Dr. Lawson Fatima
Board Chairwoman of Minnesota Africans United
Dr. Fatima Lawson, a community member, school administrator and adjunct professor, has had a long, winding journey to education. She was born and raised in northern Nigeria, in a community where (Western) education was often discouraged, particularly for young women and girls. 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, U.S.A.
Today, as a Minnesota-based educator, in addition to teaching at other Twin-Cities institutions, Fatima keeps busy as a principal with the Saint Paul Public Schools. She draws on her lived experiences, bringing her international perspectives from around the world into the classroom and other educational settings, and finding ways to connect with her students, staff, and community members. She embraces the multiple experiences that co-exist within her adopted community. Apart from administration and teaching a variety of courses at the tertiary level, she finds whatever she brings to any educational space is quickly reflected on and absorbed through students who “match it with their interests, enthusiasm, and thirst for knowledge! She also devotes enormous amount of personal time and resources to contribute her own quota to improve the lives of immigrants in Minnesota and beyond.
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!
Mr. Mohamadou Fadil
Interim Chair of MAU Agriculture Committee
Dr. Kemba Marshall
Director, Land O’ Lakes Purina Animal Nutrition Center, Veterinary Services
Dr. Kemba L. Marshall, Director of Veterinary Services for Purina Animal Nutrition, LLC earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Florida in 1999. After a one-year internship she completed a residency in Avian and Exotic Animal Medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Marshall earned her Master’s in Public Health degree from the University of Iowa in 2018 and is a boarded Avian specialist of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners.
Dr. Marshall focuses on one's health, the intersection of animal, human and environmental health. As Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Marshall oversees the health and wellbeing of all animals on the 1700- acre Land O’Lakes Purina Animal Nutrition Center complex and serves as Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Officer. Biosecurity policies at the Animal Nutrition Center and LOL Purina feed mills are additional focus areas for Kemba.
Prior to joining Purina in 2016, Dr. Marshall was Director of Pet Quality and Education for PetSmart overseeing the health of pets across 1400 retail stores in the US and Canada. Kemba spent five years in private, emergency and lab animal medicine in Dallas TX after completing her residency. She has authored peer-review journal articles and served as Guest Editor for publications including the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, 5 Minute Veterinary Clinics and the Veterinary Clinics of North America.
On a personal note, in 2017, Kemba traveled to Ghana with the Mission Rabies group to vaccinate 4300 street dogs as part of the global drive to end human rabies infection.
Dr. Emmanuel Fon Tata,
International Guest Speaker, Founding Partner & CEO of AfroBrains Cameroon
Dr. Tata, Emmanuel Fon is of Cameroonian and Ghanaian Nationalities. He attended secondary and high school in Cameroon and graduated from The University of Yaoundé with a degree in Physics. He later was enrolled in the marine engineering program, Ghana. After the program, he got a scholarship to train as a military equipment engineer in Turkey. In 2012, he moved from providing Military Engineering solutions to academia as a lecturer at the University of Education Winneba, Ghana.
In 2013, he started M-Tech Ghana which is an IT Engineering solutions company to consult and work with companies to implement suitable and relevant technologies that push productivity. In 2016, he got another scholarship for a Ph.D. in Engineering Physics (Automation/Optoelectronics) in China. His experience in China gave him a clear understanding of so many challenges in Africa and the possibilities to engineer sustainable solutions to influence the lives of millions. His experience in China also exposed him to a vast scope of solutions with a strong passion to address key challenges in agriculture.
In 2018, he started AfroBrains Cameroon to address post-harvest loss, food insecurity and job creation through agricultural mechanization. In 2020, after noticing that most Africans do not get value for money when buying machines from China, he started Suzhou AfroBrains, China to work with African Companies and African nations in effective and sustainable technology transfer. He is married and a father of five.
Ms. Lilian Otieno
Produce Safety Program, MN Dept of Agriculture (MDA)
Lillian Otieno is the Outreach Coordinator for the Produce Safety Program at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). She is also a member of the MDA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee and a 2021 graduate of the State of Minnesota’s Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI). Lillian spent several years in the food safety regulation and compliance industry in both manufacturing and retail before joining state government. She is a member of various boards, advisory groups, and also volunteers in her community in leadership roles - as currently the President of the Association of Kenyans in America (AKIA), and is one of the founders of the Minnesota Kenyan Association (MKA).
Ms. Naima Dhore,
Owner of Naima Farm LLC & Executive Director of Somali American Farmers Association
Naima Dhore hails from Somalia. She is a farmer and the founder of the Somali American Farmers Association and owner of Naima's Farm, LLC. She also had the opportunity to go to Cuba for a scholarship to study Cuban agroecology. Naima wants to strengthen the foundations of Somali and Horn of Africa farmers to contribute to the future of agriculture in Minnesota and the Midwest.
Mr. Moses Momanyi
Owner, Kilimo Minnesota
Moses Momanyi and Lonah Onyancha are immigrant farmers from Kenya owning Dawn2Dusk Farm and now operating Kilimo Minnesota (Kilimo), a nonprofit training emerging farmers mostly from Africa.
