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Speaker Bios

Keynote Speaker

Entrepreneur and thought leader Perla Ni is the founder/C.E.O. of Citizen Insights and founder/C.E.O. of GreatNonprofits, the leading platform for community-sourced stories about nonprofits. Perla was the founder and publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Perla writes frequently about community voices, nonprofits, and technology for good. She currently serves on the board of America’s Charities.

Carl Atiya SwansonCarl Atiya Swanson is Springboard for the Arts' director of movement building, working on Creative Exchange, a national hub for stories and toolkits for artists and organizations to solve local challenges and create new opportunities. Carl previously worked at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and founded Crown & Sparrow, a boutique communications consulting firm specializing in work with artists. He is a theatermaker with Savage Umbrella, a company dedicated to creating new, relevant works of theater, and is on the board of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Twin Cities. He holds a B.A. in studio art from the University of Southern California and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas, Opus College of Business.

Joel BarkerJoel Barker is chief development officer/vice president of development at Fraser where he leads a team of professionals and serves in a senior leadership position. Fraser is the largest provider of autism services in Minnesota, along with providing a range of other services. In addition to his role at Fraser, Joel is the founder & C.E.O. of Backpack Tactics, an IT support firm which provides high quality, budget sensible services for nonprofits and small businesses. Joel has over 10 years of nonprofit experience, including leadership positions in development and marketing. He has worked as a nonprofit consultant where he provided strategic counsel to over 50 nonprofits throughout the upper Midwest. Joel on the board for Minnesota Food Association, and is a frequent speaker and instructor at nonprofit events and conferences.

Kristina BergKristina Berg is the director of marketing and Global Family Support for the Adoption Programs of Children’s Home and Lutheran Social Service. She has worked in the field of adoption for over ten years. She holds degrees in social work, multicultural studies and Spanish. Prior to her current role, Kristina was an international adoption specialist, developed targeted programming for children with HIV/AIDS and managed the organization’s international humanitarian efforts. In her current role as marketing director, Kristina leverages her unique background and personal interest in technology to successfully navigate the complexities of dual-organization and multifaceted program messaging and branding.

Jake BlumbergJake Blumberg is the executive director of GiveMN. Jake believes that a successful strategy, campaign, and message can expand the impact of the nonprofits doing incredible work in our communities. Jake has a background that spans leadership roles in nonprofits, politics and higher education. As the senior director of development and community engagement at Open Arms of Minnesota, Jake launched giving campaigns that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. As co-finance director of Minnesotans United, he helped lead a multimillion dollar campaign to win the freedom to marry for same sex couples in Minnesota. And in Washington D.C., Jake concurrently attained a master’s degree in political management from The George Washington University while working as a speech writer and associate director of development for The George Washington University Law School.

Seth BoffeliSeth Boffeli is the communications director for AARP Minnesota. In his position Seth is responsible for AARP’s marketing and media relations efforts in Minnesota as well as communications to volunteers and members. Seth has a background in health care and social service policy. For more than 15 years, he has served in a variety of communications posts in Wisconsin, Iowa and Washington D.C., including communications director for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and press secretary to U.S. Senator Tom Harkin. Seth has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Northern Iowa. 

Steve Boland Steve Boland is a nonprofit veteran with over 25 years of experience helping charities grow with new ideas in fundraising and communications. Steve has presented over 100 learning sessions on topics such as crowdfunding, engaging corporate philanthropy, and social communications strategy for nonprofits. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Steve holds a master of nonprofit management from Hamline University, is an alumnus of the Shannon Leadership Institute, and serves on the board of directors for Outfront Minnesota. Steve is the managing partner of Next in Nonprofits, a consulting firm based in St. Paul, is an adjunct instructor of Development and Fundraising for Hamline University, and is the host of the Next in Nonprofits podcast.

Brenna BrelieBrenna Brelie is the senior director of communications and public relations at Pillsbury United Communities. She has more than 12 years of experience in strategic communications, brand strategy, nonprofit marketing and internal communications. Brenna is passionate about elevating an organization's visibility and amplifing their message in the community. She is responsible for developing a communication strategy and overseeing public relations for each of Pillsbury United Communities’ centers and social enterprises. Previously she’s held communications and marketing positions at Grassroots Solutions, Goodwill/Easter Seals MN, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Fallon. Brenna has a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota.

