Fayise Abrahim is the organizing and training director at Voices for Racial Justice, now building and coordinating Voices’ organizing training and the Rural Organizing Network. Fayise comes to Voices with a background in popular education and community-based research. Previously she was the research manager at Youthprise. Raised in Southwest Minnesota, Fayise has spent time on both coasts, studying sociology and ethnic studies at Amherst College and the University of Oregon, and in Chiapas with the Autonomous University of Social Movements. As a poet, she is also an emerging local writer with the Givens Foundation for African American Literature.
Thomas Adams is the president and chief executive officer of Better Futures Minnesota, a social change enterprise that fuels and guides men's desire to turn their lives around and walk a new path toward better health and success. Thomas has over 21 years of experience in delivering a continuum of services to underserved populations of color living in distressed communities. Prior to leading Better Futures Minnesota, He served as C.E.O. of African American Family Services, as executive director of the Association of Minority Professions Schools, as vice president with Summit Academy OIC, as executive director of Pillsbury Neighborhood Services, and as program director for the Bridge for Youth. Additionally, Thomas serves as adjunct faculty for Metro State University and Greenville College in Illinois. He holds a Ph.D. in organizational leadership.
Dana Altendorf is the director of development and communications at OneVillage Partners, a Minnesota-based international N.G.O. that facilitates community-led development projects in Sierra Leone. She uses her passions for storytelling and relationship building to lead the organization’s rebrand and create positive experiences for donors, volunteers and staff. She has a certificate in fund raising management from Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and is currently pursuing her M.A. in organizational development and change from the University of St. Thomas. Dana serves on the board of directors for North Dakota Leadership Seminar.
Lindsay Bacher has worked in nonprofits for nearly 10 years and currently is a program developer at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, raising over $4 million this year to fund supportive housing, wealth creation and healthy food access work. Lindsay also contributes to the research and development and design of new programming at Wilder. She has degrees from Hamline University and Yale Divinity School and previously contributed her talents to NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota. Lindsay has served on the board of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities for four years, including as chair of the board, and on the inaugural board of MPR GenListen.
As a principal with Cincinnatus, a consulting firm serving the nonprofit sector, Brad Ballinger works with organizations on strategy and leadership. He has helped nonprofits create multi-year strategic plans, fill leadership vacancies and restructure their leadership teams. He has also counseled boards on governance issues. Brad has served on boards of directors of social service organizations, arts organizations and member associations. He holds a master's degree in organizational communication from Miami University.
Terri Banaszewski is vice president of business development at Sunrise Banks. Terri is responsible for growing Sunrise Banks’ business and retail portfolio through business development activities, involvement in community events and outreach. She builds and enhances relationships with potential and existing clients and bank partners. She joined Sunrise Banks in 2000 to focus on establishing relationships, marketing and building community for the bank. Prior to 2000, she spent 20 years with Norwest Banks/Wells Fargo as a business banker and other various departments. Terri has a bachelor of science degree in finance from St. Cloud State University. She is on the board of directors for the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and St. Anthony Park Area Seniors, and past board member for Womenventure.
Kate Barr, executive director, oversees Nonprofits Assistance Fund's strategic plans, development, loan capital, outreach and program activities for loan funds. Under her leadership, Nonprofits Assistance Fund has emerged as a premier financial management resource in Minnesota by providing training, strategic financial counsel, and loans to the nonprofit community. Previously, Kate served as senior vice president of Riverside Bank. With her unique insight and experience, she is a popular speaker and writer on nonprofit management and financial issues. Kate holds a master's degree from Hamline University and is a member of their adjunct faculty. She serves on the boards of directors of Neighborhood Development Center, Partners for the Common Good and Western Bank. She recently co-authored "An Executive Director's Guide to Financial Leadership" published in the Nonprofit Quarterly.
Karla Benson Rutten is the founder and C.E.O. of Benson Rutten Innovations, a coaching, consulting and training firm focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. As a facilitator, trainer, consultant, connector, and advocate, Karla works proactively and collaboratively with people, organizations and communities to ensure their working and living environments are inclusive, equitable, safe and welcoming for all people. Karla has 18 years of experience in higher education, diversity, social justice and sexual violence prevention program development; intercultural communication; facilitation and training; building community partnerships; and creating strong, diverse and equitable communities. Karla received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Iowa State University and her master’s degree in counseling and personnel services at the University of Maryland – College Park.
Joel Bergstrom has an extensive background in the nonprofit and legal sectors. He currently is a vice president and executive recruiter for CohenTaylor, a Minneapolis-based executive search firm focused on nonprofits and mission-driven entities. Previously Joel spent 10 years in fund development as the development and communications director for Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery and as a director of development with the Minnesota Medical Foundation. Before deliberately turning his career to the nonprofit sector, Joel practiced law. He is deeply involved in the community, currently serving as a director for the Evans Scholars Foundation. Previously he served on the boards of the Fund for the Legal Aid Society and the ACLU of Minnesota. He has degrees from New York University School of Law and the University of Minnesota.
