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Conversation, Activism & Reform – Tackling Racism (July 14)

While racism has a real and significant impact on our lives, many struggle to understand that impact and how they might drive change.

If you’re seeking to build a more just and equitable community, but are unsure of where you can make a difference, this virtual Town Hall offers an opportunity to learn from a panel of community leaders as they engage in conversation around racism’s history, impact and how we can each be a catalyst for change.

Join us as we gather to set the groundwork for community conversation, activism, and reform in this unique community forum.

When:  Tuesday, July 14, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Where: Event will be streamed live on YWCA St. Paul’s YouTube Channel – Click here for direct access

What: YWCA St. Paul CEO Gaye Adams Massey will moderate a panel of community leaders, comprised of:

  • Judge Pamela Alexander: Following her appointment by Governor Rudy Perpich in 1983, Pamela became the first African American female judge in the state of Minnesota. She served as a Hennepin County District Court Judge from 1983 to 2018, with a brief hiatus from the bench from 2008-2013 when she served as the President of the Minnesota Council on Crime and Justice, where she focused on criminal and juvenile justice policy reform. Judge Alexander was re-appointed to the Hennepin County District Court in 2013 by Governor Mark Dayton, serving until her retirement in 2018. Judge Alexander’s long and distinguished career was comprised of many firsts:  the first in her immediate family to graduate from college, receiving her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Augsburg College; the first in her family to attend law school, receiving her Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of Minnesota School of Law; and before being appointed a judge, she joined the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and became the first African American female prosecutor in the State of Minnesota.


  • James Burroughs: As Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer for Children’s Minnesota, James is responsible for helping the nation’s 7th largest pediatric health system advance equity and inclusion in all parts of the organization. James has more than 25 years of experience in the areas of nonprofit management, equity, diversity, inclusion, and employment law. Most recently, he served in the office of Minnesota governor Mark Dayton, where he served as the State’s first Chief Inclusion Officer. James began his career as an attorney and has held faculty roles at Hamline University’s School of Law and the University of Minnesota’s School of Law. His career also encompasses education, having held leadership roles at Summit Academy where he served as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, as well as with the Minneapolis Public Schools where he was executive director for the Office of Equity and Inclusion.


  • Justin Terrell: A community leader with a track record of executing successful issue campaigns, Justin is currently Executive Director of the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage. Justin is building a statewide network of advocates and connecting constituents and lawmakers to policy efforts led by the African Heritage community. In the wake of the global Pandemic and death of George Floyd, he has worked to maximize the advisory role of the Council by working closely with Governor Tim Walz and lawmakers to ensure the needs of the African heritage community are centered in the response from the State. A graduate of Bethel University with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership at Metro State University. He has more than a decade of experience working with youth and families in crisis, as well as more than eight years of policy and advocacy experience. Justin was a 2014 Great Lakes Consortium Fellow and served on the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Board (now the Office of Police Misconduct) for six years.


  • Yohuru Williams: Currently the Distinguished University Chair, Professor and founding director of the Racial Justice Initiative, Dr. Williams has a joint appointment in the Department of History and the School of Law at the University of St. Thomas. With a PhD from Howard University, Dr. Williams has held a variety of administrative posts both within and outside St. Thomas, including serving as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Fairfield University, Vice President for Public Education and Research at the Jackie Robinson Foundation in New York City, and Chief Historian for the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Dr. Williams is a prolific writer and author, and is a highly sought-after speaker and commentator, appearing on a variety of radio and television programs including CNN, PBS, and NPR. He was featured in the Ken Burns PBS Documentary: Jackie Robinson, as well as the Stanley Nelson PBS Documentary: The Black Panthers. He is also one of the hosts of the History Channel’s Sound Smart show.