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I So Appreciate You!

Business & Economics Podcasts

I So Appreciate You! is a sometimes raw, sometimes funny and always uniquely insightful account of two colleagues and friends who dig into myriad issues and opportunities faced by people in values-based work. Get inspired by guests from a variety of backgrounds and sectors as I So Appreciate You! explores the challenges and triumphs of people shaking up our community for the better — discussing how these leaders got to where they are today and how they continue to move us forward.


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I So Appreciate You! is a sometimes raw, sometimes funny and always uniquely insightful account of two colleagues and friends who dig into myriad issues and opportunities faced by people in values-based work. Get inspired by guests from a variety of backgrounds and sectors as I So Appreciate You! explores the challenges and triumphs of people shaking up our community for the better — discussing how these leaders got to where they are today and how they continue to move us forward.






Liminal Space: Balancing Your Succession Plan

In Season 3 Episode 6 of I So Appreciate You!, co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert explore why succession planning is so important and what individuals and organizations can do to make leadership transitions successful for everyone involved. Guests Carmen Giménez and Ruby Oluoch are two seasoned nonprofit leaders who share their experiences with leadership transitions. They discuss the role board members play in educating and connecting new leaders and why it takes considerable time to build trust between leaders, board members and staff in order to ensure successful transitions. Having a communicative, established and knowledgeable board can help fill those gaps in times of transition. Another step organizations can take to ensure smooth transitions is general planning around succession. “Succession is an occasion for an organization to do some inward thinking about who they are and what they want. An organization isn’t built around a person, but it is shaped by that person. There’s a lot of adapting that happens, so it’s preparing the organization at a micro level and anticipating the changes that need to happen.” Carmen and Ruby also discuss what individuals stepping into new leadership roles can do to support board and staff members during transitional times and to ease some of their own onboarding. They chat about the importance of protecting your vision and imagination when transitioning into new roles, especially if working in a place of deficit within organizations. Carmen and Ruby talk with Nadege and Melanie about the joys of discovery and learning in a new role, as well as the freedom of allowing yourself to be wrong or to not know everything when becoming a new leader. Rounding out the conversation, they share what emerging research is saying about leadership transitions, particularly with BIPOC leadership, and what can be done to support narrative change in organizations. Links Bell Hooks' Marginality as a site of resistance Robert Sterling Clark Foundation “Brilliant Transformations: Toward Full Flourishing in BIPOC Leadership Transitions” Follow Ruby here: Gems Newsletter Sign Up Ruby's LinkedIn Washington Area Women’s Foundation “Thrive As They Lead” Report Follow Carmen here: Carmen's Website Graywolf Press Graywolf Press Instagram


Designing the Fabric of Community

In Season 3 Episode 5 of I So Appreciate You!, co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert talk to Rammy Mohamed, the designer and founder of Ramadhan Designs who is making waves in the Twin Cities fashion industry and beyond. From a young age, Rammy Mohammed showed a predilection for art and to this day, she credits fine art for much of what inspires her designs. Despite always having a clear eye for design, she wasn’t on the path to becoming a fashion designer when she went to school. Out of a sense of practicality, Rammy pursued a degree in business, yet found herself coming back to fashion in her early professional years, going to fashion school so she could learn how to make clothing and eventually have her own boutique. For Rammy, fashion is everywhere, and thus hard to avoid. She sees creativity behind everything, even in the functionality of seemingly unfashionable things, like a surgeon’s gown. She sees fashion and function as inseparable. “Art and fashion are as important as the doctor. If the doctor is doing the surgery, he’s most likely wearing a gown that’s made by someone like myself. It came from our industry. You need creatives, you need innovation.” But functionality is only one facet of Rammy’s intricate designs. She seamlessly blends her own cultural background into the very fabric of her clothes, bridging her East African heritage with her Midwestern community. As a Muslim woman of Oromo descent, Rammy acknowledges that the culture lends itself to modest designs, but she doesn’t see that as limited just to Muslim community members as people from all cultures may gravitate towards modesty. Rammy’s clothes are accessible to a broad range of people and are at the intersection of fashion where for some their imagination would never let them go before. In her eyes, she’s bringing cultural perspective to high-end fashion and doing it all in Saint Paul, Minnesota, her home that she credits for helping get her business off the ground. In this episode, co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert talk to Rammy about what inspires her—from the artists she follows to her cultural background that is woven through every piece she makes. They discuss her connections to Saint Paul, how she got her storefront in the downtown skyway, and how she’s not only helping to revitalize downtown but also her big plans to make Saint Paul the next epicenter of fashion. Rammy also advises on how to make fashion less intimidating and shares what exciting new projects she has up her sleeve. Links Website Ferrari Sheppard – Artist’s Instagram Marcel Duchamp “Fountain” 1917/1964 MIA Facing Race Awards 2023 Follow Rammy on: Instagram


