All posts by Dale Connelly

I am a writer and broadcaster living in the Twin Cities.

Confronting Racism in ‘Post-Racial’ America | Campus Climate

The Black Graduate and Professional Students Association presents a lecture with LaDoris Cordell, retired Superior Court judge, California. Wed., Oct 28, 1-2:30 pm. Coffman Memorial Union Theater.

Find out about Judge Cordell here.

Free and open to the public. Read more in the Facebook event.

Risky Business: Confronting Racism in ‘Post-Racial’ America | Campus Climate

Assignment:  Attend and record this lecture.  If possible, get an interview with Judge Cordell and talk to some members of her audience about the topics she raises.

Produce a report for the Morning Blend, make speech audio available for public affairs programmers


Blue Line Extension

What are the issues around the proposed extension of the Hiawatha “Blue Line” LRT?

Assignment: Do a report / interview on this impending transit development.


) A rail transit line through north Minneapolis is in the works. The METRO Blue Line extension would connect Downtown with Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park. You can learn all about this project at an upcoming open house in Minneapolis.

METRO Blue Line extension open house
5-7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 29
Harrison Community Center, 503 Irving Ave. N.

Plans for up to 11 new stations are in the works. Two are planned in Minneapolis along Olson Memorial Highway at Van White Boulevard and at Penn Avenue. The Metropolitan Council is also considering two additional stops near Theodore Wirth Parkway that would serve Golden Valley and Minneapolis: one at Golden Valley Road and the other on Plymouth Avenue. A decision on whether to construct one or both of these stations is expected later this year.

Anyone who needs assistance to take part in the open house should contact the project’s community outreach coordinator David Davies at or 612-373-5336. All requests for special assistance should be made by Oct. 22.

For more information on the project, go to

Making the Best Use of Immigrant Talent & Experience

The organization Civic Caucus recently interviewed Rebecca Tancredi, managing director of Upwardly Global, Chicago, IL, an immigrant-assistance firm.
Upwardly Global estimates that the talent pool of highly skilled, educated new Americans is more than 1.8 million.

Assignment: Using the Civic Caucus conversation with Ms. Tancredi as a starting point, schedule some interviews to address the question – is Minnesota doing enough to draw talented immigrants and to connect them with job opportunities.

And if there is a disconnect between the education of the American-born workforce and the skills needed for 21st century jobs, why?

Below is the rest of the message from Civic Caucus regarding the conversation with Rebecca Tancredi:

Talented immigrants need help in preparing resumes’ and preparing for interviews to avoid misunderstandings, Tancredi says. Moreover, immigrants often face ill-considered limits on qualifications to take professional licensing exams, she says.


The United States could be more purposeful, as is Canada, in bringing in people with skills the nation needs, according to Tancredi.



Rebecca Tancredi is managing director for Upwardly Global for the Midwest.  Upwardly Global’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers for skilled immigrants and help them to integrate into the professional workplace.  In this role Tancredi works with employers across the Midwest to help them connect to diverse, highly skilled immigrants, refugees and asylees who come to the U.S. with extensive professional backgrounds and full work-authorization.  According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are over 1.8

million skilled immigrants who are un- or underemployed in the U.S.  When regions can better capitalize on this talent pool, they can solve some of their current and upcoming workforce shortages.



By teaching new Americans how to conduct a successful U.S. job search, Upwardly Global has helped thousands of immigrants move from low-skilled work to professional positions with family sustaining wages.  Prior to Upwardly Global, Rebecca worked in corporate HR and was responsible for staffing and innovative talent development programs.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources from Ohio State University.

Today’s interview is a followup to two Civic Caucus statements on human capital: one in September 2014 laying out the human-capital challenges facing the state today and in coming years and a follow-up paper in January 2015

offering recommendations for maintaining a high-quality workforce in Minnesota.





Skilled immigrants can play a role in helping with shortages in the workforce. Rebecca Tancredi of Upwardly Global for the Midwest said her organization’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers faced by skilled immigrants and refugees and to help them integrate into the U.S. workforce. “We’ve had great success in moving skilled immigrants from unemployment or low-skilled jobs into professional positions, often in the highest-demand sectors of our economy,” she said.


Minnesota has a great deal of opportunity because of its significant skilled- immigrant population. Upwardly Global has just started a pilot project of working with immigrants in the Twin Cities. Tancredi said the organization is currently exploring funding partners in the area. “We’re really interested in Minnesota and think we could play a strong role there,” she said.


