Activities & off-campus events

Breaking the Impasse X

Thursday, February 28, 2019

7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Rauenhorst Ballroom, Coeur de Catherine, St. Paul Campus

Breaking the Impasse X: The X Factor in Leadership: What Women Bring to the Table

Join us for a conversation moderated by Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required to ensure seating.

ASL interpretation will be provided.

Panelists include esteemed St. Catherine University Alumnae:

Senator Michelle Benson, Minnesota State Senate District 31

Michelle Benson is serving her third term in the Minnesota Senate, representing Senate District 31, which includes Anoka, Isanti, and Sherburne counties. Senator Benson currently serves as a Deputy Majority Leader and as Chair of the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee.

Senator Benson was raised on a farm in the western Minnesota community of Murdock and graduated with a B.A. in chemistry from St. Catherine University in Saint Paul. Senator Benson is a Certified Public Accountant and has worked as an auditor and consultant at Deloitte, as well as the Upper Midwest Security Alliance

An active member of her community, Senator Benson has served as a Boy Scout and Cub Scout leader, as well as a board member, treasurer, secretary, and administrator for The Way of the Shepherd Montessori School. She is a member of the North Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the National Rifle Association.

Ikram Koliso, Policy Associate at the Office of Mayor Melvin Carter, City of St. Paul

Encouraged by mentors and leveraging her interest in community organizing, Ikram became involved in Melvin Carter’s Campaign for Saint Paul Mayor, where she organized the East African community to get them involved in the political process.

Koliso knows that working towards equity means working at the root level of policy, and is currently working as a Policy Associate in Mayor Melvin Carter’s Office. Her current focus is on the City of Saint Paul's College Savings Account Program as well as the City's new Office of Financial Empowerment, an initiative geared towards opening a College Savings Account for every child born in Saint Paul. Koliso was also recently appointed by Mayor Melvin Carter to serve as a Commissioner on the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

Koliso received her Bachelors of Science in both Social Work and Public Health: Public Policy at St. Catherine University. She received the Mary E. McCahill Award, the highest honor given to a student. Koliso was Valedictorian and the 2017 Commencement Speaker.

Shunu Shrestha, Senior Advisor, Human Trafficking Prevention, City of Minneapolis

Shunu Shrestha joined the City Coordinator’s Office to support the City of Minneapolis’s efforts to fight sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

Shrestha also worked in nongovernmental organizations in her native country Nepal, where she actively worked to promote human rights of women and children, and to end gender-based violence including trafficking of women and children. She joined the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault in Duluth in 2010 to develop a multidisciplinary team, which would later be named Duluth Trafficking Task Force. She also actively participated in the Minnesota Department of Health-funded Safe Harbor program in developing a northeast regional response to sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of youth in seven counties and four tribes.

Shrestha has a Masters of Arts degree in Human Rights from Columbia University, New York, NY; Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s Studies and English from the College of Saint Catherine, Saint Paul, MN; and Bachelor in Business Studies from the Nepal Commerce Campus, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Bao Vang, President and CEO of the Hmong American Partnership

Bao Vang has more than two decades of leadership and management experience in business, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. She has been in her role at HAP/HND for the past 10 years, and has grown the organizational budget from roughly $3 million to currently over $13 million. Prior to her work at HAP/HND, she held management and leadership positions in corporate America, nonprofits and various levels of the government.

Vang has served on the board of various national and local task forces. She has been recognized by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as a Champion of Change. Her business interests reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of the greater Hmong community. Vang holds a M.A. in Public Administration and Management and a B.A. in Business Administration/Accounting. She is a 1999 Bush Fellow, and was listed as one of the 75 most influential people in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine. She has been awarded multiple awards and recognitions over the past decade.