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Advisory Board Members

Brett Buckner

Definitely Someday is proud to announce the appointment of Brett Buckner to its inaugural Advisory Board. Mr. Buckner is a third generation Minnesotan whose family has been residents of the North Minneapolis community since 1919.

 

“Having Brett on our board is a great advantage for our clients,” said Definitely Someday founder Shannon Watson. “He has been working to encourage voting and civic participation by diverse groups for two decades, and his passion for that cause is evident in everything he does.”

 

Currently, Brett is the managing director for OneMn.org, a statewide coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to Minnesota's racial, social and economic equity and inclusion. He has also been the principal of “Base, Network, & Power” since 2010, a consulting group dedicated to advancing political engagement for the African, African-American, Latino, Asian, and Native American (ALANA) communities. Brett has also worked for Congressman Keith Ellison, the Minnesota DFL, and the U.S. Census Bureau.

 

Brett serves as the chair of the Minnesota Common Cause advisory board, and as a member of the Metropolitan Independent Business Association (MetroIBA) Public Policy committee. From 1999-2003, Brett served as a Vice President with the Minneapolis Branch of the NAACP and as its President in 2003-2004. Brett received the NAACP Region IV Man of the Year award in 2007.

 

“I'm honored to be a part of such an important effort at a critical time on our democracy,” said Brett. “Shannon's vision to prepare aspiring public servants to become great candidates is a remarkable service for all Minnesotans and I'm proud to support her in this endeavor.”

 

Brett graduated from North Community High School in Minneapolis, attended Hampton University in Virginia, and graduated from Metropolitan State University with a BA in Individualized Studies: “Equity, Engagement, and Empowerment in the 21st Century”. He recently returned to Metro in the Masters of Advocacy & Political Leadership (MAPL) program, and was also a 2014 Roy Wilkins racial and social public policy Community Fellow.

 

“Brett’s deep roots in Minneapolis and his passion for inclusive democracy make him who he is,” Watson said. “He has worked both in the spotlight and behind the scenes to do everything he can to make our political process inclusive and responsive to all Minnesotans.”

Jennifer DeJournett

Definitely Someday is thrilled to announce the appointment of Jennifer DeJournett to its inaugural Advisory Board. Mrs. DeJournett is a well-known Republican operative. In 2016, she served as the Minnesota State Director for CARLY for America, and in 2012 she was the Deputy State Director for Newt Gingrich for President.

 

“Jennifer will be a fantastic asset for our board,” said Definitely Someday founder Shannon Watson. “She has been a tireless advocate for Republican women at all levels of government, and without her leadership many of the candidates she has mentored might not be in office today.”

 

“Encouraging and mentoring individuals considering a run for political office is a passion of mine.  Helping individuals understand the process and learn from the experiences of others who have run for office is important.  I am looking forward to helping future leaders amplify their voices and encouraging them to serve their communities,” said DeJournett. 

 

In 2007 Jennifer founded the only center/center right organization in the Midwest, which supports common sense pocketbook women candidates. Under her leadership, VOICES PAC and its partner the Women’s Victory Fund, has sustained a positive win record and has built a strong network of women leaders across Minnesota.

 

Jennifer has been an active Republican operative since 2000 and has appeared as a political analyst on many local and national radio programs, as well as TPT’s Almanac.  She has spoken at local and national conventions about critical conservative policy issues and election strategy. 

 

Jennifer currently serves on the Minnesota Construction Code Advisory Council and as a Commissioner on the Three Rivers Park Board. She also served two terms on the Minnesota Commission on National and Community Service; on the Budget Advisory Committee for the City of Brooklyn Park; as vice chair of the Brooklyn Park Human Rights Commission; a parent volunteer at Beacon Academy; a Meals on Wheels volunteer; and a parishioner at Mary Queen of Peace.

 

“Jennifer embodies what we want bipartisanship to look like,” said Watson. “She advocates for the causes and candidates she believes in, but deliberately and passionately makes and maintains friendships with people from all ideological spectrums. Our future political climate is essential on that kind of approach and she sets a great example.”

 

Jennifer has lived in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and Minnesota. She is a graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, specializing in Structural Engineering, and has completed a Mini MBA through the University of St. Thomas Executive Education Series. She is a mother of four children and is married to her husband Todd.

