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About

Midwest  mixed

Our Work Centers...

Black, Indigenous & POC of all skin tones and across the gender and sexuality spectrum who identify as or connect to the experiences of being mixed-race, multiracial, biracial, multiethnic, or as transracial and/or transnational adoptees. We also hold space for interracial couples and multiracial/mixed families.

Our  Mission

We use dialogue, alternative education, & artistic expression to support mixed people & transracial adoptees of color to learn through an intersectional framework, heal racial trauma, and build community solidarity in the struggle for equity and justice. 

Our  Vision

We envision a world free from oppressive social constructs, in which we draw on the healing powers of knowing our past,  grounding into our present, and cultivating a just future for our descendants.

Our  Values

Disrupt simplistic narratives

Address Historical Racial Trauma

Cultivate Adaptive   Solutions

Art-Centered

Accountable Allyship

Alternative Education

Open Hearts

Holistic Support

Accessibility

2020

Leadership  Team  Members

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    alissa paris

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Alissa Paris is a mother, teaching artist, and space-maker who identifies as a queer, Black/latinx/white,  cisgender womvn living on the stolen lands of the Anishanaaabeg & Dakhóta peoples (Minneapolis, MN). In 2014 Paris co-founded MidWest Mixed, an all-volunteer Minnesota-based organization dedicated to shining light on the diverse experiences of multiracial and mixed race people and families through monthly courageous conversations, a biennial conference, and arts-based community activation spaces. She currently serves as MidWest Mixed’s Executive Director. 

     

    In addition to her service with MidWest Mixed, Paris has worked as a Teaching Artist leading and co-directing dance workshops for over a decade. She develops and facilitates interactive workshops on mixedness for racial justice days at local high schools and other community education events. She also facilitates grounding in movement sessions to bring the body back into awareness when we do our work. Paris aspires to address the need for increasingly nuanced discussions on intersectional identity formation, and to stay innovative in creative space-making for sometimes messy work. 

     

    Paris is co-parenting her four year old child, Khalil. She spends her free-time aspiring to a life of overall wellness & trying to stay out of her own way. 

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    owen Duckworth

    Pronouns: He/Him/His

    Owen Duckworth is a Twin Cities based community organizer/builder and music producer. Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI in a multi-racial family with one parent from England and the other from the Seychelles islands (Africa), his diverse cultural background has informed his approach to both music and organizing work.

     

    He works as an organizer at the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, a non-profit organization which builds coalitions across cultural and geographic communities around racial justice issues in housing and public transit. He is also a co-founder and member of the leadership team for MidWest Mixed, an organization for people who identify as mixed race to discuss experiences, develop shared narratives, and build community.


    As a music producer, he goes by the name O-D and has worked with local and international artists hip-hop acts such as M.anifest, Blitz the Ambassador, and K.Raydio. He most recently released his solo, mostly instrumental, beat project Lost Time Found Space in December 2016. He is currently in the process of producing his next album From Many Places, and Nowhere, influenced by his recent time traveling internationally and exploring his roots in Seychelles.

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    Leslie Barlow

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Leslie Barlow is a visual artist, educator, and space creator living and working in Minneapolis, MN. In her visual art practice, Barlow's current work uses figurative oil painting to share stories that explore the politics of representation, identity, otherness, and racial constructs. Barlow is a member of the MidWest Mixed Leadership Team, supports grant writing on the Development Team, and also helps facilitate artist relationships and arts involvement in MWM programming. Deeply inspired by the community, inclusion, and understanding she felt while attending her first MidWest Mixed Dialogue, she knew she wanted to support the organization and help it grow. In addition to working with MWM, she teaches at the University of Minnesota and Carleton College, and she also supports emerging artists as the founder and Program Director of Studio 400. These endeavors bring lots of joy and meaning to her life, and in her spare time Leslie loves being active and rock climbing, taking naps with her rescue dog Pip, and sewing and assembling her own cosplays that she wears to sci-fi conventions.

