Director of Enrollment
Alexis M. Murillo
Social Media Marketing Strategist
Alexis is a Latinx first-generation college student from Chicago, Illinois. She is currently finishing her last semester of her undergraduate career at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. During her undergraduate career, Alexis was highly involved in over ten different student organizations and programs, some of which included Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), where she was both Vice-President and President, the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (MCAE), and the University of Minnesota Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (UROP), where she just recently had her research published in the Journal of Applied Communications. In Fall 2017 Alexis was recognized as a President’s Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity (SEED) Award recipient for Outstanding Scholar-Activism, which recognizes students who are doing outstanding work at the University of Minnesota, both in and out of the classroom. She has spearheaded numerous intiviates at the U of M, such as the first ever Multicultural Student Kick-Off, which will now serve as a yearly tradition in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). Throughout her academic career, she has dedicated herself to social change by mentoring other students and her commitment to equity, diversity and social justice is central to her role as a peer educator while addressing issues of access, retention, graduation, and community-building among students of color.
Alexis is the person to talk to if you have specific questions about HECUA’s social media presence.
Andi balances part time bookkeeping at HECUA with duties as the Associate Director of Patrick’s Cabaret, as well as freelance bookkeeping, grantwriting, and program consulting with a variety of local performing arts organizations and artists. Previous positions have included Interim Managing Director at Bedlam Theatre and Emerging Performing Arts Leader Fellow for the Performing Arts Human Resources Toolkit Series by the Minnesota Theatre Alliance.
Since graduating from Macalester College with a Theater degree in 2009, Andi has worked and trained with Theatre of the Oppressed, clowning, mask, burlesque, spreadsheets, producing, directing, and production management, leaping from performing to administrating in a single bound or juggling both simultaneously. As a stage and production manager, they have worked with Dangerous Productions, Sandbox Theatre, the zAmya Theatre Project, Bedlam Theatre, and Bricklayers Theatre, and they have performed locally with Raw Sugar, The Playwrights Center, The Tempest at Franconia, the Haunted Basement, Bedlam Theatre, Off Leash Area Theatre and Dance, Box Wine Theatre, and the Wheel Sexy Cabaret. They have also produced original work with the Minnesota Fringe Festival (#ItsRainingInsideAgain: An Arts Administrator Show, wherein they played Mr. Rogers) and a new translation of F. X. Kroetz’s Housework with Barnacle Theatre Collective.
Andrew has over 25 years of experience in higher education as a teacher, mentor, academic advisor, and administrative leader. Born in Indianapolis, Indiana and raised within a working-class African American family, Andrew was a first-generation college student. On a daily basis, Andrew navigated not only the diversity within the African American community, but also the distinct cultural spaces of the Jewish community as well as the predominantly white suburban public schools. These experiences sparked his intellectual curiosity in social difference, political resistance, and human inequality. Recruited to play basketball, Andrew matriculated to Earlham College where his experiences and exposure to Quaker values sparked his sociological imagination and passion for social justice. Andrew eventually left the basketball team while serving as captain in protest over Earlham’s investments in corporations doing business in South Africa and joined leaders of the campus divestment movement. For Andrew, this was the beginning of a deep and sustained exploration of African and African Diaspora cultures and politics, engaged scholarship, and political activism.
Andrew completed an M.A. in cultural anthropology at the University of Michigan during one of the high points of student activism around racism, diversity, and equity in higher education. His graduate research projects focused on issues of ethnicity, racism, nationalism, as well as environmental sustainability in the Caribbean and Latin America. After graduate school, Andrew went on to serve as instructor of anthropology at DePauw University. While at DePauw, Andrew served as director of the Black Studies program, advisory board member of the Great Lakes College Association’s Border Studies Program, faculty leader for a community-based learning program in Nicaragua, and faculty mentor for DePauw Posse 2 scholars. Andrew left DePauw to become the founding Director of the Posse Foundation’s Chicago office. In this position Andrew established successful partnerships with a range of top 50 colleges and universities in the Midwest, the Chicago Public Schools, and corporations, as well as a diversity of community-based organizations.
