A Duluth high school student was one of 23 young women the governor's office appointed to the Young Women's Cabinet of Minnesota after more than 140 applied this fall.
Duluth East High School junior Izzy Laderman is one of 32 young women from around the state now serving on the cabinet that launched in 2016. It's a "first-of-its-kind" partnership between the governor's office and the Women's Foundation of Minnesota dedicated to improving the lives of young women in Minnesota.
Laderman and the 31 others on the cabinet will have the chance to help ensure that when Minnesotans make decisions in government, they're being inclusive of everyone. When reflecting on an orientation in the Twin Cities last weekend, Laderman said that just the act of sitting in a room full of passionate young people was a source of great inspiration.
"There was more diversity than I've ever really been in," Laderman said. "You're just surrounded by so many powerful young people and it was kind of an incredible feeling because you don't always get that, especially in politics and in political settings."
The Young Women's Cabinet is made up of young leaders between the ages of 16 and 24 who represent one of the eight following communities: African American, African Immigrant, American Indian, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Disabilities, Greater Minnesota, Latinx and LGBTQ.
In a news release from the governor's office announcing the new appointments, Gov. Tim Walz said, "Every young woman in Minnesota deserves a bright future, and the best way we can achieve that is by asking them directly what we can do to improve opportunity in their community."
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said, "This initiative is a demonstration of our commitment to not only giving young women a seat at the table, but centering them in our decisions to improve the lives of all Minnesotans."
In September, Laderman and four other high school students organized a strike in Duluth for climate action as part of a global movement. She said she's eager to bring that same passion for the environment and climate justice to the Young Women's Cabinet.
"Through the cabinet you have the opportunity to write policy or testify about policy, and I could use that influence to try and make Minnesota more environmentally friendly," Laderman said.
Laderman, who has a connective tissue disorder caused by defects in collagen called hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, said she's also eager to leverage her experiences as a person with a disability to influence change that's more inclusive of people with disabilities, especially when considering sex education.
"People with disabilities aren't always educated about sex because they're not seen as people who would be sexually active, and then that can create a lot of problems," Laderman said. "There's a lot of assault and abuse that can come with being a person with disabilities, so I really just want to help out with that."
She's figured out how those passions — advocating for the environment and people with disabilities — intersect.
Environmental emergencies disproportionately affect people with disabilities, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Since the United Nations estimated that by 2050 the climate crisis will displace 200 million people, many of whom will have disabilities, Laderman said she thinks it's important for Minnesota to create policy that prepares for an influx of immigrants in a way that takes care of everyone.
Leaders can take four different tracks on the cabinet and Laderman said she hopes to take the policy track, where cabinet members can advise the governor's office, testify and help guide the writing of policy.
Those who accept the appointment can serve up to three years on the cabinet and Laderman plans to spend the next two on the cabinet, though if she goes on to attend an out-of-state college, she would forfeit her final year. The cabinet meets every other week, with the option of calling in for those in Greater Minnesota.
"I want people to know that if they have something that they think the Young Women's Cabinet can help with, then they can contact me or contact the Young Women's Cabinet," Laderman said, later adding that the cabinet can give out grants for community projects and is trying to do more with Greater Minnesota.