Four people will discuss their racial background and experiences, both good and bad, as community members in the Brainerd area at the next Rosenmeier forum.

Their perspectives will be the focus of the 7 p.m. Oct. 5 Rosenmeier forum, “Race Relations in the Brainerd Lakes Area.” The program, scheduled for the Bob Dryden Theatre on the Brainerd campus of Central Lakes College, is presented by the Gordon Rosenmeier Center for State and Local Government, based at CLC. Audience members will be required to wear masks at the event. Time allowing, the audience members will have the opportunity to submit written questions for the panelists.

Panelists will be Charles Black Lance, James Russell, Toy Ross-Sullivan and Dr. Claribel Severson.

All Brainerd area residents, they bring varied backgrounds and perspectives to the discussion.

Black Lance is a Lakota/Ojibwe. He and his wife Kathryn have three children in the Brainerd School District. He has worked in higher education for 23 years and serves as the director of TRIO (Academic Support) Programs at CLC. He also served as the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (Minnesota State) American Indian Educational Liaison for two years. He is a Brainerd School Board member and a graduate of the Blandin Community Leadership Program and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Luoma Leadership Academy. Lance serves on several governing boards for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations including the Cass County Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, Brainerd Lakes YMCA Board of Directors, Brainerd Dispatch Advisory Board, Lakes Area Pregnancy Support Center (LAPS) Board of Directors, Crow Wing Energized Steering Committee and the Initiative Foundation Emeritus Board of Trustees.

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Ross-Sullivan is a Black Indigenous Person of Color (BIPOC), a federally enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and Upper Sioux Community. She is a mother to four adult children and two minor children who attended the Staples-Motley School District. She has earned two degrees while at CLC, communication art and design, associate of applied science and associate of arts. She is currently pursuing her bachelor of social work degree, minoring in psychology at Bemidji State University. Ross-Sullivan is a CLC Raider Connect Coach, serving students by providing mentorship, support, and both campus and community-wide resources.

Russell is athletic director and head basketball coach at CLC. He was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1964. His biological father was killed before his birth. His mother, Tha Thi, married Gerald Russell who was from Des Moines, Iowa and his family came to the United States in 1973. Raised in the Northfield area, Russell graduated from Bethlehem Academy in Faribault and earned his undergraduate degree from Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas. He completed his master’s degree at St. Cloud State University. Russell has coached collegiate men's basketball for more than 35 years and has been at Central Lakes College since 1997.

Born in New Jersey, Severson is of Puerto Rican descent and grew up in that nation. She speaks and writes in both Spanish and English. The owner of The Therapist PLC, she has been in Brainerd since 2009 and is a mental health therapist and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. She has been in business for almost four years, operating as a private practice. She earned a master of arts from Liberty University and a Ph.D. in general psychology from Capella University.