New American Development Center
Asad Aliweyd is the Executive Director of New American Development Center, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting education, cultural awareness and economic opportunity for East African immigrants in Eden Prairie. Asad moved from Somalia to the United States in 1995. After earning his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Metro State University, Asad taught math at Eden Prairie High School. During his years as a teacher, he started a parent group to help improve outcomes for Somali students. NADC was born from that group. The organization soon expanded its reach as Asad realized that employment, transportation, health care, education and affordable housing were equally important to his community. He became involved with the Alliance when he began organizing around the Southwest LRT and the potential benefits its development could bring.
Harrison Neighborhood Association
Nichole joined the Alliance board in 2020 after serving as the member representative for the Harrison Neighborhood Association where she is currently the Executive Director. Since 2017, she has been working to advance HNA’s mission to create a prosperous and peaceful community that equitably benefits all of Harrison neighborhood’s diverse racial, cultural, and economic groups. Nichole has nearly 20 years of experience in advocacy, policy, and community organizing work. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Spanish Studies from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, she worked with the Resource Center of the America’s El Centro de Derechos Laborales, advocating for workers without documentation as they faced discrimination and abuse in the workplace. She received her law degree from Hamline University School of Law with a focus on Employment and Labor Law, and has been a practicing attorney since 2010, working with clients on a sliding-scale fee or in a pro-bono capacity on cases involving employment discrimination, unemployment claims, tenants’ rights, and criminal defense. From 2014 to 2017, Nichole served on the boards of the West Bank Community Coalition and the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood Revitalization Program where she found her passion for place-based community organizing. In 2017, Nichole helped form the MSP Airport Rapid Response Team in response to the Muslim Travel Ban which worked nonstop to train, schedule, and deploy over 300 attorneys at the airport, meeting every affected international flight arriving at MSP for six weeks. For her work on that volunteer effort, Nichole received the Advocates for Human Rights Special Recognition Award. Nichole was also an active volunteer organizer for the 15 Now! campaign in Minneapolis, and later served on the 15 Now!–St. Paul Board of Directors where she helped organize a major win for workers in their struggle for livable wages.
West Side Community Organization
Monica currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Side Community Organization (WSCO), a nonprofit built by and for community organizing and is one of Saint Paul’s District Planning Councils. Prior to leading WSCO, Monica spent more than a decade in grassroots community organizing at PCAMN, SEIU, ISAIAH, and working for state and county agencies in Minnesota. Her career and lived experiences are centered on two guiding values: equity and justice. From housing to labor to health care, Monica’s personal mission is to shift the power of systems, institutions, and policies toward the people who are directly affected by them. Monica is committed to the core values of Justice and applies a lens of equity to all aspects of her work. Monica views the role of her profession as a step on the path of a deeply healing and spiritual journey.
Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota
Sunny joined the Alliance board in 2017 after serving as a member representative for the Lao Assistance Center, where he is Executive Director. Since 1992, Sunny has been supporting and leading the Lao Assistance Center’s work to enhance the quality of life for Minnesota Lao families by meeting basic needs, increasing self-reliance and youth development, reducing social isolation, and promoting cultural equity. In 2013, Sunny was awarded the distinguished Virginia McKnight Binger Award in Human Service for his work. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Jim Erkel, Treasurer
Jim Erkel is an environmental attorney. He recently retired from the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy after having established and then directing MCEA’s Land Use and Transportation Program for 18 years. He is particularly interested in the social, economic, and environmental effects that play out at the nexus of land use and transportation throughout Minnesota. Representing MCEA, Jim participated in a number of coalitions with members of the Alliance including Stops for Us which succeeded in securing three missing stations on the Green Line for some of the region’s most racially diverse and transit-dependent neighborhoods.
