Phillipe will be the first trans man elected to a major city's council
Phillipe Cunningham, candidate for Minneapolis City Council Ward 4, is originally from the cornfields of Illinois. He was raised by a dry cleaner and a tractor builder who was a proud 40-year member of his union. One of his earliest memories from childhood is at just five years old standing next to his father on the picket line while on strike for worker rights and a fair contract. Standing up for just treatment of workers at such a young age instilled in Phillipe a commitment to making his community a better place.
Phillipe discovered he could step up and take responsibility and action in building a fair and justice society through youth work. He moved to Chicago to finish college at DePaul University as a first generation college student. Upon graduation, Phillipe became a special education teacher in Chicago Public Schools. It is from this place where he first concretely saw a system failing the very people it is meant to serve and even setting up the most vulnerable to fail.
When Phillipe moved to North Minneapolis, he found home for the first time in his life. He found his heart and community on the Northside. Having seen the profound influence city policy has on people’s everyday lives, he felt a clear call to action to bring his ten years of youth work experience, policy knowledge, and community perspective to the table. He became a mayoral appointee to the City of Minneapolis’ Youth Violence Prevention Executive Committee. With an expertise in youth policy and youth development practices, Phillipe brought a fresh energy and perspective to the committee as a youth work professional. Mayor Hodges later appointed Phillipe to serve as her Senior Policy Aide for education, youth success, racial equity and LBGTQ rights. Since stepping into this role, he has been able to become an even more active champion for youth, racial equity, and the Northside community.
Phillipe brings valuable knowledge and expertise in youth development and racial equity policy AND experience with direct service and advocacy work in the community to this election. His work in the Mayor’s Office spans K-12 public education, higher education, youth success, racial equity, and LGBTQ rights. Phillipe has already demonstrated the ability to build impactful work that leads to systems change for the municipal government to better serve disenfranchised communities and begin addressing racial disparities. He is the primary coordinator for the local efforts of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, which focuses on improving the life outcomes of boys and young men of color. Additionally, he serves as the Chair for the City of Minneapolis’ Trans Issues Work Group, which focuses on removing system barriers transgender and gender nonconforming residents face as they navigate life in Minneapolis.
Outside of his work in the Mayor’s Office, he is a member of the University of Minnesota’s National Diversity Advisory Board, which advises the UMN system on their equity and diversity efforts, policies and practices. He also volunteers weekly at Youthlink as a co-facilitator of a support group for LGBTQ homeless youth and sits on the board of RECLAIM! a nonprofit that provides culturally competent mental health services to queer and trans youth.