Arlene Birt is an infodesigner, visual storyteller, public artist and educator. She is founder of Background Stories, a design consultancy that translates complex ideas, systems and metrics into clear visuals to help non-experts understand sustainability. Arlene is an associate professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design where she teaches infodesign and sustainability. She is invited to speak internationally and works with organizations in the U.S., European Union and United Kingdom.
Sheila Brommel is the evaluation manager at the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) where she directs institutional evaluation capacity-building efforts and provides staff consultation, technical assistance and support for program evaluation across the institution. Sheila earned her Ph.D. with a certificate in program evaluation from the University of Minnesota. She has over 35 years of experience in nonprofit administration, program evaluation and teaching. Prior to joining MNHS, Sheila was an assistant professor of social work at the University of St. Thomas. Previously, she was the director of quality outcomes at the Professional Association of Treatment Homes. For 16 years, she has volunteered as a peer reviewer, team leader and commissioner with the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services, an accrediting body of human service organizations and programs.
Nancy Brown helps nonprofits increase their effectiveness through strategic messaging and brand strategy. Her participatory branding process allows organizations to discover the essence of who they are and why they matter. She has been supporting nonprofits as a brand and communications consultant for more than 10 years and previously worked on staff at Catholic Charities and at Aeon, an affordable housing provider. Nancy is also an expert in group facilitation and a trainer on consensus-based decision-making. She has conducted numerous workshops and has spoken to local and regional audiences on a variety of topics.
Susie Brown is the executive director of the Hennepin County Bar Association and the Hennepin County Bar Foundation, a position she has held since 2016. Prior roles include public policy director at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, executive director of Child Care WORKS, public policy director at The Family Partnership, and public affairs director at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Susie is also on the faculty at Hamline University where she teaches in the Masters of Nonprofit Management and Masters of Public Administration programs. She has a masters of public administration from the University of Vermont, and a bachelor of arts from Lewis and Clark College
Kristell Caballero Saucedo holds a B.A. in political science and Spanish from St. Olaf College. Most recently, she worked as a New Sector Alliance fellow at Northside Funders Group where she led and created a racial equity framework and toolkit. As a Fulbright scholar in Mexico, Kristell focused her research on Afro-Mexican rights. She spent a year working on international Roma rights in Hungary. Kristell is a 2017 MCF Ron McKinley Philanthropy fellow and is part of the Community Innovation Team at the Bush Foundation. She works as a consultant for foundations and nonprofits on community-led work. Kristell also co-leads LOCUS, an Minnesota Rising initiative that brings together raising leaders of color to engage with one another, build community and clarify our collective needs and common aspirations.
Mahamed Cali is executive director of Somali American Community, where he has worked for 10 years. He is the founder of Somalia American Radio, KALY Radio 101.7 FM, a program of the Somali American Community. KALY-FM Radio offers programming that celebrates, educates and informs Somali and East African immigrants in order to preserve traditions, to improve lives and to engage productively as members of the communities they now call home. Previously Mahamed worked at the United Nations in New York. He has a degree in international relations.
Amanda “Cash” Cashman has dedicated her professional life to inspiring young people to take action on the needs of their community. Her love of leadership programming energized her to earn an M.A. in student affairs from Western Illinois University, after graduating from Minnesota State University – Moorhead. Using experiences from being a hall director at Missouri State University, she transitioned into the nonprofit world. Now, Cash proudly works at Students Today Leaders Forever as a co-executive director, where she oversees the organization's human resources and programs.
Elise Chambers is the program director of the Conflict Resolution Center, an attorney and a qualified neutral under Rule 114. Beginning with her experiences as a youth volunteer trainer, Elise has developed, presented and evaluated training curriculum for a variety of audiences and topics. Through her work as a criminal defense lawyer representing adults and juveniles at the Minnesota Law Collective, a nonprofit she founded, Elise trained and mentored certified student attorneys to represent low-income criminal defense clients in court. Elise also ran the nonpartisan national Election Protection voters' rights coalition in Minnesota in collaboration with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. Elise has also co-authored and presented published research regarding youth brain development and the mutual impacts of the juvenile justice system and adolescent mental illness on each other.
Sarah Cohn is a principal consultant and partner of Aurora Consulting. Sarah is a leader in the field of informal learning, most specifically focusing on evaluation capacity building, audience engagement research and strategic planning. She is the current president of the Minnesota Evaluation Association and the Committee on Audience Research and Evaluation at the Alliance for American Museums, and she is a past board member and Association Manager for the Visitor Studies Association. Sarah co-developed Team-Based Inquiry (TBI), a practitioner-focused form of evaluation, in 2011 and has been training organizations of all kinds to integrate TBI into their practices ever since. Sarah left The Science Museum of Minnesota’s Evaluation and Research in Learning Department in 2016 to engage more organizations in audience research, evaluation, board development and strategic planning.
Ellen Davis, senior managing associate, has extensive experience in grant writing, prospect research, and program development and design. Prior to joining Fox Advancement, she worked in business development for a variety of international development nonprofit organizations in Washington D.C., and at a Minneapolis law firm, where she managed and wrote grant and contract proposals to support rule of law, human rights, community development, and education in Eastern Europe, Asia, Central America, and East Africa. Ellen holds a M.A. in security studies from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in international relations and political science from American University.
