Open Path Resources is a Minnesota based nonprofit that serves East African immigrant families and community-led centers by building their capacity to have greater influence upon public policies that affect their current and future interests.
Michael Van Keulen, CoFounder/Partner
Dr. Michael Van Keulen is CoFounder and Partner in Open Path Resources. With 30+ years of experience in education, as teacher, administrator, board member, and founder of several schools, he has been an influence in shaping educational change across the United States. He has worked within the East African communities of Minnesota for the last 17 years and traveled in Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Turkey, China, and across Western Europe for his work. He served as a Hubert H. Humphrey Policy Fellow 2013/14 within the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of MN. He was named an Education Policy Fellow for 2015/16 Center for Policy Design (St. Paul, MN) and the Institute for Educational Leadership (Washington D.C.).
Imam Sharif A. Mohamed, CoFounder/Partner
Imam Sharif Abdirahman Mohamed, also known as Sheik Abdirahman to many in Minnesota, is CoFounder and Partner in Open Path Resources. Imam Sharif graduated from Metropolitan State University in with a Liberal Arts degree in Family Counseling. With 15 years of experience of family and marriage counseling and teaching people about Islam, he is well known in the local community and among Somali Islamic scholars in North America As the Imam and board member of Islamic Civic Society of America (ICSA) he led his community by acting as
co-founder and chair of the Islamic League of Somali Scholars in America (ILSA). He has traveled to Europe several times upon request of the U.S. State Department as an advisor to these nations on how to better engage their sizable Somali communities. This spring he received the Public Leadership Award from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He has graduated from the Fairview Hospitals CPE program and became Minnesota’s first Muslim Chaplain.
Our Board of Directors
Abdisalam Adam - Board Chair
Sheik Abdisalam Adam came to the United States in 1991 and worked as Arabic English-Somali Translator in Virginia before moving to the Twin Cities in 1996. He is the Founder and current Board Chair of the Islamic Civic Society of America, which operates Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque in Minneapolis. Abdisalam also serves on the Boards of Islamic League of Somali Scholars in America, Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, and Neighborhood House in St. Paul. Abdiasalam works for St. Paul Public Schools and has served as a ELL teacher and a Somali Cultural Specialist with the ELL Department and Office of Family Engagement and Community Relations.
Mr. Adam currently is on one year’s leave from his role as Assistant Principal for Highland Park High School in St. Paul so he can finish his PhD studies. He also won reelection to again serve on Fridley Public Schools’ Board of Directors.
Kent W. Elliott Allen has worked in the Minneapolis Public Schools since 1998, both as a special education teacher and, for the last 10 years, as a school psychologist. Issues related to school based mental health, culturally fair assessment, and over-representation of children of color within special education are particularly important to Kent. He is also active in the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, currently serving as the union steward of the MPS school psychologists, working with the contract negotiation team, and having run for election to the union’s executive board.
CoFounder and Executive Director of Islamic Civic Society of America Wali Wali Dirie was born in the capital city of Somali, Mogadishu. There he graduated from Jamal Abdinasir High School. Wali came to the United States in 1996. Wali completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Phoenix University and an Associated Degree at KRS Computer Business College. KRS is now combined with Normandale College. As the Executive Director for the Islamic Civic Society of America (ICSA) Wali oversees the oldest and first Mosque (Dar Al-Hijrah) led by the Somali community in MN. Click HERE to visit the ICSA website.
Ms. Aden is a dedicated, talented PreK-6 Licensed teacher with over 14 years of teaching, and Instructional coaching experience in a highly diverse K-12 education setting. Marian holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Concordia University and is currently pursuing a K-12 principal licensure at Concordia University.
As an educator her number one priority in the classroom is to help students believe in themselves and their ability to learn and succeed. She strongly believes that each student is a unique individual who needs a safe, secure, and stimulating environment in which to grow and mature intellectually, physically, emotionally, and socially. Therefore, it has been her mission to figure out ways to help students face challenges with strength and determination, rise up from failures, and to believe in their own potential.
As she works with staff on a daily basis to guide and support them to improve their instruction, Marian demonstrates collegiality and effective accountability by providing multiple opportunities for teachers to reflect and make positive changes based on student data, classroom observations and joint reflections. Additionally, Marian has served on the TCIS Board of Directors since 2011.
Information about Ms. Aden is forthcoming.
Dr. Odeh Muhawesh is an award-winning scholar and business leader from Minnesota. He founded several successful businesses over the course of 30 years, establishing a strong record of growing revenue and developing competitive products for software and service companies. As chief executive officer, he created thousands of jobs in the state of Minnesota and elsewhere. He received many awards throughout his career including being named one of Minnesota’s 50 Most Powerful leaders and Tech Titan of 2017. He serves on several academic boards including the Board of Advisors of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas, The Norris Institute, in addition to his role as Chairman of the Board of Squigl, LLC. Dr. Muhawesh was named Honorary Co-Chairman of the Congressional National Business Advisory Council in Washington, D.C. in 2004 and still holds that honor.
Dr. Odeh Muhawesh is an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a recognized leader in the interfaith movement and is passionate about bridging the cultural gap between various communities that are part of the American fabric. In this realm, he has received several awards, including an award for Outstanding Citizenship from the Chief of Police of the city of Plymouth.
Paul Winkelaar has been a supporter of Open Path Resources and the Islamic Civic Society of America for many years and joining our Board of Directors in fall of 2020. His joyous but determined organizing to build opportunities for the full diversity of MN’s community drew him to work with our community. Starting in 2017, Paul used his connections to get community members on the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota to invite 30 of the East African Muslim community from the Twin Cities for a sit-down meal and conversation. Paul found funding, organized community and political leaders to join and simply prepared the event which has become a recurring and “not to be missed” event of the year (Sadly, during COVID we have had to temporarily postpone this event for community safety).
As a Social Studies teacher, Paul saw the power of youth leaders and systems that support teachers to be most effective. He is passionate about public schooling as an essential resource for a healthy democracy, Paul earned his Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Minnesota. He now works as a Political Action Specialist for Education Minnesota and is passionate about education and creating viable educational opportunities for children policy work. His current focus is on recruitment and retention of teachers, Every Student Succeeds Act, Adverse Childhood Experiences, student discipline, standardized testing, and children’s health. One of the most connected community influencers you could meet, Paul resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and three children.