Dwayne Lowman

Definitely Somedayis proud to announce the appointment of Dwayne Lowman to its inaugural Advisory Board. Mr. Lowman was first elected to the City Council in 2013, winning the seat by only three votes. 

“We are so happy to have Dwayne join the Board,” said Definitely Someday founder Shannon Watson. “Dwayne is a home-grown leader with some really unique experiences, and he has a fantastic approach to public service.”

As the First District City Council Member for Bloomington, Lowman represents the southeast corner of the city.  He has over 10 years of experience planning and managing human resources for major Minnesota-based companies.

“Perils and opportunities are found in each vocation,” said Lowman. “Face the rickety old bridge riddled with risk and challenge for it may lead to new perspectives.”

Dwayne is a member of the Bloomington noon Rotary club, and a former President of the Toast of the West Toastmaster’s club where he was recipient of an International Speech contest award and the Marian Christian Justice Award. He was elected President and Chair of the West Bank Community for two terms while at Augsburg College.

Dwayne has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Urban Studies, concentrating in Public Administration and Community Economic Development, from Augsburg, and was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in 2005-2006 at the International Business University of Gothenburg, Sweeden.

“Dwayne is a truly independent thinker,” Watson said. “He has this awesome ability to look at issues through so many different prisms. He’s not tied to one party or one way of thinking, and that makes his approach that much more thoughtful. He’s a great example of how mainstream Americans are starting to approach politics.”
 

Reid LeBeau

Definitely Someday is pleased to announce the appointment of R. Reid LeBeau II to its inaugural Advisory Board. Mr. LeBeau is an attorney and lobbyist representing tribes in Minnesota and South Dakota. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and grew up in Pierre, South Dakota.

 

“I am so honored to have Reid join our Board,” said Definitely Someday founder Shannon Watson. “He is well-known, well-respected, and an effective lobbyist at the Capitol. He is a proven relationship-builder with people on both sides of the aisle, as well as being an expert in campaign finance and election law.”

 

"When Shannon approached me with this idea last year -- to start working with potential candidates several years before they would run -- I was intrigued," said LeBeau. "I'm looking forward to helping further shape that vision in an official role on the advisory board."

 

As a lobbyist, Reid has over a decade of lobbying experience which includes lobbying on behalf of tribes in Minnesota and South Dakota before both the state legislature and Congress. Reid has also lobbied on a variety of client issues ranging from alcohol policy to government data privacy. His lobbying talents are enhanced by his previous experiences working at numerous levels of government. Reid has interned for the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington DC, authoring a study on Fatherhood in Indian Country, interned for the Governor of South Dakota, and worked as a law clerk for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

 

As a litigator, Reid is experienced in advising tribes on a variety of state and federal regulatory issues and has extensive experience in the areas of campaign finance and election law. He has successfully defended members of the Minnesota House of Representatives in election law disputes and has appeared before the Minnesota Supreme Court. Reid has also authored articles and given numerous presentations on Minnesota and federal election law, and notably, the applicability of state and federal election law to Indian tribes.

 

“Our Native communities have been disproportionately affected by government without having adequate representation in positions of power,” said Watson. “I have admired Reid’s work on behalf of these communities – his own community – for years, and I think his is an invaluable voice to have at our table, as we work to develop future leaders that are truly representative of the people they serve.”

 

LeBeau has served in a variety of leadership positions, most notably, as the Chairman of the University of Minnesota Student Senate and ABA Lt. Governor for Legislative Affairs for the 8th Circuit. He graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris in 2002 and is a 2005 cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School. He is the 2001 Truman Scholar from the State of South Dakota.

Don Ness

Definitely Somedayis proud to announce the appointment of Don Ness to its inaugural Advisory Board. Mr. Ness joins the Board with more than 20 years in public leadership, culminating with a 91 percent job approval rating in his role as Mayor of the City of Duluth.

 

“We are thrilled to have Don join the Board,” said Definitely Someday founder Shannon Watson. “Most people outside of Duluth just know of him as the Mayor, but he’s been working on developing emerging talent and civic engagement since he founded the Bridge Syndicate back in 2001. I can’t think of anyone better to help guide our work.”

As Mayor, Ness served as Chief Executive of city operations, overseeing a $250 million annual budget, and inspiring the collaboration of the city’s 850 staff members. His administration turned the city’s budget deficit into a surplus and greatly improved overall operations by staying true to the motto, “Own it. Solve it.” Prior to his tenure as Mayor, he was the campaign manager for Congressman Jim Oberstar for nearly 10 years.

