A mixed kid from Chicago with cultural roots in Africa, Ireland, India and Poland, Joseph Adamji grew up a “bridge builder” of sorts. He serves as the Director for the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center (KAYSC) at the Science Museum of Minnesota creating bridges between families, community efforts/organizations, educators, institutions and opportunity. They are working to build a cross-sector “STEM Justice Ecosystem” that will bring inclusion and the experiences of women, youth of color, and youth from low income communities to the center of conversations on workforce development, career pathways, education, and leadership in the 21st century. Adamji leads an amazing team of STEM Justice Practitioners who combine STEM learning with workforce development, youth leadership development and civic engagement, to empower youth ages 6-25 to change our world through science. They are building a movement to redefine STEM as a tool for addressing systems of oppression, for the field and for youth. Adamji believes in the power of young people, and in the power of the collective to support them, as they discover their brilliance, find their purpose, and lead us into the future. He looks forward to all the connections we will make to align our diverse needs, visions, skills, and actions for a healthy, equitable, and sustainable future.
Shiranthi Goonathilaka is a Saint Paul native, with an organizing career going on 13 years. Her background is in informal STEM Education and grassroots organizing in policy change, intra community work and political education. She also has experience in institutional change management. During her organizing career she has worked on statewide campaigns such as 15 NOW, Paid Sick and Safety Beyond Policing during her time here in the Twin Cities. Helped create the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s, Environmental Justice Department and new EJ standards for the agency. Shiranthi continued her organizing in Atlanta as a student at Spelman College where she studied Biology, environmental health and psychology. As an campus organizer she led statewide organizing efforts against police brutality, anti-gentrification in the West End of Atlanta and Sexual Assault / Title IX policy reform. She’s also one of the founders of ATLBSU- Atlanta Black Students United, a cohort of Atlanta students working to engage and mobilize other students around inequality and injustice. In her last position, she served as the RRU House Party Coordinator at Neighborhood’s Organizing for Change. She created and facilitated “Resist. Revolt. Unite.” Campaign. A national house party curriculum and model that mobilized community members into creating hubs of independent political power. Taking all of her lived and organizing experience she currently works at the Association for Black Economic Power (ABEP) as the Director of Engagement and Membership Experience and in the KAYSC as the STEM Justice Ecosystem Organizer. ABEP’s mission is to open a Black-led financial cooperative, that serves as a tool to disrupt systems such as capitalism that have profited off of Black pain. Village Financial Cooperative is slated to open on the Northside of Minneapolis in 2019.