates could not be explained by response time, time of the call, or the time spent on the call.” Ryan Patrick, co-author and lead data analyst for the report, confirmed for the PCOC that taking officer demographics into consideration, such as time on the force, race, and gender, was inconclusive.

This culture of failure to arrest or at least write a report is unacceptable, especially given Minnesota’s rich legacy of leadership in responding to domestic violence.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that even in those cases where officers do follow MPD policies in responding to domestic violence cases, the policies themselves are inadequate. Policies are in place throughout Minnesota, such as the Duluth Police Department, that make it difficult for officers to avoid writing reports for all domestic 911 calls. Additionally, it is an accepted best practice for policies to state that offenders “shall be arrested” when an officer has probable cause to believe that domestic violence has occurred, in contrast to Minneapolis’ “may arrest” standard. Additional written guidance discouraging dual arrests and accurately identifying the predominant aggressor would be another improvement. The Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training Domestic Abuse Model Policy is a place to start.

GRW is proud of Minnesota’s leadership in responding to domestic violence. So we are disappointed, to say the least, that the best practices that we promote around the world are not being followed in our own backyard. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that this report will result in MPD partnering more closely with domestic violence advocates and victims to adopt and implement more effective policies and practices. The leadership within the MPD, along with other city leaders, has a real opportunity to uphold and advance Minnesota’s legacy. Increasing the rate at which officers write reports and make arrests will go a long way towards ensuring that our state lives up to its international reputation. Most importantly, women in Minneapolis will be safer and have meaningful support when domestic violence occurs.

We can and must do better for the 66,000 women living in Minneapolis who will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. I am hopeful that the MPD will embrace the report and work with the OPCR and Minneapolis advocates to ensure that for those women who do make the hazardous choice to reach out for help, they get it.

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PCOC Meeting in a Snapshot: April Edition

Melissa Scaia, International Police Trainer for Global Rights for Women, talks to the Commission about the importance of police response to domestic violence.

The Police Conduct Oversight Commission held its monthly meeting on April 11, 2017. Highlights of the meeting included: a presentation of the draft Domestic Violence Response Study, including speakers from Global Rights for Women; Committee reports; and case review.

The meeting opened with a in-depth presentation of the draft Domestic Violence Response Research and Study. OPCR Director Imani Jaafar opened the presentation by discussing how domestic violence can happen to anyone and everyone. The victims are often women, and Director Jaafar discussed how making that first attempt to reach out and get help in a domestic violence situation often means calling the police. This is often a difficult call to make, something Director Jaafar could attest to from her own experience. This is why police response to those domestic calls is of vital importance. Director Jaafar then introduced Amy Lauricella, a staff attorney for Global Rights for Women, a partner in developing the Study. Ms. Lauricella discussed her work, and that of her organization, throughout the world to improve police response to domestic violence. She shared with Commissioners that it takes, on average, seven attempts for domestic violence victims to leave their abusers and that it is often police officers that are in the best position to provide resources to those victims. It is responding police officers who can connect victims to services, advocates and shelters. She also discussed how it is the actions of police officers, in asking questions, engaging, and writing reports, that sets up the entire system to combat domestic violence to work. It is those police reports that can lay the foundation for further protection for victims, such as filing for orders for protection.

Next, Melissa Scaia, an International Police Trainer for Global Rights for Women, spoke to the Commission about her work training the Duluth Police Department, a jurisdiction that has received an international award for its domestic response program. She talked about how abusers know if the place they live is somewhere they can get away with that abuse and how police response is never neutral, it either supports the victim or supports the abuser. Lastly, Ms. Scaia noted that no good domestic response program develops in isolation, a team is needed in order to be successful.

