Joo Hee Pomplun joined the Alliance staff in May 2017. Joo Hee was formerly the director of policy and advocacy at Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA) where they worked with Asian communities along the Central Corridor and the Bottineau Transitway to open greater opportunities for wealth building via entrepreneurship, individual financial capabilities development, social lending, and governmental policies and practices.
Joo Hee founded and organized the Health Equity Working Committee, a coalition of community-based organizations serving and led by Asian, African, African American, Latinx, American Indian, LGBTQ, and ally communities seeking accountability of government to advance health equity. They also served as the executive director of the Minnesota Asian/American Health Coalition. Joo Hee has a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies, a master’s degree in public health, and is a certified massage therapist. Their strengths and interests are in the intersection of community development, racial equity, and spiritual health.
Maura Brown joined the Alliance staff in May 2000. Maura ensures that each Alliance campaign emphasizes grassroots organizing, strong research support and strategic capacity-building that unites organizations in building an integrated approach to achieving regional equity. Her work to ensure that Alliance initiatives reflect the values of many people, particularly low-wealth people and people of color, has been nationally recognized.
Maura has a degree in political science from Swarthmore College. Before joining the Alliance, she served as the executive director of the Harrison Neighborhood Association in North Minneapolis, where she honed her skill at strategic organizing around divisive issues and building sustainable partnerships and collaborations. Prior to that she organized low-income tenants at Central Community Housing Trust (now Aeon).
Owen Duckworth joined the Alliance staff in May 2012 as a coalition organizer. He brings with him years of organizing experience, and a deep commitment to fighting racism in our region. At the Alliance, Owen organizes coalitions working to ensure that public investments in our region are made in partnership with the communities they affect and advance racial equity.
Growing up in a biracial family in the segregated city of Milwaukee, Owen desired to understand race and space, culture, and politics early in his life. His curiosity led him to pursue a degree in political science at Macalester College. Since then, Owen has worked on the successful campaign for the 2006 Minnesota transportation amendment and an electoral campaign with the Sierra Club. Most recently, he was a community organizer for Transit for Livable Communities, where he worked with community members to advance a common goal of increased transportation access.
Ricardo Perez joined the Alliance staff in July 2019. Ricardo was born and raised in Mexico and moved to the United States in 2004. Ricardo has more than 10 years of experience working in the non-profit sector alongside community on issues that disproportionately impact immigrants and people of color.
Most recently, Ricardo helped to lead the Suburban Hennepin Housing Coalition which, with the help of organized community, was able to pass ordinances in multiple cities to protect and produce unsubsidized housing; and create tenant protections.
Ricardo is an alumni of CURA’s Neighborhood Now program and the Wilder Foundation Community Equity Pipeline cohort. Ricardo loves his family, art and the resiliency and creativity of humanity.
Carolyn Szczepanski joined the Alliance staff in November 2018. She brings more than 15 years of diverse experience in advocacy and storytelling, starting her career as staff writer for alternative newsweeklies before transitioning to the nonprofit sector in 2010. As a director of communications for two national bicycle advocacy organizations in Washington, D.C., she co-created programs advancing gender and race equity in active transportation and, in 2016, co-founded The Untokening, a nationwide effort to create a multi-racial movement for mobility justice. After moving to St. Paul in 2016, she served as the Director of Research and Communications for the Minnesota Housing Partnership, managing reports and storytelling for the statewide affordable housing advocacy organization.
Carolyn has a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and, as the Alliance’s Communications and Programming Coordinator, she is committed to centering and elevating community voices, reframing harmful narratives, and making information about regional equity accessible to a wide variety of audiences.
Lynn Tanaka joined the Alliance staff in July 2022 as the Office and Events Coordinator. Lynn was formally the Program Manager of Avivo’s Community Support Program and has over 10 years of experience working in the non-profit sector, believing that the actions of one person can make a difference in people’s lives. Lynn lives an artistic life. Professionally she has worked over 20 years in illustration, hand-lettering and graphic design. Currently she is in her happy place designing hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind creations using organic materials. Or combining found and natural objects and drawing elements in her fine art assemblages. Her work is currently showcased in venues across the country.
Ivory Taylor joined the Alliance staff in October 2021 as a Coalition Organizer. Since 2017, she has worked to advance and ensure the rights of renters in Minnesota by engaging in both grassroots organizing and local and state level policy and systems change advocacy. Driven by her personal experiences with housing instability, she served as an Americorps VISTA with Equal Justice Works and is the former Organizing and Capacity Building Director at HOME Line, where she developed and led an AmeriCorps VISTA tenant organizing program, expanding capacity for nonprofits and public agencies to support tenants through the creation of tenants associations, delivery of tenant rights education, and support for resolution around tenant-identified issues.
Ivory received an undergraduate and graduate degree from the University of Minnesota, as well as an Advanced Certificate in Equity and Diversity. She believes that housing is a human right and racial, economic, and disability justice issue. She aims to build power with low-wealth, BIPOC, and disabled communities at the forefront and is determined to see a shift in the dominant narratives and systems that deny justice for so many in Minnesota and beyond.