Susie BrownSusie Brown is the public policy director for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, a role she has held since 2010. Previously, Susie served as executive director of Child Care WORKS, as public policy director for The Family Partnership, and in several roles with Planned Parenthood in Connecticut and Vermont, including public affairs director and director of Planned Parenthood’s 501(c)4 Vermont Action Fund. She teaches in the Masters of Nonprofit Management Program at the Hamline University School of Business. Susie has a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from Lewis and Clark College, and an M.P.A. from the University of Vermont. She serves on the public policy committees of the Minnesota Council on Foundations, the National Council of Nonprofits and Independent Sector.

D.A. BullockD.A. Bullock is an award-winning cinematographer, writer and director, and an artist with Creative Citymaking. His films have been a selection of The Toronto International Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival and the American Black Film Festival; the Urbanworld Film Festival 2003 Best Film winner and a WorldFest-Houston International Film and Video Festival Best First Feature winner. Variety acclaimed D.A.'s Dark as "A contemplative, raw and moving piece...D.A. Bullock could turn out to be a major underground American filmmaker." Using an extensive repertoire of creative and visual styles, D.A. has continued to impact the media landscape. His stories represent the voiceless, those surviving on the margins of society. In 2011 he founded Bully Creative Shop, a feature film, documentary, media art and digital content social change enterprise.

Aaron CackoskiOver the past 15 years, Aaron Cackoski has been a producer of live and recorded audio visual content in Minneapolis. His professional work provides service to a wide diversity of clients. This wide range of broadcasted material includes everything from local bands to city officials and even the Dalai Lama. Currently Aaron runs a production company called The Music Greenhouse which specializes in recording and live streaming video to the internet. In the scope of this work, Aaron has produced countless live broadcasts as well as designed several live streaming studio environments.

Lloyd DaltonLloyd Dalton is a software engineer for The Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) in the information technology department. He develops data exchange APIs, analysis tools, and CEE's internal systems. Lloyd previously held positions at Clockwork Active Media Systems, Thomson Reuters and Unisys. He has a bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State University in electrical engineering.


Becky DernbachBecky Dernbach is the communications director for Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), where she leads traditional and social media messaging across all campaigns including workers’ rights and police accountability. She took the infamous photo of a NOC canvasser with Mayor Hodges that sparked “Pointergate” in 2014, and played a key role in social media response to the racist KSTP story that made national headlines. She is a 2008 graduate of Carleton College who came to NOC through her work with Occupy Homes MN, where she got hooked on using storytelling to change dominant narratives, focusing on the foreclosure crisis and big banks. She is also the author of Fannie and Freddie, a rhyming picture book about the housing crisis.

Maude DornfeldMaude Dornfeld, executive director, joined the Life House team in 2014. Previously, she worked at Safe Haven Shelter for Battered Women raising awareness of domestic violence by speaking to civic, church, school and professional groups throughout the region. Maude holds a certificate in nonprofit administration and fund development and a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Minnesota. She has taught sociology, criminology and research methodology at the post-secondary level, and has 20 years’ experience as a research director and senior research analyst for marketing research firms, governmental agencies and nonprofits. Maude has expertise in nonprofit administration, project management, research design, program evaluation, advanced statistical analysis, and database development. 

Nancy Doyle BrownNancy Doyle 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.

Sam DrongSam Drong is the program director at PCs for People. He is responsible for many of the organization’s state-wide digital inclusion initiatives including finding new strategic partners to help bridge the digital divide. Sam has over 12 of experience working as an IT strategist and consultant for several Minnesota nonprofits and small businesses. He was previously the information technology coordinator at the Minnesota Electrical Association. Sam has a bachelor of arts degree in management information systems from Luther College.

Josh DyeJosh Dye has a master’s degree in public and nonprofit administration from Metropolitan State University. He has worked at the Minnesota Multi Housing Association (MHA), National Association of the Remodeling Industry - Minnesota Chapter (NARI MN), and now serves as the marketing & outreach coordinator for HousingLink. While working for MHA he doubled its membership in Greater Minnesota in less than 18 months, and launched the organization’s education programing statewide. At NARI MN, Josh set association records in member recruitment, event attendance and awards program participation. At HousingLink, the organization has reached all-time highs in website traffic and individual donations. He also spearheaded the recent launch of HousingLink’s first earned income venture. Josh is also the founder and president of Convene, LLC, a speaking, training and consulting company for nonprofits.

Aisha EadyAisha Eady is a speaker and creative writer who advises nonprofits, small businesses and entrepreneurs in the areas of communications, social media and customer service. Her work experience includes work with innovative nonprofits College Possible and The BrandLab as well as board membership of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities. She has a journalist’s instinct for research, a novelist’s instinct for storytelling, designer’s eye for beauty and a mediator’s instinct for delivering win-win solutions for clients, targets and employers. She’s fascinated by the intersection of technology, social entrepreneurship and design. Her work has been featured in Newsweek, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Insight News and other publications.