After these two presentations, OPCR Law Enforcement Analyst Ryan Patrick presented the Commission with data uncovered by OPCR analysts during the study. He discussed the findings that reports and arrests are happening in approximately 20% of cases but that there are many more calls that should be ending in at least reports, per the MPD policy requiring a police report for any allegation of domestic violence. He also discussed the finding that the greatest determinant for how a domestic call would be handled was not call load, precinct, or time of day, but most depended on which MPD officers responded. There appears to be officers that handle domestics more consistently with MPD policy than others. Mr. Patrick also discussed proposed recommendations which include an intervention system for officers who are regularly not following policy and not making accurate arrests or reports for domestic calls, a quality control mechanism where a group of individuals could audit domestic calls for policy compliance on a regular basis, and to address gaps in policy such as requiring the use of body cameras in all domestic calls. See the presentation here. See the draft report here. Commissioners will consider the report over the coming month and discuss any potential revisions at the May Audit Committee meeting and general Commission meeting.

Following this presentation, Commissioners made Committee reports. The Policy and Procedure Committee update is that the co-responder pilot is making progress, with the job announcement for the MPD officers to work with mental health professionals already posted. The Outreach Committee is looking into participation a Cinco de Mayo celebration and upcoming Open Streets events, and the Audit Committee informed other Commissioners that they received a preview of the Domestic Violence Response Study at their meeting.

Commissioners then reviewed case summaries 2, 4 and 8 chosen in March, and reviewed cases to be converted into summaries from the April Synopses and chose cases 4, 5, and 6. The meeting then adjourned, with another monthly meeting scheduled for May 9, 2017.

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MDCR Celebrates Women’s History Month

2014-03-11-Womens-History-Month.pngMarch is Women’s History Month. It is a time for commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.  From Susan B. Anthony to Sojourner Truth to Gloria Steinem, suffragists and activists have made their mark on history in their mission to achieving equality.

This month the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights will celebrate the accomplishments of women that have made great contributions both to society and the women’s rights movement. Please follow us on Facebook to see new posts throughout the month, or follow the hashtag #MDCRCelbratesWomensHistoryMonth.

You can find information regarding celebrations and events along with links to resources related to Women’s History Month below.



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Future History Maker

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.  We also recognize the kinship of their work to those who are legacy trailblazers.  Thus, in a brief question and answer profile, we uniquely celebrate the past, present, and future.


Future History Maker 


george
Future History Maker Devean George is regarded as a hometown hero who made it big in the NBA and then returned to his north Minneapolis roots as a community organizer and nonprofit housing developer. Born in 1977 in Minneapolis, Devean attended high school at Benilde-St. Margaret’s and went on to become a standout basketball player at Augsburg College. In 1999, he made history when he became the first-ever NCAA Division III basketball player selected in the first round (23rd overall pick) of the NBA draft. Throughout his 11-year career in the NBA, Devean played for the Los Angeles Lakers (with whom he won three NBA Championships), the Dallas Mavericks, and the Golden State Warriors.

Near the end of his playing career, George had a vision for his future. It included real estate and bettering people’s lives. George says “I wanted to become a person that helped people. There are a lot of people who suffer that aren’t involved in the bad stuff going on. I figured out that playing basketball was not the end goal. I figured out that playing basketball was probably just to set up for what I’m doing now.”

Today, retired from the NBA, Devean remains committed to positively impacting the North Minneapolis community that shaped and supported him. His desire to give back was the driving force behind the formation of George Group North, his real-estate company specializing in multifamily residential development, mixed-use projects, and property redevelopment and management, and its charitable subsidiary, Building Blocks, which is focused on mentorship programming, affordable housing, and sustainable community development.

After working to rehabilitate individual homes and apartments, 2012 Building Blocks proposed Commons on Penn, a 47-unit affordable housing apartment complex at 2201 Golden Valley Road. It opened in 2015 after receiving financial assistance from the city, Hennepin County, the Metropolitan Council, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and several philanthropic donors.

George believes the work he is doing will serve as a foundation for transforming lives in the North Minneapolis community. He says, “Housing is the foundation for anything else that you want to do in life.  Without stable housing people aren’t worried about education, eating healthy or anything else.” George who’s already broken barriers in the sporting arena is perfectly positioned to continue that tradition now empowering lives and developing communities.

