Office for Equity & Diversity News

Tadd M. JohnsonWelcome Professor Tadd M. Johnson, Senior Director of American Indian Tribal Nations Relations

Tadd M. Johnson has been named the University of Minnesota’s first senior director of American Indian Tribal Nations Relations.

In this inaugural role, Johnson will serve as the liaison between the University of Minnesota and regional Tribal Nations, creating pathways for strong collaborations.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected for this new position,” Johnson said. “It is my hope that this great University will form new and lasting partnerships with the Native Nations of the region.”

As senior director of American Indian Tribal Nations Relations, Johnson will continue to be housed at U of M Duluth, where he will also continue his work as the director of the Tribal Sovereignty Institute and director of Graduate Studies in the American Indian Studies Department.

“I am delighted that the University will benefit from Professor Johnson’s expertise and leadership in this role,” said U of M Vice President for Equity and Diversity Michael Goh. “We are committed to deepening relationships and engagement between the University and Tribal Nations and serving American Indian students, staff, and faculty. We look forward to working with Professor Johnson to consider ways we can demonstrate our deepest respect for the sovereignty of our Tribal Nations, in our discovery, teaching, and service to Minnesota’s indigenous communities.”

In addition to his academic work, Johnson is a resource to tribal governments and Native American people with more than three decades of leadership and service in the field of Federal-Indian law and policy. Johnson served as a tribal attorney for more than 20 years, and has also served as a tribal court judge and administrator. Johnson is a frequent lecturer on American Indian history and Federal Indian Law. He spent five years with the U.S. House of Representatives, ultimately becoming staff director and counsel to the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs. In 1997, President Clinton appointed Johnson to chair the National Indian Gaming Commission. He is nationally recognized in the area of Native American Law and is an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa.

Johnson received a B.A. at the University of St. Thomas, a J.D. at the U of M Law School, and serves on the Boards of the Udall Foundation and the Native Governance Center. – November 21, 2019. 


Sharon Banks Welcome Ms. Sharon Banks, Executive Director of the Office for Business & Community Economic Development (OBCED)

We are excited to share that Sharon Banks has accepted the position of Executive Director of the Office for Business & Community Economic Development (OBCED). Ms. Banks will officially begin in her new role on October 28, 2019.

Ms. Banks currently serves as OBCED's Co-Interim Executive Director and has held the position of Senior Project Manager in OBCED since 2001. In her time at OBCED, she has provided steady leadership and earned the respect of her colleagues across the University of Minnesota. She previously held management positions at Northwest Airlines/Delta Airlines in Corporate Purchasing and the Career Resource Center.

She received an M.A. in Public Affairs and Economic Development at the University of Minnesota and a B.S. in Business Management and Economics at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

OBCED will benefit from Ms. Banks's leadership and expertise in this pivotal role. We look forward to continuing our work with University and community partners to contribute to the economic growth, innovation, development, and prosperity of the communities in which we live and work.


Fenando Rodriguez Welcome Dr. Fernando Rodriguez, Director of the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence

We are excited to announce that Dr. Fernando Rodriguez will be joining the Office for Equity and Diversity (OED) as the Director of the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (MCAE) on October 28, 2019. 

Dr. Rodriguez currently serves as the Assistant Director of Social Justice and Inclusion for Housing and Residential Life here at the University of Minnesota. In this role, he provides leadership in the design and implementation of training programs, and has cultivated strong partnerships across the University.

In addition to teaching several courses at the U of M, Dr. Rodriguez has also held positions at Macalester College, Carleton College, New York University, and DePauw University. He received a B.A. in Sociology at the University of Texas, Austin; an M.A. in Higher Education and Student Personnel Administration at New York University in New York City; and his Ph.D. in Higher Education at the University of Minnesota.

We are delighted that MCAE will benefit from Dr. Rodriguez's leadership and expertise in this vital role, and at this critical time. His passion for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion will guide the next phase of MCAE’s work to strongly support multicultural students on the Twin Cities campus.

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