Seraphia Gravelle, a Hispanic native of Central Texas, is a long-time resident of the Iron Range. Her background as a Community Organizer informs her work as a culture-builder, leader, and advocate for communities of color on the Iron Range. She works to ensure fair representation wherever decisions are being made in the community. She is the Co-Executive Director of VEMA-Voices for Ethnic and Multicultural Awareness, creating communal spaces that allow people of color to be their authentic selves. VEMA also hosts pop-up entrepreneurship opportunities and cultural events in the community to create exposure and build awareness of the presence of cultural diversity. She serves on the police commission in Chisholm and builds relationships with city governments, local businesses, and nonprofit organizations. She has been featured as a Changemaker in the Minnesota Women’s Press, a Trailblazer in the Lake & Company Magazine, and A voice for Change on the Iron Range on MPR (Minnesota Public Radio).
Born in Ft lauderdale, FL
Resides in CHisholm, MN
Terrence Wilcox (he/him) was born and raised in Miami, FL. He moved to Minnesota in 1997 and lives in Eveleth currently. He started his educational journey at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College. After two years of study, he transferred to Bemidji State University, where he participated in two collegiate sports, football and track. He has earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Biology from Bemidji State University. In his passion for criminal justice and science, he has a Graduate Certification in Forensics (DNA and Serology) from the University of Florida. Terrence is currently a Biology faculty at Lake Superior College. As one of the few BIPOC faculty members in the region, he addresses equity and diversity issues in academia. Terrence serves on various committees and councils on these matters across the state. He believes education is for everyone and will continue to work in the community to close the opportunity and graduation gaps for BIPOC students.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Resides in Hibbing, MN
Born and raised in Rochester, NY. Saturated in poverty and violence, yet I’ve continued to strive for empowerment and generational wealth. Nurtured by God, a relentless single mother, extended family members, and loving siblings that never enabled me to accept defeat.
Prior to completing my Masters Degree in School Psychology, I had dreams of playing basketball professionally. In 2007, while attending Roberts Wesleyan College, I suffered from a ruptured appendix, which nearly stole my life. My existence is evidence that God has a greater purpose for my life.
In 2012, I made the commitment to relocate to Minnesota in attempts to make history. The mission is simple, yet effective; love, forgive, and eagerly serve those that may doubt my existence and contributions. For the past 9 years, I’ve served as a Licensed School Psychologist in Virginia, MN.
Professor Glenn E. Simmons, Jr., PhD, is a cancer investigator and award-winning spoken word artist.
As an Assistant Professor of Immunology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Cornell University, his medical work as a molecular biologist focuses on understanding the connection between inflammation and cancer and the disparities of cancer diagnoses and treatment in communities of color.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, he focused his investigative efforts to test wastewater samples from wastewater plants in several communities in Minnesota, to assist in identifying and tracking asymptomatic outbreaks.
A gifted orator, Simmons uses his storytelling skills to bring forth personal narratives, legacy and his origin story. He has received top honors from both regional and national spoken word events. He routinely delivers keynote addresses and presentations across the medical community, corporations and organizations.
In 2020, before joining Cornell he was named Outstanding Junior Mentor of the Year from the University of Minnesota Clinical and Translational Science Institute, one of approximately 60 medical research institutions working together to improve the way clinical and translational research is conducted nationwide, enhancing its efficiency and quality.
Simmons believes the key to inspiring Black communities and particularly, young men and boys, is through representation and creating a love of science. Through mentoring across a wide array of organizations, Simmons’ gift for oration and explanation inspires curiosity and confidence in his pupils.
Simmons resides in Ithaca, New York with his family. In his time out of the lab and off stage, he enjoys being outdoors and playing with his two boys
Melissa Petrangelo Scaia has lived on the Iron Range most of her life. Her efforts to end racism, sexism and homophobia began in the early 1990’s. In the fall of 1991, she helped to organize an anti-racism event when a number of black men attending Hibbing Community College (HCC) experienced racism in Hibbing. She is an international expert on violence against women and girls (VAWG). Currently, she is the Director of International Training at Global Rights for Women (GRW). Recently, she also became involved with the Equal Justice Committee on the Iron Range. As a board member and treasurer with VEMA, she seeks to support the BIPOC leaders and community members on the Iron Range, while also knowing and learning her role as a privileged white woman.
Ruvarashe is fellow living in Hibbing, Minnesota. Originally living in Omaha, Nebraska, Ruva moved to the Iron Range in 2020 for a fellowship position. She is also involved in the Iron Range Equal Justice Committee.
Born in Harare, Zimbabwe, Ruva’s passion for international relations led her into a degree in global studies and minors in economics and community and regional planning at her time at the University of Nebraska.
We have several ways to volunteer in our communities to help further the mission and vision of VEMA to create all inclusive communities. Contact us for more information.
Whether it's a position on the Board of Directors, just looking to volunteer some time, or anything in between come join us as we work to create a better community for everyone!
Our community is full of people who want to help. We work to help the people providing services with the people who need them. Come connect with people in new ways.