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Dr. Lawson Fatima

Board Chairwoman of Minnesota Africans United

  • Dr. Fatima Lawson, an instructor in the M.A. in English as a Second Language program, has had a long, winding journey to Saint Mary’s. She was born and raised in northern Nigeria, in a community where (Western) education was often discouraged, particularly for young women. However, driven by her curiosity and thirst for knowledge, she first completed undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Ife in Nigeria, and then continued to complete another master's and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.


Today, as a Minnesota-based educator, in addition to teaching at Saint Mary’s, Fatima keeps busy as a principal at Saint Paul Public Schools. She draws on her lived experiences, bringing her international perspectives from around the world into the classroom, finding ways to connect with her students, and embrace the multiple experiences that co-exist. She has been teaching a variety of ESL courses at Saint Mary’s since 2014 (Advanced Methods Instruction for ELLs, Second Language Acquisition, and Writing Instruction) and finds whatever she brings to the classroom is quickly reflected in and through students who “match it with their interests, enthusiasm, and thirst for knowledge!


When she takes off her professional mask, she enjoys reading, writing poetry, being with family and friends, eating with her fingers, traveling, and just being herself!


Dr. Raphael Onyeaghala
Chair of Education Committee, Minnesota Africans United

  • Dr. Raphael Onyeaghala is the Dean of the College of Business, Education, Graduate, and Professional Studies at Southwest Minnesota State University.  The College houses a variety of programs through four schools - School of Business and Public Affairs, School of Education, School of Agriculture, and the School of Graduate Studies.  Departments in these schools are: Accounting, Agriculture and Applied Economics, Finance, Management, Marketing,  Political Science and Education. 

  • The College also houses the Department of Culinology ® and Hospitality Management and the Department of Nursing. The College offers the following graduate programs: Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Science in Education (on-campus and off-campus), Physical Education - Coaching of Sports, Special Education and Administrative Licensure.  Dr. Onyeaghala also serves as the Dean of Graduate Studies, the Dean of Extended Learning and Academic Outreach, and the Director of Summer Sessions.   

Neel Kashkari

President, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

  • Neel Kashkari took office as president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis on Jan. 1, 2016, following a national search conducted by the Bank’s independent board of directors.

In this role, he serves on the Federal Open Market Committee, bringing the Ninth District’s perspective to monetary policy discussions in Washington, D.C. In addition to his responsibilities as a monetary policymaker, Kashkari oversees all operations of the Bank, including supervision and regulation, treasury services, and payments services.

Kashkari leads the Bank’s many initiatives. Among them, he was instrumental in establishing the Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute, whose mission is to ensure that world-class research helps to improve the economic well-being of all Americans.

Most recently, he has joined with retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page to propose amending Minnesota’s constitution to make a quality public education a fundamental right. This effort supports the Fed’s mandate to achieve maximum employment, with education being a key to obtaining a good job.

Under Kashkari’s leadership, the Minneapolis Fed also released an action plan on “Ending Too Big to Fail,” which calls for tighter bank regulations to avoid future taxpayer bailouts of large financial institutions.

Committed to increasing transparency at the Fed, Kashkari has published in the Wall Street JournalWashington Post, and Financial Times and is active on Twitter and Instagram. He also serves on the board of the Economic Club of Minnesota and as a member of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group.

Kashkari began his career as an aerospace engineer at TRW in Redondo Beach, Calif., where he developed technology for NASA space science missions. Following graduate school, he joined Goldman Sachs in San Francisco, where he helped technology companies raise capital and pursue strategic transactions.

From 2006 to 2009, Kashkari served in several senior positions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In 2008, he was confirmed as assistant secretary of the Treasury. In this role, he oversaw the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) during the financial crisis. Kashkari received the Alexander Hamilton Award, the Treasury Department’s highest honor for distinguished service.

Following his tenure in Washington, Kashkari returned to California in 2009 and joined PIMCO as managing director and member of the executive office. He left the firm in 2013 to explore returning to public service and, in 2014, ran for governor of California on a platform focused on economic opportunity.

Raised in Ohio, Kashkari earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

He lives with his wife, Christine, children, Uly and Tecumseh, and Newfoundland dogs—Webster and Newsome—in Orono, Minn.