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    Lola Osunkoya

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Lola Osunkoya is a licensed psychotherapist and owner of the counseling practice, Neither/Both LLC. Lola has created and facilitated racial identity-based content for the University of Minnesota, La Semana Culture Camp, South High School, MidWest Mixed, and Lyn-Lake Psychotherapy and Wellness. She has been featured as a guest on Mixed Race Radio, MPR News with Angela Davis, and VOICES on KMOJ.  As an emerging artist, Lola uses writing and multimedia art to explore themes of identity, bringing theoretical concepts about race to mainstream art and conversations. Healing from the damaging impact of racism is a central theme of her work.

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    Andrea Manolov

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Andrea is exploring new ways to narrate, connect, and remember local histories of multinational and multiracial family making. At the 2019 MWM Conference she and Nathan began hosting the Transracial/Transnational Adoptee Dialogues. She is a current student in Heritage Studies and Public History program at the University of Minnesota, and a volunteer board member at the Cycling Museum of Minnesota. Andrea joined MWM in 2018 to help plan Kaleidoscope: A Midwest Mixed Summer Social.

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    nathan zeckmeister

    Pronouns: They/Them He/His

    Nathan Zeckmeister works in Accounts Receivable for a nonprofit that provides mental health and substance abuse care. They identify as a black transracial adoptee.  Following their upbringing in rural northern Wisconsin they moved to south Minneapolis where they currently live with their partner.

     

    After attending their first dialogue in 2016 they became motivated to become more involved with the organization and continue to learn about identity, race, and community organizing. They will be part of the planning team for future dialogues, and they are excited to help contribute to the group’s evolution. Exploring identity in this group has been incredibly rewarding and they are grateful for the opportunity to share that experience with others. In their free time they enjoy reading, gaming, gardening, and finding quiet spaces outside.

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    Clarke Sanders

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Clarke Sanders is a Marketing maven and Social Media guru. She owns a digital marketing agency for businesses of color named Hustle MKTG where her multifaceted  talents are able to shine. She is a photographer, graphic designer, social media & digital strategist, and full time creative.

    She graduated with a degree in Advertising with an emphasis in Public Relations, Marketing minor, and Graphic Design certificate. Feel free to ask her about her planners as she is always excited to whip them out and show you her color coordinated labels.

    After participating in the first MidWest Mixed conference she knew she needed to learn more and join the team at any capacity possible. She always felt a strong sense of purpose to help facilitate spaces for mixed individuals to walk in their identity journey. She shortly thereafter joined the team to work on marketing strategies.

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    Esther  callahan

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Esther Callahan is a practitioner of joy through her work as an independent curator, facilitator, trainer, candy maker and community organizer. With roots in an academic degree in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies and a minor in Social Justice Leadership, she is dedicated to interrogating the impact of racial and gender equity. This has been shown in her work as a former Curatorial Fellow at the Minneapolis Instititue of Art (Mia), as the co-founder of the Curatorial Advisory Committee at Mia dedicated to the development of diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility, as the co-leader of the Twin Cities Carrotmob which BUYcotts businesses to take socially-responsible actions towards sustainabilty, as well as through a number of other projects. 

     

    As a Black transracial adoptee looking for community, she attended the 2017 Midwest Mixed Conference which inspired her to join dialogues where learning around identity is ever growing and changing. Now as a member of the Leadership team she is excited to continue promoting Midwest Mixed and all the good it is doing in our communities - locally and nationally.

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    Heather Peebles

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers or They/Them/Theirs

    Heather Peebles is an interdisciplinary artist threading identity and community-based work around healing from trauma.  She uses charcoal, graphite, hand-sewn, and photographic elements in her paintings to discuss the interwoven nature of sexual trauma with gender conditioning, sexuality, race and family structure. She also facilitates human-centered healing spaces that focus on agency through art-making, writing, conversation, movement, and skill sharing.