Growing up in a family farm, Moses practiced mixed farming and sold to local markets for income. After arriving in Minnesota in 2004, he started growing on city food plots and sold to friends. Later, Lonah and Moses joined Big River Farms in 2009 as farmer apprentices renting an acreage to grow crops and build a farm business until 2014 when they bought a 20-acre farm in Cambridge, Minnesota. As an organic certified farm, they currently sell fresh vegetables at Mill City, Kingfield, and Fulton Farmers Markets in Minneapolis and wholesale.
In 2020, they started peer to peer training with several farmers at Dawn2Dusk farm as well as mentor youth in the Twin Cities area about gardening. Today, through Kilimo, they train 20+ emerging farmers, mostly from East Africa, in the Twin Cities and Rochester, Minnesota.
Ten years of selling at farmers markets and wholesale has also connected them to other groups of farmers that they believe will need to be reached. Not many are organic certified and there is always a need to talk about sustainable farming practices.
As a member of the emerging farmers’ working group, apart from advocating for policies affecting small scale farmers, especially minority emerging farmers, there is an opportunity to pass knowledge of organic and sustainable farming to a wide audience across the state.
Dr. Josephine Kyne
Josephine Kyne is an entrepreneur who is involved in agriculture projects in Africa. She has a passion for educating mothers and children about nutrition and farming for economic growth. Her goal is to advance and inspire youth and women into farming as an income generating activity. She holds a Masters in Human Resource Management and a Doctorate in Theology. She’s also a motivational speaker, author, event planner and life coach.
Ms. Peggy Stizinger
Mr. Steve Donofrio
Former Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) in the US Army
Steve Donofrio is passionate about uniting people in harmony, inspiring them to action. As a former noncommissioned officer (NCO) in the US Army with deployments to Iraq and Kuwait for the first Gulf war and other real-world missions he understands the phrase “leaders eat last”, because he has done it. Steve knows that leadership is about serving first. As an international motivational leadership speaker, Steve utilizes his 20 plus years of experience to help leaders move things to done (by) through and with others. He believes, the true measure of a leader is defined within the actions and accomplishments of those they influence.
Book author, and former contributing writer for Japan's leading professional security journal, Security Research Magazine. Steve has been featured live and virtual as a subject matter expert on local, regional, and national media platforms on 3 different Continents.
Mr. Patrice Bailey
Assistant Commissioner, MN Department of Agriculture
Mr. Patrice Bailey was appointed to the position of Assistant Commissioner in June 2019. Bailey oversees Outreach, Agricultural Marketing and Development, Dairy and Meat Inspection, and Food and Feed Safety for the MDA. Bailey, a native of Harlem, New York, holds a B.S. in Agriculture Education from Prairie View A&M University (Texas) and has a Master’s Degree in Agriculture from Iowa State University. He has served the Twin Cities in several positions focused on bridging underrepresented communities of color, refugee and immigrant to various available resources and advocating for them legislatively at the Capitol. Most recently, he served as the Outreach Director for the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage.
Mr. Mark Ritchie
President, Global Minnesota
Mark Ritchie is president of Global Minnesota, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization devoted to advancing international understanding and engagement. A graduate of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Iowa State University, he served as Minnesota’s Secretary of State from 2007 to 2015. Since leaving elected public service, Mark has led the public-private partnership working to bring the 2027 World Expo to Minnesota, and he has served on the board of directors for LifeSource, Communicating for America, U.S. Vote Foundation, and Expo USA. Mark also is a national advisory board member of the federal Election Assistance Commission and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Minnesota. Mark is the appointed Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, representing Minnesota.
Prof Raphael Onyeaghala
Dean of Business, Education & Professional Services, South West Minnesota
Dr. Raphael Onyeaghala is the Dean of the College of Business, Education, Graduate, and Professional Studies at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU). The College houses a variety of programs through four academic departments – Department of Business, Innovations & Strategy, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, Culinology® and Hospitality Management, and the Department of Nursing. Dr. Onyeaghala also serves as the Dean of Graduate Studies, the Dean of Online Learning and Transfer Partnerships. 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. He also supervises the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
Dr. Onyeaghala has been at Southwest Minnesota State University since August 2002. He has been serving as the Dean of the College of Business, Education, Graduate and Professional Studies at Southwest Minnesota State University since June 2011. He served as the Chair of the Department of Business and Public Affairs and the Director of the MBA Program. Dr. Onyeaghala has also provided leadership at the Minnesota State System level. He is tenured and holds an academic rank of full professor at Southwest Minnesota State University. Prior to joining Southwest Minnesota State University, he was an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Nebraska, Kearney.
Dr. Onyeaghala has remained active in scholarly activities. He recently co-authored a textbook entitled “US Agricultural and Food Policies: Economic Choices and Consequences “. Dr. Onyeaghala received his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics with emphasis in International Agricultural Development & Policies from the University of London, Great Britain. He also received a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics with emphasis in Financial Management from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a B.Sc. degree in Agriculture from the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria.