Name: Laura Jean
Why are you interested in serving on the board of directors?:
Serving my community is fundamentally important to me. Community engagement is the most important grassroots way to make democracy work. Neighborhood organizations like the Whittier Alliance are an important, often undervalued part of that process giving a united voice to underrepresented constituents. The Whittier Alliance is not afraid to dream big, to work hard, and to fight to keep the Whittier neighborhood a strong, progressive, equitable place to work, live and grow.
I am a fourth generation Minneapolis resident. My husband and I were excited to move to Whittier 13 years ago. However, when we decided to grow our family through international adoption, the diversity of Whittier became especially important to our family. We have two beautiful daughters who joined our family in 2012 and 2016. Access to culturally important foods -- restaurants, groceries, destinations, and just walking down the street where our children can see people of color, hear different languages spoken and be reminded they are not alone as immigrants -- has reinforced our connection to the neighborhood.
I have been proud to serve on the WA board of directors for the past 9 years. During that time, I have had key leadership roles co-chairing the previous and current strategic plan and its implementation. Currently, I serve as the vice-chair for the Executive Committee.
What experiences/skills/talents do you possess that you feel would be an asset to the Whittier Alliance?:
I have experience and an understanding of the development projects that are brought to the community, the City, State & Federal processes that affect these projects and their funding sources. For example: the Neighborhood Revitalization Program and its successor Neighborhood Community Relations & Community Participation Program (NCR, CPP), The Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the 35W Access Project, Nicollet Reopening, Transit such as the Nicollet Streetcar and the Southwest LRT, development projects such as the HCMC Clinic, Salem Lutheran Church & the Greenleaf affordable apartments, Lake Wine & Cheese, numerous restaurants, and small businesses and the permits and zoning related issues, and the moving of the Steven’s Ave Houses, etc.
I have experience writing and giving testimony at City Hall & the State Legislature, writing Opinion Editorials published by the Southwest Journal, MPR, and CNN, as well as writing website material, brochures, educational pieces and police proposals.
My experience serving on the Capital Long Range Improvement Committee for the City of Minneapolis for 6 years educated me not only on how the 5 year 500 million dollar program works, but has given me an intricate understanding of our City’s infrastructure from mill and overlay, traffic control, updating our parks, public art, our water treatment and delivery systems, sanitary sewers, the City’s information technology, Police, Fire and much more. I am proud to have had the opportunity to work for transparency, high quality services and to advocate for careful spending of our tax dollars.
My professional life gives me broad global experience where my work carrying out research and making recommendations to government entities is utilized to improve the lives of underserved populations in developing countries, and children around the world who live without permanent parental care. My management, leadership, advocacy and analyst skills allow me to be an effective leader for the Whittier Alliance.
Describe any experiences you have had in serving the neighborhood and/or community (volunteer positions, committees, organizations, etc.):
- Capitol Long Range Improvement Committee City of Minneapolis Ward 6/10 Representative 2010-2016, details above
- Minneapolis Election Judge in the Whittier neighborhood 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 2014, 2016
- Whittier Alliance Volunteer 2008
- Whittier Alliance 5th Precinct Crime & Safety Volunteer & Community Representative
- Whittier Alliance Board of Directors 2009, Executive Committee: Secretary 2010-2011, Vice-Chair 2014 to Present
- Serve on the Executive Committee, as Vice-Chair, previously as Secretary
- Ensure fiscal health of organization –monitor monthly financial transactions, tax filings and other important documents and transactions, meet with staff and accountant at least monthly, more as needed
- Work with City staff and legal representatives as needed to ensure organization follows city and state laws in accordance to organization’s by-laws
- Support staff during times of transition
- Executive Director search committee
- Oversee day-to-day operations
- Worked with committee and legal representative Michael Allen (housing lawyer), supported filing HUD housing complaint and represented neighborhood at HUD resolution meetings regarding Analysis of Impediments
- Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) Steering Committee, overseeing NRP funds and loans programs
- Neighborhood Revitalization Program Youth Grants Review Committee
- Assisted on Award Winning Historic Preservation Calendar, submitting multiple photos featured, and editing content
- Volunteer at Neighborhood Clean Ups
- Disseminate flyers in neighborhood about upcoming meetings and events
- Contacting neighbors inviting them to meetings, events and to inform them of important issues
- Host/Information table at Dancing in the Park
- Volunteer at World of Whittier information table & activity
- Volunteer at Youth Field Days
- Testify at Minneapolis City Hall as needed to support neighborhood positions
- Draft Fund Development letters
- End of Year Fund raising phone calls
- Sell tickets and collect donations for the May Day Soiree
- Attend Board training
- Attend Board Retreats
- Attend Fund Development Training
- Attended 55 Executive Committee Meetings
- Attend Community Issues Meetings
- Attended over 100 WA Board Meetings
- Serve as Co-Chair of the Strategic Planning Process
- Researching housing policy in the US & history of housing policy in Minneapolis
- Overseeing implementation of plan
- Serve as the Committee Chair for Organizational Sustainability
- Reviewing and updating policies & procedures
- Building board & community relations (initiating volunteer recognition in 2014, and board meet and greets, convening by-laws task force)
- Work with Park Board Representative to ensure broken and dangerous park equipment in Whittier Park was repaired 2016
What else would you like to tell us about yourself?:
For more information please visit my efolio page https://laurajean.efoliomn.com/welcome
or feel free to contact me with questions or to arrange to meet me for a cup of coffee.