Robin Wonsley ’13 has been an advocate for justice ever since her days as a Carleton student. A gender, women’s, and sexuality studies major, Wonsley helped bring Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, to campus to speak on the intersections of mass incarceration and systemic racism. After graduation Wonsley was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and spent a year studying efforts to end mass incarceration in South Africa, Canada, Australia, and Ireland. Returning to Minnesota, she worked as an organizer and activist for the University of Minnesota’s Women’s Center, the YMCA, the Sexual Violence Center, and Alliance Housing Inc., as well as serving as a board member for Restorative Justice Community Action and as a lead staff member on the 15 Now MN campaign to increase minimum wage.
During the civil unrest of 2020 she helped provide food, supplies, and other services to south Minneapolis residents, and a year later she was elected as the first Independent Black Democratic Socialist member of the Minneapolis City Council. She now serves as vice chair of the policy and government oversight committee and has worked diligently alongside community partners and grassroots groups to advance policy and budgetary responses aimed at resolving housing, public safety, environmental, and labor issues in Minneapolis.