Beth ElstadBeth Elstad joined the Life House team as the operations director in 2015. Prior to Life House, Beth worked as the financial coordinator for Safe Haven Shelter for Battered Women. For nearly 20 years, she directed the organization's finances, managed capital projects, maintenance, information and technology. Beth earned her bachelor of arts in accounting and management from The College of St. Scholastica. As a survivor of domestic abuse, she has shared her testimony in efforts to raise awareness on the issue of domestic violence and the negative affect it has on our youth.

Linda FlandersLinda Flanders is currently the fund development coordinator for HOPE Coalition in Red Wing. HOPE offers support, education and advocacy for those affected by child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence and homelessness. Linda has a degree in criminal justice and was formerly a San Francisco police detective. She designed a media arts prevention program for at-risk youth that was nominated to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as one of the Midwest’s “most promising” programs, as well as producing over 25 video projects for prevention education. She has produced videos for the Wisconsin Department of Justice and Minnesota Department of Education. She is a published author of Crisis Intervention 101 and Guerilla Filmmaking DVD.

MayKao FredericksMayKao Fredericks is vice president of Community Affairs Minnesota at Wells Fargo. Her career at Wells Fargo began as a banker. In her current role MayKao supports Wells Fargo’s philanthropy initiatives for Minnesota, the company’s third largest market. Annually Wells Fargo contributes $10 million to over 1,600 Minnesota nonprofits. Her responsibilities include supporting and advising multiple internal community leadership, charitable giving and team member engagement programs. MayKao has a B.A. from Sacramento State University and a master of arts in management from the College of St. Scholastica. She currently serves on the Greater Twin Cities Education & Employment Committee, North Minneapolis Funders Collaborative, and Eastside Saint Paul Funders Collaborative. MayKao was recognized by the Minneapolis–St. Paul Business Journal as one of the top 25 Women to Watch.

Karen GrahamKaren Graham, executive director of Idealware, is a nonprofit leader and technology strategist who loves helping people solve problems – from making their work easier and more enjoyable to enabling their organization to more effectively achieve its mission. She is a frequent writer and speaker on database selection and strategic IT alignment, and author of The Buyers Guide to Nonprofit CRM Software. Karen owns Smart Girl Consulting, the technology strategy company for mission-based organizations. Previously she was director of technology & innovation at MAP for Nonprofits, where she led the technology consulting services and learning programs. Before joining MAP, Karen was director of business development at thedatabank. Prior to thedatabank she worked in human resources for seven years. Karen has an M.B.A. in nonprofit management from the University of St. Thomas.

Kathryn GrimesKathryn Grimes is the communications director for the Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Kathryn has worked in nonprofit marketing and communications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining the Consortium she served in senior management roles at the Minnesota Historical Society, the Girl Scouts regional council, and Northwestern Health Sciences University. She began her career in publishing at the University of Chicago Press, West Educational Publishing, the University of Minnesota Press and MBI Publishing. In her current position, Kathryn handles the Consortium’s communications activities, including media relations, digital strategy, and printed publications. On behalf of the Consortium, Kathryn acts as liaison to communicators and thought leaders not only at the University of Minnesota but throughout the nation.

Jim GullicksonJim “Gully” Gullickson started his radio broadcasting career in 1982, after graduating from Brown Institute of Broadcasting. He has worked in a number of positions, including news director, morning show host and co-host, afternoon drive host, part-time and full-time salesperson, sales manager and general manager. He has worked for five commercial licensees and two non-commercial licensees. He currently manages KMSU-FM at Minnesota State University – Mankato. He also hosts a one hour program called “Southern Minnesota Midday” twice a week. 

Roger HagedornRoger Hagedorn has had a varied career. After nine years teaching film and French, he moved into technology and specialized in helping nonprofits attain increased effectiveness through a thoughtful, mission-focused implementation of technology. For the past 15 years he has served as network administrator, security consultant, IT director, and technology strategist for agencies as diverse as the Trust for Public Land, Seward Coop, Minnesota Council of Churches, and MAP for Nonprofits. He is currently senior security analyst for the City of Minneapolis. Roger is an advocate for implementing secure technology solutions and passionate about helping people effectively securing their environments and safeguarding their personal information.

Holly HarrisonHolly Harrison, independent consultant, is a writer, marketer, and sometimes designer living in Minneapolis. Be it video games, politics, podcasts, Weird Twitter, books, feminism, TV, whatever—she’s probably enthusiastic about what you’re enthusiastic about. Her past work includes Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota; Pollen; Paper Darts Magazine; and Lake Street Council.


