Capella University Fellows Program Announces Next Generation of Twin Cities Leaders

Seven finalists from community-based and service-oriented organizations to receive full scholarships to pursue a master’s degree with the University

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Capella University – an institution dedicated to providing flexible, employer- aligned online degree programs to help working adults advance in their careers – announced the winners of the 2020 Capella Fellows Program. These seven, promising Minneapolis-St. Paul community member finalists will be awarded full-tuition scholarships to a Capella master’s degree program of their choice.

The program’s mission is to help learners build the talent and leadership skills required to mitigate social and economic inequities in the Twin Cities area and surrounding communities. Members of the 2020 cohort, who are currently employed at local nonprofits, will receive a leadership assessment, expert coaching and access to networking opportunities. The cohort will begin classes in January 2020.

The 2020 cohort includes:

  • Shandella Darring, Cookie Cart
  • Heather Kamia, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
  • Maria Mills, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
  • Shanika Lambert, YWCA Minneapolis
  • Mai Yang, Avivo
  • Stacy Heltemes, Pillsbury United Communities Mission
  • Anisha Murphy, Neon (Northside Economic Opportunity Network)

“At Capella, we seek to provide the most direct path between learning and employment – and we don’t stop there. Our Fellows Program allows us to give back by changing lives where we work and live,” said Dick Senese, President of Capella University. “We’re honored to continue supporting leaders with great promise through education and applied scholarship.”

“Education is a cornerstone for growing Minneapolis and laying a foundation for our city’s future,” said Jacob Frey, Mayor of Minneapolis. “Capella University continues to be an invaluable partner to our community and is truly invested in helping to foster community leaders.”

Employees of 34 community-based organizations, service-oriented organizations, and select Capella University employer partner organizations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area agreed to participate as a Capella University Fellows Founding Partner and were invited to apply to the program.

“The workforce is ever-evolving and we must utilize resources to attract and retain top-tier talent in order to compete with nationwide initiatives,” said Jonathan Weinhagen, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber. “The Capella Fellows Program grants top-performing employees an opportunity to pursue an advanced degree of their choosing at no cost, encouraging these leaders to further commit themselves to enhancing the Minneapolis-St. Paul region.”

The selection committee included nine leaders representing non-profit leadership, prominent foundations, and government entities, including the Minneapolis Mayor’s Office, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, Bush Foundation, Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Hennepin County, St. Paul and Minneapolis Foundations, Capella University’s former Board Chair Dr. Marcia Ballinger, and Capella University alumni.

About Capella University: Capella University ( is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Founded in 1993, the university is dedicated to providing flexible, professionally aligned online degree programs designed to help working adults advance in their careers. Known for its commitment to learner success, academic quality and innovations in online education, Capella pioneered competency-based direct assessment programs allowing students to learn at their own pace. For more information, call 1.888.CAPELLA (888.227.3552).


Elaine Kincel, Strategic Education, Inc.,, 202-557-4920