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MnEEP’s 2022 Ron McKinley Award winners

Each year, the MnEEP Professional Team identifies and confers a Ron McKinley, All My Relations- Equity in Action Award to true warriors for racial justice and education equity who work to impact systems, structures, and cultures to undo systemic racism and colonial settler harm in education.

Ron was a proud American Indian, and MnEEP’s founder in the late 1980s. He spent his career advancing educational opportunities for Indigenous, Black, brown, and Asian students. He believed in cross-racial/cultural collective action and solidarity.

“All My Relations” is a powerful expression used by the many nations of American Indians to express the interconnectedness and oneness of humanity. 

These awardees are people who have been driven by a desire to transcend their immediate community of people to connect with others different from themselves in creating an education reality that provides for equitable and quality opportunities for all people. 

We are grateful for the dedication and racial justice work of 2022’s Ron McKinley “All my Relations” winners.

Dr. Michael C. Rodriguez

Michael C. Rodriguez was appointed as Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in June of 2021, after serving as Interim Dean for almost a year. Before that, he served as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education, Diversity, and International Initiatives. 

Dr. Rodriguez first joined the University of Minnesota as a faculty member in 1999, and in 2013 was named the Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development. In 2015, in conjunction with the Campbell Chair, he co-founded the Educational Equity Resource Center. As a Professor of Educational Psychology with expertise in educational measurement and assessment practices, Dr. Rodriguez supports community collaborations to reduce achievement gaps and expand collaborations to improve educational access and success.


Dr. Stacey Gray Akyea

Dr. Stacey Gray Akyea is an experienced, educator, accomplished researcher and dynamic and effective facilitator.  She is currently the Chief of Equity, Strategy and Innovation for St. Paul Public Schools in St. Paul Minnesota. 

Stacey serves on the Superintendent’s senior executive leadership team where she contributes to the strategic direction of the district.  Stacey has over twenty years of experience teaching, training and working towards her racial equity professional purpose beginning with teaching her first class as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Iowa.  

Since that time, Stacey has woven racial equity into each step of her professional career, bringing a racial equity lens to reviewing data for schools, authoring reports on the academic of outcomes of students of color, advocating for additional data disaggregation for students, being trained as a facilitator for Beyond Diversity at the district and most recently developing a racial equity index to monitor gaps across student groups.


Rep. Connie Bernardy

State Representative Connie Bernardy grew up in the community she represents at the Capitol. She serves the St. Paul and Minneapolis suburbs of Fridley, New Brighton, and Spring Lake Park. She is currently finishing an eighth term at the Minnesota House of Representatives. 

Rep. Bernardy is the Chair of the House Higher Education Finance & Policy Committee. She is a former Vice Chair of the Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. She also serves on the following committees: Transportation Finance & Policy; and Ways and Means. 

Rep. Bernardy has served as the House Higher Education Chair since her appointment by Speaker Hortman in 2019.

A champion for students, her work centered on improving access through tuition and textbook affordability, hunger free campuses, comprehensive affirmative consent standards, and for the first time ever, dedicated funding for higher education students of color training to become teachers. 

Rep. Bernardy has also been recognized as a 2013-2014 Champion for Racial Equity from the Voices of Racial Justice.


Billie Annette

“I am blessed to be called grandmother (“Nana” of 8), mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend (friends are sometimes overlooked – I have been enriched with a blend of friends – from a couple dear friends in Dakota country to a farmer’s wife in SW MN to another in southside Chicago and yet another who calls Scotland her home.)

It is good to be Ojibwe.  White Earth is my home reservation; I grew up on the Red Lake Reservation which I call home.

I have been honored to work within the field of “Indian Education” for 42 years (working with the MN Chippewa Tribe Education Division for 36 years thus far and prior to that, 6 years with the Bagley School District Indian Education Department.)

My education includes being a proud 1976 graduate of Red Lake High School; a 1980 Bemidji State University Alumni; and then an older graduate student receiving my master’s degree in Tribal Administration and Governance from the University of MN – Duluth in 2014.

I write poetry and am fortunate to have 3 of my books published.

My language is more than important and continue to be in an infancy stage of learning to speak.”


Dr. Mary K. Boyd

Mary K. Murray Boyd is President and CEO of MKB & Associates, Inc., an education and human services consulting business. She has held several positions in the Saint Paul Public Schools beginning as a teacher’s aide and retiring in 2001 as an Area Superintendent. 

Since retirement, she has served in three interim positions, Manager of Ramsey County Child Protection, Director of Ramsey County Services to Children and Families and Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Hamline University.

She has served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota. She has been the recipient of many awards; has and continues to serve on many boards and committees.

She is first and foremost an educator who cares deeply about her people and the power of education to transform lives. She has and will continue to advocate for the recognition, respect, voice, strength and potential of African/African American children, youth and families. 

Dr. Boyd is most proud of her titles of Mother to Jeffery {Racara) and Laureen, Grandmother to James, Elder in her community and Child of Rondo.

MnEEP Staff

Led by People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) thought leaders and experts, MnEEP uses a race equity lens to develop and advance networks, practices, research, and policies to dismantle racism in education and build a more just, equitable society.

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