Douglas HegleyDouglas Hegley joined the museum sector in 1997, after previous stints in higher education and pediatric research. During 14 years at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, he helped create collaborative technology operations and deliver engaging digital content to visitors. In 2011 he joined the Minneapolis Institute of Art as director of media and technology, where he sets the vision and strategy for all technology and digital media efforts, and aims to deliver engaging stories to all audiences via digital channels. Douglas has been recognized by his peers as a leader in the field, and has served on the boards and committees of several cultural heritage organizations, including the Minnesota Association of Museums, the Museum Computer Network (president in 2011), and the New Media Consortium.

Erin HeislerErin Heisler spends much of her time creating marketing content as a web communications specialist for Children’s Home and Lutheran Social Service. After obtaining her bachelor of arts in English at the University of Minnesota, Erin began her professional career and discovered her passion for marketing, analysis and technology. This prompted her to move into the marketing field three years ago and to focus her research on the power of social media and online mediums as she completed her master of arts in English at the University of Saint Thomas. She is passionate about ways in which digital content can build positive communities and promote civic engagement. Her research will be published as a chapter in the upcoming book, Citizen Engagement and Public Participation in the Era of New Media.

Steve HeyeSteve Heye is a solutions consultant at where he acts as a technical expert on the Social Impact team which donates the NetSuite solution to nonprofits. He is the author of Chapter One on IT Alignment in the NTEN book, Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission. With over 20 years of experience working with nonprofits and technology, Steve brings a real passion and unique set of experiences to the NPTech community. Previously Steve was the manager of technology at The Cara Program, digital content services manager at the YMCA of Metro Chicago and technology consultant at the YMCA of the USA. Steve has a bachelor’s degree in finance from North Central College. 

Bernadine JoselynBernadine Joselyn represents rural Minnesota communities on the Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. She has served as director of Blandin Foundation’s Public Policy & Engagement Program since 2001. Beginning in 2003 Bernadine has led the foundation’s broadband programming. A Minnesota native, Bernadine has a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University, and undergraduate and master’s degrees in public policy from the University of Minnesota. Bernadine served for seven years as a diplomat with the United States Department of State, including assignments in New Delhi and Moscow. 

Jana KoorenJana Kooren is the public education and communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota (ACLU-MN). She directs the ACLU-MN’s external communications which she has expanded to include a robust social media presence, an e-mail advocacy program and multiple website upgrades. She also does on the ground work educating and engaging people about their rights and the constitution. In addition, Jana serves on the steering committee of a number of advocacy coalitions in Minnesota including the Voting Rights Coalition and the Restore the Vote Coalition. 

Joanne KosciolekJoanne 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. 

Lee KuntzLee Kuntz is a business process improvement trainer, strategist, speaker and mentor. Lee founded and leads Innovation Process Design. She trains and mentors nonprofit organizations to see and harvest opportunities within their work when they are blocked from reaching the technology outcomes they need. For over 15 years, Innovation’s “think differently” approach has helped nonprofit organizations cure pain, build skills and improve outcomes. Lee believes all service organizations can learn and leverage process improvement to deliver more value to their customers, their organization and their employees.

Lars LeafbladLars Leafblad is co-founder and principal of Ballinger | Leafblad, Inc. a St. Paul-based executive search and selection consulting firm serving foundations, nonprofits and higher education institutions. Previously, he was leadership & engagement director at the Bush Foundation, where he directed the Bush Fellowship leadership programs. He is also the founder of Pollen, nonprofit organization comprised of 10,000+ individuals who share ideas, career and civic engagement opportunities. He earned a B.A. in economics from St. Olaf College, an M.B.A. from the Carlson School of Management and was a Humphrey policy fellow. Lars serves on the advisory boards for and the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center at the University of Minnesota and is a former board member of

Nekima Levy-PoundsNekima Levy-Pounds is an award-winning professor of law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law and the founding director of the Community Justice Project. Nekima is also a civil rights attorney, legal scholar and nationally recognized expert on issues at the intersections of race, public policy, economic justice, public education, juvenile justice, and the criminal justice system. In 2015, she was named one of “40 Under 40” by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.  In 2014, she was named a Minnesota Attorney of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer and recognized as one of “50 under 50 Most Influential Law Professors of Color in the Country” by Lawyers of Color magazine. She currently serves as the president of the Minneapolis NAACP and as an advisor to Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.

