Hamline News

Bush Fellow Recipients


Leadership is one of the core values of a Hamline University education, and two alumni were recently recognized for being exceptional examples of this value.

Charlie Thayer, Hamline College of Liberal Arts Class of 2012, and Lori Saroya, Hamline School of Law graduate, have both been awarded 2014 Bush Fellowships. This is the third time that a Hamline School of Law graduate has been selected as a Bush Fellow.

Lori Saroya has become a well-known advocate for American Muslims in recent years, and currently serves as the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Minnesota (CAIR-MN). CAIR-MN is the leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the state and provides free legal services to Muslims in Minnesota, along with other racial, religious, and ethnic minorities. CAIR-MN covers cases in many different areas, such as racial and religious profiling, employment discrimination, school bullying and harassment, land use opposition, bias-motivated crimes and more. The organization recently received the 2013 Difference Makers Award for making a difference through pro bono work from the American Bar Association.

“My vision is to create a society where Minnesota Muslims and other racial, religious, and ethnic minorities are treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve- in the workplace, at school and in the community,” Saroya said. “The Bush Fellowship will allow me to take my organization to the next level by seeking formal nonprofit management training and learning best practices from civil rights leaders and organizations throughout the nation.”

Thayer has been a strong advocate for the Native American community since graduating from Hamline and hopes to use this opportunity to continue to work for the betterment of his people and his community.

“My goal is to make it easier for stories about Native culture to be told in the voice of Native people. Particularly stories of healing from historical trauma or the aftermath,” Thayer said. “My vision is to create a platform from which the voices of the seventh generation can educate, advocate, and strengthen our communities.”

In the time since Thayer graduated from Hamline, he has worked for the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF), where he has provided outreach to Native American landowners and farmers across North and South Dakota. While at ILTF, Thayer focused on researching various funding opportunities and producing training resources on tribal land office best practices.

“I believe that prior to coming to Hamline I was beginning to develop as a leader, but what further assisted with this process was creating close relationships with faculty at Hamline,” Thayer said. “Gaining knowledge about social justice and how to become an active contributor in my community was extremely beneficial.”

Saroya echoed Thayer’s sentiment about the role the Hamline community played in the development of vital leadership skills.

“In addition to a good legal education, Hamline has given me a community of supporters and mentors. I had professors who went above and beyond to make sure I did well in law school, both academically and personally,” Saroya said. “Opportunities such as moot court, Journal of Law and Religion, and Ambassadors helped build my leadership skills.”

Both alums were quick to recognize particular staff and faculty members who had the greatest impacts on them. 

“Colleen Bell (conflict studies and women’s studies professor) was an inspiration on so many levels,” Thayer said. “We continue to have a close relationship and she provided insight and guidance about my vision throughout the application process for the fellowship. I strongly recommend her courses to current undergrads.”

“Marie Failinger, David Larson, Deb Lange and several others helped make my law school experience at Hamline a positive one,” Saroya said. “They provided me with advice, expertise, and encouragement, and continue to do so even after I graduated.”

Saroya also credits the diverse and collaborative Hamline community for helping to inspire her work and successfully setting her on a course of leadership, scholarship, and service.

“I always felt included, respected, and valued at Hamline,” Saroya said. “My time at Hamline helped me realize that my vision to create a society where everyone is treated with respect and dignity is completely possible.”

For more information on the Bush Fellowship program, visit their website.