For Community, By Community

In Season 3 Episode 4 of I So Appreciate You!, co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert talk to Andrea Yoch, Co-Founder and Chair of Minnesota Aurora FC, the first women-led and community-owned women’s soccer team in this country. Andrea Yoch spent her entire career in sports mostly working for men. Although she received support from men throughout her career, she was no stranger to the limitations, lack of opportunities, and inequity the industry has historically been known for. When she started the Aurora soccer team with a small group of fellow sports lovers, she knew that she wanted to give women, people of color and other underrepresented groups more opportunities than she had. She and her co-founders believed that creating an inclusive, diverse and safe space not just for players but for the fans and spectators had to be a top priority. “Part of what’s unique about this team, besides being community-owned, is that we founded it based on our values first. Soccer is absolutely a really important product, but it is not the whole thing. What’s really important for us is to have a space where everybody not only feels welcome but is actually welcome.” From day one, the Aurora soccer team has valued inclusivity above all else. None of it would have been possible without the over 3,000 community-owners from 48 states and 8 countries who rallied together and raised money to create this innovative team. Within 6 months, they raised a million dollars, sold all of their shares, and started a team that is for the community, by the community. This group of community-owners have a say in what the team does, too – they even voted on the team’s name. Knowing that everyday people have spent their hard-earned money and entrusted this group with it to create a team means a lot to Andrea. This aspect of accountability to their shareholders is one of the perks of being community-owned. “It’s sports – you’re going to win and lose on the field. If we’re winning off the field, if we are doing the things we promised our community we are going to do, then we’ve won. That’s for community, by community. This is for all of us. It’s not just for this little group that founded the team – it’s for everybody. The more everybody feels that they’re a part of that, the more successful we will continue to be.” Andrea also shares with Nadege and Melanie the importance of having an honest conversation about strengths and weaknesses when starting something new, what all the team is doing to further connect to the community and gives an update on how Aurora is doing after two successful seasons. Links Minnesota Aurora FC Follow Andrea on: Instagram X LinkedIn


Why Allyship Isn’t Enough

In Season 3 Episode 3 of I So Appreciate You!, co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert talk to Seena Hodges, Founder and CEO of The Woke Coach, about why it’s not enough to be an ally and how we go from being allies to being accomplices. Seena Hodges is in the business of discomfort, and she wants people to get comfortable with it. Her company, The Woke Coach, works with businesses ranging from small nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies, all of which share a desire to make their workplaces more equitable and just spaces. Seena knows that fear is the one thing that stops us from growing and she’s not afraid to work with people on tapping into their fears, biases and discomfort. When working with clients, Seena asks them two things: 1) What is something that they care about implicitly? 2) What is something that angers them more than anything? From there, Seena says that you can find what spurs you to action. She implores her clients, and people in general, to do the work – a critical step for going beyond allyship. “The moment that you’re exposed to something that you haven’t been exposed to before, it is your inherent responsibility to research that – to continue to develop your awareness around that thing or construct or reality for specific people. That’s the responsibility I think people have when it comes from trying to move from ally to accomplice.” Seena also shares her insights on current DEI workforce trends, whether these efforts are working, and why now is the time to continue investing in DEI work. She offers wisdom and words of advice to all people, not just leaders in the workforce, on how to grow and become true accomplices to our fellow humans Links The Woke Coach Follow Seena on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn


Investing in Diversity

On this episode of I So Appreciate You!, co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert discuss mission-based investing and the values of a diverse team in the investments industry with Chief Investment Officer for the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, Shannon O’Leary. In her role, Shannon and her staff help steward the Foundation’s $1.7 billion in assets, ensuring that those dollars aren’t invested and/or supporting any issues or causes that may detour our grantmaking work. Shannon is one of few women spearheading an investment team in a predominantly white male-dominated industry. As a result of this lack of diversity, Shannon has made it her mission to meet with managers in the industry and advocate for change. “One of the most dangerous things in this industry that leads to problems and leads to additional risk is the lack of diversity on these teams leading to group think,” she says. In addition to her work advocating for change in the investments space, Shannon also pens a bi-weekly newsletter to share her experiences working in a male-dominated industry and sharing advice for readers wanting to create change themselves. Links Our Investment Approach Follow Shannon on LinkedIn Say It Out Loud LinkedIn newsletter


