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 she 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. She 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. Her 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.