Brad Donaldson is the associate director of operations for the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance and the Minnesota Stroke Association, and has been with the organizations for over 18 years. Graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in theater and English, he is one of the founding members and current board member of The Chameleon Theatre Circle. He has sat on the board of directors for the Minnesota Association of Community Theaters, provided strategic leadership development for several nonprofits across the county and led many community activities for children and adults. The Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance’s Unmasking Brain Injury program ]has combined two of his passions – providing awareness about brain injury and stroke and using art to share human experiences.
With over 15 years in community engagement and philanthropy, Kate Downing Khaled facilitates creative design and equitable strategy processes for her clients. She helps them imagine, deliver and communicate programs and products that work for everyone. In her past work at Charities Review Council, she served as director of engagement & programs, where she led the Council’s creative design, business modeling and partnership development efforts. Kate previously contributed to a variety of philanthropic projects in her work with Grassroots Solutions – community problem-solving campaigns like the Minnesota Idea Open and the Connect for Health Challenge. She is an active and vocal member of the Minnesota Muslim community. Kate holds a master’s in public health administration and policy from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor of arts from McGill University.
In the summer of 2015, Archie DuCharme suffered an accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury and chronic headaches of such magnitude he was unable to continue his work as a software engineer. After seeking help from multiple providers, he ultimately found care at the Hennepin County Medical Center TBI Center, where he is still working to overcome the challenges resulting from his brain injury. His recovery efforts have included volunteering at the University of Minnesota’s Equine Center and participating in the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance’s Unmasking Brain Injury program, the latter of which has given him a new perspective on his condition as well as new options for coping.
Ron Elwood is the supervising attorney at the Legal Services Advocacy Project (LSAP), the advocacy arm of Legal Aid in Minnesota. Ron has nearly 20 years of experience as a legal advocate for low-income Minnesotans. He has specialized in consumer, utility and housing issues. He also has more than 20 years of experience years in state, county and city government in consumer affairs, utility regulation, housing and homelessness advocacy. In his tenure at LSAP, he has been instrumental in passing landmark foreclosure relief and consumer protection legislation. Ron holds a B.A. in communications from Queens College – City University of New York; an M.A. from the University of Southern California in cinema studies; a Ph.D. from New York University in cinema studies; and a J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law.
Susan Estee is the executive director of Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, a nonprofit organization based in Grand Rapids that annually provides almost five million pounds of food and grocery products to thousands of food insecure people in north central Minnesota. Second Harvest has doubled their food distribution volume and completed a $1.8 million dollar capital campaign and building project since 2000 when Sue became E.D. A native of North Dakota and graduate of North Dakota State University, Sue worked in the construction, ready-mix and sand and gravel industry in Fargo-Moorhead and owned her own business prior to moving to Grand Rapids in 2000.
After graduating from St. Olaf College in 2017, Eden Fauré joined the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless (MCH) team as an administrative assistant. She holds a degree in political science and Asian studies and is passionate about the way law and policy connect to create sustainable and tangible change for varying communities. She is excited to join MCH in working toward creating affordable housing and economic security for a greater number of Minnesotans. Eden is also one of two staff members who works as a qualified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) tool.
Victoria Ford is a program associate at Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. Victoria has over a decade of experience in developing programming for civic engagement and leadership development. Prior to joining the Shannon Leadership Institute team, Victoria served as director of leadership development and design for Leadership for Educational Equity and policy manager of the Citizens League. She has a B.A. from the University of Minnesota and a master of public policy from Georgetown University.
Shannon Forney is a Twin Cities creative consultant working at the intersection of creativity, entrepreneurialism and social engagement. Shannon advised arts organizations for six years at the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council where she was a program director for Organizational and Capital grant programs. Shannon managed the launch of startup enterprise, Workhorse Coffee Bar in 2015, wherein she also founded The Smallest Museum in St. Paul as part of the Knight Foundation’s St. Paul Art Challenge. She identifies as both an artist and administrator. A graduate of Oberlin College Shannon holds a master of nonprofit management from Hamline University, and serves on the board of directors for In The Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater. She also maintains a theater practice as a Red Nose Clown.
Karina A. Forrest‐Perkins is a national speaker and consultant in early childhood and adolescent neuro-development. She serves as chief executive officer for The Wayside House, a women’s treatment center in the Twin Cities. She also serves on the board of directors for Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota and Minnesota Communities Caring for Children. Karina is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor and works primarily with youth and families. She received her master’s from the University of Oklahoma in human relations and currently serves as an instructor and training faculty member for the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies, Concordia University, and for the Heartland National Tuberculosis Center through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She was recently appointed to the Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Medical Cannabis Research.
Keith Friede is area vice president and director of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (AJG) training & organization development practice. Keith brings over 20 years of organizational leadership and human resource development experience to his role as an educator, coach and compliance consultant. Prior to joining AJG, Keith was president of A.E. Roberts Company. Earlier, he was an independent HRD consultant, and an internal training and organization development consultant with ITT. Keith holds an M.A. in human resource development from the University of St. Thomas, where he completed ground-breaking research in the area of leadership in virtual organizations. Keith is an advisor and contributor to the Centre for Applied Leadership, and has presented at colleges and universities to graduate students on topics of leadership, organizational dynamics and human resource management.
