Barbara (Bob-e) Simpson Epps has spent a lifetime working to enhance the operations and effectiveness of organizations in both the public and private sectors. Deeply committed to strong, healthy and resilient communities, she has used her expertise to build and sustain diverse environments. Bob-e engages others in creating system-wide, community-based and culturally specific approaches to address trauma and stress-induced health issues in the lives of children. She focuses most of her work in the area on African American and American Indian children and families using the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) and brain research. Bob-e has worked tirelessly in the filed of public health for more than 30 years to create compassionate systems to connect communities to and build more trustworthy relationships.
Chau Le is the President/CEO of LeGen Companies, Inc., a business development company. He has over 16 years of experience in the financial services and real estate industry, and has consulted small to Fortune 500 companies in matters pertaining to corporate strategy, finance, business development and M&A. Chau holds an MBA from The University of St. Thomas – Opus College of Business.
George Shardlow serves as a Government Relations Specialist for Cargill. He previously served as Public Policy Director for the Minnesota Council on Disability, in addition to working in a number of capacities at the Minnesota State Capitol. He holds a Master's of Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a Bachelor's from Luther College, in Decorah, Iowa.
Jessica K. Rogers is the Executive Director of Connections to Independence. Jessica brings a unique combination of corporate, non profit and independent consulting experience to Connections to Independence. She has positively impacted youth and families in Minneapolis through various community programs she has led over the last 15 years. Jessica is truly passionate about the mission and work of Connections to Independence because she is a product of foster care herself. Jessica is committed to creating a unique culture and environment for C2i youth and staff to feel like this is more than a place to come to work and participate in programming. It’s a safe place where all staff and youth are valued and considered part of a family.
Kristine Snyder is the LEAP (Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential) Director at Project for Pride in Living. She has been dedicated to serving students who do not have the access to the culture of power for some time. She taught middle school in Baltimore City Public Schools for 8 years and is a National Board Certified Teacher. When she moved to Minneapolis, she pursued a doctoral degree in Culture and Teaching at the University of Minnesota. Through that work, she engaged with the community of Anishinabe Academy to continue to develop a demonstration site for culturally competent pedagogy based on the Memorandum of Agreement with the Native community. Through that passion in building better teaching and pedagogy, Kristine started teaching at Minneapolis Community and Technical College in the Education department. She reinvented the curriculum to ensure that all teachers start with a rigorous interrogation of self, community and assumptions about education and use that reflective study to build student-centered, culturally rooted pedagogy. She currently partners with multiple schools and GED programs to support young people who have had county involvement to set their career dreams and make them happen.
Shannon Mitchell taught sixth-grade English language arts in the Bronx where she experienced the power of elevating and making space for youth perspectives. Following her time in the classroom, she attended law school at the University of Minnesota, focusing on special education and school law. She then worked at the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, helping foster youth navigate the judicial, education and healthcare systems. Shannon currently is the Managing Director of External Affairs for Educators for Excellence - Minnesota.