More recently, Andrew has served as Director of Multicultural Affairs at Carleton College, Director of Development and Communication for Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Assistant Director of the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence at the University of Minnesota, and Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion within the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts. Throughout his career, Andrew has worked to balance and link research, teaching, and political engagement on issues of interculturality, educational equity, international development, human rights, learning abroad, placed-based learning, and social justice.
Andrew enjoys running, biking, back-packing, kayaking, and spending time on his paddle board. And every once in a while you might catch him spinning vinyl Afrobeat, reggae, soul, and funk records in metro area lounges, tap-rooms, and fundraisers.
Elise is an alumni of HECUA’s Race in America program, as well as HECUA’s Inequality in America program. She participated in both programs during her time at the University of Minnesota, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Individualized Studies, focusing in Afro Studies, Global Studies, and Social Justice. During her time at the University of Minnesota, she interned with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, CTUL (Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha), and ABEP (Association for Black Economic Power).
Director of U.S. Programs and Community Engagement
Emily Seru is a seasoned experiential education facilitator, community programs leader, and internship guide in the Twin Cities social justice community. She actively listens and learns from HECUA’s community partners, students, and faculty members to draw out connections and possibilities for shared learning, growth, and work. Before becoming the Director of U.S. Programs in 2018, Emily served as HECUA’s Manager of Internships and Community Partnerships for 13 years where she cultivated and supported over 100 community partners a year. Her portfolio of work included grant programs that funded more than 250 paid internship positions with nonprofit organizations across the region, as well as a graduate fellowship program in philanthropy and human rights for students of color. In 2006, Seru founded HECUA’s Anti-Racism Coordinating Committee, strengthening HECUA’s institutional commitment to anti-racism.
Seru holds a Master’s Degree in Experiential Education from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Lewis and Clark College. Her graduate work focused on the experiences of underrepresented students in the field of service learning, and how reflection and facilitation practice can adjust to meet the increasingly diverse lived experiences of students in community-based programs. Prior to her time with HECUA, Seru worked as a Development Officer at Headwaters Foundation for Justice and as Development Assistant and internship program manager at Milkweed Editions, a local press. Emily lives in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul with her family.
Director of Finance and Operations
Jim has over 35 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, providing financial and organizational leadership. Most recently with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and for over ten years with Headwaters Foundation for Justice. He was the Executive Director of the Brethren/Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests for 10 years. Jim grew up near Fort Wayne Indiana in a small town surround by Amish where he raised free-range chickens before it was in vogue. He obtained his BA in accounting and business from Bluffton University, a Mennonite liberal arts school in Bluffton, Ohio. He has served on many nonprofit boards and finance committees and is currently the board treasurer for Conservation MN. Jim lives in the Cooper neighborhood of Minneapolis with his husband. They love fine dining, live theater, and getting out of doors via biking, cross-country skiing, and canoeing.
Student Services Associate
Julie has spent most of her professional life either sending people overseas or receiving them here in the United States. While a student at Macalester College, she studied abroad at the American University in Cairo which kindled a lifelong love of the Arabic language. Julie served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco and then spent 5 years preparing Peace Corps volunteers headed to North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
While studying at Harvard Divinity School for a Master’s in Theological Studies, Julie began working in Adult Education. She taught and tutored folks from the Blue Hill neighborhood of Boston, which included refugees, immigrants and lifelong residents. Julie learned as much in this job as she did in graduate school about immigration, racism and being white.
In 2011, Julie and her husband, Jeff, moved to Jerusalem/West Bank for 5 years to work with a young adult service learning program. Julie, her husband and the volunteers developed close relationships in their adopted communities, learned the conflicted history of the region and delighted young and old alike with their astounding language mistakes.
Julie likes to watch nerdy documentaries, read good books, canoe, kayak and practice yoga. She continues to study the Arabic language. This study keeps her humble. Very humble.
Laney (Dolores) Ohmans
Director of Development and Communications
Laney (Dolores) Ohmans is a marketing, communications, and development professional whose work with nonprofit organizations has ranged from promoting puppet spectacles at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre to welcoming new members into community at First Unitarian Society in Minneapolis, with pit stops in between to promote catering ventures, design course catalogs and annual reports, and build websites.
