Who We Are

Our Mission

OUR MISSION  is to improve academic success and life outcomes for black male elementary school students by building strategic community partnerships that create the environment and conditions where black male teachers can thrive. 

The BMT Approach

Recruiting and retaining black male educators, indeed all teachers of color, has been a challenge for our community, as is reflected by their limited numbers.  And although the reasons for this are well known within the education community, success has been elusive due to the many stakeholders in the teacher development pipeline, each with its own mission and measure of success.  It is imperative that all stakeholders – colleges and universities, alternative teacher preparation programs, government policy makers, funders, community-based organizations, K-12 school systems, and corporate and foundation leaders – work toward the common goal in a  seamless fashion.

Black Men Teach Twin Cities is the “quarterback” of this team, integrating the work of all partners so when a black man indicates interest in becoming a teacher, we can show him a viable, affordable pathway to the classroom that is right for his personal situation.

Through Black Men Teach, our community will succeed at increasing the number of black male educators by being:

  • Laser Focused – We will focus on one cohort of teachers – black men in elementary schools.  By focusing on one cohort we can direct recruitment efforts and the specific supports they require to thrive.
  • Comprehensive – Black Men Teach addresses all of the challenges faced by black male teacher candidates:  recruitment, training options and cost, on-boarding, unwelcoming school culture, meaningful career paths and adequate compensation. Addressing any one of these challenges on its own will not yield success.  For example, encouraging someone to pursue teaching will not be effective if the cost of education is unrealistic.  Also, gaining a degree and teacher license will mean little if the school one works for does not provide an environment where a teacher of color can flourish.
  • Executing a Collective Impact Model – Black Men Teach Twin Cities has created a consortium of partners that will work together toward the common goal of increasing black male educators in the elementary grades, and will serve as the “backbone organization.”  These partners include 8 elementary schools – district and charter; teacher preparation programs; community-based organizations that will broaden the reach for recruitment; and state government.  The common goal of this consortium of partners is to have each of our 8 K-5 schools have 20% of its staff be black male educators within 6 years.

Black Men Teach Twin Cities is a demonstration project, allowing for maximum flexibility and systemic cooperation between all partners that affect teachers along the talent development/career continuum.  Once proving the concept of this approach, it can be expanded to include other races, ethnicities, cultures and grade levels.


Our Partners






Staff Members

Executive Director – soon to be hired



Josh Thelemann – Interim Program Manager

Josh Thelemann is a graduate of the Hopkins Public School system and attended Augsburg College majoring in Elementary Education.  “Looking back on my own K – 12 experience in Minnesota and having a deep understanding of the need for more black male teachers, I am very excited at the opportunity BMT presents and feel confident, with the partners and team we have put together, that real change can happen over the period of our demonstration project.”

Josh is a co-founder of 26 Letters, a virtual learning system that supports teachers and entire districts with tools and data to better understand, relate and thus empathize with differing communities.  He recently served as a board member of Black Men Teach and has been instrumental in creating Profound Gentlemen Twin Cities, an affinity group for black male educators whose mission is to build a community of black male educators supporting and advocating for one another and their students.  Josh’s experience also includes Outreach Director at Educators for Excellence, founder of Save Our Schools and the co-founder of the Minnesota Chapter of New Leaders Council.  He currently serves on the St. Thomas College of Education Advisory Council and the Generation Next Teacher Diversity Network Committee.

Board Members

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Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed, Ed.L.D., Board Chair

Superintendent, Hopkins Public Schools

Dr Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed has served in public education for over 15 years.  Improving the lives of others has been a driving force throughout her life.  During her time as a student at Bloomington Kennedy High School, she became intrigued with community service while in the role of a candy striper for the Minnesota Masonic Home for the elderly.  While attending Yale University, she became even more involved in the community through tutoring adolescents, volunteering weekly at the local Head Start, and serving meals at the homeless shelter.  These experiences helped her realize the impact that quality education can have in young people’s lives, and she decided to make education her lifelong ambition.

After graduating from Yale with her teaching license, she returned to Minnesota to begin her career as an educator.  She taught social studies at Highland Park Junior High in Saint Paul, and later served as an assistant principal at her alma mater Bloomington Kennedy High School, and then as a high school principal for five years at Champlin Park in the Anoka-Hennepin District.  She was soon after admitted into Harvard University’s new doctoral program in Education Leadership, which resulted in a doctoral residency with District of Columbia Public Schools, building a principal training program.  Finally, right before moving back to her home state, Rhoda served as Associate Superintendent in the Monterey Peninsula Unified District for three years.