Justice Alan Page
Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and Founder/Chair of the Page Education Foundation

  • Justice Alan C. Page was born August 7, 1945, in Canton, Ohio. He graduated from Canton Central Catholic High School in 1963, and received his B.A. in political science from the University of Notre Dame in 1967 and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1978.


After graduating from law school, Alan Page worked as an attorney for a law firm in Minneapolis, then served seven years as an attorney in the office of the Minnesota Attorney General.


He sought election to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992 and won, becoming the first African American on the court and one of the few associate justices ever to join the court initially through election, rather than appointment by the governor. When Justice Page was reelected in 1998, he became the biggest vote-getter in Minnesota history. He was reelected in 2004 and 2010 and served until he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2015.


Law was Alan Page's second career; he was first known for his skills in football both in college and in the NFL. At Notre Dame, he led the school's storied football program to the 1966 national championship, and in 1993 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.


Justice Page drew much excitements having been selected as a first-round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings in 1967. He played for the Vikings the majority of his career, and finished the last three years with the Chicago Bears, 1978–1981. Over the course of his professional football career, Alan Page played in 218 consecutive games, earning All-Pro honors six times, and was voted to nine consecutive Pro Bowls. In 1971 he was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player, becoming only the second defensive player in history to be named MVP. In 1988, Page was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Also, in 1988, Justice Page and his wife, Diane, founded the Page Education Foundation, which assists Minnesota students of color in their pursuit of post-secondary education. To date, the foundation has awarded $15 million in grants to 7,000 students. Justice Page and his daughter, Kamie Page, have written three children's picture books,  (2013),  (2014), and  (2017). Bill McGrane also penned an authorized biography about Justice Page's life, entitled;  (2010).


Justice Page is also an honored recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Dr. Barbara McDonald
President, The College of St. Scholastica

  • Dr. Barbara McDonald became St. Scholastica's 13th president on Aug. 5, 2019. Her career in higher education includes extensive experience in teaching, scholarship, administration, and international education. She came to St. Scholastica from North Hennepin Community College (NHCC) in Brooklyn Park, MN, where she had served as president since 2015. McDonald retired from the Minnesota State system in August 2019, after 22 years of service.

During her tenure with the Minnesota State system, Dr. McDonald also served as interim president of Minnesota West Technical and Community College in Worthington, MN, from 2014 to 2015. From 2000 to 2014 she served in various leadership roles in academic and student affairs at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, MN, where she was promoted to provost. From 1997 to 1999, she served at Rainy River Community College in International Falls, MN, filling the roles of faculty and assessment and service-learning coordinator. She was an adjunct faculty member in the Master of Education Cohort Program at the University of Minnesota-Duluth's Extension Program in 1999.


McDonald was born and grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, and earlier in her adult career, she and her family lived and worked abroad for many years in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. McDonald specialized in teaching English as a Second Language. She was the ESL Program Director and ESL Instructor at the Western Academy of Beijing in Beijing, China from 1995 to 1997, and served as an ESL Consultant in Manila, Philippines, and Johannesburg, South Africa from 1989 to 1994. Between 1986 and 1989 she held ESL faculty positions at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, at Central Texas College on the U.S. Military Base in Seoul, and at the American University in Cairo, Egypt.


While with the Minnesota State system, McDonald was a member of the Leadership Council and served on the Executive Leadership Committee, the Chancellor's Transition Team, and several statewide committees. McDonald also chaired the presidential search committee for Lake Superior College in Duluth in 2018-19.


She is an actively engaged community member, currently serving with the Arrowhead Growth Alliance of Duluth, on the Board of Minnesota Campus Compact, and as an Advisory Board member of the Center for Innovation and the Arts. She has also served on the Itasca Economic Development Board, the Grand Itasca Hospital and Clinic Board, the Reif Performing Arts Board, Twin West Chamber Foundation Board, the North Hennepin Chamber Board, the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth, and the Minnesota Learning Network Board — the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State. A Catholic, she also served on the Parish Council of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, MN.


McDonald earned a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2002 and a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from American University in Cairo, Egypt, in 1983. She started her undergraduate journey at The College of St. Scholastica and finished with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1980.

Dr. John Mukum Mbaku
Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor of Economics, Webster State University

  • John Mukum Mbaku is a Brady Presidential Distinguished professor of economics and John S. Hinckley Fellow at Weber State University. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and an attorney and counselor at law, licensed to practice in the Supreme Court of the State of Utah and the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah.

