My parents, John and Roberta Mason, were civil rights activist and worked as community organizers for racial harmony and equality. My father served in the US Air Force for 25 years in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He was a member of the 311st Air Commandos Special Forces. My mother has been a leader and advocate for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and works to empower underrepresented communities and minorities.
My father began training me in Martial Arts when I was 5 years old. I became the All New England Black Belt All Around Champion and National Black Belt Champion. Ultimately, I won and was awarded World Black Belt Champion in 1996 .
I grew up in Somersworth, New Hampshire where we were the only African American family in our community. My parents sent me to St. Thomas Aquinas (STA) High School in part because STA provided a more inclusive and safer social environment. This experience influenced my commitment to community engagement and multi-cultural affairs.
My parents and I were committed that I attend a HBCU - Historically Black Colleges and University. I chose Kentucky State University where I completed Graduate Degrees in Public Administration & Government, Business Administration, and Management Information Systems. It was my work on the Center of Excellence for the Study of Kentucky African Americans (CESKAA), however, that expanded my world view of the impact and untold story of the African American experience.
Through advocacy, grassroots, and community activism, I worked on voter registration and turnout for the Obama for America campaign. I created an empowerment program (Get a Kick Out of Life) where I toured America's schools and HBCUs. In corporate America, I worked to advance Human Capital strategy and engagement initiatives to advance diversity, inclusion, and equity. In university administrations, I advanced Organizational Effectiveness initiatives and served as a Senator in the UMN Senate for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
June 2015 - I married the love of my life, Nick Leonard. Together, we continue to advocate for a more inclusive and united Minnesota. We live in Southwest Minneapolis where we have had businesses and been committed to serving the people of Minnesota in political office.
Nick was a Democratic primary candidate for US Senate in the 2018 special election to fill Senator Al Franken's seat. I served as his Campaign Strategist and led his Diversity strategy on LGBTQ and underrepresented communities.
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