As we celebrate the great weather and make memorable memories with our beloved ones, I wanted to connect with someone who is a steward of our community:
Allow me to introduce you to Ms Alexa Dixson-Griggs, I am fortunate to have met her in our Professionals of Color committee at the Chamber of Commerce and immediately I was inspired by all she does for our community.
Ms Alexa was raised in Houston (TX) and spent a majority of her life in urban cities before relocating to a rural town in North Dakota at 14 years old.
Ms Alexa is a social worker, mother, wife, writer and MSUM dragon alumni who lives in Moorhead with her husband, 2 year old son and their foster children.
She has worked with folks experiencing homelessness since 2015 and serves on various committees in the community centered around improving the lives of her Fargo Moorhead neighbors.
Ms Alexa’s experiences all over the country and with all different walks of life has shown her the importance of empathy, understanding, and community and she hopes to raise her children with the same values.
Until our humble paths cross again: Stay Healthy!
Where do you call home?
Currently, I call Moorhead home. I grew up kind of all over, moving from Illinois to Texas to Minnesota back to Texas and then North Dakota. Moving around a lot as a kid made me realize that life was kind of the same no matter where I went, just a different view. I also realized how important it was to have a good support system because that’s what home ended up being for me—wherever my parents and brothers were. Now that I’ve been in Moorhead for almost 10 years, my husband and son are where our home is.
What’s the story of your passion for giving to your community?
When I think about why I “give” to my community, I can’t pinpoint any one reason. I think growing up in different parts of the country gave me empathy for all types of people. Old, poor, black, able-bodied, bilingual, etc. This empathy turned into a passion for making people feel valued. I really don’t have a lifechanging event that I can attribute to why I like to give back. The more people I meet, the more I realize that we as humans need each other. We are all neighbors. Life is hard and if we can make it just a little bit easier on each other, why wouldn’t we try?
What was life like for you before coming to Fargo?
Before coming to Fargo, I graduated high school in Enderlin, ND. It is a small town about 45 minutes from Fargo-Moorhead. I left Houston, TX and moved to Enderlin when I was 14. This was right after Hurricane Katrina. Luckily, we weren’t affected severely by the storm, but it brought in an influx of people to Houston, TX. My family decided to leave the big city and move to my mom’s hometown of Enderlin.
It was awful. For a little bit, anyway. Being one of a handful of black people (my own family included) in a small midwestern town was not something I could have prepared myself for as a 14-year-old. I felt isolated. Luckily, I had some really amazing classmates that became like family. I ended up moving to Fargo for college but now that I’m older and have a family of my own, I often tell my husband, “Maybe we should move to the country, I miss living in a small town.” For us, Moorhead will always be home, but I visit my parent’s farm back in Enderlin often!
What are some misconceptions people from big cities have of people from small cities?
I think people in big cities believe that people in small towns aspire of being in the city. After having lived in Houston, TX and Enderlin, ND—I much prefer the quiet small-town life! I think it’s important to remember that even though “home” looks different to everyone, everyone’s “home” is valid.
Can you share some of the work you do in the community? How can others get involved?
Currently, I serve as the Executive Director for the Fargo Moorhead Coalition to End Homelessness. Basically, I support agencies in ending homelessness.
I also serve on the board of directors for Moorhead Public Housing and as a Leadership Committee member for The Fargo-Moorhead West Fargo Chambers of Commerce’s Professionals of Color committee.
There are so many ways to get involved! Volunteering, cooking meals, financial donations, etc. are all great but what is truly needed is advocacy. Advocate for housing to be affordable. Advocate for people to have access to basic needs like transportation, food and childcare. Listen to people of color and learn from our experiences. And do all these different acts of kindness even if you don’t personally benefit from them. In the long run you are investing in your own community as a steward.
As a community leader, what is the next problem you are trying to solve?
As a community leader, my goal for a long time has been ending homelessness. Pretty hefty goal, huh? I think it’s attainable. My career allows me to work with some of the most brilliant minds in our community who work tirelessly every single day to make sure nobody in Fargo-Moorhead goes without a roof over their head. We haven’t accomplished it yet, but we are working hard to get there.
One way to accomplish that is truly by investing dollars in anti-racism work both systemically and at an individual level. Fargo-Moorhead has some steep racial disparities in our homeless population and the only way to truly end homelessness is by understanding the complexities of our system. I would love to see funders prioritize dollars based on not only the commitment to eradicate these disparities but also the verification that changes are being made.
What is your vision for 2030 for the Fargo-Moorhead community?
My vision for 2030? I would love to see the Fargo-Moorhead community become more of a family. I know that sounds cheesy, but I truly believe in the “it takes a village” mentality. The less we care about dollars and accolades and the more we care about each other, the better our community will be.