 

Most Rewarding Work Experience 

Completing the 47 units at Commons At Penn, because it was incredibly difficult to complete. And the positive testimonials I get from the family’s living there about how it has touched them and their kids’ lives. Also, the love I receive from the community. 

What Inspires You

I am inspired by achieving success. I  feel really good when I reach the goals I’ve set for myself.  Overtime I’ve realized that I can only control me and my work ethic, so I set goals I can attain and celebrate when I do.

Advice for Aspiring Professionals

Keep fighting through the tough times because they will come. It makes the end so much sweeter. I see so many people give up when times get hard in whatever they’re doing, and they don’t realize the finish line is so close.

Hometown

  • Minneapolis, MN 

Education

  • Augsburg College, BA 

Legacy Leader


coraLike Devean George, today’s Legacy Leader,  Cora McCorvey  is a respected leader who lead the charge to create affordable housing for community. 
Cora McCorvey was the first executive director of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority after the agency separated from the City of Minneapolis in 1991. On Feb. 10, 2017 she retired after 25 years leading the MPHA and 40 years in public service. Under McCorvey’s leadership, MPHA became a place where thousands of families call home. She is credited with creating one of the most diverse workforces in Minneapolis with more than 50 percent of her staff comprised of people of color. Seven out of the past 10 years, MPHA has been recognized by the National Association of Minority Contractors as Affiliate of the Year.  Cora McCorvey is a visionary and a leader who has made a lasting impact on the communituy. 

 

 

 

 

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Future History Maker

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.  We also recognize the kinship of their work to those who are legacy trailblazers.  Thus, in a brief question and answer profile, we uniquely celebrate the past, present, and future.


Future History Maker 

eleshia-picFuture History Dr. Eleshia J Morrison is an assistant professor of psychology, and clinical health psychologist at the Mayo Clinic Adult Pain Rehabilitation Center.  Dr. Morrison is a young professional who uses who passion for medicine and helping others to explore ways for removing barriers to equity.

As a young girl Dr. Morrison was very much inspired by her parents’ and grandparents’ work ethic and their approach to enjoying life.  Her parents immigrated to Canada from the Caribbean for greater educational and employment opportunities. Morrison says, “My family members value education and modeled hard work, but also there was a lot of laughter and love in my family. This encouraged me to obtain an education, but also strive for a balanced life of enjoying diverse experiences.”

Dr. Morrison, a native of Toronto, Canada moved to Minnesota in 2014. Dr. Morrison completed her doctoral degree in clinical health psychology at The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH), followed by a clinical internship at Rush University Medical Center (Chicago, IL), and a postdoctoral fellowship in Medical Psychology at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN).  

Today as a clinical health psychologist Dr. Morrison researches health disparity/diversity factors impacting illness trajectories and health behaviors. In addition, Dr. Morrison’s clinical work has been with individuals with acute and chronic illness, with specialty in oncology, chronic pain, and organ transplantation. Dr. Morrison also spends a significant amount of time training and mentoring medical students, residents, and fellows in learning about psychosocial factors impacting illness and the delivery of evidence-based psychological treatments.

While Dr. Morrison is just beginning her career she as all the makings of a bright future. Moreover, Dr. Morrison’s drive and ambition  is complemented by a passion for helping others. Dr. Morrison says, “As a clinical health psychologist, I often meet people when they are at their most vulnerable, physically and psychologically. I am thankful to be able to help someone shift from experiencing hopelessness to feeling hopeful about what lies ahead. To be a part of such a transformation is truly a privilege.”

 

Most Rewarding Work Experience 

Some of my most rewarding work experiences are two-fold-being able to work with compassionate colleagues every day and seeing individuals’ lives improve through interventions that are designed to improve functionality and get people back to living life in spite of their health challenges.  

What Inspires You

I am greatly inspired by my family-they are a blessing. While I find my work to be important, valuable, and fulfilling, it is my family life that provides ultimate meaning and balance to my life. There is value in being able to find meaning in personal relationships in order to experience a sense of a balanced existence.

Advice for Aspiring Professionals

My general advice is to always pursue what you enjoy. We all have talents and abilities, but they don’t always necessarily coincide with our passions. There is a great deal of work that goes into building a professional career. Being able to say that you genuinely and thoroughly enjoy your learning, training, and work life makes the inevitable challenges and barriers easier to manage.

Hometown

  • Toronto, Canada

Education

  • Clinical Health PsychologyMayo Clinic College of Medicine, Postdoctoral Fellowship –
  • The Ohio State University, Ph.D. – Psychology (Clinical)
  • The Ohio State University, MA –  Psychology (Clinical)
  • McGill University, BS- Psychology

Legacy Leader


WilliamsLike Dr. Morrison, today’s Legacy Leader, Dr. John Williams was a respected civic leader. Dr. John Williams was born in 1945 in Jackson, Mississippi, and was raised in Toledo, Ohio, where he was an All-City athlete in both football and basketball. He was heavily recruited by numerous colleges, but attended the University of Minnesota, where he was a star football player. In 1967, he was named as a First Team All–Big Ten tackle and was instrumental in the Gophers winning the Big Ten title that year.

In 1968, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education and became the first-round draft pick for the Baltimore Colts. He was an offensive lineman for the Colts, playing in the Super Bowl twice, and winning Super Bowl V.  Dr. Williams also played for the Los Angeles Rams and went to Super Bowl XIV with them. During the off-season, he worked on a doctorate of dental surgery degree from the University of Maryland. After playing professional football for 12 years, he moved back to Minnesota to open a dental practice.

Dr. Williams opened his dentist’s office on West Broadway, practicing in north Minneapolis for almost 25 years. He leveraged his education and influence to increase access to health care in minority communities; working to eliminate health care disparities. Dr. Williams won the Minneapolis volunteer of the year award in 1992 and for almost two decades was active in leading a prison ministry team. He served as president of the West Broadway Business Association and a board member of the Minneapolis Urban League. 

Dr. Williams was trained in forensic dentistry and was a member of the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, a program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Following the September 11th tragedy in New York City, he participated on the identification team at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office. Dr. Williams was appointed in 2002 by Gov. Jesse Ventura and reappointed twice by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.  Dr. Williams was a highly regarded leader who deeply cared for the North Minneapolis community. 

 

 

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Future History Maker

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.  We also recognize the kinship of their work to those who are legacy trailblazers.  Thus, in a brief question and answer profile, we uniquely celebrate the past, present, and future.


Future History Maker 

 

susanFuture History Maker Susan Bass Roberts is Vice President/Executive Director of The Pohlad Family Foundation. Roberts is a result driven leader who has a passion for empowering community. Roberts serves as a role model to future generations who spends a considerable amount of time giving back, both personally and professionally. 

A native of Columbus, Ohio,  Bass Roberts is a graduate of the Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations. Throughout her career Bass Roberts has acquired experience in philanthropy, community relations and communications. Early on Bass Roberts owned a boutique agency specializing in foundation management, community outreach and communications strategy for professional athletes.  After much success Roberts was tapped as Vice President of Communications and Community Relations for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, where she managed public relations, community relations and the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation.

More recently, Bass Roberts served as Senior Director of Community Relations/Diversity & Inclusion for Best Buy, where she directed all charitable contributions and community involvement. She also worked with Best Buy leadership to create a culture where diversity and inclusion were key differentiators. Today, as Executive Director of the Pohlad Foundation Bass Roberts oversees all aspects of the foundation’s giving and community outreach activities, working closely with family members representing both the second and third generations of the Pohlad family.

Throughout her career, Bass Roberts has received several honors, including being named to Business First Magazine’s “40 Under 40,” and winning two “Beacon Awards” from The Cable Television Public Affairs Association. Roberts is  actively involved in strengthening communities. She’s previously served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations in Columbus, Atlanta and the Twin Cities. She currently serves on the boards of The Minnesota Council on Foundations, The Minneapolis YWCA, and Breck School.

