MPR News Continues "Human Potential" Series this Month

Press contact: Jen Keavy, 651-290-1271

Minnesota Public Radio News continues its "Human Potential" series this month with a conversation hosted by MPR News reporter Brandt Williams that will explore the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color on Tuesday, March 28. Williams also will host a conversation about the stigma of mental illness in the African American community and how to improve access to mental health care on Tuesday, May 2.

"In this era of sensational and divisive rhetoric, creating a forum for these respectful yet challenging discussions is essential to informing our audiences and uniting our communities," said Ka Vang, director of community engagement. "We'll provide a safe setting where citizens can come together, talk with and learn from each other, and bring forward multiple perspectives."

MPR News' award-winning reporter Brandt Williams will lead community members and diverse guests through the conversations. Williams has extensively covered city government, public safety and courts, race and justice, and livability issues in Minneapolis.

MPR News will host a live blog during both events. Join the conversation on Twitter with #humanpotential.

More than 500 people attended last October's inaugural conversation that focused on why students of color are caught in the school-to-prison pipeline.

Event Details:
Bridging the Divide Between Communities of Color and the Police
Tuesday, March 28, 7 p.m.
Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St, St. Paul
Given recent officer involved incidents with African American men in the Twin Cities and across the U.S., trust and communication between communities of color and the police is at a record low. How do we change that paradigm? How can the police and the communities of color they serve build bridges of understanding and cooperation to reduce fear and mistrust and provide safer interactions for everyone? Guest panelists include Mark Kappelhoff, former federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice, who oversaw the Department's criminal and civil investigations of the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore, and other police department investigations around the country; Janee Harteau, Chief of Police, Minneapolis Police Department; Jason Sole, President, NAACP and Cathy Spann, Executive Director, Jordan Area Community Council.

Panelist bios
Janee Harteau, Chief of Police, Minneapolis Police Department
Chief Harteau joined the MPD in 1987 and worked her way through the ranks beginning as a patrol officer on the street. In 2012, Chief Harteau was nominated by the mayor and unanimously confirmed by the city council to become the 52nd and first female Chief of Police in the city's history. In February of 2016, she was again unanimously confirmed for a second 3 year term to serve as Police Chief. Her achievements have earned her numerous community accolades including the MN Women's Press "2013 Changemaker" of the year award, the Twin Cities Business Journal "2013 Diversity in Business Award", the Distinguished Alumni Award from St. Mary's University of Minnesota and the Toastmaster International Communication & Leadership Award both in 2014, and Team Women MN Leader of the Year award in 2015.

Jason Sole, President, NAACP
Jason has been a criminal justice educator at Metropolitan State University for over seven years and at Hamline University for more than a year. He is a national keynote speaker and trainer. Alongside his career, he is the president of the Minneapolis NAACP and is changing policies that create disparate outcomes for people of color. In addition, Sole was a 2013 Bush Fellow who focused on reducing the recidivism rate among juveniles throughout the state of Minnesota. He is currently traveling the country discussing his memoir, From Prison to Ph.D.: A Memoir of Hope, Resilience, and Second Chances.

Cathy Spann, Executive Director, Jordan Area Community Council
Cathy Spann is a longtime resident of North Minneapolis with over 20 years in the nonprofit field, including such organizations as Phyllis Wheatley Community Center, The Jeremiah Program and NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center. She has worked in North Minneapolis in the public and nonprofit sector building significant relationships with key stakeholders in the community.

Mark Kappelhoff, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice
Mark J. Kappelhoff was an Associate Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School where he directed the Criminal Justice Clinic, directed the Minnesota Law Public Interest Residency Program, and taught a seminar course on Human Trafficking. Mr. Kappelhoff spent nearly two decades as a federal prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served in a number of senior leadership positions, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Criminal Section. In these positions, he enforced the civil rights laws related to policing practices, human trafficking, and hate crimes. Among his many responsibilities, he oversaw the Department's criminal and civil investigations of the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore, and other police department investigations around the country.

Decoding the Stigma of Mental Health in Communities of Color
Tuesday, May 2, 7 p.m.
Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St, St. Paul

Sixteen percent of the nation's Black or African American population has experienced a diagnosable mental illness in the past year. That's over 6.8 million people -- more than the populations of Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia combined. (Source: Struggling with mental health challenges has far-reaching consequences for anyone. But in communities of color, with added stigma around mental illness and big disparities in services, that's especially true. This conversation will focus on how to remove that stigma and ensure equitable access for all. Guest participants to be announced.

Tickets: Free, but reservations requested. Contact The Fitzgerald Theater box office at 651-290-1200 or register online at Reservations can also be made in person at the Fitzgerald Theater Box Office, Tuesday - Friday, Noon - 5 p.m.

MPR News has long been recognized as one of the foremost journalistic organizations in the Upper Midwest, reaching news consumers across all platforms. Reaching more than 500,000 listeners each week, the MPR News radio signal can be heard by 95 percent of Minnesotans. With news bureaus across the state, MPR News has partnerships with one of the largest TV stations in the region, KARE 11, and more than 30 newspapers. MPR News has received numerous awards for its reporting and most recently received a George Foster Peabody Award, Alfred I. DuPont Award and RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award for its investigative reporting. Visit for the latest regional, national and international headlines. Source: Data are copyright Nielsen Audio. Data are estimates only.