     

    From the east coast, Heather grew up mixed in the polar environments of rural Nebraska and Baltimore, Maryland. MidWest Mixed offered and continues to offer a safe, comfortable place to discuss this intersection of identities. She is honored to offer her skills as Executive Assistant.


    In the Cities, find Heather reclaiming her body and joy while dancing in public with Don’t You Feel It Too?  She is also proud to work alongside BIPOC organizers, bodyworkers, doulas, and artists in the MN Healing Justice Network as an artist and budding organizer.

    Photo Credit:  Amanda Caillau

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    Maya Lehmann

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Maya grew up in a multi-racial family in Rapid City, South Dakota. She came to Minnesota for college and studied race and ethnic studies, music, and religion. Inspired by her grandparents’ immigration journey from the Philippines, she spends her days working with refugee communities as they settle into life in Minnesota. She also spends her time playing violin and performing around the Twin Cities. 

     

    Ever since she heard of MidWest Mixed, Maya knew she wanted to be a part of it. She is grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to an organization of people who are willing to be vulnerable and create authentic change. Maya is passionate about creating these MidWest Mixed spaces where people can share their experiences, heal racial trauma, and work towards decolonization.

Midwest  Mixed  Dialogues  team  &  Facilitators

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    Aziz/a  Bisanz

    Pronouns: They/Them

    Aziz/a Bisanz is a therapist in South Minneapolis working from a trauma-aware, healing justice and decolonization lens. Aziz/a believes in the importance of locating ourselves inside of systems of oppression as the roots of healing work. Aziz/a recently completed a three year training program to be a Somatic Experiencing (SE) Practitioner and uses SE in tandem with other healing modalities and talk therapy models.Their experience includes work with individuals around healing lived trauma as well as generational and historical trauma and regaining personal and collective power and narrative. Aziz/a has experience facilitating in different settings around the intersection of somatic trauma healing, community care and social justice. Aziz/a currently facilitates the Midwest Mixed Dialogues for multi-racial and transracial adoptees who identify with the experience of being socially perceived as white. Aziz/a's maternal family lines descends from the SWANA diaspora (specifically Syria and Lebanon) and their paternal family lines descends from Ireland and land that is now called France.

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    Eleonore Wesserle

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Eleonore Wesserle has spent the past 15 years working locally and nationally to re-define what it means to take on power through story and win. Since 2018, she's been doing this work as the founder and principal narrative strategist at Dreams to Power. Along with Kandace Montgomery of Black Visions Collective, she is also the co-founder of the new community resource Vision Labs – an organizing space grounded in creativity and abundance for collective practice and movement-making. In all of her work, Eleonore guides individuals and organizations in using strategic communications to harness their dreams and create transformative social change. As a mixed-race queer woman of Black and German descent who gets read as white, Eleonore lives in the complexity of multiplicity and solidarity as she invites people to remember how to use their imagination, their feelings, and their playfulness to get us all closer to shared liberation.

     

    Eleonore hosted her first gathering of mixed folks who get read as white at a conference table in Intermedia Arts in 2014. Since then, she's facilitated additional "Read as White" spaces at the 2017 and 2019 Midwest Mixed conferences, and co-founded the "Read as White" dialogue cohort with Aziza Bisanz

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    Ellen

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Ellen is a full-time creative, healer, visual artist, mentor, and owner of livelybrush, LLC. She is currently integrating multiracial identity, trauma (individual and collective), and a variety of new modalities into her journey of learning and teaching. Midwest Mixed (MWM) has played an integral role in processing, honoring, reclaiming, and celebrating. She volunteers with MWM in different capacities including
    support to the conference, dialogues and fundraising. Ellen loves drumming and dancing with her 4 children, connecting with nature and diving into like-minded/soul-filled communities.

