Bloomington Pioneers and Changemakers is an annual series that honors Black leaders who have a connection to Bloomington. February is Black History Month and a fitting time to recognize pioneers who have done so much to chart the path to where we are today and changemakers who are paving the way for future generations.
Video interviews with the following 2023 Pioneers and Changemakers are available on the City’s YouTube account at blm.mn/pcvids. New videos featuring the 2024 honorees will also be posted on the City’s YouTube and Facebook accounts throughout the year.
Tonya Allen is a leader and a change agent with a passion for co-creating an equitable, sustainable world. In 2021, she became president of the McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation that advances a more just, creative and abundant future where people and planet thrive. Tonya heads a majority women, majority people-of-color senior leadership team and a diverse team of about 60. The Foundation grants approximately $120 million annually in support of equitable communities, a clean energy economy, global food systems, artists and culture bearers, and innovative neuroscience research. For example, the foundation awarded the City a $250,000 grant to support the new small business center as part of its Groundbreak Coalition efforts, which aim to ensure that Black wealth builders, homebuyers and entrepreneurs have access to capital.
Coriner Boler is a passionate and relentless advocate in her community and greater Minneapolis. She cares deeply and continuously supports her neighbors in maintaining their housing. Coriner is a natural connector, reaching out to organizations, individuals, elected officials and more, to create a network of people dedicated to affordable housing. She also dedicates herself to serving on the Affordable Housing Advisory Board for the city of Minneapolis. In addition to housing advocacy, Coriner supports her community with a holiday gift drive and more. Coriner also worked with Bloomington Public Health to help inform a grant application related to health and housing. She is also a mother, an artist and a writer.
Desmond Daniels has been a police officer for 17 years, with the last five being with the Bloomington Police Department. He believes being a police officer is one of the best professions in the world, although it is very challenging. One of his favorite things about his job is connecting with the community. He’s been doing a lot of that as the lead for Bloomington Police’s Racial Equity Action Team. Whether it’s a cookout or police officers coaching youth sports, Desmond feels it is important for police and community members to see each other outside of the times when 911 is called.
Hamde Daoud is the community connections coordinator for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 in Community Education. Prior to this position, Hamde’s roles in the district were cultural liaison and clerical. Her goal is to continue with her education and become a community education director. Hamde knew at a young age that she wanted to support people, especially underserved communities. She’s always wanted to provide a way to help and share the knowledge of growing up in a multicultural home with her community.
Dr. Joyce Ester
Dr. Joyce Ester has served as the president of Normandale Community College since 2014. Normandale Community College is the largest college and third-largest institution in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Under her leadership, Normandale has continued to be one of the top transfer institutions in the state.
During her time at Normandale Dr. Ester and her leadership team have worked to establish Normandale as a student-ready and anti-racist college. With a focus on student and institutional success, Dr. Ester challenged the college to eliminate educational equity gaps, increase transfer rates, and to become an institution that is culturally competent and service oriented.
Tim Farrow has more than 10 years of retail banking experience in various roles. Currently, Tim is a vice president and business access advisor at U.S. Bank. He works with diverse-owned businesses to ensure equitable access and opportunity through U.S Bank solutions and community partners. Tim has always had a heart for giving back and making an impact in the communities he lives and works in. He serves on the advisory board for the City’s new small business development center. Tim also enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids.
Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer Faith Jackson started with the City in 2019 with the responsibility of integrating race and equity principles into all operations of the City. Under Jackson’s leadership over the last four years, the City has adopted a racial equity business plan, which codifies strategies to achieve equity both within the organization and community; embedded staff-led racial equity action teams in each department; introduced racial equity impact assessments to systematically examine how different racial and ethnic groups would likely be impacted by decisions; started the Pioneers and Changemakers series, created the Office of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging; hired an equity and inclusion specialist; and launched employee resource groups. Jackson has previously been honored as a herocrat (a government employee combating systemic injustice) and as a 2022 Finance and Commerce rising young professional.
Dr. Stephen Thompson
Dr. Stephen Thompson, DACM DC, a third-generation doctor, has been in the field of medicine for almost two decades. He uses an integrative medical approach incorporating aspects of Western and Eastern medicine, evidence-informed practice, and diversity, equity and inclusion to create a wholly unique and comprehensive medical experience.
Dr. Thompson is also an assistant professor and lecturer in the College of Health and Wellness at Northwestern Health Sciences in Bloomington. In his spare time, he volunteers within the Twin Cities community providing trauma-informed care alongside other community-minded providers.