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Anoka High School graduate living out passion for advocacy

Richnetta photo(03/03/2023) Richnetta Parker, a 2016 graduate of Anoka High School (AHS), is driven by lived experiences to be an advocate for refugee and underrepresented communities both locally and internationally. 

Both her parents came to the United States as refugees from Liberia and eventually settled in Anoka. “Seeing what my parents experienced has really led me to wanting to be an advocate for immigrant communities, families and students,” Parker said. “I’m super passionate about uplifting the rights of refugee communities. My family and my community is what grounds me in the work I do.”

After graduating from Augsburg College where she majored in political science and had a minor in international relations, Parker became a program assistant for the International Justice and Women’s Human Rights Program at The Advocates for Humans Rights. 

The Advocates is an independent, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) non-governmental international human rights organization in Minneapolis. A portion of Parker’s duties include engaging in research and writing for United Nations reporting and in her short time with the organization, she’s had two oral statements that were presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Both topics covered were technical assistance in Cambodia and police accountability in the U.S.

Selected to the Young Woman’s Cabinet 

This year, Parker will serve on the Young Women’s Cabinet, which is a partnership between the Minnesota Governor’s Office and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. The cabinet is composed of 32 young leaders across the state who come from communities that experience some of the greatest disparities in opportunity and outcomes.

Parker will be one of the policy leads, which means she’ll get the opportunity to work closely with the Women’s Foundation to create a shared policy agenda and engage in informative policy sessions with policy advisors, legislators and community leaders. 

“I’ve been doing international advocacy work, which is amazing and surreal, but it hits close to home doing things at the local and state level,” Parker said. “I’ll have the opportunity to testify at the capitol or draft op-ed pieces and formulate policy, which is really incredible hands-on work.”

A future leader

Parker said numerous staff at AHSmotivated her to live out her passions, specifically college and career specialist Colleen Neary. 

“I didn’t plan to branch out that much and then I met Mrs. Neary my sophomore year and everything changed,” Parker said. “She is an incredible human being and saw potential in me.”

While in college, Parker returned to AHS and served as an AVID tutor. She said she learned from students during that experience and is energized by young people, planning to use the energy she has for youth, refugee and underrepresented communities and work in a government office at any level.

“I want to be actively engaging in human rights advocacy work and policy,” Parker said. “I want to be a leader and representative that knows the community I’m representing. That is what I want to embody in the future.”