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    Aziz/a  Bisanz

    Pronouns: They/Them

    Team Member &

    Dialogue Facilitator

    Aziz/a Bisanz is a therapist in South Minneapolis working from a trauma-aware, healing justice and decolonization lens. Aziz/a believes in the importance of locating ourselves inside of systems of oppression as the roots of healing work. Aziz/a recently completed a three year training program to be a Somatic Experiencing (SE) Practitioner and uses SE in tandem with other healing modalities and talk therapy models.Their experience includes work with individuals around healing lived trauma as well as generational and historical trauma and regaining personal and collective power and narrative. Aziz/a has experience facilitating in different settings around the intersection of somatic trauma healing, community care and social justice. Aziz/a currently facilitates the Midwest Mixed Dialogues for multi-racial and transracial adoptees who identify with the experience of being socially perceived as white. Aziz/a's maternal family lines descends from the SWANA diaspora (specifically Syria and Lebanon) and their paternal family lines descends from Ireland and land that is now called France.

  • more profesh expression w clearer focus.

    Eleonore Wesserle

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Team Member &

    Dialogue Facilitator

    Eleonore Wesserle has spent the past 15 years working locally and nationally to re-define what it means to take on power through story and win. Since 2018, she's been doing this work as the founder and principal narrative strategist at Dreams to Power. Along with Kandace Montgomery of Black Visions Collective, she is also the co-founder of the new community resource Vision Labs – an organizing space grounded in creativity and abundance for collective practice and movement-making. In all of her work, Eleonore guides individuals and organizations in using strategic communications to harness their dreams and create transformative social change. As a mixed-race queer woman of Black and German descent who gets read as white, Eleonore lives in the complexity of multiplicity and solidarity as she invites people to remember how to use their imagination, their feelings, and their playfulness to get us all closer to shared liberation.

     

    Eleonore hosted her first gathering of mixed folks who get read as white at a conference table in Intermedia Arts in 2014. Since then, she's facilitated additional "Read as White" spaces at the 2017 and 2019 Midwest Mixed conferences, and co-founded the "Read as White" dialogue cohort with Aziza Bisanz

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    Ellen

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Team Member &

    Dialogue Facilitator

     

    Ellen is a full-time creative, healer, visual artist, mentor, and owner of livelybrush, LLC. She is currently integrating multiracial identity, trauma (individual and collective), and a variety of new modalities into her journey of learning and teaching. Midwest Mixed (MWM) has played an integral role in processing, honoring, reclaiming, and celebrating. She volunteers with MWM in different capacities including
    support to the conference, dialogues and fundraising. Ellen loves drumming and dancing with her 4 children, connecting with nature and diving into like-minded/soul-filled communities.

  • Zeckmeister--DSC_4383_edited.jpg

    nathan zeckmeister

    Pronouns: They/Them He/His

    Team Member &

    Dialogue Facilitator

    Nathan Zeckmeister works in Accounts Receivable for a nonprofit that provides mental health and substance abuse care. They identify as a black transracial adoptee.  Following their upbringing in rural northern Wisconsin they moved to south Minneapolis where they currently live with their partner.

     

    After attending their first dialogue in 2016 they became motivated to become more involved with the organization and continue to learn about identity, race, and community organizing. They will be part of the planning team for future dialogues, and they are excited to help contribute to the group’s evolution. Exploring identity in this group has been incredibly rewarding and they are grateful for the opportunity to share that experience with others. In their free time they enjoy reading, gaming, gardening, and finding quiet spaces outside.

  • me_edited.jpg

    Andrea

    Manolov

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Team Member &

    Dialogue Facilitator

    Andrea is exploring new ways to narrate, connect, and remember local histories of multinational and multiracial family making. At the 2019 MWM Conference she and Nathan began hosting the Transracial/Transnational Adoptee Dialogues. She is a current student in Heritage Studies and Public History program at the University of Minnesota, and a volunteer board member at the Cycling Museum of Minnesota. Andrea joined MWM in 2018 to help plan Kaleidoscope: A Midwest Mixed Summer Social.

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