Don Gault is the founder of Building Peaceful Community, a consulting practice dedicated to reconnecting humanity with humane, providing training, consultation and planning facilitation in the Twin Cities and nationwide. He worked for St. Paul – Ramsey County Public Health from 1987-2016, managing the Healthy Communities Section and co-founding The Initiative for Peaceful Families and Communities in Ramsey County. His primary areas of focus include creating healthy peaceful workplaces and workplace violence prevention, efforts promoting peace among men and boys, and promoting peaceful, healthy adult relationships and treatment of children and youth. Don has a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Northeastern Illinois University and a master of arts degree from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
Megan Genest Tarnow is the founder and principal of The Mobius Group, a QuickBooks-centric consulting firm ferociously committed to helping nonprofits tell their stories and advance their missions through rock-solid, actionable financials, and to supporting the individuals in those organizations who have financial responsibilities. Megan also works with Gregg Bossen of QuickBooks Made Easy, providing QuickBooks technical support to nonprofits around the country.
Gordon Goodwin is the GARE Midwest regional project manager at Center for Social Inclusion. Gordon has significant experience in working with senior leadership teams to help nonprofits achieve mission and program alignment. His specialties include organizational strategy development, program delivery and impact, and governance and leadership. Gordon has worked for 30 years with foundations, community development organizations and public-private sector consortia in metropolitan and rural settings. He has worked extensively with organizations that have formed collaborative efforts to advance their advocacy and public policy objectives—specifically, designing and facilitating working group meetings, trainings, governance discussions and organizational strategic alliances. Gordon has contributed to poverty reduction and racial equity public policy efforts with PolicyLink, Northwest Area Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Foundation for the Mid South, CFED and The Aspen Institute.
Ruth Hamberg amplifies the stories of Minnesota communities using data and digital channels with an eye toward inspiring positive social change. As a research associate for the Community Indicators Consortium, she creates resources for decision-makers to strengthen quality of life through research and storytelling. Her work builds on five years as the engagement specialist for Minnesota Compass, which provides current, credible data to inspire action across the state. With research experience from India to Ecuador, Ruth now lives and works in St. Paul's Hamline-Midway neighborhood. She is a leader in the Minnesota Rising network and a board member of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – Twin Cities.
A natural entrepreneur and Internet pioneer, Chris Hanson has founded or co-founded five successful businesses and three nonprofits. His current company, thedatabank, gbc., was founded in 1998, and is a certified General Benefit Corporation focused on providing technology and services to social impact organizations. As a business owner, fundraiser and direct marketer, Chris has presented at numerous regional, national and international conferences. Chris earned his Ph.D. in organization development at the University of Minnesota. He’s published articles in the areas of organizational development, social network analysis and social entrepreneurship. His focus is helping social impact organizations understand how they can operate organizations that are financially, socially and environmental sustainable. Chris is also a senior fellow of the Twin Cities Metro Independent Business Alliance and a founding board member of MNvest.org.
Barbara Harrington, founder of Sponsorship Plus, has created and implemented sponsorship programs for scores of clients in markets across the country from Big Brothers Big Sisters in Pennsylvania to the Indianapolis Museum of Art to the Minnesota State Fair. Clients often credit her Integrated Sponsorship Path model as the key to aligning real-world solutions for sustainable fundraising success. The model provides a simplified system for starting conversations with corporate decision-makers, foundations and individual donors. She is part of Bank of America’s prestigious Connecting Leaders To Learning National Speakers Series. Barbara has published three sponsorship books The Essential Sponsorship Toolkit, The Essence of Sponsorship and Advance Sponsorship Sales. Prior to starting Sponsorship Plus, Barbara worked in marketing for Six Flags Darien Lake as well as a news anchor.
Derek Hersch has worked as a health promotion and grants specialist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation since 2014. In addition to grant writing, he works with the Heart of New Ulm Project on food environment improvements and community health promotion programs. Derek has also worked with dental clinics to understand how they can be engaged and supported in chronic disease prevention efforts. Internally, Derek manages the employee wellness committee, leads the professional education team’s technology strategy, and serves as the managing editor for the Journal of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.
Marc Hosmer joined Urban Boatbuilders in 2012 and brings a diverse background of youth development and nonprofit management experience. This experience, combined with his passion for creating opportunities for youth to build bright futures, guides Marc in his leadership of Urban Boatbuilders. "Boats are the vehicle — successful, self-confident youth with a vision for their future is the product Urban Boatbuilders creates," says Marc. He is passionate about the organization and facilitating its growth so that more youth are able to experience the powerful, and life-changing programming of Urban Boatbuilders.
Lisa Jacobson became the executive director of HOPE 4 Youth in 2016. Lisa has over 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience, mainly in the area of advancement. Most recently she was the V.P./chief advancement officer at the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches. She has also worked for PRISM, myHealth, TreeHouse, the Girl Scouts and American Cancer Society. Lisa holds a B.A. in communications from the University of St. Thomas. She is also a Brooklyn Park city councilwoman and a Timberwolves senior dancer. She has been recognized with the Distinguished Service Award by the Hennepin County Sheriff, the Invest Northwest Award, Youth Mentor of the Year, Points of Light Award and the Mayor’s Good Citizenship Award for the work she has done in her community of Brooklyn Park.
