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Eight Fellows Chosen for 2022-2023 Initiators Fellowship

October 18, 2021

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LITTLE FALLS, MN—From a community journalist with a goal to surface community-centered challenges and solutions to an entrepreneur creating felon-friendly employment to a grocery store owner creating food access, the field of eight fellows for the 2022-2023 Initiators Fellowship cohort has been selected.

"We're beyond inspired by the work and visions of these eight amazing Fellows and can't wait to support and celebrate them these next two years as they seek to transform their communities and regions," said Brian Voerding, Initiative Foundation vice president for inclusive entrepreneurship. "Throughout this process we were introduced to 85 enterprising individuals, and we are grateful to each and every one of them for the energy and change they're leading."

The eight Fellows selected for the 2022-2023 cohort represent 53 counties and six sovereign tribal nations in Central, Northwest, Southwest and West Central Minnesota. They will receive an annual $30,000 stipend during the two-year program, which also includes comprehensive programming, executive-level mentoring and leadership training, ongoing education, and support from dedicated staff members to advance their mission-driven business or nonprofit endeavors.

From the Initiative Foundation's 14-county region, the following individuals have been selected:

  • Nora Hertel | St. Michael | Community Journalism
  • Fardowsa Iman | St. Cloud | Addiction Treatment

From the Northwest Minnesota Foundation's 12-county region, the following individuals have been selected:

  • Daniel Barrientez Jr. | Bemidji | Felon-Friendly Employment
  • Brenna Rollie | Fosston | Wellness & Community-Building

From the Southwest Initiative Foundation's 18-county region, the following individual has been selected:

  • Khalif Ahmed Bashir | Willmar | Immigrant Homeownership
  • Kristine Shelstad | Madison | Community-Building

From West Central Initiative's nine-county region: 

  • Alex Ostenson | Evansville | Food Access
  • Noreen Thomas | Moorhead | Sustainable Farming 

Visit fellows.greaterminnesota.net for a map of the Fellows' locations and question-and-answer responses about their social enterprise ventures.

To support all applicants, the Foundation will provide additional training and resources, starting with a November event focused on building social enterprise ventures.

The Initiators Fellowship originated with the Little Falls-based Initiative Foundation in 2017 to help aspiring social entrepreneurs fast-track their ideas, grow their social and professional networks and further develop their business and community leadership skills. The first cohort of four Fellows graduated in December 2019. In December, seven Fellows will graduate from the 2020-2021 cohort.

About the Funders

The Initiators Fellowship is made possible by generous funders, including Granite Partners, an original founding and ongoing funder and partner, along with the Bush Foundation and Sourcewell. 



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