December 7, 2022
Lee Ho, right, assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health, discusses possible career opportunities and community collaborations during a speed networking round.
Lee Ho, right, assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health, discusses possible career opportunities and community collaborations during a speed networking round.

St. Paul, Minn. (Aug. 5, 2016) — This week, the State of Minnesota held the first in a series of networking events which aim to connect state leaders with Minnesota’s diverse communities. The event, “Lead-In: Connect to Help Minnesota Shine” was a partnership between the state and the Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL), and focused on providing a forum for building valuable relationships for government-community partnerships as well as increasing awareness of career opportunities within the state.

“Minnesota is growing more diverse every year, and it is critical that state government employees are a reflection of the people we serve,” Anika Ward, Director of the Office of Statewide Executive Recruitment, said. “This networking series will play an important role in attracting new talent to the state while also providing the opportunity for stronger partnerships with our communities of color.”

At this Lead-In event, through four rounds of “speed networking,” the participants had meaningful, one-on-one time with state leaders to start conversations and bridge connections that can continue to be cultivated after the event.

State leaders who participated on Wednesday are:

James Burroughs, Chief Inclusion Officer, Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith
Melvin Carter, Executive Director, Minnesota Children’s Cabinet, Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith
Lee Ho, Assistant Commissioner, Health Operations, Department of Health
Edwin Hudson, Deputy Commissioner, Minnesota Management and Budget
Nancy Johnston, Deputy Commissioner, Direct Care and Treatment, Department of Human Services
Wanda Kirkpatrick, Director, Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, Metropolitan Council
Kevin Lindsey, Commissioner, Department of Human Rights
Lynn Mueller, Director, Internal Affairs/Affirmative Action, Department of Public Safety
Hue Nguyen, Assistant Commissioner, Department of Education
Andrew Olson, Director of Appointments, Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith
Alice Roberts-Davis, Assistant Commissioner, Department of Administration
Rowzat Shipchandler, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Human Rights
Jaime Tincher, Chief of Staff, Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith
Charles Zelle, Commissioner, Department of Transportation
Other partners for the event included the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Pollen, and the City of St. Paul. The state plans to partner with different communities and organizations for future events, which are expected to happen quarterly.

In 2015, CAAL launched its own leadership speed networking events, finding that leaders place high value in the relationship-centered approach of having short and small conversations with prospective employees and community partners. This approach ensures every person has the opportunity to interact with a field leader they may not have connected with otherwise.

“We believe people are more likely to invest the time and energy in applying for a job with the state or researching opportunities to collaborate state leaders when they have cultivated relationships with those already employed by the state,” Bo Thao-Urabe, CAAL’s Network Director, said.

The State of Minnesota’s “Lead-In: Connect to Help Minnesota Shine” series aims to further Governor Mark Dayton’s mission to ensure state government reflects the diverse populations it serves. In January 2015, Gov. Dayton signed Executive Order 15-02 which established the Office of Statewide Executive Recruitment (SER) – housed out of Minnesota Management and Budget – as one strategy to help reach the goal of diversifying the state workforce. Director Anika Ward is tasked with increasing diversity for the 1,000 most senior positions in state government, establishing a more inclusive culture throughout state government.

Since being established, the SER Office has built relationships with diverse communities, connecting hiring managers with new, diverse talent, and changing how we approach the recruiting and hiring process.

In 2015, of new hires for executive positions: 49 percent were women, 25 percent identified as minority (up from 6% the previous year), 10 percent were veterans, and 4 percent identified as persons with a disability.

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