The employment barriers skilled immigrants face are very solvable. A lot of the problem, Tancredi said, is immigrants’ lack of understanding of how to do a professional job search. Immigrants would send resumes with the wrong type of information or, if they had an interview, would do things in the interview that are culturally normal in their home country, but not in the U.S.


Tancredi said Upwardly Global does two things:


  • It works on the job seekers’ side, helping them with their resumes, coaching them to talk about their achievements during an interview, to give a firm handshake, and to make direct eye contact.


  • It also works with employers, who are very interested in the immigrant talent pool. But they often make mistakes, as well, Tancredi said. They may make the assumption that an immigrant needs sponsorship, which is expensive and time-consuming. But, in fact, all the immigrants Upwardly Global works with are already fully and permanently work authorized. Employers can become more sensitive to cultural issues and can learn to probe to get to the real issue-whether the immigrant has the skills to do the job.


This year, Upwardly Global will place about 640 immigrants in professional jobs and raise their family income by an average of $38,000 per placement. “It really changes the economic stability of the family,” Tancredi said. She pointed out that over 50 percent of Upwardly Global’s placements nationally are in positions employers report as the most difficult to fill. And Upwardly Global’s employer partners report increased diversity in their workforce and the ability to work in global markets as key advantages of hiring immigrants, she said.



Upwardly Global alumni maintain a retention rate of over 90 percent after one year of employment. She said the alumni tend to be very loyal to the business that helped them break the employment barrier. The retention rate also reflects the ability of immigrants to adapt to the American workforce, she said.


It’s estimated that the size of the talent pool of highly skilled, educated “new Americans” is more than 1.8 million. Tancredi said immigrants, refugees and asylees have arrived in the U.S. ready to work, but can’t find good jobs in their area of expertise. They are unemployed or underemployed in semi-skilled or unskilled job positions making poverty-level wages, she said. In Illinois, she said, the number is around 300,000.


Nationally, Upwardly Global has served 1,250 people this year and will serve 1,500 next year. “There’s a huge population and clearly, we’re not serving everyone,” she said.


In Minnesota, the trend is toward increasing numbers of immigrants. The percentage of foreign-born individuals in Minnesota, Tancredi said, rose from 7.2 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2012. Migration into the state will help sustain Minnesota’s population, she said, since its natural population growth will decline until 2050. According to Minnesota State Demographic Center projections, she said, the state needs an additional 83,100 net new in-migrants between 2016 and 2020 to maintain its present labor force growth of five percent.


Immigration helps offset the decline of younger age groups. New immigrants are disproportionately in their early working years, Tancredi said. The largest age category of new immigrants in 2012 was the 25-to-34 year-old group. “We see that in the people we work with at Upwardly Global,” she said. “Often they are young people trying to take advantage of winning a green card in the diversity lottery. That’s definitely true of the immigrants we have worked with in Minnesota.”

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually. Visa winners are drawn in a random selection among all entries from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The DV Program is administered by the U.S. Department of State. Most lottery winners reside outside the U.S. and immigrate through consular processing and issuance of an immigrant visa.

The refugee population is another significant group in Minnesota. When employers think of refugees, they usually don’t think a refugee might be an engineer they could hire, Tancredi said. The U.S. policy with refugees, she said, is to try to make them independent as quickly as possible. This often results in them taking jobs below their skill level.


As immigrants make up a greater percentage of the workforce, she said, cities and states that capitalize on the pool of skilled immigrants will have an advantage economically. And that will help shift perceptions on immigration from a problem to a source of economic advantage, Tancredi said. “Shifting those perceptions can bring greater opportunities for smart immigration policy that is designed to help the U.S. address workforce issues strategically,” she said.


City and State workforce agencies should specify the ways they would like immigrants considered in their state plans, and recognize foreign-educated workers who are unemployed or underemployed as dislocated workers eligible for use of funding issued via the reauthorized Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).


Employers say workforce-training programs are not producing workers with the skills they need. Tancredi said employers feel many training programs are not preparing people for the jobs most in demand or not preparing them adequately. “It could be that some employers have unrealistic expectations,” she said. An internship path is a great way to get past this barrier, she said, since hiring managers want to hire someone who hits the ground running. It’s not usually what they get, so employers must do some training on the job.


Internships can provide an opportunity for skilled immigrants to close any gaps between what they know and any new skills they might need on the job. Tancredi said her organization has an internship partnership with a group in Boise, Idaho. One of the main drivers for the Boise initiative, she said, was that the city and state were losing out on companies locating there because the population is not diverse. “They are intentionally trying to diversify their talent base to attract those companies,” she said.


