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Wendy Reuer, Published June 04 2012

Speaker urges women: Stand up for what’s right

MOORHEAD – Nimco Ahmed is known for her work in politics and civil rights.

But Ahmed – who is currently on leave from her job as a Minneapolis City Council aide to work as the communities of color organizing director for Minnesotans United for All Families – says the political sector isn’t the only avenue for change: What is most important is simply standing up for what is right.

Ahmed was the keynote speaker Monday evening at the annual National Education for Women’s Leadership Development Institute. The conference is sponsored by Concordia College, Minnesota State University Moorhead and North Dakota State University as a means to educate and train 50 women from across the region in leadership, organization and activism.

Kandace Creel Falcon, an MSUM associate professor of women’s and gender studies, said that throughout the five-day intensive conference, women learn everything from how to run for office to how to raise money for groups they support. But the women also build relationships with each other and form lasting support systems.

Creel Falcon said Ahmed was chosen as the keynote speaker because of her work and enthusiasm for empowering others.

“There is nothing easy in this world, but what is really more important is for women to just listen to their heart and their guts and just move forward with it,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed said she was surprised when asked to give Monday’s Diane Meyer Keynote Address.

Ahmed called Meyer a warrior. Meyer, who died in 2002, was a Moorhead activist, the first female Clay County commissioner and a former Moorhead School Board member.

Ahmed said she was first influenced to make a difference in high school. She moved to the U.S. and found herself in a school marred by racial tension between blacks and Somali immigrants.

She set up a mediation plan to help quell the violence and get those involved talking and working out differences.

Since then, she has co-founded the Minnesota League of Young voters, worked for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, helped organize the National Hip Hop Political Convention and serves on the Minneapolis Community Action Partnership, Circle of Discipline, the reNEW Minnesota Campaign and the Trustee Candidate Advisory Council.

“Doing what I do, I don’t please a lot of my friends; I don’t please a lot of my family,” Ahmed said. “But at the end of the day, I do it because this is what’s right. If I was in those shoes today, I would want people to stand up for me, and that is one of the exact reasons I’m standing up for what’s right.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530