Tom MobergTom Moberg has over 20 of experience designing, developing and deploying information technology systems that help organizations meet their mission and serve their constituents. He does this by taking a strategic approach to problem solving that values the human as well as technological pieces of the puzzle. He most recently worked at MAP for Nonprofits as a strategic technology consultant. Tom is sole proprietor of Moberg Consulting where he works with nonprofits and small businesses to help them use technology more effectively and efficiently. He worked at the Minnesota Institute of Public Health for 12 years overseeing their technology initiatives. He has presented many trainings on the Internet and its use, and worked on effective ways to use technology to help people find resources and communicate with each other.

Laura MortensonLaura Mortenson is communications manager for the Minnesota Budget Project. She manages media relations and oversees communications outreach to promote the research and advocacy efforts of the team. Her professional background includes serving as communications director for a St. Paul mayor and managing public and media relations for city organizations. Laura received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.

Daniel MosheTech Guru founder and C.E.O. Daniel Moshe is an expert in strategy, technical support, preventative maintenance, projects, and IT consulting.  Working with an exceptional client support team, Dan brings caring IT to businesses and nonprofit organizations across the Twin Cities and Upper Midwest. Dan volunteers on the board of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) and organizes the regional qualifier for EO’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards competition. Dan also serves on the board of trustees and the finance committee at Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka. 

Eric MuellerEric Mueller, webmaster & social media guy, has been at the Science Museum of Minnesota since 2003. There he heads up the digital marketing team, setting the museum's digital strategy and overseeing its websites, email marketing and social media initiatives. Eric works closely with internal clients throughout the organization to effectively communicate the museum's many programs and services to diverse audiences.


Jocey NeveauxJocey Neveaux served as an online community manager and safe space maintainer for VaginaPagina from 2006 to 2014. She’s a member of the SPIRAL Collective, a group of full-spectrum doulas, and most recently worked at Planned Parenthood. She’s passionate about reproductive justice, comprehensive sexual health education, and can be found in a number of online forums doing her unofficial best to make the Internet a kinder place.


Chuck OlsenChuck Olsen is an entrepreneur and media veteran with 20 years of experience working at the intersection of storytelling and technology, culminating in a love affair with virtual reality as co-founder of Visual. He co-founded digital video agency vidtiger and journalism nonprofit The UpTake, and managed web services for Twin Cities PBS. As a filmmaker and journalist, his award-winning work has screened internationally at film festivals and earned over one million YouTube views. Chuck has served clients from small nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies. He’s been featured in WIRED and the New York Times and on NPR.

Clara OwenClara Owen is the communications and technology specialist for MACC Alliance/MACC Commonwealth, a nonprofit serving and supporting nonprofit human service organizations. As communications specialist she supports all key communication initiatives including content development, messaging, design and strategy. As technology specialist she plays many roles – firefighter, advisor, and mystery solver. She looks for ways to combine the power of technology with the power of people to improve business function and efficiency. Sometimes this means looking for brand new solutions, sometimes it means finding an innovative way to use existing technology. Where technology and communication collide is in the administration and customization of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. One of her key strengths is finding creative ways to leverage CRM both as a powerful communications tool and one that can improve internal business process.

Autumn PattersonAs the web and technology manager for Arts Midwest, Autumn Patterson manages the development and oversight of the organization’s websites, social media and IT infrastructure. Autumn has worked for Arts Midwest since 2003, and is committed to the use of emerging technologies to further the organization’s mission. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in American studies from University of Maryland – Baltimore County, where her research focused on communications and popular culture.

Joshua PeskayJoshua Peskay is an expert trainer for Idealware and vice president of RoundTable Technology, a technology service provider in New York and Maine. Joshua has been helping nonprofit organizations improve their use of technology since the early 1990's and has worked with more than 1000 organizations. He specializes in helping organizations be strategic about their technology and make smart choices about services, support, and management.

David PetersonDavid Peterson has been a research analyst at the University of Minnesota Foundation since 2013. Working in the fields of data and analytics, mapping and geospatial analysis are two areas he is routinely called upon to provide at the Foundation. Prior to working at the Foundation, David was a research librarian at the University of Minnesota specializing in the health sciences and taught information literacy at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. David as a master of library and information science degree from St. Catherine University.

Jon PrattJon 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 NGO 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.

Rinal RayRinal Ray joined the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits as the public policy advocate in 2014. Rinal works with MCN’s public policy director to advance the organization’s policy agenda and train leaders on nonprofit advocacy. Prior to her role at MCN, Rinal served as a staff attorney for the Minnesota Justice Foundation at William Mitchell College of Law. As former project coordinator for MCN, she also worked on the Charitable Tax Exemption Campaign and the Nonprofit Legal Handbook. Additionally, Rinal served on MCN’s board of directors in 2013 and as a co-chair of the Principles and Practices Advisory Committee. Rinal is a former AmeriCorps member with College Possible. She has a B.A. in international studies and political science from Macalester College and a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law.

