Degree: MA, 1999
Location: Minneapolis, MN
The Minnesota Minority Education Partnership, Inc. is a nonprofit collaboration that seeks to increase the success of students of color and American Indian students in Minnesota schools, colleges, and universities. As associate director, Jennifer co-manages program planning and evaluation and is responsible for fundraising, organizational representation with partner institutions, and measuring the impact of the organization’s work.
She also leads the Minnesota College Access Network, which aims to expand college access by influencing public policies that relate to college access and underserved communities.
Where did your passion for public affairs originate?
My interest in public affairs comes from participating in civic organizations and leadership trainings when I was only 15 years old. I started as a participant and then an organizational fellow with the National Hispanic Institute, which taught me important skills and allowed me to build the network that I needed to attend a highly competitive university. My family gained so much from the nonprofit sector that giving back was very appealing to me as I considered professions.
Is there anything that surprised you about the Institute or the Twin Cities?
I have been amazed by the demographic shifts in the Twin Cities since I first came here. I have been involved in the Latino community’s economic development movement and have spoken nationally about the opportunities that have emerged for all citizens in the metropolitan area. Everyone should know about the great ethnic food, music, and culture here.
What has been your career path?
After graduating, I became executive director of a grassroots nonprofit group, then handled fundraising with a community development organization. Those experiences led me to my current position at the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership. I have been blessed to be mentored by amazing diverse leaders in the local nonprofit sector.
How did your Humphrey School education contribute to where you are today?
I believe I gained the technical skills – policy analysis, writing, communications, and research – that helped me get where I am today.
What do you like best about your work?
As associate director of a nonprofit whose mission is to increase the success of students of color through research, advocacy, and convening, I combine my policy analysis skills and community development experience with communication skills. It makes the most of my talents and builds on a movement for social justice that I personally have been touched by all my life.
Do you have any advice for incoming or current students interested in a career like yours?
If you want to work in the nonprofit sector, it is important to have a spirit of entrepreneurship. It is like running a small business, where knowledge about financial management and revenue-generation are just as important as your policy analysis and public relations skills.
March 15, 2012