The Boise group has funded 250 internships and Upwardly Global is one supplier of candidates for those internships, which Tancredi said are helpful to their clients. For example, a number of Upwardly Global clients might be great with technology and have computer science backgrounds, she said, but the technology they’ve been using in their home countries could be behind what’s used in the U.S. Internships provide the immigrants the learning experience to close any such gaps.


Policy can influence this workforce issue and help different states and employers access the talent pool of skilled immigrants. As an example, Tancredi pointed out that every state has a different approach to licensing engineers. Civil engineers must be licensed as professional engineers before to secure jobs at the level of previous positions. . People who graduate from a U.S. engineering school can take the initial fundamentals of engineering licensing test immediately after graduation which is step one in the process. In Michigan, engineering graduates from foreign schools can also take the licensing test immediately.


That’s not true in Illinois, she said. Engineering graduates must work for four years under a licensed engineer before they can take the licensing test. Because of this requirement, she said, Upwardly Global clients in Illinois will take the test in Michigan and, if they pass, put it on their resume. “Michigan is being very smart about this issue,” she said. “They are funding us to attract engineers and to get them to move to Michigan. And that is happening.”


While Upwardly Global’s ultimate goal for each client is a long-term job position, the organization sometimes uses short-term contract jobs to give clients U.S. work experience.


More than half of Upwardly Global’s immigrant clients have skills in job areas that are the hardest for U.S. employers to fill. Tancredi said the organization’s four largest placement areas are in engineering, technology, finance and accounting, and health care.


Part of Upwardly Global’s program is teaching immigrants about the American business style. “Workers from other parts of the world see Americans as very self promoting, very achievement oriented, very goal directed and very confident,” Tancredi said. “We value numbers and want to quantify things and value extraversion and assertiveness. These are cultural differences.” Because Upwardly Global clients from certain countries might be hesitant to speak up, she said, the organization teaches people how to be heard in a meeting, how to assert oneself and how to recognize social cues.


“While Upwardly Global is mostly about teaching job search skills,” she said, “we are completely available to immigrants after they’re placed in a job.”

Who is Mildred Brunson?

Lauded in the Spokesman-Recorder and Insight News, Mildred Brunson has retired after nearly four decades of serving the community through her work at the Hallie Q. Brown center.

A party in her honor has been planned for the afternoon of Wednesday, August 19th.

Assignment: Attend the party and talk to people at Hallie Q. Brown about the significant difference that can be made by one person. Interview Millie Brunson. Prepare a report for the Morning Blend.


Jonathan Palmer
Executive Director
Hallie Q. Brown Community Center
email contact:
phone contact: (651) 224-4601.

Iran Deal Roundtable

Assignment:  Attend this event at the Humphrey School on Monday, August 24th.
Collect and edit tape for a feature on the Morning Blend

Iran Nuclear Deal

Pros and Cons 

A Round Table Discussion 

Organized by United Nations Association of Minnesota


August 24, 2015, 5:00-7:00 P.M.


Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School of Public Affairs 

University of Minnesota


Moderator: Dean Eric Schwartz

Panel Speaker: Professor William Beeman,

Iran Scholar and Chair of

Department of Anthropology, U of M

Panel Speaker: Steve Hunegs, Executive Director

Jewish Community Relation Council, JCRC

Guest of Honor: Congressman Keith Ellison 

Other guests have been asked but not confirmed. 


Co-sponsored by Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Others are invited to co-sponsor at no cost.


Contacts: Jay Shahidi,

Stu Ackman:

Examining the “Grocery Gap”

Blue Cross / Blue Shield is pitching a story to KFAI regarding the “Grocery Gap”

Assignment:  Do a Morning Blend interview or a produced field piece about statewide efforts to address this problem.  Is this one area where residents of rural Minnesota and low-income inner city residents might find common purpose?

Press release below:

Minnesotans say the state’s “grocery gap” is a barrier to healthy eating, according to a new poll commissioned by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

The Center announced the latest findings from its state-wide poll that show a majority of those polled say not all Minnesotans have access to healthy food and stores that offer healthy choices is an obstacle for many.

Would you be interested in a story about the poll findings showing how our surroundings – the places where, we live, work and play – impact our access to healthy food? And, to set up a time to talk with the head of the Center or one of the community groups involved in healthy solutions throughout the state?