Brian RoemenBrian Roemen has 16 years of technical support experience and 10 years of IT consultation experience. He works in nonprofit, for-profit, educational and residential environments. His expertise is in network administration, computer setup/repair, cloud computing, IT security, and a wide range of hardware and software support for Macs and PCs. He especially enjoys educating others to become more comfortable with technology. Brian has also taught part time at Concordia University in St. Paul for several years. Brian thrives on problem solving. He loves efficiency and hates any kind of waste. He believes that technology, when harnessed correctly, can boost productivity and convenience while reducing stress (not the opposite), and he applies this philosophy with his clients and in daily life. 

Jon RuzekJon Ruzek is the senior director of alumni networks for the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. He connects with the expertise of more than 455,000 alumni and friends worldwide to support alumni and student career aspirations, employment opportunities, virtual networking, corporate outreach, and mentoring programs. Jon has worked in admissions, registration, student affairs, and alumni relations at the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota. He holds a B.A. from Concordia College – Moorhead, and an M.A. in education from the University of St. Thomas.

Ryan RipleyRyan Ripley is a web designer and front-end developer specializing in websites for artists and nonprofit organizations. Recent projects include designs for Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, the Theater People web series, and various web development projects for the Playwrights’ Center. As an arts administrator, he specializes in project management and technology integration for nonprofits. He is the associate general manager at the Playwrights’ Center, where he helps produce the Center’s artistic programming, oversees building maintenance and upkeep of theater equipment, and serves as project manager for a variety of technology initiatives.

Jason SamuelsJason Samuels is the director of innovation and technology at the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). In ten years at NCFR he’s followed the accidental techie path from temp to receptionist to IT manager to his current role. Along the way Jason has developed expertise in database management, web design, network administration, event audio-visual management, process improvement, procedure writing, and dozens of other things that just needed doing. Jason takes pride in meeting business needs with the right technology, and at least one co-worker likes to joke that he squeezes nickels until the buffalos squeak.

Paul SchwarzkopfPaul Schwarzkopf is the marketing & communications coordinator for Can Do Canines, a Minnesota based nonprofit providing assistance dogs for people with disabilities, free of charge. He has managed nonprofit communications for more than eight years, previously at the National Scholastic Press Association and Milwaukee Riverkeeper. Paul holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. In a former life he worked as a producer for both radio and television news. Paul also utilizes vintage synthesizers and drum machines to compose electronic music. He hopes to one day conquer the world...electronically.

Sandra ScottSandra Scott, senior consultant at Tunheim, specializes in company thought leadership positioning, corporate communications and crisis communications for clients across a variety of industries. During her tenure, Sandi has helped large global brands such as Schneider Electric, Ingersoll Rand, Fresenius Renal Therapies, and other clients such as Dominium, HealthEast Care Systems, and Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority communicate and engage with their audiences, navigate challenges and help tell their story. Whether it is reputation management, company positioning, communicating with stakeholders or managing a crisis, Sandi has a proven track record for helping clients reach the right audience at the right time with the right message. She provides ongoing crisis support to affordable housing communities across the country and has helped many organizations navigate crisis situations of different sizes and scopes.

Rebecca ShavlikRebecca Shavlik is a founder and the executive director of the Shavlik Family Foundation, which is focused on grantmaking to Minnesota-based nonprofits to increase their information and technology resources in order to remove barriers or build capacity for nonprofits and their clients. Over the course of her career, Rebecca has had the opportunity to work in such diverse environments as government, nonprofits, private sector and franchising. She was part of the entrepreneurial team that founded Shavlik Technologies a security software company bought in 2011. Rebecca also serves on a number of nonprofit boards including MinnPost and Century College Foundation. Her range of experience gives her a unique perspective on budgeting and funding for the resources necessary to create strong operations that lead to impactful program development.

Sam SimmonsSam Simmons is licensed as an alcohol and drug counselor and has over 25 years of experience as a behavioral consultant in the areas of chemical dependency, violence abatement and historical trauma. He specializes in practical culturally sensitive trauma-informed work with African American males and their families. Sam is currently SAFE Families manager at The Family Partnership, managing the Be More Project to engage African American young men and boys to stop violence against women and girls and to promote healthy nonviolent relationships. He is executive producer of public affairs programming at Twin Cities community radio station KMOJ. Currently he's co-host of "Voices” addressing issues of the urban community. Sam is the owner of Samuel Simmons Consulting.

