2021 Fellows

Abdulahi Farah


Abdulahi Farah serves as Board Member of Dar Al Farooq Center, where he led programs and services, and volunteer coordination for the center. Abdulahi has worked for over 10 years in the nonprofit sector with training and experience in community organizing and project management. Abdulahi worked as a cultural liaison for Richfield Public schools and other districts and served families and youth with local non profits such as PPL and Family partnership. Abdulahi is the founder and board member of the youth organization SYNC and Eman Projects. He was a consultant and project lead for Northstar collaborative that gives scholarships and capacity building for low income communities. Abdulahi currently serves as the board of Sakan community resource and a works one of the Lead community Organizers at ISAIAH and Faith in Minnesota.

Celina Her

Celina Her is the Development Associate at Wallin Education Partners, an organization that is more than just a scholarship, but a proven college-completion program for high-achieving, low-income students in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned her B.S. in Community & Nonprofit Leadership and Legal Studies. She is interested in understanding and improving the relationship between power, wealth, and philanthropy; learning more about leveraging philanthropy to decolonize wealth; and driving equitable fundraising practices. In her free time, Celina loves to scream at the tv screen to cheer on her favorite sports teams, be outdoors, and travel.

M. Maria Lopez

M. Maria López is a grant writer with Jeremiah Program. After an introduction to the nonprofit world through theatre, she worked in the private sector before returning to mission-driven work as a board member. This inspired her to earn a Masters of Nonprofit Management at Hamline University. She previously served at MAP for Nonprofits (now Propel) and College Possible. As the demographics of Minnesota have shifted, she has been privileged to be able to take an increasing part in local groups built by and for BIPOC and has been able to advance a racial and socio-economic lens to her work.

JoeLynn Mulari

JoeLynn Mulari has supported annual fund operations at a number of Twin Cities organizations including the YMCA of the North, East Side Neighborhood Services (ESNS), and Pulse. She is dedicated to creating and promoting action-oriented conversations about diversity in the workplace. While at ESNS, JoeLynn chaired the organization’s first Asian & Pacific Islander Affinity Group, creating a forum for the voices and experiences of API staff. She is currently serving as Donor Relations Director at Pulse where she helps to develop donor acquisition and cultivation strategies and manages annual giving campaigns. JoeLynn is pursuing her CFRE at the University of St. Thomas.

Adaobi Okolue

Adaobi Okolue is the executive director and publisher at Twin Cities Media Alliance, a nonprofit media arts organization equipping people, organizations with the power of media arts to shape narratives that advance equity and justice. She is known for exploring the intersections of multimedia, creativity and innovation, story and activism in her work, and has been a guest speaker on MPR, The Loft Literary Center, Pollen, and The Atlantic. Adaobi has been a Roy Wilkins Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Givens Foundation Black Writers Collaborative Fellow, and VONA Writing Workshop fellow. Currently, Adaobi serves as a board member for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.

Dawn L. Selle

Dawn L. Selle connects funders with community members and resources as Hallie Q. Brown Community Center’s Director of External Affairs and Development. Since joining HQB in 2016, Dawn has been the lead ambassador for cultivating and maintaining HQB funding, partnerships and community connections, a crucial role given the Center’s focus on community-based programs. During her four years with HQB, she has developed deep and impactful relationships within the Rondo and Summit / University community and with external partners. When she isn’t raising funds or galvanizing community members, she plans and executes dozens of events for HQB. In conjunction with the University of Minnesota, Dawn has been instrumental in leading HQB’s Community Archival Project, which will serve as the hub of cultural and historical exchange for one of the Midwest’s most important locations of African American history. Dawn is passionate about the mission of Hallie Q. Brown Community Center and is honored to be trusted to speak for those whose voices are not always heard.

Elisabeth Zarnoti

Elisabeth Zarnoti manages two databases for development and program management at YWCA St. Paul. Prior, she served at College Possible as a College Access Coach and Research and Development VISTA, which was her professional introduction to fundraising. As a student at Knox College in Galesburg, IL, she frequently planned philanthropy events for her sorority, Alpha Sigma Alpha, and now is a chapter advisor. One of her nonprofit dreams is to break the college tuition bubble and make higher education accessible to all students no matter their race, socioeconomic background or ability.