City taps new community engagement coordinator

The city has hired a new community engagement coordinator to serve as a liaison between neighborhoods and city departments to encourage more residents to become involved in the city’s decision-making process.

Clara Ugarte Perrin has an extensive background working with Latin American communities and served as a corporate image manager for airports in Peru before moving to Minnesota to attend St. Mary’s University, where she earned an MBA in international business.

While in Peru, Ugarte Perrin worked on citizen-engagement projects during construction of three urban airports. She also has volunteered as a translator for several organizations, including the United Nations, the Northeast Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, the American Cancer Society and the Minnesota Friends of the Orphans. She currently serves on the board of the Sheridan Neighborhood Organization in Northeast.

Another veteran community organizer also has joined the ranks of city government this month.

Mayor R.T. Rybak tapped longtime neighborhood organizer Cara Letofsky to serve as a policy aide on community development and housing issues. Letofsky, a DFLer, lost a close race for the City Council’s Ward 2 seat to the Green Party’s Cam Gordon last fall.

Letofsky served as executive director of the Lyndale Neighborhood Development Corp. and interim director of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association. She also founded the City of Lakes Community Land Trust and worked as executive director of the Stevens Square Community Organization.

She has done political organizing work for the Minneapolis Urban League and Progressive Minnesota.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to join [Rybak’s] team and help implement his vision for building our city and closing the gaps between the haves and have-nots,” Letofsky said.