Casey SorensenCasey Sorensen is the executive director of PCs for People. He graduated from Minnesota State University Mankato with a degree in computer information systems. During college, Casey volunteered for a small county-run program called PCs for People. After college Casey worked as a technology consultant with Deloitte Consulting. Casey enjoyed the travel and challenges of the work, but decided he was ready for a career change. Casey reconnected with the founder of PCs for People and decided to formalize and expand the PCs for People program. In 2008, Casey incorporated and established PCs for People as a nonprofit and opened up the corporate headquarters in St. Paul. PCs for People has since grown to distribute thousands of computers each year to families in need.

Tom SpielmanTom Spielman is the director of information technologies for The Center for Energy and Environment (CEE). He and his staff are responsible for creating effective, secure, and innovative technology solutions for CEE’s staff and clients. Tom has 20 plus years of programming and network administration experience. He has developed everything from embedded systems, to complex web applications, to large database designs. Prior to joining CEE, Tom was a software developer in both the Enhanced 911 and Advanced Communication Services divisions of US West (now CenturyLink). In the mid 90’s he moved on to the nonprofit world and Wilder Foundation’s Research Center. There he wrote software to support the research center’s mission to evaluate and increase the effectiveness of human service and philanthropic programs. Tom has a B.S. in computer science.

Amy StromAmy Strom is the director of information technology at The Saint Paul Foundation, an affiliate of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners. Amy is in charge of making sure the foundation has the technological support needed to ultimately deliver to their customers —from desktops to servers to database tools and processes. Amy has been with Minnesota Philanthropy Partners since 1989 and sits on the technology executive committee for the Fiscal & Administrative Officers Group nationally, as well as the executive committee for a national user group. She has a bachelor's degree in information technology and management improvement systems and is certified in business process improvement. She loves the constant learning in her job and helping people do their job more efficiently.

Erin Strong ElliottErin Strong Elliott is the senior director of campus engagement at the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. In her role, she works with each of the University’s schools/colleges and campus partners to collaborate on alumni programming, virtual engagement, geographic outreach and Life Long Learning. Erin has over 10 years of experience in both alumni relations and nonprofit work. She has a B.A. from the University of Minnesota and a M.P.A. from Hamline University.

Brooke ThomsonBrooke Thomson is the development and communications director at the Annex Teen Clinic, where she is responsible for all development initiatives, social media, marketing, communication and volunteer management. Brooke has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Minnesota, and a master’s in nonprofit management from Hamline University. She is passionate about healthy youth development and helping nonprofits thrive.

Micah ThorMicah Thor is president of the innovative IT service firm Tech Guru, which delivers technical consulting, support and leadership to businesses who do not have the necessary IT resources in-house. As a committed and passionate business leader, Micah uses his broad business development and operations expertise to lead Tech Guru in delivering exceptional business guidance and technical solutions to his clients. His areas of expertise include assessing clients’ technical risks and threats, advising clients on peripheral efficiencies, managing complex IT projects, ensuring client success as well as operations leadership and business development for Tech Guru.

Lucy TobinLucy Tobin has been a development researcher at the University of Minnesota Foundation since 2013. She has utilized mapping projects to bring new insight to her work with front-line fundraisers. Prior to her position as a researcher, she worked in the gift administration department at the University of Minnesota Foundation (formerly Minnesota Medical Foundation) beginning in 2008. Lucy has a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Minnesota State University – Moorhead.

Carolyn Van NelsonCarolyn Van Nelson is the business director at Open Eye Figure Theater. Carolyn has had the opportunity to work in finance, donor management, relocation, database management, data migration and experience in multiple CRMs over the course of her career. The CRMs she has experience in are: Blackbaud, FileMaker, and dBase. She is currently working with HighPower Data in developing a custom CRM in FileMaker with the financial help of Minnesota Regional Arts Council.

Kevin H. VollmersKevin H. Vollmers is the executive director of Gazillion Strong and the founder of Land of Gazillion Adoptees, LLC. Much of his work focuses on the intersectionality between adoption, race, culture, identity, performance, art, politics, pop culture and social movement. He has been featured in The New York Times, National Public Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, CNN, Colorlines, Racialicious, Hyphen, The Good Men Project, Daily Beast, and Fox News. In his previous life, he worked as a fundraiser for The George Washington University and Second Harvest Heartland, and was a part of the communication and outreach teams for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and Children's Home Society & Family Services.