Cultivating New Food Entrepreneurs

In the first episode of Season 3 of I So Appreciate You!, co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert chat with Allison Hohn, executive director of Naturally Minnesota, about what it takes to establish a thriving and equitable ecosystem for food-based entrepreneurs in our state. Naturally Minnesota is an initiative to support and accelerate Minnesota's ecosystem for food and agriculture entrepreneurship and innovation. Through her work, Allison provides venues for new food and agriculture business owners to connect with like-minded people, find support for their ventures, and learn how to access resources like investment capital. When establishing a product for distribution, Allison says food entrepreneurs must keep the following things in mind. “Your product has to taste good, you have to have a good brand and you have to have a point of differentiation.” Allison also shares her insights on creating greater access and equitable opportunities for entrepreneurs in the food and agriculture space, what she hopes is here to stay after the pandemic shook up the industry, and how someone can take their product from idea to shelf. Links Naturally Minnesota


Season 3 Trailer

I So Appreciate You! is back for its third season starting September 19! Listen along as co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert continue their sometimes raw, sometimes funny and always uniquely insightful discussions with some of today’s changemakers from a variety of industries.


Why Creative People Need Rest

Co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert take a Seinfeld approach to their final episode of the season by unwinding and talking about nothing; well, nothing in particular and “doing” nothing. Instead of tackling sometimes tough and complex issues that arise in the workplace and philanthropy, they take time to address the commonalities their guests had this season. One theme that emerged is the pressing need for creative people to create time to rest and decompress.


Healing the Harms of Cultural Appropriation

In this episode of I So Appreciate You!, co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert discuss cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation with Anishinaabe artist, advocate and cultural educator Adrienne M. Benjamin. In addition to Adrienne, they also take time to discuss this complex topic with another surprise guest, Dr. Eric Jolly, president & CEO of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation. As Reconciliation Advisor for Minnetonka, Adrienne is working to bridge the gap between the Indigenous community and a white-owned business by internally shifting its culture. As a result of her work, the company is creating opportunities for Indigenous artists among several other restorative actions. Links Adrienne Benjamin’s Website Follow Adrienne on Instagram Follow Adrienne on Facebook Minnetonka Website


Changing Dominant Media Narratives

In a time when the information we consume is often curated or reinforced by what we like on social media or the news outlets we follow, Mukhtar Ibrahim is working to shift the narrative by giving immigrants and communities of color the kind of committed, responsive news coverage that we all deserve. In this episode of I So Appreciate You!, co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert explore the complexities of journalism and the importance of intentionally changing the dominant narrative with the publisher and CEO of the Sahan Journal. “The way you shape and frame a story really matters. And who tells the story matters. That’s why I founded the Sahan Journal, so we won’t have to have that tension or questioning of how we put together a story, because as long as we’re following the basic journalistic skills and principles, everything will just move on.” - Mukhtar Ibrahim Links Sahan Journal website Sahan Journal on Facebook Sahan Journal on Twitter Sahan Journal on Instagram Mukhtar Ibrahim on LinkedIn Mukhtar Ibrahim on Twitter Mukhtar Ibrahim on Instagram


Finding Balance with Social Media

In season 2, episode 5 of I So Appreciate You!, we discuss the value social media has as a tool for connection while also having implications on private life. Our special guest is Sarah Edwards, CEO of Some Great People and co-founder/CEO of Fashion Week Minnesota. Sarah is obsessed with the word “sonder” – the profound feeling of realizing that everyone has a life as vivid and complex as one’s own – and it makes sense given that she loves community and bringing people together. As a connector, a creative, a storyteller, an influencer and a self-described empath, Sarah uses her skills to bridge people together. She views social media as her main tool to stay connected, all while sharing her life — the good and the bad — with countless followers. But making herself so approachable and accessible has its drawbacks. In this episode, Sarah and co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert discuss the pros and cons of being a public figure on social media, the lure of connection and even the power that fashion has to start conversations. Links Follow Sarah on Instagram Some Great People website Follow Some Great People on Instagram Fashion Week MN website