Valerie Jensen is an expert in leading cultural change and talent development across and within organizations. She is the executive director of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, an association of 30 law firms and 16 corporate law departments focused on the recruitment, advancement and retention of diverse lawyers in the Minnesota. In her previous roles Val has worked in law school administration as the head of career planning and as an associate dean of Multicultural Affairs. Val has also worked as a local community prosecutor focused on truancy intervention and as a staff attorney to the Honorable Justice Alan Page. Val graduated from William Mitchell College with a J.D. Val has a B.A. in political science with a concentration in African/African American studies from Carleton College.
Cheryl Jensen is the managing partner of Strategic Consulting and Coaching, LLC. She brings 25 years of experience in executive leadership roles at nonprofits to her coaching clients and client-companies. Cheryl has extensive experience working in diverse communities, leading organizations, managing large projects and developing high impact teams. Cheryl specializes in leadership transitions and turnarounds. Her ability to engage staff has helped organizations build strong foundations, pave the way for new leadership, and implement new capacities. Cheryl has a master’s in nonprofit organizational development and is a certified coach through the International Coach Federation. Cheryl is an alumnus of The Institute for Life Coach Training. She is also member of Minnesota Coaching Association and Minnesota Council of Quality and continues to pursue advanced training in executive, leadership and business coaching.
As V.P. for engagement and communications at Independent Sector, Robert Jones seeks out narrative strategies and frameworks that help to unite the changemaker community, create a positive brand for the sector, and empower advocacy and fundraising activities. Prior to joining Independent Sector in 2016, Robert operated a New York-based communications consulting firm with a specialty in healthcare and youth development nonprofits. Prior to that, a decade-long journalistic career took him from Washington to Baghdad, reinforcing his belief that better stories create the opportunity for better outcomes. As a longtime columnist and contributing editor at Entrepreneur magazine, he has a special interest in social entrepreneurism and other emerging strategies for advancing the common good.
As executive director of Charities Review Council, Kris Kewitsch works to ensure the Council delivers on its mission to be an independent resource empowering people to make informed and thoughtful giving decisions and by helping charities advance their important work. Before joining the Council, Kris worked in corporate philanthropy with Target Corporation, U.S. Bank, and Piper Jaffray. During the past five years at Target, she helped direct more than $50 million in grantmaking support in the Twin Cities and across the country. Kris attended Gustavus Adolphus College, receiving a B.A. in sociology and anthropology. She has served on numerous boards, including the Corporate Volunteerism Council, National Council on Workplace Volunteerism, and the Volunteer Resource Center (now HandsOn Twin Cities).
Curtis Klotz is vice president of finance and C.F.O. at Propel Nonprofits. Nonprofits are Curt’s passion and profession. He has taught in inner city D.C with the Higher Achievement Program, coordinated national communities of volunteers with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, and supported persons living with HIV/AIDS at Seattle Shanti. At the Indian Law Resource Center in Helena, Montana, he discovered his calling to be a nonprofit C.F.O. A stint as the chairperson of the Montana Nonprofit Association deepened his commitment to the nonprofit sector as a whole. Joining Propel has given him the perfect opportunity to share his passion for nonprofit finance every day and use his 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector to make a positive, lasting difference in the world. He is a certified public accountant.
Joanne Kosciolek is the vice president of development & external affairs for Project for Pride in Living (PPL). PPL develops and sustains quality, affordable housing for lower-income families and individuals through new construction, renovation and management. She was previously the vice president of development & communications for RESOURCE, a multi-service organization providing chemical and mental health, employment services and career training. Joanne has worked in the nonprofit arena for 28 years, including staff positions at Aeon, HealthEast Foundation, Girl Scout Council of Minneapolis, and the St. Paul United Way. She believes that a strong brand contributes directly to an organization’s public visibility and fundraising success. Joanne has led two organizational rebranding initiatives as an executive leadership team member in the past eight years.
Rachel Kraemer started her career in working with youth in treatment, for a nonprofit organization, before expanding to organizational change, development and process improvement. Her doctorate is in organization development from the University of St. Thomas. Rachel is certified in PMI Agile project management and Prosci Change Management. She is involved in Toastmaster’s and is most passionate about working with organizations in change, while enhancing performance and increasing the effectiveness of leadership in the workplace. Rachel is a published author on topics such as stress management, workforce planning, leadership, and leading change and she has participated in many projects that have helped teams reach their goals successfully.
Jill LaLonde is the executive director of OneVillage Partners, a Minnesota-based international N.G.O. that facilitates community-led development projects in Sierra Leone. Additionally, Jill is an adjunct faculty instructor in the Masters of International Development Program at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Jill has more than 10 years of experience in the international development and nonprofit sectors, ranging from Gates-funded public health research in Northern Uganda to managing multi-million dollar USAID-funded projects across Africa, Asia and the Middle East at Land O’Lakes International Development. Jill holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Minnesota and an M. S. in development studies from the London School of Economics.