Cary WalskiCary Lenore Walski is an entrepreneur using her background in psychology and the arts to create positive online experiences for mission-driven organizations. She has worked for a decade in the nonprofit sector. Passionate about nonprofits making informed decisions, Cary has delivered presentations locally and nationally for organizations including NTEN, Idealware, The Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Minnesota Council on Foundations and Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. As owner and nerd-in-chief at Copilot, she works with small to medium sized nonprofits to produce websites, email campaigns and social media communities that connect with and inspire individuals to action.

Levi WeinhagenCombining his skills and experience as a producer, writer and performer of live comedy with his experience in education and the nonprofit community, Levi Weinhagen is working to help grantmakers and the people they serve tell their stories. He co-founded the all-ages production company Comedy Suitcase and was named an Artist of the Year by City Pages in 2012. Levi is the host and producer of The Pratfalls podcast and has been producing podcasts since 2010. He was the artist in residence at the Walker Art Center in 2014-2015. Levi is currently a communications and media specialist at the Minnesota Council on Foundations, with a focus on publications and the philanthropy-centered Fast Forward podcast.

Eleonore WesserleEleonore Wesserle is a trainer and facilitator with Line Break Media, building the capacity for organizations and individuals to tell their stories through traditional and digital methods. Coming from an activist background, she helps organizations weave their communications strategy into their movement strategy so that both can become more effective. Eleonore can work with you to build your organizational narrative, frame compelling campaign messages, supercharge your social media engagement, connect with community media outlets, and create transformative video pieces, all in service of the change you are seeking to create in the world.

Bethany WhiteheadBethany Whitehead is the executive director of Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley.  She’s been in this role for three years and has excelled in putting systems and strategies in place, growing the budget, membership, donors, grant monies, and all areas of marketing and engagement. For the past 10 years she has worked in arts organizations specializing in fundraising, membership, constituent engagement, and event planning, serving tiny organizations such as the Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota, large organizations such as the Walker Art Center, and those in between: The Playwrights’ Center and the American Craft Council. She holds an M.A. in arts administration from St. Mary’s University and a B.A. from Kalamazoo College.

Austin WiebeAustin Wiebe is the marketing and communications manager for Xperitas (formerly Intercultural Student Experiences and Global Citizens Network), an educational organization dedicated to promoting global citizenship through authentic immersion experiences both domestically and abroad. He is responsible for delivering compelling messaging to external audiences as well as program participants and their families through online and print communications in four languages. Austin studied journalism, Spanish and design at the University of Minnesota. His previous work includes positions at CSC Publishing, Inc. and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and he also provides freelance editing, web management and marketing services for a variety of clients.

Lynn WinterLynn Winter has been managing projects, process, and client relationships both at a nonprofit and with nonprofits for over 15 years. In her current role as the production director at August Ash, she manages the interactive team and implements new processes and strategies in order to improve the planning and build of all new websites. Lynn also works with clients on content strategy, UX, user testing, QA, and more.


Kristiana WrightKristiana Wright, grassroots organizing strategist, is an experienced communications professional and graduate scholar with a passion for grassroots organizing, worker empowerment and the growing movement for a $15 minimum wage. For 15 Now Minnesota, she heads the communications committee and sits on the steering committee. As a dedicated activist for economic justice, Kristiana has served in leadership roles for a variety of issue advocacy campaigns and community organizations. Before moving to Minneapolis, she co-founded 15 Now Oregon and served as its statewide organizing director while attending college. Kristiana earned her bachelor of science in communication studies from Southern Oregon University where she was honored with the Outstanding Service to Communication Studies award. She is a graduate student and teacher in communication studies at the University of Minnesota.

John WurmJohn Wurm is membership and communications director at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, where he leads MCN's varied communications efforts, develops and executes marketing and promotional planning and execution for MCN programs, and oversees the nonprofit and associate membership programs. Prior to joining MCN, John worked for 14 years in the Twin Cities book publishing industry, assuming a wide-range of marketing and publicity roles. John holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications, with an emphasis in public relations, from St. Cloud State University, and has been with MCN since May 2012. His previous nonprofit experience also includes working at the United Way of Minneapolis and Redleaf Press, a leading nonprofit publisher of resources for early childhood professionals.

Tom ZimmermanTom Zimmerman, marketing and communications manager leads GiveMN’s marketing and communications outreach to donors and nonprofit and school administrators. He joined GiveMN in 2015, coming from the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, where he managed marketing and communications across several brands, including Georgia Gives, an online platform for Georgia nonprofits to raise money on Georgia Gives Day and all year round. Tom received a master’s degree in public relations from the University of Georgia, and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Lynchburg College. Tom also serves on the board of directors for Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities. 

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2016 Technology and 
Communications Conference

Tuesday, April 12
7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

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Hosted by:

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Featured Sponsor:

Hamline University School of Business