West Bank Coalition sees influx of new members

After months of influx, the organization now has a full board and a new director.

by Eliana Schreiber

Five new faces joined the West Bank Community Coalition Board of Directors in June as its executive director prepared to leave the group.

The WBCC now has a full board after months of turnover and elected a replacement for former Executive Director Mohamed Mohamed. The coalition’s new executive director is Mubashir Jeilani.

A familiar face

Jeilani comes from a background of youth work and also serves on the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood Revitalization Program board.

Before his appointment as executive director, Jeilani — who has lived in Cedar-Riverside for almost 17 years — was in several youth groups during his teenage years. Later, he served as a WBCC board member, leading its youth outreach.

“I have a really deep and strong connection to the residents of the community, to the youth of the community because, in part, I am the community,” he said.

Jeilani said he wants to focus on employment in the area. He said many problems youth face are linked to unemployment.

“I know a lot of these kids personally,” he said. “I feel like I have this moral obligation to do the best I can to serve them.”

To combat problems in the neighborhood, Jeilani said he wants to provide more safe spaces — like increased mosque

involvement — in the community for homeless youth.

Jeilani said he is excited to see what the WBCC accomplishes in coming years and hopes to represent the entirety of the West Bank community.

Re-establishing the WBCC

At the board’s June meeting, five new members joined, making a full WBCC board, said Treasurer A.J. Siddiqui.

Jeilani said the abundance of young people and new perspectives will help bring the board to its full potential.

“Cedar-Riverside is the only neighborhood that has a vibrant, diverse, inclusive board,” said board Chair Mohamed Jama.

And while the board has seen a lot of turnover in the past year, Siddiqui said the board, which has done more in the past couple years than it has previously, is re-establishing itself.

“I think we’re in good shape,” he said.

While there are still issues to discuss, like affordable housing and accommodating increased population, he said the board has had many successes in the past year.

“There is progress,” Siddiqui said. “I think we’re getting better.”

Saying goodbye

Mohamed, who held the executive director position for 18 months, transitioned out of the board to spend more time with his newborn son, he said.

He said he will miss the board but is excited to spend time with his newborn and to do website and social media consulting work full time.

During his tenure, Mohamed said the board did a lot of internal organization work and more community engagement.

He said highlights of his tenure include the first-ever West Bank Farmers Market, a neighborhood survey with over 100 responses and a petition to keep cars off the proposed Samatar Crossing.

“I’m really proud of the work we’ve done over the past year and a half, and I want to make sure that it keeps progressing,” Mohamed said.

In particular, he said he is proud of the board’s work with the community’s youth, like a leadership program with Augsburg College and the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. The board also gave stipends to youth to promote events, Mohamed said.

While he is ready to leave the organization, Mohamed said he will miss the community he got to know by working in Cedar-Riverside.

“A lot of great people [live] in the neighborhood,” he said. “I’m definitely going to miss them the most.”