At southern Minnesota’s first summit focused specifically on equity, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan called on area leaders to foster welcoming and inclusive communities.
Flanagan, a White Earth Band of Ojibwe member, gave the summit’s afternoon keynote Friday at St. Peter High School, while also describing what she and Gov. Tim Walz are doing to promote equity statewide.
“Our population makeup, our communities and our workforce continue to become more and more diverse, and it is the fabric that makes us who we are as a state,” she said.
Partner organizations convened the summit in part to highlight what communities in southern Minnesota are already doing so more places can follow suit.
“There’s a lot of great things that are already happening,” said Nicole Griensewic Mickelson, executive director at Region Nine Development Commission. “We’re trying to share those stories across communities, across sectors so everyone can take away and learn from one another and see what is working.”
The commission organized the event alongside the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality and the Greater Mankato Diversity Council. All are involved in equity work in the region, with the commission’s Rural Equity Learning Community program an example. The program drew leaders from several communities for monthly workshops on inclusiveness and diversity.
Attendees took part in panels and breakout sessions on topics ranging from inclusion in the workplace to uncovering hidden biases during the hiring process. Representatives from area businesses, nonprofits and government bodies led various sessions.