Malik is the Neighborhood Leadership and Organizing Program Coordinator at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. Prior to joining CURA, Malik worked as a Community Organizer with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition to promote access, equity, and community benefits of bicycle infrastructure, policy, and engagement. He also served as the former Director of St Paul District 6 Planning Council for three years and former Executive Director & Economic Development Organizer of North Minneapolis’s Harrison Neighborhood Association for 11 years leading community engagement projects, racially equitable development initiatives, business development, and land use planning. He received an undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts in Human Services with a minor in Sociology from the University of Minnesota Morris. Malik was a member of the Board of Directors for the Headwaters Foundation for Justice and its past Grant Review Committees. He was a long-standing member on CURA’s Kris Nelson Community Based Research Program Grant Review Committee, a 2004 graduate of MCNO’s Neighborhood Organizing Training Program, and a past member of the MCNO Advisory Committee. He is currently on the Nexus Community Partners Grant Review Committee, the Bryant Neighborhood Organization Board Chair and Board member of the People’s Anti-Racist Global Committee. Malik is a native of Chicago but has lived in Minnesota for more than 13 years. His life has centered on community, spirituality, music and dance, his wife and son, and his love for learning, community capacity building, systems change, racial equity, and direct service.
Joshua Houdek, Secretary
Sierra Club North Star Chapter
Joshua joined the Alliance board in 2016 after being involved with our organization for more than 10 years through his position as Senior Program Manager at the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. He manages the chapter’s work on promoting affordable, sustainable development and expanding clean and equitable transportation choices. Joshua served for over a decade on the Minneapolis Capital Long-range Improvement Committee and the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. He has a B.S. in geography from the University of Iowa and holds a master’s degree in outdoor education from the University of Minnesota.
Housing Justice Center
Margaret Kaplan is the President of the Housing Justice Center, a non-profit public interest legal and policy advocacy organization dedicated to upholding the right to safe, stable, affordable housing free from discrimination. Margaret has over 20 years of experience in the field of affordable housing and community development, starting out as a community organizer with All Parks Alliance for Change. She began her legal career with the Housing Preservation Project, and subsequently worked for All Parks Alliance for Change and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining HJC, Margaret spent six years as the Community Development Director at Minnesota Housing. Margaret has expertise in local, state, and federal housing policy and programs and is dedicated to using law and policy as a tools to effectuate community articulated outcomes for a more just and equitable society.
Our Streets Minneapolis
Ashwat Narayanan (Ash, he/him) is the executive director of Our Streets Minneapolis, an organization that works to make biking, walking and rolling easy and comfortable for everyone in the city. In his work, he tries to center racial justice and prioritize the voices of those who’ve historically been left out of transportation decision-making. Ash believes that to achieve a truly equitable transportation system, we must dismantle interconnected systems of oppression. Ash serves on the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Sustainable Transportation Advisory Committee, and represents Minneapolis on Metropolitan Council’s Transportation Advisory Board.
Nelima Sitati-Munene, President
African Career, Education & Resource Inc
Nelima Sitati-Munene represents African Career, Education & Resource, an organization that promotes culturally competent solutions that help Africans, African Americans, and other communities of color achieve social and economic independence. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Summit Hill Association, a St. Paul district council, is a member of the Metropolitan Council’s Housing Policy Plan Work Group, and serves on the city of Brooklyn Park’s core planning team. Nelima has a long history of community organizing, including work at the North Minneapolis-based Harrison Neighborhood Association. She is a member of the Equity in Place table convened by the Alliance and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs to secure more equitable investments in the Twin Cities region.
Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota
Anthony Taylor is a founding member of the Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota, a nonprofit social/recreational club that promotes safe and fun cycling geared towards the African-American communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. He is the Adventures Director at the Loppet Foundation, where he leads the growth and development of efforts to provide opportunities and create passion for year-round outdoor activities and adventures in the Minneapolis area, especially among inner-city youth. Anthony also serves on the Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission, the League of American Bicyclists Equity Advisory Board, and the National Brotherhood of Cyclists.