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2015 Building Bridges Conference to focus on cultural competence

Fargo, N.D.— John Krownapple, a consultant in raising cross cultural awareness, and Shegitu Kebede, a native of Ethiopia and entrepreneur, will be the keynote speakers for the 2015 Building Bridges Conference, March 24-25, at the Holiday Inn & Convention Center, Fargo, N.D. The conference is presented by Lutheran Social Services New Americans.

The annual Building Bridges Conference brings together service providers, educators, and community leaders who work with refugee families. This year’s conference will focus on cultural competence, which means being able to positively interact with people different from ourselves on a daily basis. This year’s theme is “We Journey Together.”

Since 2007, Krownapple has led the development and implementation of one of the first and most comprehensive cultural proficiency programs in the United States. An administrator with the Howard County School System in Maryland, he has used the cultural proficiency framework to improve morale, provide greater access to academic opportunities and enhance student and faculty engagement.

Shegitu has used the hardships she has faced to help others going through similar circumstances. She is the founder of Going Home, Inc., a program that provides job training for immigrant women, and Homework Center, which offers homework assistance and after school activities for immigrant children.

The Building Bridges Conference is hosted by Lutheran Social Services New Americans, North Dakota Department of Human Services, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, and City of Fargo Human Relations.

For more information, go to or email

Our Impact This Year

  • People received help with immigration-related services


  • Problem gamblers who found help


  • Hours of training provided by Child Care Aware to early childhood workforce


  • Seniors provided with companionship in North Dakota


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