 

Ness’ experience in office has allowed him to sharpen his exceptional leadership skills, while making him an expert in public policy, strategic messaging and community outreach. His core values include a deep dedication to his family, and an ongoing spirit of service to his community. He continues to serve the Duluth community as a voice, volunteer and supporter of a variety of causes and organizations.

 

Ness believes a leader can create significant value and collaboration through a willingness to challenge conventional thinking, and by demonstrating a modest, restrained, and thoughtful use of authority within a leadership position.

 

"The brokenness of our nation's politics can be blamed on having a far too narrow spectrum of personality types committing to public service,” said Ness. “For the health of our country and our democracy, we must encourage and inspire thoughtful, solution-minded citizens to serve."

 

Ness is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, majoring in business administration and economics, and he earned a Masters in Management from the College of St. Scholastica. 

 

“Don is exactly the kind of leader our clients look up to and want to become,” Watson said. “Our goal is to have more people approach public service the way he does, and his knowledge and experience are invaluable assets.”

Mallory Patrow

Definitely Someday is pleased to announce the appointment of Mallory Patrow to its inaugural Advisory Board. Ms. Patrow is currently a senior at the University of Saint Thomas pursuing a double major in Political Science and Communications and Journalism.  During the past year she has been conducting original research focused on political cynicism in young adults and will be presenting her findings in November of 2016.  

“I am proud to have Mallory join our Board,” said Definitely Someday founder Shannon Watson. “She brings a student perspective to the table, and that is valuable, but her political savvy makes her viewpoint all the more relevant to what Definitely Someday is trying to achieve.”

While at Saint Thomas Mallory has served as a Co-President of the Political Science National Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha, as well as a Neighborhood Student Advisor working to develop relationships between staff, students and neighbors.  She has worked with various companies throughout the twin cities area including WomenWinning, the Minnesota DFL House Caucus and Hubbard Broadcasting/KSTP-FM.  She is currently a student manager at the cafeteria at Saint Thomas and a law clerk working on Social Security Disability issues at Hoglund, Chiwalkoski, and Mrozik PLLC.  

"In 2015 I was part of a mentorship program between the University of Saint Thomas and the Citizens League, and I was lucky to be paired up with Shannon,” said Patrow. "I am so excited to be a part of this board and I look forward to what we can accomplish."

“I was the lucky one,” said Watson. “Mallory is extremely smart and thoughtful and really good at asking the right questions. She seizes opportunities that come her way and she’s an incredibly hard worker. Definitely Someday will benefit from her input now, and we’ll be able to say we ‘knew her when’ as she does awesome things in the future.”

Kaying Thao

Definitely Somedayis thrilled to announce the appointment of Kaying Thao to its inaugural Advisory Board. Kaying is a former School Board Director for Roseville Area Schools - the same district she graduated from, and where her children attend today. She also served as a Human Rights Commissioner for the city of Roseville for 5 years, and was the former state director for the Young Elected Officials Network, a nonpartisan program of People for the American Way Foundation, which provides a network of support to the newest generation of elected leaders at every level of office. Kaying recently departed the Minnesota House of Representatives where she served as a Legislative Assistant for four sessions. She is currently the Public Policy Advocate in the Office for Social Justice at Catholic Charities.

“We are very excited to have Kaying serving on our board,” said Definitely Someday founder Shannon Watson. “She has been a staff member at the state level, a local elected official, and a citizen volunteer within her community. She is the whole package.”

"I'm very excited for this opportunity to be on the advisory board. I wish I had the support of an organization like this when I first ran for office,” Kaying said.  “My first campaign was baptism by fire, and since then, my passion to help others prepare to run for office has grown. I have been involved with various national organizations doing similar work, so it's nice to finally have something more local.”

Kaying holds a Master's degree in Public & Nonprofit Administration, and is a candidate in the Education Doctorate program at Hamline University in St. Paul. She is also the proud mother of two daughters, ages 16 and 14, and a son, 13, and together they love spending time with their grandparents and cousins.

“The thing I most respect about Kaying is her tenacity,” said Watson. “She juggles a primary job, and being a mom, and a student, and a community advocate all at the same time. She steps up when called upon, but she’s not afraid to ask for help or admit when something isn’t working. She is the best role model because she doesn’t perpetrate the myth that having it all is effortless.”
 

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