Grantee Spotlight: Humphrey Policy Fellows program


If you want to address the crisis of radicalization among Somali youth, where do you even begin? 

Author: Kate Cimino, Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, 
University of Minnesota

(Members of the 2014-15 Policy Fellows cohort designed a project to address the crisis of terror recruitment and youth radicalization in Minnesota's Somali community.)

In November 2014, five Humphrey Policy Fellows from starkly different backgrounds came together to engage the FBI and community organizations committed to preventing the radicalization crisis, and to convene a rare private conversation to candidly discuss the problem and identify solutions.

This type of boundary-crossing work is critical to breaking down stereotypes and providing paths forward to addressing today’s most challenging problems.

The Humphrey Policy Fellows program, a year-long leadership experience for a cohort of 38 Fellows, has been known for over 25 years for convening Minnesota leaders from the nonprofit, government, and business sectors. Its Fellows are remarkably diverse, spanning Minnesota’s political, regional, and racial and ethnic communities. Above all, the program is known for the strengths and talents of the Fellows themselves – authentic, self-aware emerging leaders with the capacity to resist polarizing trends and work for the common good.

A multi-year gift from the George Family Foundation helps to provide support for participants from minority backgrounds and from the nonprofit sector, allowing all participants to develop the rich and diverse connections that are a vital asset for 21st century leadership.

The program is organized around monthly leadership workshops and discussions, followed by a study trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with national figures in the political, media, and policy worlds. Throughout the program, Fellows work in small groups to design and implement policy projects, many of which have drawn press coverage, legislative action, and continued work by community partners. 

(Disparities in health access and outcomes are often a top issue of interest for Policy Fellows.)

(Policy Fellows outside the White House EEOB (Eisenhower Executive Office Building) during a study trip to Washington, D.C. Fellows had the opportunity to meet with top staff from the offices of President Obama and Vice President Biden.)

(Members of the 2014-15 Policy Fellows cohort on the National Mall, in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the Washington, D.C. study trip)

(Policy Fellow Amy Aho of Brainerd, MN visiting Washington D.C.)