Commissioner Irene Fernando

Hennepin County District 2

My parents immigrated to this country in pursuit of the American Dream. In 1982, my mother began her career as a nurse for Los Angeles county. Working double shifts, she taught me the value of a strong work ethic and that every person has a story. My dad was a stay at home parent for most of my childhood. He and three little girls of which I am the middle child, would go to the hardware store or sit in the nosebleeds at baseball game. He taught me how to strategize, ask questions, and find creative solutions.

At age 17, I moved to attend the University of Minnesota where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Business and a Master of Education in Youth Development Leadership. 10 days into my freshmen year at the U, I co-founded Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF) with a mission of revealing leadership through service, relationships, and action. What started as an optimistic idea quickly transformed into a thriving nonprofit. During my 11 years there, STLF ran over 600 programs with 22,718 students contributing 318,000 hours of service to communities across the country.

In 2015, I was selected as a Bush Foundation Fellow and began teaching social entrepreneurship at St. Mary’s University. Currently, I work within a newer division at Thrivent Financial leading around organizational design, culture, and talent. I have also served in a variety of community engagement roles, such as a Carlson School of Management Alumni board member, a Global Shapers Minneapolis Hub member, and Alpha Gamma Delta Alumnae Chapter President.

Over a decade ago, I bought a house in the Harrison neighborhood, where I currently reside with my partner Kent, and our dog Ernie. We love our community and can often be found sitting on our front porch chatting with the neighbors. If you ever see us, say hello, we have plenty of hammocks to go around.