Minority representation topic of MLK assembly panel


The Rubicon on Instagram

The Jan. 11 panel of speakers for the MLK Assembly spoke about representation. Senior Olivia Williams Ridge, junior Olivia McCauley, and senior Ellie Findell moderated.

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly is this Thursday, January 11th and is organized by Intercultural Club. There has been a range of performances at past MLK assemblies including a one-woman theatrical performance and a Native American Dance. This year there will be a panel comprised of four speakers who will bring perspectives on minority representation from a variety of job fields.

Biographies are below for each of the panelists:

John Hunter: Besides being the father of a daughter in 3rd grade at SPA, John Hunter is also a descendant of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and the White Earth Nation, whose reserved rights were guaranteed each by separate treaties with the United States of America over 150 years ago.   John took his life-long interest in science & technology to become a Stanford University graduate and then a scientist applying technologies to clean up hazardous and toxic waste sites around the United States.  Currently,  he runs a renewable energy lab in Minneapolis where he teaches solar and wind technology to Native American youth in Minneapolis.  John and his wife, Lonna, also run a non-profit start-up that teaches the traditional Native values of thakapsicapi and baaga’adowewin (Dakota and Ojibwe words for lacrosse).  

Bo-Thao Urabe: Ms. Bo Thao-Urabe immigrated to the United States as a refugee child after the Secret War in Laos, where her father served as a soldier for the US CIA. Her experiences of living through war, immigrating to the US, and facing multiple forms of discrimination continue to inform and shape her work. Bo is the Network & Executive Director of the Coalition of Asian American Leaders, which harnesses the power of Asian American leaders from across all sectors to improve the lives of community. . Bo served President Obama as a Commissioner to the White House Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. She’s one of the few people in Minnesota with the honor of having the same day named after her in both the City of Saint Paul and the State of Minnesota.

Sandra Vargas: Sandra Vargas served as President and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation from 2007 to 2016. She now serves as a Senior Executive Leadership Fellow at the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs.  As leader of one of the largest community foundations in the country, Ms. Vargas oversaw $700 million in assets and the administration of more than 1,000 charitable funds. Throughout her tenure, Ms. Vargas has been a leader in expanding business opportunities for people of color, streamlining business processes and accountability measures, and promoting strategies that strengthen our community. She was a Bush Fellow, was profiled in the book Heroes Among Us in 2008, and received Women Venture’s Pioneer Award in 2009, and the Medal of Honor from St. Catherine’s University in 2010.

Duchesne Drew: Duchesne Drew joined the Foundation in March of 2015. As the community network vice president, he oversees and integrates the work of the communications, community innovation and leadership programs teams. A veteran reporter, editor and manager who worked at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Dallas Morning News, he’s a long-term journalist. He’s the former president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and the board chair to ThreeSixty, a St. Paul-based program that trains teens in the practice of journalism. He’s also served on the board of the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and The Business Journal has named him one of its 40 Under 40 honorees.