Sunny Sinh Chanthanouvong
AAP staff report
ST. PAUL (Oct. 23, 2012) — The Bush Foundation selected 10 more names as Bush Fellows, joining 19 others named earlier this year.
These newest Fellows were selected for their proposals to use their new knowledge to better engage their communities to create change on a diverse range of issues related to the vitality of their communities.
Among the new Bush Fellows is Sunny Sinh Chanthanouvong, of Elk River, and the fifth executive director of Lao Assistance Center in Minneapolis. The nonprofit community center offers social service programs in health, jobs training, light rail transit, neighborhood organizing, housing, youth enrichment, elders and issues involving refugees and immigration. It will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013.
“Civic engagement is the key to improving the quality of services and life in my Laotian American community, yet we have not participated as fully as possible,” Chanthanouvong said. “Through the fellowship, I will search for the root causes of this disengagement, learn from others and find ways to motivate my community to engage and connect with local government in a meaningful and civic way, making it a better place for all.”
Chanthanouvong is a community advocate who has served on the Southeast Asian Problem Gambling Consortium; Diverse Racial Ethnic Groups and Nations, a research project to reduce tobacco use in Southeast Asian communities; Southeast Asian veterans recognition and assistance; get out the vote; the support of Lao arts and culture, and many other efforts in more than two decades of service.
Chanthanouvong was the lead member of the Asian Pacific Islanders In Philanthropy Organization Fellowship Program to study social justice as part of the National Gender Equity Campaign. He recently completed a year as a Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
He provided extensive technical assistance and support to the organizers of the National Lao American Writers Summit in 2010, as well as the 2010 efforts to bring the acclaimed exhibit Legacies of War: Refugee Nation Twin Cities to Intermedia Arts which brought in over 1,000 visitors including guests from abroad.
Chanthanouvong and his family emigrated from Laos to Minneapolis in 1984. After earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Mankato State University Chanthanouvong completed professional development courses in nonprofit management, real estate, and leadership at Hamline University and the University of St. Thomas. Currently, he serves as a board member of the St. Paul Foundation’s Asian Pacific Endowment and a number of other boards and commissions.
The other newly named Bush Fellows are Shirley Chouinard of Cambridge; Carl Cowell of Morton; April Fairfield of Bismarck, ND; Gayle Kocer of Martin, SD; Victoria Krook of Brooklyn Center; Kenya McKnight of Minneapolis; Read Sulik, M.D. of Fargo, ND; Noreen Thomas of Moorhea; and Kristi Townshend of Apple Valley.
The efforts of Fellows include deaf education for infants and toddlers, civic engagement of both Native American youth and the Laotian American community, family violence prevention, rural revitalization through both leadership development and economic development, better access for North Minneapolis residents to transit and regional systems, more equitable government fiscal policies in North Dakota, Latino families’ advocacy for their children with learning disabilities, and better health care delivery to Native Americans.
“For most of our nearly 60-year history, the Bush Foundation has supported individuals in developing their leadership abilities so they can be more effective in engaging with others and advocating for community change,” said Martha Lee, manager of the Bush Fellowship Program. “Undertaking these activities involves facing and managing the substantial risks and conflicts that arise when Fellows work on such complex problems and include people with diverse opinions in the change process. We admire the willingness of all Bush Fellows to learn about themselves and engage in their communities in such deep ways.”
The Foundation began offering fellowships in 1965. Since then, more than 2,200 individuals have been named Bush Fellows. The Foundation’s focus on building the capacity of individuals to solve problems in their communities sprang from founder Archibald Bush’s belief that providing opportunities for people with energy and ideas would have great impact on the community.
In 2012, the Foundation began offering several application periods throughout the year. This third cohort joins two groups announced in June and August. The application period for a fourth cohort, open exclusively to elected and public officials, runs through Nov. 20, 2012.
The Foundation’s partner, GTS Educational Events, is managing the selection process for this fourth cohort, which will be announced in February 2013; interested applicants can learn more at mngts.org/BushFellows.
Our mission is to be a catalyst for the courageous leadership necessary to create sustainable solutions to tough public problems and ensure community vitality. The Foundation was established in 1953 by 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth, and today works in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geographic area. Learn more at BushFoundation.org.