Rhoda is thrilled to lead Hopkins Public Schools from great to world class.  She and her team are strengthening E-12 excellence by developing a strategic innovation vision for the future, emboldening an already strong district identity, and transforming learning experiences to cultivate students who will be leaders around the world.

Rhoda lives with her husband, Frank, and their two children, Sterling (10) and Sawyer (7).  Although she loves to work, she spends weekend hours exercising, bargain shopping, watching reality TV and playing with her kids.


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Virginia Arthur, President of Metropolitan State University

Ginny Arthur began her appointment as president of Metropolitan State, Minnesota State’s urban, comprehensive, minority-serving university, in July 2016. She joined Metropolitan State in 2012 as provost, and has co-chaired the university’s strategic planning process, forged new baccalaureate completion partnerships with Twin Cities area community colleges, created the Center for Faculty Development, revamped the governance process to be more effective, and developed the role of associate provost for Student Success.

Previously, Ginny served the University of Northern Iowa as associate provost for faculty affairs from 2009 to 2012, and the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University from 1985 to 2009 where she served as chairperson of the Management Department for seven years, chair and vice chair of the joint faculty assembly, and faculty member for over 20 years.

President Arthur is a member of the Board of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), Minnesota Campus Compact, the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership and a Board officer for Communidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES), the largest Hispanic serving non-profit in Minnesota.

Ginny holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration from Syracuse University and a juris doctor (JD) degree from the Washington College of Law at American University. She has presented at numerous conferences and authored dozens of publications.



Terri Bonoff, Former Minnesota State Senator

Terri Bonoff served as a Minnesota State Senator from 2005-2016. Prior to her time in the Minnesota Senate, Terri had a successful career in the private sector. She began her business career working at Jackson Graves, a women’s retail specialty chain, before moving on to Tonka Toys as Manager of Promotional Services. She then served as VP/GM for the computer products division of Navarre Corporation. Terri left a 20-year business career to be at home with four teenagers. This move was highlighted in a TIME magazine article discussing a trend of executive women taking “teen leaves.”

Terri made her first run for political office in 2005 in a special election. She was reelected in 2006, 2010, and 2012. In 2016 Bonoff made an unsuccessful run for Congress.

Senator Bonoff made education a major focus of her work in the Senate. As Chair of the Minnesota Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee she championed legislation to create the Minnesota PIPELINE Project; The PIPELINE Project expands dual training and apprenticeship programs in Minnesota in emerging and high-demand occupations by partnering employers and students. This program was featured two separate times in Forbes as a nation-leading and innovative approach to address student debt and the skills gap.

Terri currently resides in Minneapolis and Atlanta Georgia as a result of her husband joining Delta Airlines. Based on the success of the MN PIPELINE Project, she joined Georgia Tech CEISMC to launch an Atlanta based PIPELINE Project. This pilot program partnered Purpose Built Schools, an Atlanta based non-profit committed to breaking the cycle of poverty through high performing schools and leading companies in the Atlanta area to facilitate internships and apprenticeships for high school students. Twenty-eight students successfully completed their 2018 summer internship and the program is continuing in house.



Joshua Crosson, Senior Policy Director at EdAllies

From local neighborhoods to the State Capitol, Josh Crosson advocates to ensure that all Minnesota students, especially those most under-served, have access to a great education. He previously worked in D.C., where he transformed his passion for public policy into a fulfilling vocation, or as his friends put it, made a living out of doing something “activisty”—first at the Human Rights Campaign and later on Capitol Hill. At HRC, Josh spearheaded student outreach operations and expanded the organization’s mission to incorporate LGBT students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He then spent four years writing legislation and advising his hometown congressman, Rep. Adam Smith (WA-9), on labor, health, budget, and tax issues. Josh holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Religion from Santa Clara University. When he’s not working for Minnesota’s kids or spending time with his partner Jon, in their North Minneapolis home, Josh operates an adult LGBT kickball league that benefits local homeless youth.



Michael Goar, Chief Executive Office of Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities

Michael Goar began as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities in June 2016.  He has an extensive background in education and youth development, including serving as CEO and Interim Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools prior to leading Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities.  Goar’s work at the school district included launching the office of Black Male Achievement.  Previously, he was executive director of Generation Next, a Minneapolis-based youth development organization that works to close the achievement gap.  Earlier in his career, Michael held executive positions and COO roles for both Boston Public Schools and Memphis City Schools.