Cori Lin is currently the community partnerships coordinator at Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association and has spent her early career investing in youth programs, job training and professional development for those traditionally marginalized. Spanning the overlap between the social sector and arts/creative sphere, Cori also is a freelance illustrator/graphic designer. She has worked on visual campaigns for mission driven organizations such as GirlForward, Pollen Midwest, the YMCA and Springboard for the Arts. Her passions are POC visual representation and cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Jill Lipski Cain is a senior research analyst with The Improve Group, an evaluation and research firm in St. Paul. She is at her best when a complex problem needs to be figured out and solved. With creativity and a background in social sciences and nonprofits, Jill approaches evaluation with people and their environment as the focus. The work of evaluator, in her view, is helping organizations learn about their role in making the world a better place and where improvement is needed for greater impact. Jill has a master of public policy from The Humphrey School of Public Affairs and worked for eight years at the University of Minnesota’s Aurora Center coordinating the gender violence prevention education program before joining The Improve Group in 2010.
Rebecca Lucero, public policy director at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, is responsible for developing and implementing the organization’s advocacy agenda locally and nationally, and lobbying on behalf of Minnesota’s nonprofit sector. Prior to joining MCN, Rebecca served as policy and advocacy manager for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, where she helped pass $100 million bonding in the Homes for All campaign. Rebecca has also worked as senior community representative in the Minnesota office of Representative Keith Ellison, an unemployment law judge with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, and an attorney in private practice with a small firm and with Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis. She has a law degree from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in political science from Grinnell College.
Amee McDonald never quite fit into corporate America. She honed her natural analytical skills with positions at Northwest Airlines in International Pricing Operations, at Marketing Architects in Account Development, and at Mediaspace Solutions as director of innovation. But she longed to fulfill her passion for helping others. In 2011, Amee and her husband Clint founded jabber logic: a company focusing on marketing and branding projects for small businesses and nonprofits. Since then, Amee has been honored as one of AdFed’s 32 Under 32 young professionals in marketing and as one of Minnesota Business Magazine’s "The (Real) Power 50." She has served on the board of FamilyWise since 2012, and is an adjunct instructor at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.
Angie McKinley is the director of programs for the American Institute of Architects Minnesota, the professional association for architects in the state. In her professional role she oversees and implements programming that engages with public audiences to make architecture more accessible and understandable. She holds a master’s degree in art history from the University of St. Thomas.
Kayla Meyers is a research analyst at The Improve Group. She works with diverse clients on a variety of evaluation, strategic planning and needs research. Kayla approaches each project with an eye towards stakeholder inclusion and valuing traditionally undervalued voices. Prior to obtaining her graduate degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Kayla earned degrees in international studies and Spanish, with a minor in economics, and spent time abroad working with indigenous communities in Costa Rica and Ecuador. Her work domestically and abroad developed her ability to conduct research and evaluation projects with strong qualitative data collection and analysis capacities.
Kate Noble of The Improve Group is an evaluator, facilitator, strategic thinker and a systems-change advocate. She has assisted many organizations and foundations in tackling social problems and supporting community assets. Her project experience paints her as a generalist, but she is most passionate about racial justice, immigrant rights, economic development, mental health and human rights. Kate holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound and a master of public policy degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
Al Onkka is principal consultant at Aurora Consulting. Al is experienced in promoting data-based decision making and organizational learning having worked in the field of evaluation since 2009. Al uses, and builds the capacity of others to use, an evaluative lens to help organizations develop, understand and improve at the programmatic and organizational level. Previously, Al was an evaluation and research associate at the Science Museum of Minnesota. As a member of one of the largest informal education evaluation departments in the country, he led internal, local and national evaluation and research projects. Al has a master’s degree in evaluation studies from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development and is a member of the Minnesota Evaluation Association’s board of directors.
Michael Peterson is a manager specializing in nonprofit tax services. He is passionate about nonprofit organizations and nonprofit and health care tax planning and compliance. Whether preparing Form 990s, helping set up new tax-exempt organizations, or navigating the complex Internal Revenue Code applicable to tax-exempt organizations, Michael is concerned with providing the highest level of quality and service. Michael is a certified public accountant. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Minnesota Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Jon Pratt is the executive director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. He has worked at Minnesota Public Interest Research Group as an attorney and lobbyist, as regional director at the Youth Project, and as director for the Philanthropy Project. In 1982 he was campaign manager for Paul Wellstone candidacy for Minnesota State Auditor. In 1987 he became director of MCN, an association of 2,000 organizations that sponsors research, training, lobbying and negotiated discounts to strengthen Minnesota's nonprofit sector. Jon has consulted with nongovernmental organizations on the development of N.G.O. associations and services in Canada, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Serbia and Turkey. Jon has a law degree from Antioch School of Law, and a M.P.A. from Harvard University.
Karen Reid is the executive director of Neighborhood Development Alliance (NeDA) since 1998. NeDA is a nonprofit community development corporation engaged in housing and commercial development on St. Paul's West Side. NeDA also provides bilingual (Spanish/English) housing and financial counseling services to individuals and families in the Twin Cities metro area. NeDA was founded in 1989 and has a staff of 11. The best part of Karen’s job is building quality and safe real estate development so families can grow.
