Letter of Support to the Rochester School Board

January 10, 2022 / 5 mins read

Rochester Public Schools Board of Education Members,

Diversity Council is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the realization of civic, health, and educational equity, writing today on behalf of a coalition of organizations with collective concern for the education and wellbeing of our community’s youth.

We wish to express our support for the ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion work taking place within Rochester Public Schools. We recognize and admire your visible and persistent commitment to addressing diversity issues and disparities at both the individual school and district level. We are grateful for your leadership as Board of Education members and for your support of Dr. Pekel, district administrators, and staff guiding this work.

Here is why we believe diversity, equity, and inclusion work is essential to student and community success:

  1. Our public education systems must be designed to recognize and affirm the human dignity of every student.
  2. Our educators and administrators must have the knowledge and tools to create culturally responsive environments for students to learn and thrive.
  3. Understanding how our systems and structures work is imperative if we are to identify and address disparities and achievement gaps.

We recognize the social and political stressors that accompany these decisions at this point in time and are resolute in our support of your decision to continue to work toward more equitable schools.

Thank you for your service and your time. We appreciate the effort expended by each of you in your role on the Board of Education of Rochester Public Schools.


Community Undersigned (appearing alphabetically by organization name)

Ability Building Community

  • Wayne Stenberg, Executive Director

Barbershop Talk

  • Andre Crockett, Host
  • Bud Whitehorn, Co-Host

C.E.R.T. – Community Engagement Response Team

  • Bud Whitehorn, Founder
  • Andre Crockett, Co-Founder

City of Rochester MN

  • Brooke Carlson, Council President
  • Molly Dennis, Councilmember Ward 6

The Collective

  • Tara Freimund, Executive Director

Cradle to Career

  • Claudia Tabini, Interim Co-Executive Director
  • Kelsey Duffy, Interim Co-Executive Director

Diversity Council

  • Jamia Erickson, Board President
  • Amrita Prakaashana, Board Vice President
  • Erin Blake, Board Treasurer
  • Al Lun, Board Secretary
  • Julie Hobbs, Ph.D., Board Member
  • Mamisoa Knutson, Board Member
  • Sumedha Penheiter, Ph.D., Board Member
  • Erin Rahman, Board Member
  • Dr. Nicole Sandhu, Board Member
  • Clara Sifuentes, Board Member
  • George Thompson, Board Member
  • Dee Sabol, Executive Director
  • Kylie Bartz, EquityLogic™ and Communications Program Specialist
  • Catherine Davis, EquityLogic™ Program Director
  • Camila Hallemeier, Development Manager
  • Kathy Harowski, Ph.D., Organizational Equity Strategist
  • Savita Katarya, Sr. Organizational Equity Strategist
  • Stefanie Meunier, Bookkeeper
  • Rebecca Minkus, Youth, Family & Community Education Program Specialist
  • Heidi Wilkins, Youth, Family & Community Education Director
  • Victoria Ness, Citizen Stakeholder
  • Dr. Gurpreet Sandhu, Citizen Stakeholder
  • Amy Hocraffer, Citizen Stakeholder

Family Service Rochester

  • Scott Maloney, Executive Director


  • Jack Dudley, Southern MN Organizer

The Minnesota Group

  • Char Kunkel, Ph.D.
  • Jyoti Grewal, Ph.D.
  • Ron Ferguson, Ph.D.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

  • Donna Miller, Rochester Local Group Co-Lead
  • Alisha Eiken, Rochester Local Group Co-Lead

PossAbilities of Southern Minnesota

  • Susan Mackert, Executive Director

Rochester Branch of NAACP

  • Walé Elegbede, President
  • William C. Jordan, Jr., Vice President
  • Rachel Snyder, Treasurer
  • Barbara Jordan, Secretary
  • Cleophas Pearson, Assistant Secretary
  • Kindra Ramaker, Assistant Secretary & Chair Membership Committee
  • Ray Schmitz, Co-Chair Environmental and Climate Justice Committee
  • Justin Cook, Co-Chair Education Committee and Criminal Justice Committee
  • Phil Wheeler, Co-Chair Education Committee
  • Jennifer Belisle, Chair Economic Development Committee

Rochester Community Initiative

  • Yasmin Ali, Chief Operating Officer
  • Mary Villarama, Assistant Operating Officer
  • Annie Chen, Co-Director of Logistics
  • Rita Dai, Co-Director of Logistics
  • Ella Mitchell, Co-Director of Public Relations
  • Layna Erredge, Co-Director of Public Relations
  • Jenny Yan, Co-Director of Development
  • Natasha Sortland, Co-Director of Development
  • William Laudon, Director of Education

Rochester Community and Technical College

  • Dr. Jeffrey Boyd, President

Rochester for Justice

  • Founders

University of Minnesota Rochester

  • Dr. Lori Carrell, Chancellor

Winona State University

  • Dr. Scott Olson, President
  • Dr. Jonathan Locust, Associate Vice President
  • Dr. Jeanine Gangeness, Associate Vice President

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