 

Most Rewarding Work Experience 

I have worked in community relations and philanthropy for most of my career, and found the work to be rewarding at each stop along the journey.  Whether it has been in creating initiatives to address family violence at the Limited Foundation, or helping underserved children through the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation, to now working to improve life on the Northside of Minneapolis in my current role,  I have been blessed with a career that includes helping people. 

What Inspires You

I am inspired by people who take whatever life gives them and make the most of it.  I have seen people emerge victorious from some of the most difficult situations, and it inspires me to keep going.  My late mother was a single parent with a high school education, and we did not have much.  But she built a stable life for us.  She told me I could become anything I wanted to be if I worked hard and believed in myself.  I still hear her voice today, and when I do, I’m inspired to be better and to do more for young people, especially those who are growing up like I did.

Advice for Aspiring Professionals

I would advise young people to work really hard in school and go to college.  Higher education opens so many doors to new experiences, opportunities and people who are also pursuing their dreams.  It’s not just the degree that’s important, but the total experience that expands the possibilities for your life.  I would also tell them to persevere in the face of obstacles and remain positive.  Life is hard, and learning to become an adult can be even more difficult.  But you have to push through difficulties and get to the other side. Never give up on your dreams. 

Hometown

  • Columbus, Ohio

Education

  • Ohio State University, BA

Legacy Leader

 

carlsonLike Roberts, today’s Legacy Leader Emmett D. Carson, is a proven leader who guides plantorphic organizations to do their best work.  Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D. is the founding CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. An international thought leader in the field of philanthropy, in 2006 he led the unprecedented merger of two community foundations, creating SVCF. With a growth in assets from $1.7 billion in 2007 to $8.2 billion by the end of 2016, SVCF is the nation’s largest community foundation. SVCF’s 2,000 family and corporate donor funds support a wide range of causes in the Bay Area, across the nation and around the world.

Before this, Carson had a distinguished 12-year career as CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation and, prior to that oversaw the Ford Foundation’s U.S. and global grantmaking program on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. Emmett has published more than 100 works on philanthropy and is an authority on issues of social justice, public accountability and African American giving. He is consistently recognized as one of the most influential nonprofit leaders in the U.S. and has honorary degrees from Indiana University, Morehouse College, Becker College and The National Hispanic University. Emmett received both his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in public and international affairs from Princeton University and his bachelor’s degree in economics, Phi Beta Kappa, from Morehouse College.

 

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Future History Maker

BHM

Black History Month

History. Tradition. Community.

February is Black History Month. 
 Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February.  The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.  We also recognize the kinship of their work to those who are legacy trailblazers.  Thus, in a brief question and answer profile, we uniquely celebrate the past, present, and future.


Future History Maker 

Sondra Samuels_High Res.jpgFuture History Maker Sondra Samuels is the President & CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), a collaborative of over 40 partner non-profits and schools.  Along with parents, students, partners and staff, Samuels is leading a revolutionary culture shift in North Minneapolis that is focused on ending multigenerational poverty through education and family stability.

While the NAZ Collaboration is relatively new, formed in 2008, Samuels has long been a staple in the North Minneapolis Community. Samuels and her husband (Don) moved to North Minneapolis with a desire to immerse themselves in community. Samuels quickly became active organizing for progress. She began with gathering together small groups of neighbors for block meetings to address ongoing issues of community unrest and violence. Building on this work Samuels took on leadership roles in the Jordan Area Neighborhood Association and was instrumental in convincing her husband to represent the North Side on the Minneapolis City Council.

Samuels’ passion for cultivating change in her community led her to launch a non-profit organization, PEACE Foundation, which built a grassroots movement across race, class and geography toward the common goal of significantly reducing violence in North Minneapolis. The PEACE foundation was immensely successful in uplifting community and Samuels quickly gained the respect of her peers. Samuels viewed the issue of community violence with a fresh perspective. She says, “If a person has no future or vision, then they are going to pick up a gun. If they instead have a community encouraging them to be successful and providing them with the resources necessary to accomplish such, things will be different.” 