Rebecca Reynandez specializes in helping small communications teams make a big impact with online tools. Her goal is to help people stop feeling overwhelmed and start feeling empowered and in control of their communication channels. She helps clarify the audiences, messages and mediums that will advance your mission. Rebecca develops strategies to increase website visitors, social media followers, and e-newsletter subscribers so you can attract more donors, volunteers and advocates. She's passionate about using technology and tools to connect people, build relationships and make everyone’s life easier.
Anne Rizzo-Donovan is the founder and principal of Recruiting Strategies, LLC. Anne manages the entire search process, navigating and efficiently advancing each step to yield maximum results. As a key member of the management teams of US Telecom and US Sprint, Anne was involved in building out C-level leadership during high-growth periods. Later, at the firms McGladrey & Pullen and Franchot & Associates, she was instrumental in growing both companies’ HR consulting practices and building out their executive search services. Working with the companies’ nonprofit clients fueled a passion to focus her skill set to benefit nonprofit organizations. Anne has a B.S. in sociology with a minor in psychology from Iowa State University, and is currently enrolled in masters in organizational leadership at St. Catherine's University.
Kirsten Rokke joined the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless (MCH) as a savvy social media intern in 2014, and was hired full-time later that year. Kirsten moved into new roles as a social media manager and a Northwest regional organizer until 2016, when she moved to the twin cities to finish her master’s degree. After her move to the cities, Kirsten developed a passion for communication work and was named communications director at the start of 2017. She holds her master’s in advocacy and political leadership from Metropolitan State University. Kirsten is one of two MCH staff who are qualified administrators in the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) tool, and she currently serves as a communications co-chair of the Homes for All campaign.
Tim Roman is co-founder of Ecotone Analytics, a Twin-Cities based startup that measures, values and communicates clients' social and environmental impacts. Tim has an M.B.A. from Carlson School at the University of Minnesota, where he studied integrative leadership and stakeholder collaboration for social and environmental impact. Ecotone is currently working with nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies to measure environmental impact and social return on investment.
Cate Rysavy is the senior director of Financial and Employment Services for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS). In her position, Cate oversees operations statewide for LSS Financial Counseling and Employment Services, including financial, budget, and debt counseling, financial education, housing counseling, energy assistance, and St. Paul’s Eastside Financial Center. Cate has 25 years of experience in financial services, product and service development, consulting, business and technology leadership. Cate has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University – Northridge. Since transitioning to the nonprofit sector and joining LSS in 2014, Cate has made it a focus of the statewide team to integrate financial capabilities throughout LSS’ lines of service.
Laura Schauben's work in program evaluation and research includes study design and implementation, project management and report-writing. Before joining Wilder Research in 2004, she conducted research on racial disparities in the criminal justice system and evaluated programs that worked with crime victims and offenders. Her past work also includes needs assessment and program evaluation for government and nonprofit organizations, and developing self-assessment tools for individuals and organizations. Laura's research interests include children's well-being, multicultural programs and substance abuse and prevention. She holds a bachelor's degree from Brandeis University in psychology and sociology, and has completed doctorate coursework in counseling psychology at the University of Minnesota.
Tim Schmutzer brings a passion and joy to nonprofit development and success. Tim has spent two decades working with nonprofit human service and other healthcare organizations to stabilize, build, diversify and successfully merge organizations. He currently serves as the executive director for PHASE, Inc., a nonprofit committed to serving those experiencing a disability to live, work and thrive in their chosen communities. Most recently, Tim facilitated and completed the legal merging of two long-standing human service organizations, resulting in new service options, improved stakeholder engagement, financial stability and a culture of innovation.
Christine Schwitzer manages the grants development division of Fox Advancement, a Twin-Cities based fundraising consulting firm. Christine’s expertise includes grant writing and management, program development, prospect research, fundraising communications and fundraising database management. Christine combines her love of writing with her passion for advancing the good work of Twin Cities’ nonprofits to create compelling proposals. Prior to joining Fox Advancement, Christine was senior development associate at the PBS Foundation in Arlington, Virginia, where she was responsible for managing over $30 million in grants. Christine is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and holds dual degrees in international communications and law & society.
Dave Sena served as an executive director for 13 years. He understands the challenges growing organizations face when it comes to launching leaders, creating capacity and developing scaleable systems. After years of struggle and development as an executive director, he developed the skills to not only help the organization get out of debt but to grow to over $1.2 million in private donations by the time he stepped down to start Bold Leading. In 2014, he was honored by the Mayor of Grand Forks and awarded the Key to the City for the organization’s contribution of millions of dollars to the homeless in the community. As a coach and consultant, he has helped nonprofit leaders develop the simple, fundamental skills they need to thrive as the heads of their organization.
