2018 Youth Policy Forum

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Amherst H. Wilder Foundation

451 Lexington Parkway North

Saint Paul, MN 55104

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Stay tuned for additional updates!

Join us for this exciting Youth Policy Forum with a legislative recap, advocacy and policy panels, workshops, and small group discussions!

This event is for anyone interested in public policies designed to close the opportunity gaps for youth in Minnesota. In this forum, we will be discussing education, afterschool, youth employment, STEM, and other youth policy focused issues. To find out more about Ignite Afterschool and our core efforts, please follow this link:

REGISTER TODAY! (More details coming soon. . .)

8:10am - 8:45am Registration, Check-in, & Networking

8:45am - 9:15am Welcome & Legislative Recap

9:15am - 9:45am Advocacy Round Table

Moderator: Rebecca Gilgen, Executive Director, Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth


9:45am - 10:15am Policymaker Round Table

Moderator: Rubén Vázquez, YWCA of Minneapolis

All state representatives are CONFIRMED

  • Rep. Fue Lee (DFL – 59A, North Minneapolis)
  • Sen. Melissa Wiklund (DFL – 50, Bloomington)
  • Sen. Justin Eichorn (R – 05, Grand Rapids)


10:30am - 11:30am Workshops (Choose 1 of 3)
  • Tell Your Story Through Issue Education
  • Partnering with Youth on Advocacy
  • Digging into STEM and Workforce Pathway Policy - James Brown, Executive Director, STEM Education Coalition (Washington, D.C.)


11:40am - 12:10pm Moving into Action - Small Group Discussions - Faciliated by NorthStar Fellows

12:15pm - 12:30pm Closing & Final Networking

Small Group Discussion Facilators Sponsorsed By NorthStar Youth Workers Fellowship



About the Speakers

Federal Youth Policy Recap & Session Presenter:

James Brown
Executive Director, STEM Education Coalition

James Brown is the Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition, an alliance of more than 700 business, professional, and education organizations, that works to raise awareness in Congress, the Administration, and other organizations about the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the U.S. to remain the economic and technological leader of the global marketplace of the 21st century. Prior to joining the Coalition, he was Assistant Director for Advocacy at the American Chemical Society. A nuclear engineer by training, he previously worked as a Legislative Aide for Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington and began his career as an engineer with Newport News Shipbuilding, working on aircraft carrier construction. He received a B.S. from the University of New Mexico and an M.S. from Penn State, both in nuclear engineering. He also holds an MBA from George Washington University.

Advocacy Round Table

Sara Benzkofer

Director of Policy and Communications, Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC) & the Minnesota School-Age Care Alliance (MnSACA)

Sara Benzkofer has nearly 15 years of experience in developing, advocating for and passing legislation at the state level. As Director of Policy and Communications at the Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC) and the Minnesota School-Age Care Alliance (MnSACA), she has grown the policy and advocacy work of the organization by creating a Policy & Advocacy Advisory Group, having a strong presence at the legislature, providing resources and information to its members on how to be active participants in their democracy, and leading the CARE (Child Care Advocates Ready to Emerge) Public Policy Fellowship, which builds advocacy leaders in the fields of early childhood and school-age care. She has a BA in English and Political Science from Gustavus Adolphus College.

Alexis Goffe
Director, GradMinnesota

Alexis is the Director of GradMinnesota, an initiative between the Alliance, the Office of the Governor and the Minnesota Department of Education aiming to increase Minnesota’s high school graduation rate. Born and raised in Jamaica, he has spent his entire professional career working with youth and families in various educational settings, most recently serving as Dean of Students at Paladin Career and Technical High School in Blaine Minnesota. In Jamaica, he established a nationwide interdisciplinary task force focused on child rights. Alexis is a graduate of Macalester College and the University of St. Thomas. Alexis is a son, husband, djembe drummer and circle keeper.

Catherine McComas-Bussa
Minnesota Youth Council, Policy Committee member

Catherine McComas-Bussa is a rising senior at Shakopee High School. With the Minnesota Youth Council (MYC), she has worked closely with MN legislators to review and shape policies that affect youth. Additionally, this past April, Catherine attended a national youth leadership conference facilitated by 4-H. On this trip she had the opportunity to not only interact directly with her representatives and discuss potential policies pertaining to youth, but she worked with a group of 15 other youth to discuss the possibility and necessities of drafting a national youth policy with the Department of Health and Human services.

More info coming about the speakers and trainers. Stay tuned.

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Amherst H. Wilder Foundation

451 Lexington Parkway North

Saint Paul, MN 55104

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