2020 JOSIE R. JOHNSON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY FELLOWS
2020 JOSIE R. JOHNSON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY FELLOWS
Mychal Batson: Mychal, or @MycDazzle, is a strategist, illustrator, storyteller, and creative consultant based in St. Paul. He graduated with honors from Augsburg College in 2010 with a degree in Creative Writing. With no real understanding of what to do next, he spent the bulk of his twenties exploring what his true passions and interests were. After moonlighting as an educator, camp counselor, youth worker, community organizer, city planner, world traveler, multidisciplinary artist, and everything in between — he settled on the titles listed above. Myc is best known for the work he’s done with St. Paul’s Frogtown community. He researched, wrote, and illustrated its neighborhood Small Area Plan – a 125-page document that outlines how the community would like to see its neighborhood developed over the next 10 yearrs. Myc designed a logo, a mural mural and was part of a team that designed the Frogtown community’s Terrazzo floor. He also designed marketing materials commemorating the City of St. Paul’s move to a $15 minimum wage. He’s in the process of building an ed-tech platform named Schoolz with his colleague Mondo Davison.
Porsha Brown: Porsha Brown is a mental health therapist for an agency named Youthlink. Youthlink helps youth from the ages 16-24 who are experiencing homelessness. When Brown isn’t at work she considers herself a holistic healer! Much of her work is rooted in a trauma-informed approach and taking non-traditional approaches to therapy and healing. As she continues to embark on her healing journey she appreciates learning from her community and elders on different techniques for healing.
Brianna Carey: Brianna is a 2018 Excellence in Leadership recipient and a 2019 Young Women’s Innovator through the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. She is a Minnesota native and graduate of Biomedical Science and Gender and Women Studies from St. Cloud State University. As the founder of the Pan African & Ally Student Summit, LLC, she focuses on curating spaces geared towards transcending social inequities within the African Diaspora. Now, as the Community Affairs Coordinator for Children’s MinnesotaHospital, Brianna continues to actively engage the community and devotes her efforts to “being the change” she wants to see.
Mondo Davison: Mondo, known as “The Black Tech Guy,” is on a mission to inspire a generation of Black males to pursue a life in tech. He believes that branding The Black Tech Guy as a trailblazing figure in the tech space will lead to a more compelling career path than the often one taken as that of a rapper or athlete. An educator-turned-entrepreneur, Mondo is the co-founder of Schoolz — an edTech startup that builds digital tools to help educators engage their students. Born and raised in St. Paul, he was recognized as “Most Likely to Succeed” in 2017 and one of the hardest working entrepreneurs by Minnesota Business Magazine.
Hana Dinkut: Hana was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and lived there until the age of 8 when her family migrated to the United States. She has spent the most of her life in Minnesota but considers both Minneapolis and Addis Ababa her home. In addition to serving as the Director of the Pan-Afrikan Center at Augsburg University, her purpose and mission are to build strong communities and empower the Black community through education. She works with a local grassroots organization Solidarity Twin Cities to help organize the monthly Nu Skool of African American Thought classes and work to support the rich literary culture and tradition of the Black community in Minnesota through her work with In Black Ink, a regenerative publishing enterprise.
Georgia Fort: Georgia is a media personality and video storyteller. Most recently she co-directed and edited the award winning documentary Rondo: Beyond the Pavement, which is now streamed on Amazon Prime. She was the first to release jail cell footage showing the wrongful death of an inmate in Beltrami county jail. Georgia is in the process of changing maternity leave laws in Minnesota after losing her job as an anchor because she wasn’t eligible for FMLA. The St. Paul native has nearly a decade of broadcast experience in radio and TV. As a journalist she publicly explored her passion for philanthropy and community involvement by giving a visual platform to the stories and individuals that continuously shape her community. Georgia has also worked in local TV stations in Columbus, GA. In 2007, after her oldest daughter passed away, she became an Ambassador for Faith’s Lodge, a Minnesota nonprofit that provides retreat for parents who have lost a child. Georgia graduated from the University of St. Thomas where she advocated for student parents and diversity inclusion.