In 2008 the North Minneapolis community, desperate for real change and inspired by the results of the Harlem Children’s Zone, pulled together to explore solutions to the seemingly intractable issues that plagued the neighborhood.  From this developed an achievement-focused model that creates a permanent solution to the “cradle to prison/grave pipeline”—and builds a roadmap for sustainable community transformation. As a result of Samuels’ proven leadership, the community called on her for this work, and as a result NAZ was created.

Today the NAZ Collaborative is working toward a single goal—to prepare low-income North Minneapolis children to graduate from high school ready for college. NAZ has scaled up in support of over 1,000 parents and 2,300 students as they turn the social service model on its head and lead the creation of a college-bound culture throughout the community.

Samuels, her staff and their partners, work tirelessly to ensure the integration of effective cradle-to-career solutions across the NAZ collaborative; to scale and sustain results across the community, and to achieve the systems and policy changes needed for low income families and children of color to truly share in the prosperity of the Twin Cities Region. Under her leadership, NAZ was named a federal Promise Neighborhood, and has become a nationally recognized model for community and systems change. Samuels serves on the leadership team of Generation Next, (a Strive Initiative); the boards of Minnesota Private College Council, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, and the 2018 Super Bowl Host Committee Advisory Board. She was also appointed by Governor Dayton to serve on the Hennepin County Forth Judicial Selection Commission.

Most Rewarding Work Experience 

Being a partner in the NAZ Collaborative. My involvement with NAZ has been a dream come true. When my husband and I first moved to Minneapolis we didn’t have a plan or agenda, but instead a desire to help. We let the community drive what we needed to do.  I’m grateful that the community has embraced me and my work. 

What Inspires You

The mothers, fathers, and children of the Northside. I’m inspired by their ability to push past life’s obstacles and seek out success. I see people who are not afforded the privileges of education or economic opportunity like I am get up and take on the world with bold confidenc, and serve as role models to others. My community is made up of awesome people and I am blessed to be a part of it.

Advice for Aspiring Professionals

Every generation out of relative obscurity must discover its’ mission, fulfill it or betray it.  (Franz Fanon- African Philosopher) 

Value and honor people you work with, for, and whom you serve, like your life depended on it.

Hometown

  • Scotch Plains, NJ

Education

  • Morgan State University, BA
  • Clark Atlanta University, MA

Legacy Leader
bill green.jpg

 

Like Samuels, today’s Legacy Leader William D. Green is an dedicated community leader who marries history and education to empower the communities he serves. Green was born in Massachusetts and as a child spent a lot of time at Fisk University where his father was dean.   During this time Green was able to meet such luminaries as W.E.B. Du Bois and Thurgood Marshall. These experiences help shape Green’s love of history and passion for impacting change.

Green is a well-respected and familiar leader in the Twin Cities community. Green served as superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools from 2006 to 2010. In this role he was credited for restoring public confidence in this Minneapolis School District’s ability to educate its’ children. Today, Green is a professor of history at Augsburg College. Green is also an award winning author who has published many articles and  op-ed pieces, on history, law, and education.  He has also published two books on race and civil rights in Minnesota history-A Peculiar Imbalance in Early Minnesota: 1837-1869, and Degrees of Freedom. The Origin of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865-1914, which won the 2015 Minnesota Book Award-Hognander Prize. He is presently working on a history of Minnesota during the period of the Civil war and Reconstruction.

Green received his B.A. in History from Gustavus Adolphus College, and his M.A., Ph.D. and J.D. from the University of Minnesota. He has spoken widely at such places as the Ramsey County Bar Association; Bethel Lutheran Church, the Friends of the Ramsey County Library; Unity Unitarian Universalist Church in St. Paul, and William Mitchell Law School. He has also lectured at Peabody College-Vanderbilt University, St. John’s University, and Lincoln College-Oxford University. While serving as Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, he studied school reform at Harvard University. Green currently serves as vice president of the Minnesota Historical Society.

 

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