Boards & Commissions: October in Review

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We begin this newsletter with sad news. In the September newsletter, we featured a potential fellow, Robin “Rob” Crisler. We received news as of Monday, October 30th, Rob has passed away. Rob was passionate about people; whenever you asked them what they were working on, it was always justice for people. “I want to uplift those in the margins of the margins.  Those who don’t feel like they fit into where they’re supposed to. And women! People struggling with inequality, insecurity, isolation and incarceration are who I want to uplift.” They were wise beyond their years and saw their flaws for what they were. They didn’t mince words about who they were and who they wanted to be. Our hearts go out to Rob’s mother, Cheryl, their siblings and other family members. Rest in power, Rob. You will be missed.

Old Business: Former Fellow Follow-Ups

Fowzia Adan (2023 graduate) lives in Boise and serves her community in a number of incredible ways. She interprets for families who need her services to better understand their children’s education, she helps her mother run a successful day care, and serves as a QIDP (Qualified Intellectual Disability Professional) for a newly opened residential habilitation provider serving adults with disabilities. Within the Somali community in Boise, she noticed a disturbing trend that English Language (EL) students were expressing frustration with their education within the Boise public school system.

Once she graduated from the Boards and Commissions program, she expressed a desire to figure out what was happening so she could be an advocate for Somali students. On Friday, October 27th, she opened the dialogue with the Boise School District administrators (pictured above).

From here, she plans to shadow a high school student and see how the Multilingual Learner (ML) education program operates within the district, and work to bring the voices of the parents and students to the district. With Boise welcoming over 700 refugees in the coming months, Fowzia believes that being proactive by telling her story of how she was successful within the Boise public school system will only add to the success of the new multilingual students once they arrive.

Ian Bott (2023 graduate) is a pillar of the Boise community. This tall individual can be seen walking around downtown Boise, riding the bus to and from their many activities and showing up to events such as the Boise Pride festival, taking action on climate issues, giving testimony at public hearings and attending information sessions to learn more about changes with the public transportation system in Ada County. Ian presented at the Stronger Together conference in October where they spoke on their journey with dual diagnosis – specifically having a diagnosis of Autism and then struggling to get to the mental health diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. Ian is very open about their struggles and aims to share what they have learned to provide education and advocacy for others like them.

A staunch advocate for both developmental disabilities and mental health, Ian has submitted his application to the Governor’s office to be appointed to the State Independent Living Council. We are all eagerly awaiting the Governor’s answer so we can celebrate the newest appointment to a board or commission. 

New Business: WICON 2023
It was our privilege to support 2021 graduate Shari Baber during the Boise Women Ignite Conference held Oct. 26th and 27th at the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise. Shari kicked off the conference talking about her experience with creating spaces where everyone belongs. We are so proud of how the graduates are contributing to the leadership of others in Boise and beyond.

2022 graduate Winnie Christensen personally brought and/or encouraged at least five Black/African women to attend and contribute to the conference.

New Business: Sam’s Section

I – like all of the fellows – am already learning a lot from Toni, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to do the behind-the-scenes work for the fellowship! I took part in a national fellowship that taught me how to run for office, but we never discussed the importance of local boards and commissions. It’s been helpful to learn more about how the local levels of government work and how our voices make a significant impact locally. As part of my role with Toni, I will be tracking openings on boards and commissions across the state and will notify you as opportunities come up in your area. Many openings on local boards open and close months in advance of a term expiration, so my goal is to have a comprehensive list for the next couple of years for each of you to reference and pursue these opportunities.

Additionally, since I spend half of my time supporting the Fellowship and the other half supporting CVI’s clean energy and public lands work, I am trying to find ways to better connect the programs. Though there is no conservation-specific requirement for the fellowship, if you do have interest in climate, energy, open space, or other environmental issues, feel free to let me know! I’m happy to be a resource for information or help find boards that are oriented around environmental issues.

Before We Adjourn…
Many thanks to the following people who have been unwavering supporters of the program: Meredith Stead, Eric Medina, Crispin Gravatt, Maria Gonzalez Cardenas, Winnie Christensen, Tamara Harmon, America Yorrita-Carrion, Cece Osborn, Blanca Romero Green, Jane White, and Renee Hill. Each of these folks has supported the program in their own unique ways and we are so appreciative of their efforts. They are doing all of these activities for free because they believe that a strong democracy means everyone who wants to participate can do so with confidence.

Thank you for reading the November newsletter! Please watch the Boards & Commissions webpage for more updates on the 2024 Boards and Commissions class!