The Genius of Black-led Change

Lulete Mola’s passion for activism and social justice stems from her love of her family and community. Before co-founding the Black Collective Foundation MN as a result of the pandemic and social uprising in Minnesota, Lulete started her own youth-led organization, worked for the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and participated on many boards including Minnesota Council of Foundations and the VoteRunLead National Advisory. In episode 4 of I So Appreciate You!, co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert chat with this special guest and Facing Race Award recipient about her roles as an activist, organizer and philanthropic leader in the community. With the Black Collective Foundation MN, Lulete and fellow founders Chanda Smith Baker and Repa Meka are shifting the landscape of philanthropy by creating a space for Black-led change. “The reality is that when Black people lead, all people benefit,” said Lulete. “There is nothing that reassures me more than the work Black folks have done across this globe, time and time and time again. And if someone asks me what is my theory of change, my theory of change is the brilliance of Black people.” Links Black Collective Foundation MN Facing Race Awards


Using Technology for Social Change

What makes a brilliant app? Is it entertainment value, offering a critical service or something that has social impact? For Andre Creighton, co-founder and chief financial officer of the groundbreaking app TurnSignl, it’s providing drivers with real-time legal guidance from an attorney during traffic stops while a camera records the interaction. Co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert discuss entrepreneurship and the importance of using technology for social change with the co-founder and Chief Financial Officer Andre Creighton.


Intentional Leadership Transitions

Many times, leadership transitions are unexpected, and if a succession plan is in place, the process is handled behind closed doors. In contrast, Jamie Millard, executive director of Pollen Midwest, is leading her own transition out of the organization she has been leading for the last nine years with a years-long, transparent and participatory transition process that can offer many organizations a new way to think about leadership transition. Co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert discuss the importance of having intentional conversations about leadership transitions, trust and transparency in the workplace with special guest Jamie Millard. Links Executive Transition Models - Harvard Business Review Article referencing the quote from Jeanne Bell: What does an equitable executive leadership transition look like? - Race to Lead Trading the Glass Ceilings for Glass Cliffs: A Race to Lead Report on Nonprofit Executives of Color - Building Movement Project A Reading List on Nonprofit Executive Transition - Pollen Pollen Midwest Follow Pollen on Instagram or Twitter Follow Jamie on Twitter


Lessons in Heart-based Philanthropy

Episode 1 opens up with an introduction of new co-host, Chief Marketing Officer Melanie Hoffert, before she and co-host Nadege Souvenir dive into the episode’s topic. This week they discuss the importance of a heart-based approach to giving, with special guest Margaret Wurtele. Margaret Wurtele has been giving and raising money for the arts for years. Her parents were also supporters of the arts. Margaret has worked for Walker Art Center, the Saint Paul United Arts Fund and Dayton Hudson Foundation (now the Target Corporation). She was a co-founder of Hungry Mind Press (now Ruminator Press). As a volunteer, she has served on many boards. Margaret is also a vineyard owner and author. She wrote two memoirs: Touching the Edge: A Mother’s Path from Loss to Life and Taking Root: a Spiritual Memoir, as well as a novel, The Golden Hour.


Season 2 Preview

Nadege Souvenir welcomes new co-host Melanie Hoffert to I So Appreciate You! with a few this or that questions revealing Melanie’s love of black licorice. The pair openly talk about their friendship, Melanie’s writing career and how they are forever bonded by Melanie’s new kitten Lucy Lake. Listen to learn the dual meaning behind Lucy Lake’s name (hint: it also has a connection to Melanie’s new book).


Bonus: Season 1 Wrap & What’s Ahead

In this bonus episode to close season 1 of I So Appreciate You!, co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Pahoua Yang Hoffman reflect on the season and discuss Pahoua’s upcoming career transition as she leaves the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation. Follow us on Instagram Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter


Inclusive Workplaces: How Do We Really Get There?

I So Appreciate You! co-hosts Nadege and Pahoua, along with special guest Christophe Beck, President and CEO of Ecolab, explain the concepts of “mirroring” and “bridging” and discuss how leaders, particularly white leaders, can create more inclusive workplaces.


Creating Space for BIPOC Leaders

I So Appreciate You! co-hosts Nadege and Pahoua explore what happens when organizations transition from white leaders to leaders of color in a thoughtful dialogue with special guest Duchesne Drew, President of Minnesota Public Radio.


Cultivating Your Career Path

In this week’s episode, ISAY co-hosts Nadege and Pahoua discuss the importance of intentionally creating learning opportunities and pathways that allow people to build knowledge and skills for roles that haven't been accessible to everyone. They are joined by Meredith Leigh Moore and Brandon Williams, who share their career journeys and discuss how people can own their career narrative and gain experience to ladder up into new roles.