A community Organizer and an amazing force to reckoned with, Alfreda Daniels, was born in Liberia during the heat of its civil war. She spent her earliest childhood with her mother and eight older brothers, having never had the privilege of meeting her biological father, a medical doctor, who was assassinated after refusing to abandon his patients and shut down his hospital.
At eight years old, the community where she lived was attacked. Fearing for her safety, her mother entrusted to the care of a neighbor who was traveling to the Ivory Coast. They traveled together to Ivory Coast, later moved to Ghana where she stayed at the Buduburam refugee camp for six years before coming to the US through the UN refugee repatriation program. After staying in New York for three months, Daniels moved to Big Lake, MN where she stayed with another family. After graduating High school, she received an academic scholarship to study at St. Cloud State University. Afreda’s journey through the refugee camp and early life in the US was filled with every kind of abuse imaginable: verbal, physical, psychological, and even sexual. These circumstances of her beginning in life are what would help shape the woman she has become today. Daniels graduated from St. Cloud State University and moved to the city of Brooklyn Park.
Daniels was always known as the person often selected as spokesperson to advocate on behalf of others. She became inspired by her experiences as a child in the middle of a war, facing challenges in a refugee camp, and living with sponsors in the US, to not just advocate for others, but to fight to make certain no child experienced what she was forced to endure. “While in exile,” says Daniels, “I realized no other child should ever be forced to live away from their family and become an adult before their time.” She says, that made her “not afraid to speak up at any time and place” when she sees injustice that needs to be called out.
Daniels is a fearless advocate! She helped organize the African Coalition Network and collaborated with multiple other organizations in the city of St. Cloud and in Brooklyn Park. Daniels founded Talent Emergence International, currently managed by a friend and former St. Cloud classmate, Emmanuel Oppong. Today, she is a community organizer for The Minneapolis Regional Federation, and founder of The NW Community and Labor Coalition, working to improve policies around housing, immigration, and education. Recently, Daniels was honored to be appointed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to serve on the Minnesota State Board of Electricity.
Daniels still does a lot of work “back home” in Liberia. She conducts leadership development forums there, teaches civic engagement, humanitarian work, and invests in children that have talent. Peers see the work that she does both in Liberia and here in the US, and are encouraged. She does not allow her past or difficulties to slow down her progress. Sometimes those obstacles are men in her own community, who at first tried to convince her to “know her place” and follow the old cultural norms from “back home” where women are expected to defer to the men as leaders. But now, many of the same people who told her she would never be successful in doing what she does, are now asking her to do more. Doing more is exactly what she plans to keep doing. Alfreda Daniels wakes up every morning thinking “who am I going to impact today?” *