Some interesting findings include:

  • A “grocery gap” is felt by many Minnesotans, with nearly half (49 percent) reporting that not having a store nearby that sells healthy food impacts what they eat. Most Minnesotans (73 percent) also say difficulty finding healthy food on-the-go influences their decisions.

The results of the poll underscore how much a person’s surroundings can influence the choices they make and ultimately impact their health. I’ve included the news release in this email (see below).

To illustrate the state’s “grocery gap,” we have included a link to the infographic and fact sheet.

Please let me know your thoughts and I’ll put you in touch with the head of the Center or one of the community groups involved in healthy solutions in your area.


Media Contacts

Katie Priebe

Christian Knights
651-662-4058 (office)

Tracy Carlson
612-455-1717 (work)
612-232-6578 (cell)

Ballpark Tours Takes Fans South

Assignment:  Interview Julian Loscalzo about the baseball fans’ view of the formalizing of relations with Cuba.

Julian Loscalzo

Ballpark Tours/JEL Consulting

1141 Portland Ave.

St. Paul, MN 55104


CUBA – The Diamonds to Our South

December 4 -14, 2015



Itinerary shall be changed to coincide with Baseball Games

Full detailed day by day itinerary will be provided in November

Cuba has sent many ballplayers to the U.S. major leagues (not always by choice). From Ballpark Tours viewpoint, in addition to great baseball and players, Cuba has also sent us some darn good rum, great cigars and one heck of a sandwich. Travel restrictions to Cuba are loosening for the first time in more than 50 years, it’s time we gave something back – like a busload of baseball fans traveling Ballpark Tours style!  This is your opportunity to visit and take in Cuba – its sights, sounds, tastes and culture – all based in a shared love of baseball. Our trip will include plenty of on-field action and a variety of activities promoting interactions with the Cuban people.

Brief Itinerary

December 4 – Arrive Miami Arrive Miami and check into the Miami International Airport Hotel in the Airport Terminal.  Group meeting and orientation.   Overnight

December 5 – Miami to Havana ( D, R) Check in with charter air carrier and fly to Havana.  Clear arrival procedures.   You will visit the country’s capital on a motorcoach tour of modern Havana with your Cuban Host.    On your way, you’ll discover breathtaking colonial buildings, the picturesque, seaside Malecón and other iconic sites. You’ll see prominent landmarks, palaces, scenic squares and locals going about their daily lives as you drive through streets.

Check in at your hotel and get acquainted with your Cuban guide/tour leader during an afternoon program orientation.

Evening: cocktail party and meeting with Cuban baseball journalists for an introduction on the history of the National Baseball Championship (Serie Nacional de Beisbol). Then enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Evening “on your own”. Enjoy the cultural options.

The National Baseball Championship generally runs from November through April with a schedule of 90 games per team in the regular season. The series is then followed by 3 playoff rounds culminating in a championship.The baseball System is not a single baseball league; rather it is a structure of leagues and series that culminate in the National Baseball Championship (Serie Nacional de Beisbol) and the selection of the Cuba National Baseball Team.   All of the provinces in Cuba are represented by teams. The top four teams from each league advance to a playoff, with the winner crowned in April. Two teams have dominated the National Series in recent years: Industriales and Santiago de Cuba.

NOTE:  Baseball games are scheduled in the afternoon and evenings.  The program will be adjusted for games.

December 6, & 7 – Havana (B,L,D)  Breakfast daily at hotel

While in Havana,  meet with representatives of the Baseball Federation of Cuba (Federacion Cubana de Beisbol), the governing body of the sport of baseball in Cuba, enjy an insider exclusive lecture on baseball with a Cuba sports historian and retired Cuban baseball players and share an open discussion about America and Cuba’s favorite pastime.

Enjoy guided walking tours of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and learn about the areas famous architecture and historical sites.  Visit a famous Cigar Factory, Rum Museum and Havana Map Museum  Have Lunches in  restaurants where you can enjoy traditional Cuban dishes and music live!

Visit the Revolution Museum and stop at the plaza known as the Parque Central (Central Park) for an “esquina caliente,” a lively discussion about Cuban baseball.  Here local Cubans gather to discuss the games.  Meet with the staff of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People,  see the Revolution Square and Jose Marti Memorial.  At Christopher Columbus cemetery one of the most elaborated burial grounds in the world,  admire the Baseball Monument devoted to those who extensively promoted the ball game in 19th and 20th century.

Dinner at selected Paladar (home restaurant) or government restaurant on December 6.  The December 7 dinner on own (so many choices).