He received his PhD in economics from the University of Georgia and his JD in law and graduate certificate in natural resources and environmental law from the S. J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. He is a resource person for the Kenya-based African Economic Research Consortium.

His research interests are in public choice, constitutional political economy, sustainable development, law and development, international human rights, intellectual property, rights of indigenous groups, trade integration and institutional reforms in Africa.

Mbaku is the author of Corruption in Africa: Causes, Consequences, and Cleanups (Lexington Books, 2010) and (with Mwangi S. Kimenyi) of Governing the Nile River Basin: The Search for a New Legal Regime (The Brookings Institution Press, 2015) and Protecting Minority Rights in African Countries: A Constitutional Political Economy Approach (Edward Elgar, 2018).

On May 22, 2017, John Mukum Mbaku, was admitted and qualified as an Attorney and Counsellor of the Supreme Court of the United States.

At Weber State University, John Mukum Mbaku teaches courses in principles of economics, intermediate microeconomics, international trade, business calculus, and economic development. He also works with international students and helps them adjust to college life in the United States. Professor Mbaku also engages with community groups and helps them understand issues such as globalization, outsourcing, and immigration and how they affect economic activities in the United States. Professor Mbaku also visits local schools to talk to students about the U.S. constitution, constitutionalism and the rule of law in the United States and other countries. He is a consultant to several domestic and international news organizations, as well as multilateral organizations (e.g., the African Development Bank), on governance issues in Africa and has appeared on several domestic and international news programs to discuss elections, corruption, and other governance-related issues in Africa. 

Ms. Muna Mohamed, Southwest Minnesota State University

  • Muna Mohamed was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, however; she grew up in Marshall, MN. Her family migrated to the United the States around 1999, and settled in Marshall, MN towards the end of that year.
    As an African/American Muslim woman, she is more than capable of accomplishing anything she sets her mind to, short- or long-term goals with the effort, work ethic, and passion she has. Living in a rural area where diversity, equity, and implicit biases materialize, she has always worked hard or found alternative ways to overcome any barriers that try to interfere with her end goals. Her identity should not be compared to her capabilities and knowledge she has or will obtain in the future. If she is not the one to speak up or develop programs to bridge the gap for her people, then who will? She realizes she cannot make a change in the community on her own. It takes a team to bring success to individuals in our communities. A diverse and inclusive environment enriches the individuals, school(s), and community. Most of all, to show others that someone that looks like her, or not the majority, can hold an honorable position(s). Besides that, some of her hobbies include basketball (watch and play), investing, content creation, watching documentaries, real estate, and YouTube.

Ms. Agwa Watba, Southwest Minnesota State University

  • Agwa Watba was born in America, but both of her parents originate from South Sudan. She previously studied at Saint Cloud State University, but after the death of her mother, she had to put her schooling on hold and work full time. During that time, she worked as a pharmacy coordinator for an oncology clinic in Minneapolis. Although she liked her job in pharmacy, graduating from college is something that she has always wanted to accomplish. This year, she decided to move to Marshall, MN as a full-time student and attend Southwest Minnesota State University to pursue a bachelor's degree in business administration. Her goal is to someday use her education to help her people in South Sudan in any way that she can and to aid in the process of rebuilding her country. To do that, she would need to further her education beyond a bachelor's degree and receive a PHD in business administration. The main issue holding her back from these aspirations is funding her education. She is hopeful that she will find a way to accomplish these goals because she is passionate about them.  

 Ms. Linda Kalu, North Hennepin Community College

  • Linda Kalu is an International student from Nigeria. She is a wife and a mother of three lovely children. She completed her LPN from Hennepin Technical College in Brooklyn Park, MN and is currently attending North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park, MN, pursuing her RN degree. She loves travelling, meeting people, and playing volleyball.

Ms. Madina Tall, The College of St. Scholastica

  • Madina Tall, known by her friend as Dina, is half Cameroonian and half Malian, born in Ivory Coast and raised in Ethiopia. Interestingly, although her parents are from two different African countries, they both just so happen to share the same tribe, Fulani. Dina is currently double majoring in Global, Cultural, and Language Studies and Philosophy. She plans on graduating this May and moving on to graduate school in the fall. She would like to pursue a Ph.D. in African Studies and later hopes to do some work for the communities back home. 

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