Pamela Costain

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Pamela Costain

Pamela Costain assumed leadership of AchieveMpls in 2010 after four years as an elected member of the Minneapolis Board of Education.

In this role, she will work closely with the leadership of the Minneapolis Public Schools, the Board of Directors of AchieveMpls, and business and community leaders to help ensure that Minneapolis students excel academically and are prepared for school, work and life.

Costain served on the executive committee of the successful Strong Schools Strong City referendum campaign in 2008, and was the first state director for Parents United for Public Schools.

For 14 years Costain was executive director of the Resource Center of the Americas, an international human rights organization.

In 2003 she helped found Wellstone Action, an organization dedicated to promoting civic engagement, where she served as director of education and training.

Pam Costain has extensive experience in public education reform, school and community partnerships, parent engagement, and school finance. She has a B.A. from Carleton College and an M.A. in education from the University of Minnesota.[1]


Pamela Costain on Paul Wellstone;

Long before Paul Wellstone was a United States senator and even before he was a community organizer, he was a teacher, and as luck would have it, he was my teacher. Paul landed on the Carleton campus as a young professor in the fall of 1969, and his arrival changed my life. I was a lost and angry college sophomore, watching my country pursue an illegal war in Viet Nam and a different war against the black communities of Detroit, Newark, Baltimore and Chicago. He helped me believe change was possible.
From the moment I met him, I knew Paul was special. I so desperately wanted to learn from him that I changed my major, asked him to be my advisor and took every opportunity to talk with him about politics. I’d never known anyone like him. He never wavered in his commitments to his family, his students or to the most marginalized people in his new community or our country. He consistently demonstrated three qualities that have remained among the most important to me: authenticity, integrity and ethics.[2]

Hard Times Conference

In 1976 Pam Costain Twin Cities Women's Union attended the Weather Underground and Prairie Fire Organizing Committee organized Hard Times Conference Jan 30 - Feb 1 at the University of Chicago.[3]

To Colombia with Wellstone

Pamela Costain traveled to Colombia with Senator Paul Wellstone in November 2000. She was a member of the Colombia Support Network Advisory Board at the time.

'There was no chance for error. The Colombian national police were going to do an aerial spray of coca bushes right in front of a U.S. senator and the delegation accompanying him.

Pam Costain, executive director of the Minneapolis-based Resource Center of the Americas, heard all the assurances from Colombian authorities just before she felt the mist envelop her.

"We're looking at each other and we're thinking, 'What just happened here?'" recalled Costain.

Costain, 50, had been asked by Sen. Paul Wellstone to join him on his to Colombia.

This was a senatorial junket. Wellstone's expenses to a nation of roadside explosives and herbicide mists were covered by the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, of which he was a member. Wellstone was just one of three senators who voted against a $1.3 billion U.S. aid plan that is supposed to help Colombia fight its drug war.

According to Wellstone, there was simplistic pressure to support the huge aid package.

"It was presented that if you weren't supporting this package, you were in favor of drugs in U.S. schools," he said.

Wellstone held firm on his vote opposing the aid, then set up last week's trip so he could see a little of the so-called war. Mostly, though, he wanted to talk to human-rights workers in Colombia about the toll the "war" is taking on the poorest Colombians and those who are trying to protect them.

Costain came up with funding of her own for the trip. She was a longtime activist in peace and justice causes and, with others, had met with Wellstone in mid-November to express concerns about U.S. policy in Colombia. The fear is that U.S. aid, most of which is for military supplies, brings only more violence to a brutality-filled land.

At the conclusion of that meeting, Wellstone asked Costain whether she'd like to accompany him to Colombia. She said she'd love to go, which is how she found herself on the side of a Colombian mountain six days ago.

On this trip to the coca-growing regions of Colombia, though, she was not only with a U.S. senator, she was with the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Anne Patterson, and high-ranking officials in Colombia's police. She received military briefings and arrived at the can't-miss spray site on a Blackhawk helicopter.[4]

Wellstone campaigner

Pam Costain was a personal friend of Paul Wellstone, and worked on his 2002 campaign.

Wellstone Action

Pam Costain, helped found Wellstone Action.[5]

Pam Costain (Wellstone Action Director of Education and Training), was a speaker at mnpACT! March 2005.[6]

Colombia Support Network

As of 2008, the Colombia Support Network Advisory Board consisted of; [7].

Ellison supporters

Key supporters in the 2006 Ellison Congressional campaign included Dr. Josie Johnson, Dan McGrath of TakeAction Minnesota, Larry Weiss and Pam Costain, John Stiles, Shayna Berkowitz, Carla Kjellberg and Dick Kaspari from the National Lawyers Guild, Vic Rosenthal and Frank Hornstein helped organized the Jewish community, Donna Cassutt of the DFL helped out as did Muslims Asad Zaman, Ziad Amre, Makram El-Amin.

Labor officials such as Javier Morillo from SEIU, Bill McCarthy of the Central Labor Council, and Eliot Seide from AFSCME were also invoved.[8]

Anti-Iraq war rally

On July 9, 2008, More than 100 peace activists—assembled today on the south steps of the State Capitol Building to hear clergymen and civic leaders wax-critical on the Iraq War.

Starting at noon, a dozen speakers took the podium one-by-one, including Pam Costain (director of the Minneapolis School Board), Roxanne Abbas (co-chair of Women Against Military Madness), and Isaiah Ellison (son of Rep. Keith Ellison), who read an address penned by his father.

Nearly every speaker focused on the Bush administration’s saber rattling with regards to Iran. More specifically, they lambasted Senate Resolution 580, which calls for sanctions and a naval blockade against Iran— acts that would almost certainly be construed as a declaration of war. [9]