Michael has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and urban studies from the University of Wisconsin River Falls and a master’s degree in public administration from Mankato State University.  He holds a superintendent licensure and has participated in multiple intensive leadership development programs at Harvard University.  An active community member who is passionate about given back, Michael serves on several boards of directors, including Genesys Works and MIA (Minneapolis Institute of Arts).


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Paul Gunderson, Founder and Board Vice Chair

Vice President/Human Resources, Coca-Cola Enterprises, retired

Paul Gunderson is a native of Minneapolis, a graduate of Edison High School and the University of Minnesota, holding a BS in Secondary Education.  Paul began a career with Coca-Cola Enterprises in 1977 as a Delivery Salesperson and years later was appointed Vice President, Human Resources for a company that had grown to $15B with 70,000 employees across seven countries. In 2004 Paul led the creation of Camp Coca-Cola, later renamed C5 Youth Foundation, a youth leadership/college access program that Coca-Cola brought to five cities across the U.S.  In 2006, Paul retired from Coca-Cola Enterprises and worked directly for the Foundation as its executive director until 2012.

Paul and his wife, Beth, live between Minneapolis, their hometown, and Atlanta, where they have a married daughter and grandchild.  They also have a son in Colorado.  Paul and Beth have a passion for helping under-served youth in educational settings and have participated in numerous volunteer activities in both cities.


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Peter Hutchinson, Former Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools

Peter Hutchinson focuses on solving the toughest problems faced by top decision makers wanting to deliver better results in government, nonprofit organizations and education.  Most recently he led management consulting strategy for Accenture’s State, Provincial and Local Government practice throughout North America.  In his career he has served as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Finance, Superintendent of Schools in Minneapolis, a deputy mayor, corporate vice president at the Dayton Hudson Corporation (now Target) and as president of the Bush Foundation, one of Minnesota’s largest independent foundations.  In 2006, he was a candidate for Governor of Minnesota.  In all of these roles Peter has championed delivering better results with whatever resources are available through strategies that challenge the status quo and lead to the resolution of tough policy problems.  Peter has captured many of the lessons he has learned along the way in The Price of Government:  Getting the Results We Need in an Age of Permanent Fiscal Crisis.


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Anthony Lando, Sr Vice President – Private Client Division at Bank of American – US Trust

Anthony Lando works with very successful business owners, ultra high net worth families, and philanthropic institutions, tailoring strategies to address their needs.

Anthony is a Sr. Vice President and Private Client Advisor II with Bank of America – U.S. Trust Private Client Division.   He works with very successful business owners, ultra high net worth families, and philanthropic institutions, tailoring strategies to address their needs.

Anthony has an extensive credit and business banking background.  Prior to joining U.S. Trust he led Bank of America’s strategic expansion efforts in the Minnesota market and previously helped lead expansion efforts for Fifth Third Bank into the Florida market.  He earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in Business & Finance, and earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Finance and Leadership from the University of Florida.   Anthony serves on multiple non-profit boards and is a member of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce- Small Business Policy Committee.

At US Trust, Anthony works with a team of specialists that bring sophisticated knowledge in investments, tax strategies, trust and estate planning services, credit, family office services and philanthropy. Anthony is particularly skilled in helping clients who are at crossroads in their wealth due to personal or business transitions.



Tamiko M. Thomas has dedicated her professional career to working with families and children — creating pathways to achieve their dreams. She has over 10 years of administrative and program development experience. She is committed to lifelong learning and equitable access to educational opportunities for all. Ms. Thomas has experience working in public education as a high school administrator, human service systems, and as faculty at the University of Minnesota in the School of Social Work. She holds licensure in Social Work and as a K-12 School Principal. Ms. Thomas has an Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S) and a Masters of Education (M.A.) from the University of St. Thomas and Masters of Social Work (M.S.W.) from the University of Minnesota and is currently a Doctoral student in the School of Business at Hamline University.


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Darrell Thompson – President, Bolder Options

Darrell Thompson is the President of Bolder Options, an innovative organization focused on healthy youth development.  Uniting one-on-one and group mentoring with goal setting, physical activity, tutoring and leadership opportunities, the program builds confidence, maximizes potential and encourages healthy life skills in 10-14 year olds. Darrell is a respected leader in the youth development field having been with Bolder Options for 23 years.  As President, Darrell has grown the organization to over 4,500 youth in St Paul, Minneapolis and Rochester.  He leads a professional staff and volunteers as they work to achieve Bolder Options’ mission:  Teaching youth to succeed in ALL of life’s races.