Becky Stewart has been with The Improve Group for over 12 years, providing leadership for countless projects. A consummate generalist, she has led evaluation projects domestically and internationally, in diverse topic areas such as social justice, youth leadership, higher education, corrections and housing. As chief practice officer, she oversees the work of The Improve Group’s research teams, integrating strong practices and lessons learned from our own work and the field. She plans a learning agenda for the organization, and collaboratively builds systems and processes that ensure a consistent, enjoyable and valuable experience for our clients.
Rob Swiers is the executive director at the New Life Center, a 114 bed rescue mission in Fargo. He has worked there since 2010 and has been the director since 2013. Prior to his work at the New Life Center, he had worked for Hospice of the Red River Valley and the Ronald McDonald House. Rob is only the fourth director the New Life Center has had in 110 years. Since taking over as the executive director, he has been busy creating and updating infrastructure, not to change the core of what’s been done before, but rather to change the delivery method.
Chris Taylor is the chief inclusion officer at the Minnesota Historical Society. He is responsible for creating and implementing a strategic vision for inclusion at the Minnesota Historical Society. To support this work, he created the Department of Inclusion and Community Engagement (DICE) in 2014. DICE develops internal and external strategies for diversity and inclusion throughout the museums and historic sites operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. Chris holds an undergraduate degree in social studies and secondary education from the University of St. Thomas, and earned a master’s of arts degree from the Cooperstown Graduate program for Museum Studies with an emphasis on museum education. He is currently working on a doctorate of education in organization development at the University of St. Thomas.
Diane Tran is system director of Neighborhood Integration and Community Engagement at HealthEast, the largest health care provider in the Twin Cities' East Metro area. She most recently provided strategic community engagement consulting services as a senior project manager at Grassroots Solutions. Diane serves on the boards of the Minnesota Humanities Center, GiveMN, Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, The College of Saint Scholastica, and is a past chair for the Citizens League. Diane was selected as a 2013 German Marshall Memorial fellow, served as a 2006-2007 Humphrey School Policy fellow, and Twin Cities Business Magazine named her one of "100 Minnesotans to Know in 2015." Diane is the founder of Minnesota Rising, a statewide network of emerging leaders working to build relationships, trust, and a shared vision for the state.
Corinna Turbes is the federal policy campaign coordinator at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. She is primarily responsible for tracking policy issues as they progress through the federal process, as well as developing creative material for the campaign. Prior to work with the Federal Policy Campaign, Corinna has worked in informational programming at the United States State Department and in the state office of Senator Al Franken. While receiving her masters of public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, Corinna worked as research assistant for the Gender Policy Report and served as a senior editor at the Humphrey Public Affairs Review.
Arlene Vernon is president of HRx, Inc., where she provides custom human resource and management consulting, training and professional speaking services. Arlene brings over 30 years of experience in all facets of human resource management to her clients. Since founding HRx, Inc. in 1992, Arlene has partnered with over 500 organizations including providing over 200 nonprofit organizations with consulting, speaking and training solutions. Arlene understands the HR and management issues nonprofits are facing today. She brings practical, doable solutions to her clients whether advising executives, assisting with employee relations issues, developing handbooks and other HR tools, or conducting management success training.
Laurie Whipple is the operations director at the Conflict Resolution Center. Laurie earned her B.A. from the University of Minnesota in women’s studies and sociology. She brings 25 years of experience in project coordination and design and has been a certified Feng Shui practitioner for over a decade. Laurie is a trained mediator and is a passionate believer in the positive effects of resolving disputes through mediation.
Cyrus N. White is principal consultant at The South Cabin Group LLC, a St. Louis-based board development and strategic planning firm serving nonprofit organizations in the U.S. Russ adds 15 years as a nonprofit C.E.O. to his work with the boards and executives of foundations and nonprofits in the arts, education, healthcare, faith-based organizations and community services. In addition to his consulting practice, Russ speaks and teaches at national and regional conferences.
Cindy Winters is the manager of the Hearts Beat Back: Heart of New Ulm Project. She works with community organizations to adopt policies and systems that will sustain the behavioral changes created by The Heart of New Ulm Project. Cindy works with community partners through a variety of actions teams to provide education and technical assistance on the implementation of systems, environmental and policy change strategies. Her interest in changing the built environment to increase physical activity and promote active transportation was sparked after taking a Physical Activity and Public Health course from the University of South Carolina and the Center for Disease Control in 2001.
Lance Witzig is the vice curator of the Minneapolis Hub of Global Shapers (a global initiative of the World Economic Forum), where he runs the ShapeChange initiative--a consulting platform for early-stage social impact innovation ideas. Lance was formerly the Twin Cities site director and National Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion lead for New Sector Alliance. New Sector is a national organization that specializes in talent development for the social impact sector. Through his work at New Sector Alliance, Lance matched more than 100 early career professionals with more than 50 Twin Cities nonprofits and designed curriculum to support their retention. Lance has also served as a coach with the Neighborhood Leadership Program and worked with Minnesota Rising to develop events and trainings focused on identity driven leadership.
Mary-Margaret Zindren is the executive vice president of the American Institute of Architects Minnesota. She received her B.A. in public administration from Miami University in Ohio and her master’s degree in public affairs with a focus in public and nonprofit leadership from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. In addition to her career-long focus on association management, advocacy and governance, Mary-Margaret is active in social justice community work.