In her free time Laney is a volunteer tax preparer at Prepare + Prosper and a board member of Exodus Lending, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping Minnesotans escape the payday loan debt trap. Dolores was her grandmother’s name, and she’s hoping to grow into it.
Laney is the person to talk to if you have a press inquiry; you would like to support HECUA’s work with a contribution; you are an alumni wondering how you can get involved; or you would like to request additional printed material for the campus where you work.
Director of International Programs
Mohamed Sallam is a Middle East and gender studies specialist in the areas of international and comparative education, international development, and the history of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) during the modern period. His family moved to the United States from Egypt, and while he spent most of his childhood in Minnesota, he has lived and traveled extensively throughout the MENA. For more than a decade Mohamed served as the Director of the Pan-Afrikan Center (PAC) and Instructor in the Department of History at Augsburg University in Minneapolis. As the Director of the PAC, he provided academic and social support to students of African descent, promoted African and African-American scholarship, and engaged local communities of African descent. As a critically oriented student-centered educator, Mohamed also developed and lead numerous domestic travel seminars on African American history and culture, and academic programs to Egypt focusing on education and development. More recently, Mohamed served as the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis overseeing the assessment of grant funded arts education curriculum and community programs. He holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Education and International Development from the University of Minnesota. His primary area of research examines how gender and geography mediate the relationship between policy and practice in international development and girls’ education across the MENA.
Mohamed has also served as a lead and/or senior consultant on several international and US-based projects with wide-ranging foci, including girls’ education, social connectedness, poverty alleviation, and social and cultural issues within schools. He has dedicated himself as an educator, researcher, and practitioner to addressing issues related to structural power and inequity in the fields of comparative education and international development by providing high-level research, analysis, and administrative management with the goal of large-scale and lasting impact.
Mohamed enjoys spending time with his partner Amina and his children Muhammad (12) and Salma (10), playing soccer and basketball, and hopelessly supporting the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Raegan is a 2015 alum of Art for Social Change, and a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, with a Bachelors in Studio Art and English. During her time at the U, Raegan worked in the Center for Community-Engaged Learning (CCEL) in a number of roles. First as a HECUA Student Advisor, then as the Domestic Off-Campus Study Associate, and most recently as the CCEL’s Communication Strategist. She also recently joined the Art Shanty Projects as a board member and finished an internship with Interact Center for the Arts. Aside from professional interests, Raegan strongly identifies as an artist, is an avid reader, backpacker, and loves to cook. Raegan is responsible for “Region 1” which includes the University of Minnesota (both abroad and domestic) and Augsburg University.
Tyra is a 2018 graduate from University of Minnesota – Twin Cities where she studied Psychology and Public Health. During her time as an undergraduate, she was involved in student support services, research, mentoring, and other forms of student engagement. She has recently worked with Restorative Justice organizations and the Minneapolis’ Civil Rights Department. Tyra is excited to step into her new role with HECUA to continue learning and engaging with others from various backgrounds.
Her life experiences and involvement in the community continue to fuel her passions for social justice and community engagement work.
In her free time, Tyra is most likely catching up on the latest shows, reading new books, and enjoying various art forms.
Tyra is the person to contact if you have questions regarding U.S program administration, student support and advising in internships, and communications with community engagement.
Vienna Wilson was born in Saint Paul’s Lowertown community before being raised in the Midway neighborhood for the majority of her childhood. She attended the Art Institutes International in Chicago, where she studied Fashion Design and Merchandising for two years before returning home to use the knowledge she gained in visual merchandising and management at some of the most popular clothing stores in Minneapolis. After working for a large corporation whose values did not align with her own, her passion to make a difference was sparked. Since then, she’s worked for multiple small, local businesses throughout the Twin Cities. In addition to this, she’s spent time working with the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center in North Minneapolis, teaching an after school class on fashion entrepreneurship to young people.
Vienna made her way to HECUA in 2015 as a data entry specialist. She is now Office Manager at HECUA’s St. Paul headquarters, where her organizational abilities and people skills create efficiency and ease. In her free time, Vienna enjoys cooking with her partner, dog-sitting for friends, and going to museums. She has lived in South Minneapolis for the past 12 years.