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Equity & Justice Conversation Series: Advancing Gender Equity through Centering Youth Voice

Shaunie Grigsby

Equity & Justice Conversation:  Advancing Gender Equity through Centering Youth Voice

Please join us for our Equity and Justice Community Conversation on Wednesday, March 16 at 4:30 pm, with host La’Shante (Shaunie) Grigsby, YWCA St. Paul’s Young Women’s Initiative Coordinator, and Flava Café owner, on an in-depth panel discussion on Advancing Gender Equity through Centering Youth Voice.

The Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota is a public-private partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, and YWCA St. Paul to achieve equity in opportunities and improve the lives of young women of color, Indigenous young women, young women from Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ+ youth and young women with disabilities.

YWCA St. Paul is proud to host, as well as provide leadership and advocacy development to the YWI MN Cabinet of remarkable young women.


Monali Bhakta

Monali Bhakta (she/her) holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English from Gustavus Adolphus College. During her senior year, Bhakta served as the Co-President of the Gustavus Student Senate, making diversity, equity, and inclusion an institutional priority and fundamental aspect of her platform. Outside of college, she interned with high-ranking elected officials like U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, providing immigration casework assistance to 200+ constituents across Minnesota.

In the 2020 General Election, she served as a Field Organizer for the Dan Feehan for Congress campaign, reaching out to the BIPOC electorate to discuss socio-political issues they deeply cared about and provided accessible voting resources during a pandemic. This compelled her to work with the non-profit, IGNITE-National, serving as a Voting Ambassador and educating approximately 150 voters in her network.

While serving as a Minnesota IGNITE Fellow, Bhakta has collaborated with political candidates and elected officials to educate women to become civically engaged, making them comfortable with the political process. This is the important work she plans to do with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. Bhakta plans to attend law school in the near future and will be a J.D. candidate this fall.

Britney Chino

Britney Chino is currently a junior majoring in History with a minor in Chicano Studies at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Chino hosts a political and social commentary radio show that discusses the realities of being a low income, first-generation American.

Chino is founder of META, a mutual aid organization focused on delivering resources to BIPOC communities in the Twin Cities. She is a member of the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, an organization meant to provide resources and aid to Minnesota immigrants in need. In addition, she helped create a Chicano Ethnic Studies class for District 196 high schools called Adelante! which introduces Chicano politics, literature, and the ‘60s movement to Chicano students.

She hopes to lead a career in educational reform through lifting the voices of Black, Brown, and other marginalized students.

Morgan Pavelka

Morgan Pavelka grew up in rural Minnesota, and attended Rochester Community and Technical College, before finishing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota in 2020. She majored in global studies, with a concentration on human rights and justice in South Asia.

Pavelka is passionate about furthering access to education for girls globally, having worked with multiple organizations that focus on that goal. She is a strong advocate for reproductive freedom, and is a clinic escort, helping patients access reproductive health care, free from harassment. Pavelka works with survivors of domestic violence through legal advocacy, and she is also currently serving as the campaign manager for Liz Ryer for State House Representative. She holds a strong conviction in fighting racial and ethnic disparity to continue the improvement of rights for women and queer individuals globally.

Kayley Hernandez-Ruiz

Kayley is a Junior at May High School in Rochester, MN and a PSEO student at Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC). Upon graduation Hernandez-Ruiz hopes to obtain an associate degree and to become a Registered Nurse (RN) with Mayo Clinic.

Hernandez-Ruiz also volunteers with a non-profit group, called Joy. As a volunteer she raises money for local charities to assist individuals and families in need and finds opportunities and resources for young women to join and prepare to succeed in the future. Hernandez-Ruiz aspires to help people within her community and increase opportunities for Spanish speaking people. In her free time, she enjoys spending quality time with family, friends and visiting family in Mexico.


Shaunie Grigsby

Social entrepreneur and youth development practitioner, Shaunie Grigsby works to promote positive youth development, empowerment, gender, and racial equity to advance social change. Grigsby holds a B.A. in Sociology from Clark Atlanta University and a M.Ed. from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Grigsby serves on the board of One2One, a pro-social youth mentoring organization that centers relationships as the catalysts for change and community building.

In her spare time, she enjoys traveling to visit friends and family, writing poetry, walks along the lake, and exploring new coffee trends/tech. Grigsby knows firsthand the professional and personal impact of walking alongside a supportive circle of women and peers.

Event Details

  • When: Wednesday, March 16, 4:30 p.m. CST
  • Where: Zoom Webinar.
  • Who: La’Shante (Shaunie) Grigsby and cabinet members of YWI MN Cabinet
  • Register in advance for this meeting:
  • What: This is the next in a monthly series of conversations designed to focus on gender equity in our community. Watch for details on upcoming sessions on our website YWCA St. Paul.

Register Here