Jewelean Jackson: Jewelean is an Elder Community Servant with the philosophical thought of life-long learning and learning from the cradle to the grave. Her greatest accomplishment is having raised an extraordinary daughter with village input that makes us proud. She believes in participatory community building, recognizing an issue and being part of the solution, as evidenced by her involvement in the following: Miss Black Minnesota Pageant, Inc. Founding Director/Producer, Twin Cities Juneteenth, Founding Mother with 2 Founding Fathers, National Night Out, Founding Committee Member, Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota Freedom School, 1 of 3 Founding Mothers, UMOJA Founding Parent Advisor and Vegan By Nature (VBN) Founding Consultant. (And nunerous more.)
Phil McGraw: Director and health advocate Phil McGraw elevates the voices of individuals through his lens. His community-centered vision brings healing and illuminates the path toward justice through the arts community. Raised in Chicago, Phil picked up a camera for the first time in 2008 and fell in love with its versatility as an artistic medium. He started recording stories he deemed important to the community. Now as a filmmaker in the Twin Cities he shares stories about the arts community and trauma in the Black community, correlating how it affects the Black community. In 2018, he began his journey of healthy living. For the past few years, Phillip has dedicated his life to eating healthier and practicing self-care. With his personal testimony of healthy living, he is organizing projects around informing and addressing the health disparities in the Black community.
Ashley Oolman: Ashley, founder & inclusion consultant of Allied Folk, guides partners through evidence-based best practices, product development, and progressive thought leadership. From large corporations to individual allies, she transforms strategic business initiatives and advances equitable community spaces. With more than a decade of leadership experience in advocacy, employment, and workplace culture, she understands how to navigate complex environments and provide actionable insights for growth.
Ashley strives to advance community equity through her contributions on a collective impact task force, and serves on a coalition of providers supporting transracially adopted youth to reinforce their development of positive black identity. In her free time, she enjoys creating space to coach local parents on inclusive parenting, including children in critical conversations.
Ashley earned an MBA with a concentration on human resource management, a BA in psychology with a minor in human development and family studies, and a certification in organizational diversity & inclusion.
Dario Otero: Dario is the owner of Youth Lens 360, a company providing creativity and consulting services for individuals 12-25 years-old. The company utilizes L.E.A.D (that’s an acronym for learn, experience, apply and debrief) curriculum to train, mentor and support the technical and entrepreneurial skills of youth in underrepresented communities. Dario’s mission is to empower youth to set their goals high and to help them implement a plan to achieve those goals. Dario believes that all youth should acquire the necessary skills to become entrepreneurs and community leaders so they can mobilize other young people to be successful and positively impact their communities.
Jazlynn Paige: Jazlynn is a School Psychologist and Special Education Consultant. Jazlynn started her career in 2014 at several charter schools while completing her doctoral internship. After successfully fulfilling her internship she continued working in the charter school world. Jazlynn has excelled in many positions, including: School Psychologist, Homeless Liaison, Social Emotional Learning Coordinator, 504 Coordinator, Paraprofessional Supervisor and Special Education Coordinator. Her areas of expertise include special education due process, mentorship, social and emotional learning, data-based decision making, relationship building, systems change, trauma-informed care and professional development training. Jazlynn has a masters degree in Education with sights set on completing her PhD in 2020.
D’Angelos Svenkeson: DAngelos is the Founder and CEO of NEOO Partners Inc., a commercial real estate and urban planning solutions firm serving the public and private sector. In 2012, D’Angelos completed his masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Jackson State University and has since worked in the nonprofit, government, and corporate community. D’Angelos is also a Deacon at his local church, the husband to Kimberly Svenkeson and and they have two sons.
Dr. Charles H. Watson: A native of Baltimore, Maryland, a town of stark contradictions, his mother made one fact plain — few forces on earth exceed the transformative power of education. With such a belief instilled to his core, Charles went on to graduate from Columbia University. Trained in classics of the western intellectual tradition, he then pursued doctoral studies in philosophy at Stanford University and later worked there as a post-doctoral teaching fellow in the humanities. For seven years, he held an interdisciplinary chair in the humanities, as a member of the teaching faculty at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. From fall 2012 to December of 2018, Dr. Watson worked as a visiting instructor (lecturer) at Minneapolis College in the Department of Philosophy. He has served as the program coordinator for African American Education Empowerment (AME) at Minneapolis College since November 2018. Charles is interested in the service that can be paid to the civic good through the building up of intellectual and moral character; believing the Black scholarly tradition exemplifies self-emancipation and triumph under adverse circumstances.
