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Beyond the Ballot: Advancing Electoral Justice

1/16/2020 5:30pm @Westminster Presbyterian Church
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It's Time to Act!™

Beyond the Ballot: Advancing Electoral Justice

What could electoral justice look like?

Our democracy is meant to afford people the freedom of political expression regardless of their identities. In reality, our democratic systems have worked in oppressive ways against Black, Indigenous, immigrant communities, communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities and those living in poverty.

This panel discussion will explore how systems of voting, elections and the census can be transformed through collective action, from suppressive to empowering.


  • Susan Brower, Minnesota State Demographer
  • Elizer Darris, Organizer, ACLU
  • Shelly Diaz, Hub Coordinator of Minnesota Tribal Coalition for the 2020 Census
  • Mónica Hurtado, Racial Justice and Health Equity Organizer, Voices for Racial Justice
  • Leslie Redmond, President, NAACP Minneapolis

About It's Time to Act!

It’s Time to Act! is a forum series that engages participants for deeper learning and action planning around issues of race, equity, identity and social justice.

The forums are a catalyst for changemaking, where attendees take a deep dive into issues affecting our community and are inspired to identify their own role and power to create change. Pairing lectures with intentional action planning, it is an opportunity for attendees to take the steps towards personal action and accountability to combat racism.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, January 16, 2020
  • Time: 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm (program begins at 6:00 pm)
  • Location: Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1200 Marquette Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55403
  • Cost: $65 per session; $175 for the full series of three sessions (ticket price includes food and refreshments)


About the Speakers and Moderator

Susan Brower, Minnesota State Demographer

Susan Brower is the Minnesota State Demographer and directs the MN State Demographic Center. Susan became the State Demographer in February 2012. In that capacity, she travels the state talking with Minnesotans about the new social and economic realities brought about by recent demographic shifts. Susan's work applies an understanding of demographic trends to changes in a range of areas including the state's economy and workforce, education, health, immigration and rural population changes.

Susan joined the State Demographic Center after working as a researcher on the Minnesota Compass project at Wilder Research in St. Paul and at the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan. Susan earned her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Michigan, specializing in demography and family sociology, and holds a master's degree in public policy from Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Elizer Darris, ACLU Minnesota

After being sentenced to natural life in prison as a juvenile and violently struggling for years in adult facilities, Elizer Eugene Darris fought to turn his life around. Self-education became his vehicle of self-discovery and through it, his life was redeemed. Through studying law and working with his state-appointed counsel he successfully fought to get his life sentence reversed on appeal. Upon being released Elizer became a business owner, consultant, educator, IT specialist and motivational speaker.

For years, he served as a student-teacher in the Power of People Leadership Institute under the direction of Shane and Dr. Verna Price, where he developed as a servant, speaker and activist. Under Dr. Verna Price, Elizer was chosen to be a lead mentor in the Boys of Hope, a program designed to empower young men in high schools across the Twin Cities. Elizer was selected as a 2017 AALF Josie R. Johnson Leadership Fellow where he studied Community Leadership and Combating Unconscious Bias. In 2017, he served as field operations director for the Nekima Levy-Pounds for Minneapolis Mayor Campaign. He worked as a lead mentor in the Boys of Hope Program. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Appetite for Change, a social justice and food advocacy nonprofit.

Currently, he works as a field organizer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Shelly Diaz, Hub Coordinator of Minnesota Tribal Coalition for the 2020 Census

Shelly Diaz is a Mille Lacs Band Member dedicating much of her daily job responsibilities as the Hub Coordinator for Minnesota Tribal Coalition for the 2020 Census. Diaz holds a Master’s Degree in non-profit management from Hamline University and is the Urban Liaison and Project Coordinator for the Office of Chief Executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

Working in the Chief Executive office Diaz is given special assignments that directly impact Mille Lacs Band members in the urban area and beyond. Diaz has been working closely with the Minnesota Council on Foundations involved in the Minnesota Census Mobilization Partnership (MCMP).

A tribal hub was formed under the MCMP and Diaz is the hub coordinator of the 11 tribes throughout Minnesota. Diaz has been working to partner with tribal organizations in the urban area and beyond focused on census education and information for the communities.

Mónica Hurtado, Voices for Racial Justice

Mónica grew up in Colombia, where she trained as a doctor of family medicine. She moved to the US (Minnesota) in 2001, and from 2002 to 2013 she worked for a Latino youth development program funded by Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative. She joined Voices for Racial Justice (VRJ) in 2014. As a VRJ staff, she was part of the Census 2020 Co-creators Table in Minnesota. This table developed a powerful communication and mobilization plan with outreach and messaging strategies specific to Minnesota’s historically under-counted communities. This table is now part of one of MN Census Hubs (Our Minnesota Census Campaign) made up of community leaders/strategists who are themselves members of under-counted communities. VRJ is invested in using the 2020 Census work to continue developing the power and infrastructure of organizing among Indigenous, Black, Brown and Immigrant communities.

Leslie Redmond, Minneapolis NAACP

Leslie E. Redmond is a Washington DC Native. At the age of 25, she become the youngest President of Minneapolis NAACP. She is the founder of the Don’t Complain, Activate campaign. Leslie recently received her JD/MBA from the University of St Thomas.