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Dana Mitchell
Dana Mitchell

2022 Diversity & Inclusion: Dana Mitchell

Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers

Dana Mitchell, a Twin Cities assistant county attorney, said she has been surrounded her whole life by strong, proactive role models, and she feels compelled to pay it forward by serving as a mentor to others.

Mitchell’s grandmother, Timothy Vann, who moved to Minnesota in the 1950s, was a single mother of 10 children. She became the executive director of Model Cities (now known as Open Cities Health Center), a provider of health services to underserved populations.

“I saw her change people’s lives through health care. One person can change the lives of many,” Mitchell said. “I’m really committed to this idea that change occurs over time with patience and love and care. I received that from the earliest moments of my life.”

Mitchell is a longtime participant with the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers (MABL) and was named its president in July. She credits some notable members of the Black legal community in the Twin Cities for taking interest in her career early on and helping instill confidence in herself. These mentors included William E. McGee, the late Hennepin County chief public defender and a founding member and past president of MABL, as well as Gloria Stamps-Smith, assistant Hennepin County attorney, who Mitchell said continues to serve as a mentor for her.

Mitchell is an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, where she teaches the school’s mentor program. She also has served as a mentor to law students at St. Thomas and Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

“Being a mentor or a mentee is a relationship about wellness — knowing who you are and how you want to be in this world. What makes you proud? Who do you want to emulate? What are your passions?” she said. “When you ask those three questions, it acts as a guidepost.” The goal is to align what you believe is your calling, what you’re passionate about and who you want to emulate.

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