Dinosaurs and astronauts and cell labs! Oh my! Maybe that sounds like an unusual set design, but those are all fixtures in this Minnesota changemaker’s physical office space. Erica Valliant serves as community engagement specialist for the St. Paul-based Science Museum of Minnesota. In that role, Erica plays an integral role in ensuring that vital cultural resources are accessible to all. She’s also a dogged advocate for housing rights and ensuring that the children in our communities are equipped and empowered to succeed. Here’s a little bit about Erica before she joins us in LA!
Q: Who are you, what drives you, what are you working on, and why are you inspired to make the world a better place?
EV: I am organizer, activist, and mom. I am driven by a passion for being a part of the change that I want to see and modeling civic engagement, independent thinking, and harnessing power from your place and position, for my children and my community. I have been advocating for housing rights at the state Capitol, and serving with Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood Parent Council as a Regional Expert for Heading Home Together: Minnesota’s 2018–2020 Action Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. I am also working on building a community based POCI focused early learning STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) coalition as a part of my access and equity work at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about the physical space you work in?
EV: There are dinosaurs, a giant astronaut, and a cell lab and giant windows overlooking the Mississippi river! The Science Museum of Minnesota is a pretty awesome place to work.
Q: Who or what are you inspired by right now and why?
EV: I’m inspired by the youth because they are going to run the world and it’s up to us to give them the best start.
Q: What excites you most about Upswell?
EV: I’m most excited about getting to meet and be in community with people like me who have passion for something and who pride themselves on not being complacent.