Courageous Conversations Project

Courageous Conversation forum in Chisholm, Minnesota

The Impact of Minnesota's Aging Workforce

It's no secret that Minnesota's population is aging rapidly and our workforce is declining in size, with potentially seismic impacts on business, industry, and the state's overall economic health.

Given these realities, how can we keep older workers engaged and productive in the workforce, contributing vital skills to help Minnesota thrive in this changing landscape? What are the conversations that need to happen—between employers and employees, and across rural and urban communities—to tackle this growing challenge?

MN state map with dots showing locations of Courageous Conversations forums

The Center hosted a series of conversations around the state of Minnesota from 2017 to 2019, to explore how these dynamics are uniquely impacting our communities and to identify possible solutions. 

We concluded the series with a public forum in September 2019 to discuss our findings and recommendations for next steps, with special guest Tom Friedman, columnist for The New York Times


Read the final report Watch the video of the public forum

This series was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, with generous support from the McKnight Foundation.  

For more information, please contact [email protected]

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Previous events

May 3, 2019 in Austin: 
Austin Event Program (PDF)
Austin Written Summary (PDF)

September 28, 2018 in Thief River Falls:
Thief River Falls Event Program (PDF)
Thief River Falls Written Summary (PDF)

June 14, 2018 in Chisholm: 
Chisholm Event Program (PDF)
Chisholm Written Summary (PDF)

March 23, 2018 in Marshall:
Marshall Full Audio (WAV)
Marshall Event Program (PDF) 
Marshall Written Summary (PDF)

October 11, 2017 in Minneapolis
Minneapolis Full Audio (SoundCloud)
Minneapolis Written Summary (PDF)
Minneapolis Event Program (PDF)

Citizens commission and project team


Sadiq Abdirahman, Minnesota IT Services, State of Minnesota

Sen. Paul Anderson (R), District 44, Chair, Higher Education Finance and Policy; Member, Taxes

Ben DeNucci, Itasca County Commissioner

Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL), District 51B, Health and Human Services Finance Division

Pahoua Hoffman, Executive Director, Citizens League

Rep. Deb Kiel (R), District 1B, House Subcommittee on Aging and Long Term Care

Jeff Kletscher, Board Chair, Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency; President, Floodwood Business & Community Partnership

LaRhae Knatterud, Director of Aging Transformation, Minnesota Department of Human Services

Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL), District 11, Health and Human Services Finance and Policy, ranking minority member (stepped away from project upon departing the Senate in January 2019)

Rajean Moone, Executive Director, MN Leadership Council on Aging

Erin Parrish, Associate State Director of Advocacy and Outreach, AARP-MN

Philomena Morrissey Satre, Director of Diversity & Inclusion and External Strategic Partnerships, Land O’Lakes

Nasibu Sareva, Executive Director, African Development Center

Kate Schaefers, Volunteer State President, AARP-MN; Executive Director, University of Minnesota Advanced Careers Initiative

Vicki Stute, Vice President, Programs and Business Services, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

Jonathan Weinhagen, President and CEO, Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce


Project leads: Professor Larry Jacobs and Kate Cimino, Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Research assistants: Hannah Rank and Alison Kirgis

Moderator: Gary Eichten

Writers: Todd Melby and Frank Jossi

Photographer: Bruce Silcox