Chaz Sandifer: Chaz specializes in health and wellness. Chaz was always an athlete, but this journey was about getting stronger mentally, spiritually, and physically. She had gained 40 pounds and decided to get the weight off through cardio-kickboxing, changing her diet, and personal counseling. After 30 days, Chaz had lost 15 pounds, and she didn’t stop there; she decided to become a bodybuilder. With the help of her trainer, Chaz prepped for two years before her first bodybuilding competition. She went on to earn certifications as a group fitness instructor and as a Lifestyle Coach in Diabetes Prevention. Chaz started teaching free classes through the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), and in building a clientele list, has coached over 150 women who are pre-diabetic and overweight. Ready to take her fitness and wellness goals to another level she joined forces in 2015, and was a co-founder of, Noir Elite Fitness. In 2017, Chaz was given an opportunity to run a farmer’s market for a neighborhood association and she knew then that her passion had to come full circle: with community, nutrition, and wellness all wrapped into one entity. By 2018, with the support of the association and a grant she was able to secure, Chaz now operates and owns the market on her own.
Chauntyll Allen: An educator, activist, youth advocate and now a St. Paul School Board member, Chauntyll brings a lifetime of experience to her social justice work. Born and raised in the Rondo community, Allen attended St. Paul Public Schools, is a proud graduate of Central High School, and studied African American studies and Psychology at Metro State University. Over the past 25 years, she has worked in various capacities as an advocate and organizer, including 10 years at Hennepin County in a high crisis facility for child protection, a community leader for Black Lives Matter, and an educational assistant and basketball coach in St. Paul Public Schools. Chauntyll is a true change agent with a fierce, honest, and compassionate approach. Her strength is based on her authenticity and ability to listen. She speaks truth to power and represents the needs of the underrepresented with heart and vision.
Robert P. Dixon Jr: Robert is a servant leader and community advocate. He learned these key elements from growing up in New Orleans, while attending St. Augustine High School, an African American-male Catholic Institution. He also learned about being an advocate for his community through his mother, who was the District President of the NAPFE Union for over 25 years. Robert earned his bachelors degree in Criminal Justice and a mini-MBA in Nonprofit Organizations from the University of St. Thomas. Robert honed these skills by being a case manager for homeless families and a firefighter within his community of residence. While serving as a case manager for homeless families he assisted countless homeless families in finding stability and helped them realize that they can be self-sufficient. As a firefighter he is committed to keeping people safe, healthy and prosperous. Robert was appointed by Governor Walz to serve a four-year term on the Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education.
Domonique Mechelle Jones: Domonique has five years of work experience in managing learning communities, and has worked 10 years in development and project/program management positions. Her recent positions have drawn her into the capacity of event planning, public speaking, human resources, and financial planning. In addition, Domonique worked as a Program Manager for Meda (Metropolitan Economic Development Association). In this role Domonique managed all aspects of the recruitment campaigns for various educational programming while establishing and maintaining strong relationships with community partners and sponsors. Furthermore, Domonique oversaw the Meda Mini MBA program, which is a nationally recognized program to help entrepreneurs of color develop and grow their businesses through education. She has a master in business administration with three concentrations in Finance, Management Information Systems and Project Management.
Brittany Lynch Wright: Brittany is a DJ, poet, and entrepreneur who fiercely advocates for families in communities of color. Her work exists at the intersection of media, music, social justice, and birthing justice. Brittany is also a freelance journalist and podcast host who focuses on digital storytelling within the Black community. She was named a “Rising Star” by WCCO’s Urban Perspectives and one of five “Influential Young Black Leaders” by The Star Tribune. Brittany has been awarded a Verve Spoken Word Grant, Beyond The Pure Grant, and Legacy award for her work in healing communities through art-based engagement. Her company Gray Matter, provides digital, social, and political engagement to strengthen Black families and eradicate disparities. She’s a certified community coach and practitioner of The Orange Method, a practice centered in healing justice and Black liberation. Also a certified community financial ambassador Brittany is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.