Me interviewing Walter Mondale. Center for Victims of Torture 30th Anniversary Breakfast, September 2015. (Photo: TJ Turner)
I am the lead reporter for Minnesota Monthly’s “Scene,” which features photos and first-person quotes of famous and everyday Minnesotans at local charity fundraising events. Minnesota Monthly had published these party pictures for many years, but I was curious about the people in the photos — not just their names in a caption, but what kind of personal connections they had to the organization they’d shown up to support. I pitched the editor to send me out as a reporter to find out. Minnesota Monthly liked my idea, and now these first-person reflections are a staple of the magazine’s coverage. Over the last three years, I’ve gone to dozens of dinners, breakfasts, and lunches around the Twin Cities. Explore the gallery below to discover some of the people I’ve interviewed.
"Whenever I’ve come to Minnesota, it has felt in advance on a lot of issues and consciousness and community activism. I’ve probably come here more than any other place except for where I live, in New York City. I appreciate how openhearted Minneapolis and the state have been." ~Gloria Steinem, October 2016, Global Rights for Women fundraiser. (Photo: Matthew Jenkins) "I’ve grown up in the Youth Farm program since I was 10. I’m 23 now and currently working as a farm steward. I help kids and teens to build relationships with other kids and with the community. I came to the U.S. from Mexico, and I didn’t have friends. Youth Farm is a really friendly space. You don’t get judged for who you are. That’s why I kept coming." ~Jesus Perez, Youth Farm Taste of the Farm fundraiser, September 2016. (Photo: Chris Shaffner) "I am an actor and was an apprentice at the Children's Theater Company. Right out of college, it was my first job. I worked in four different shows, took classes, and learned as much as I could about being on stage. I’m actually going on to work at Cirque du Soleil. What helped me with that was the immense stage time I got here." ~Noah Bremer, September 2016, CTC Curtain Call Ball. (Photo: Haley Friesen) "This is Quasimodo. He’s a short-spined German Shepherd and is one of only 14 in the world. His spine is curved and compacted, which gives him a hunchback appearance. Quasi came into our rescue a couple of months ago. People love him—he has nearly 300,000 Facebook followers. He lives at my house as a foster, and is kind of an ambassador for Secondhand Hounds." ~Teri Woolard, Secondhand Hounds 'Bone Appetit' Fundraiser, September 2016. (Photo: Andrea Ellen Reed) "The girls I work with have limited financial resources. They don't have the opportunity for personal growth to tap into their creativity unless it's related to school. The Ann Bancroft Foundation provides them with an opportunity to do something they want to do for themselves. Some of the students applied for grants to improve their English, while another is doing a video documentary." ~Mary Ann Prado (center, in red cardigan), Ann Bancroft Foundation DreamXChange fundraiser, April 2015. (Photo: Chris Shaffner) "My son has received services at St. David's Center. When children are diagnosed as having some kind of special need that isn't like getting strep throat or appendicitis. You've been told that you're going to need caregivers for a long time, and that is a very shocking revelation. What they did at St. David's was to say we are here for you. My son will eventually age out and will either not need services or will need services somewhere else. But there are families that I don't know and will never know, and who don't know me, and I want these services to be available to them they way they were available to my family." ~Richard Justman, St. David's Center 'Make Them Shine' gala, March 2015. (Photo: Luke Melchert) "The Little Free Libraries really open up opportunities to the younger generation, especially to people who can't afford books. It's very accessible. It's just great to see people reading." ~Yasha Bol (right), Little Free Library 'Big Little Party,' March 2015. (Photo: Luke Melchert) "My son has severe Hemophilia A. He's 19 years old, and we've been part of the Hemophilia Foundation of Minnesota and the Dakotas since he was born. My son’s blood has less than zero percent of clotting capability. The main thing I've had to adapt to as a parent is to allow my son to take risks. My son has never had a real bleed or joint injury, so he doesn’t know what it's like to have hemophilia. They used to treat hemophiliacs on demand, which meant that you would get treatment after you got injured. Instead my son has always been treated a few times a week to prevent injuries. He will do that for the rest of his life." ~Beth Andersen (left), Hemophilia Foundation of Minnesota/Dakotas Hearts of Hope Gala, February 2016. (Photo: Andrea Ellen Reed) "I've been on a couple of Habitat for Humanity builds. You get to work alongside the homeowners who are going to live in this house. I think it's a fantastic organization. They give people homes, and they give people hope. It's awesome." ~Dee DePass (right), Habitat for Humanity Hard Hat and Tie gala, April 2015. (Photo: Alex Steinberg) "I've been connected with the Center for Victims of Torture since it was founded 30 years ago. I remember when former Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, was in town, and I encouraged him to visit us. He met some victims, and it helped him to better understand what victims of torture go through and where they're from." ~Walter Mondale, CVT 30th Anniversary Breakfast, September 2015. (Photo: TJ Turner) "I was a justice on the state Supreme Court where we saw the issue of violence against women up close. The law is critical, but we need people to start acting in ways that comply with the law. It is just obvious to me that women are treated differently simply because they are women, and that’s wrong. How we get to a resolution of those problems, though, is a real challenge." ~Alan Page (far right), Global Rights for Women fundraiser, October 2016. (Photo: Matthew Jenkins)