Two CSB and SJU graduates named Fellows by group

Alum Features

January 19, 2021

Two graduates from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University have been named Fellows by the New Leaders Council Twin Cities (NLC-TC) chapter.

CSB graduate Alul Yesak ’14 and SJU graduate Muqkadeen Poole ’19 were selected to be part of the 2021 NLC-TC Fellows cohort.

Established in 2015, NLC-TC is investing in building a more equitable Twin Cities. NLC-TC is dedicated to diversifying leadership, building community and cultivating joy. NLC-TC’s mission is to invest in the growth and development of progressive leaders across all sectors of the community, with the belief that “we lead together.”

NLC, which has 49 chapters across the country, is anchored by its six-month inclusive training program, the NLC Institute. The NLC Institute is the leading professional development program for rising generational progressive leaders across the country with the Fellows attending NLC Institutes held annually from January through June in their local city or state.

NLC Fellows learn from volunteer faculty - experts in fundraising, new media, communication strategy, campaign management, policy and more. The Institute curriculum trains Fellows in the skills needed to run for public office, start a nonprofit, launch a business or make progressive impact in their community.

At the end of the period, a capstone project is presented when the Fellows create a plan from starting a new business to running for public office. To help with the project, each Fellow is matched with a community mentor.

In addition to the standardized national curriculum, each chapter tailors its Institute experience and training to the needs of the local community. What may be a pressing issue for one chapter may not apply to others, and the flexibility to address local issues is a core part of the NLC mission.

Yesak is the executive director of the Minnesota Association of Charter School Authorizers and a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota in the education policy and leadership program.

Yesak was born and raised in Ethiopia and moved to Dallas to complete her high school education. At the age of 18, she moved to Minnesota to pursue her B.A. in political science and peace studies at CSB.

She later received her Master of Arts in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Minnesota in 2018.

Yesak’s career has consistently focused on education and education policy. After receiving her degree from CSB, Yesak moved back to Dallas, where she worked as a college adviser with the Academic Success Program — a nonprofit that focuses on making higher education accessible to underserved students.

She returned to Minnesota to work as an education advocate for Lutheran Social Services to help students identified as chronically absent, and later joined Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest, where she worked with schools to make entrepreneurship and personal finance education more accessible. Finally, Yesak joined the Minnesota Department of Education’s charter school division before serving at Minnesota Association of Charter School Authorizers.

Poole is the academic advising coach at Capella University in Minneapolis. He has been involved in leadership development, social justice and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training for over six years, specializing primarily in assisting educational entities and companies with DEI-based community building/organizing.

Originally from Newark, New Jersey and St. Benedict’s Preparatory School , Poole grew up witnessing and experiencing the effects of systems of oppression in his neighborhood and his schools. This motivated him to become a student and researcher of community building.

At Saint John’s, Poole focused his research on urban community building and college campus activism. He received SJU’s Man of Extraordinary Service Award in 2019 and graduated with a degree in peace studies with a social justice concentration.

Poole served on the Cultural Affairs Board and the SJU Senate for three years. He founded the first Joint Student Muslim Society Club on campus and the Black Student Association. Poole was an Intercultural LEAD Scholar, serving as a mentor to students of color, and was an Entrepreneur Scholar. His business venture through the later program caters to high schools, colleges and businesses through diversity training.

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Alul Yesak

Alul Yesak ’14

Muqkadeen Poole

Muqkadeen Poole ’19