Afternoons or evenings: attend baseball games at Latinoamericano Stadium, popularly known in Cuba as “The Colossus of Cerro,” the home of Ciudad Habana Industriales. The stadium holds 55,000 people. In 1999, it hosted an exhibition series between Cuban National Team and the Baltimore Orioles.

December 8 – 11 (B,L,D)  Havana, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Havana

During these 4 days you will visit Santa Clara, the capital city of the province of Villa Clara, the most central region of Cuba.  Santa Clara was the site of the last battle of the Cuban Revolution in late 1958, led by Ernesto Che Guevara. Guevara’s column first captured the garrison at Fomento.

Visit to Ernesto Che Guevara Square of Revolution and Mausoleum  and attend a baseball game either in the afternoon or evening  at Augusto César Sandino Stadium, home of Villa Clara Naranjas. The stadium holds 20,000 people.

The next day drive to Trinidad.  Enjoy a guided walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, a perfect relic of the early days of the Spanish colony with beautifully preserved streets and buildings with hardly a trace of the 20th century anywhere.  Attend a baseball game at Jose Antonio Huelga Stadium, home of Sancti Spiritus Gallos. The stadium holds 13,000 people.

On December 10 continue to Cienfuegos, tour the city and visit a sport school. Cienfuegos, founded by French immigrants at the beginning of the 19th century and renowned for its wealth of stunning historical buildings.   On December 11 visit the Bay of Pig and the Playa Giron Museum on your way back to Havana.

In Cienfuegos watch the Camaroneros play  at Cinco de Septiembre Stadium, which holds 30,000 people.

Stay overnight in Santa Clara, Trinidad and Cienfuegos, and Havana (1 night each).  Attend the baseball games as scheduled in the afternoon or evenings.

December 12 – 13 (B,L,D)  Havana, Vinales, Havana

Now tour the western part of Cuba, driving to Vinales, via Los Jasmines and the Vinales Valley.  See the Mural de la Prehistoria and enjoy a boat trip through the Indian Cave.    Explore the Vinales Valley, containing the most spectacular scenery in Cuba and some of the most interesting and varied geological formations on the island. The valley is particularly famous for its great freestanding rock formations called mogotes.

Visit local farms and meet with farmers that have grown the best tobacco in the world for centuries and the  Cueva del Indio (the Indian Cave), an extensive cave system.  Enjoy a boat trip through the Cave.

Attend a baseball game at Capitan San Luis Stadium, home of Pinar del Rio baseball team. The stadium holds 8,000 people. The National Series Schedule governs itinerary.

The next day tour the Las Terrazas Community , a coffee plantation, before returning to Havana.  See the Children’s Academy of Baseball at the City of Sport.  This is a good opportunity to make donations of baseball equipment to children baseball players and discuss the remarkable Cuban sport program.

Final farewell dinner in Havana, and possibly another baseball game.

December 14  (B)   Depart Havana for Miami

Breakfast at hotel and check out.  Leave for the airport to take the charter flight back to Miami.


  • Round trip chartered flight Miami/Havana/Miami including departure taxes
  • Round trip airport hotel transfers in Havana
  • 10 nights accommodations including 1 night in Miami based on two persons sharing a double/twin room with private facilities.  Single room surcharge
  • Daily breakfasts at hotels
  • Lunches (8) and dinners (8) in Cuba
  • Tour cultural highlights of Havana, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Vinales
  • Full program of visits with sport officials, baseball players and fans
  • Admission to baseball games as schedule permits (4 – 6)
  • Tour program will include visit to rum and cigar facilities
  • Entrance fees to places visited
  • Full time experienced local Cuban bilingual guide and motorcoach transportation
  • Gratuities to waiters for included meals and bellmen
  • Miami and Havana departure tax
  • Cuba country health insurance
  • Cuban Visa
  • Licensed OFAC Program to travel to Cuba
  • Cuba travel advice and hints, luggage tags
  • Trip accompanied by Julian Loscalzo, Ballpark Tours
  • Operation and tour arrangements by Transeair Travel

Not Included

  • US Passport
  • Transportation from hometown to Miami roundtrip
  • 1 dinners in Havana, so you can dine where you wish
  • Alcoholic drinks and soft drinks not included with meals
  • Telephone calls, Computer, Wifi, drinks, personal expenses, room service, laundry
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
  • Gratuities to Cuban guide and bus driver, maids
  • Overweight baggage – over 44 pounds and $20 per piece checked baggage


2813 McKinley Place NW

Washington, DC 20015

Phone:  202 362 6100

FAX:  202 362 7411