Board of Directors

Peter Rachleff, ex-officio member of the Board

  • 18-yr resident of East Side; professor of labor, immigration and African American history with many years adjunct teaching at Metro State Univ; mentor to hundreds of History Day projects, with many students in East Side schools

Beth Cleary, ex-officio member of the Board

  • 18-yr resident of East Side; professor of theatre, collaborator in arts programming mission of ESFL

Vicki Beebe, Member of the Board

  • Community Liaison Director, St. Paul Regional Labor Federation
  • Responsible for building relationships between the labor movement and immigrant/communities of color; has worked closely with United Way

Rafael Espinosa, Member of the Board

  • Staff Organizer, United Food & Commercial Workers Union
  • Long-term resident of East Side; former board chair, Daytons Bluff Community Council; spearhead, neighborhood youth soccer program at Eastside Y and other locations

Gus Froemke, Member of the Board

  • Communications Director
  • Teamsters Local 320 (public employees, state of Minnesota)
  • Responsible for both internal union communications with a far flung membership — University of Minnesota cafeteria workers, public safety workers, workers employed by Ramsey, Hennepin, and outstate counties — and for crafting and conveying the union’s messages to the media and the wider public; member of a “union family”

Marlin Heise, Member of the Board

Todd Lawrence, Member of the Board

  • Professor of English, English Department, University of St. Thomas
  • Todd specializes in African American Literature and the methodologies of Critical Ethnography and Oral History. For the past two years, he has led the January “Civil Rights History Tour” for St. Thomas students. He has worked with ESFL on using critical ethnography in collecting stories of immigrant chefs and restaurant owners
  • Founder and Director, Hmong Archives
  • Long-time archivist, MN Historical Society; creator of the country’s most significant and far-ranging collection of Hmong books, materials and artifacts. (NOTE: the Hmong Archives is retaining its independence as a non-profit but is moving into the East Side Freedom Library)

Rick MacPherson, Member of the Board

  • Attorney, Minnesota Disability Law Center
  • An experienced litigator in the fields of civil rights, employment, and union-side labor law, Rick is a 1976 graduate of the UMN Law School. He was named an “Attorney of the Year” in 2013 by Minnesota Lawyer

Thomas O’Connell, Chairperson of the Board

  • Sociology Professor Emeritus, Metro State University
  • Sociology Professor emeritus at Metro State, with long-term commitments to East Side; co-founder, Farmer Labor Education Committee

Yuichiro Onishi, Member of the Board

  • Chair, African American and African Studies; Associate Professor, African American and Asian American Studies
  • Works with St. Paul Model Cities on development of museum dedicated to African American railroad workers; author, Trans-Pacific Anti-Racism, NYU Press, 2014

Rose Roach, Member of the Board

  • Executive Director, Minnesota Nurses Association

Denise Rodriguez, Member of the Board

  • Past President, St. Paul Federation of Teachers 
  • Grew up on the East Side and has lived most of her life here; taught Spanish in St. Paul middle schools for 36 years; was vice-president and then President of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers; has just retired

Andrea (“Andy”) Steiner, Member of the Board

  • Journalist, MinnPOST
  • Former editor, MN Women’s Press; author, How to Survive: The Extraordinary Resilience of Ordinary People, Think Piece 2

Mary Wingerd, Member of the Board

  • Professor of History, St. Cloud State UniversityProfessor of History, St. Cloud State; historian of St. Paul and Minnesota, with specialties in race, immigration and urban/community class and labor issues; author, North Country: the Making of Minnesota, UMN Press 2010¸ and Claiming the City, Cornell Univ Press, 2001


Brian Vang Tou Xiong, Member of the Board

  • Board Member, Hmong Archives
  • Brian is rejoining the ESFL Board after having stepped away to serve as Chief Diversity Officer at Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Born in the Ban Vinai refugee Camp in Laos, Brian came to Minnesota as a child and worked his way through the public school system. This spring he earned his PhD in Ethnic Studies at Minnesota State University-Mankato. He has been a long time member of the Board of the Hmong Archives. After a year in Moorhead, Brian decided to return to the Twin Cities and he is, just now, rejoining the Board of the ESFL