2021 ACTcon


Keynote and Plenary

Kari Aanestad (she/her) serves the director of advancement at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. In this role, Kari advances the mission and work of MCN and Minnesota’s nonprofit sector through strategic visioning, fundraising, relationship development, sector research, and education. Kari also serves as co-director of GrantAdvisor, an anonymous review site of grantmaking foundations, and vice president of the Minnesota - Northstar Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association. Kari holds an master of divinity degree from Luther Seminary and bachelor of arts degree from Augsburg College.

Mary Delorié (she/her) has more than two decades of experience working in nonprofits that are dedicated to social and environmental justice. She loves meeting new people and learning what fuels their passions and interests. She currently serves as the director of individual giving at Headwaters Foundation for Justice. Mary earned her bachelor of arts from Sarah Lawrence College in New York and completed continuing education courses at the University of St. Thomas' Opus College of Business. She lives in North Minneapolis and has roots in rural Minnesota.

Evva Karr (they/them), founder and CEO of GLITCH, is passionate about forming deep connections through play and building a better, more inclusive creative economy. Evva combines 12+ years of experience of systems design and strategy (Activision Blizzard Media Networks, Riot Games) with community and ecosystem building. They're a bold leader backing the #FutureOfPlay the Moonrise Fund and curiously co-creating playables for people who want more from their video games.

Anna Rebecca (AR) Lopez (she/they) is an evaluator, community organizer, and relationship-builder with over ten years in the cultural and informal learning sector. They have a master’s degree in museology from the University of Washington and have experience working with grassroots collaborations, small community-based organizations, and large museums. They are a founding member of Community-Centric Fundraising (CCF), an organizer with the Duwamish Solidarity Group, and holds a leadership position with the Seattle Evaluation Association. AR has a passion for helping organizations understand complex issues and inform decision-making with data, with the intent to influence social and just change.

Mallory Mitchell (she/her) is interim director of coaching and curriculum at GiveMN. Originally from Alabama, Mallory earned her bachelor's degree in business from the University of Montevallo and her master's degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Over the course of her career, she has developed a special interest in addressing issues of racial equity in philanthropy.

Cary Lenore Walski (she/her) is owner & CEO, Copilot & Tiny Tiger Creative. Cary has founded two woman-owned web agencies, one that focuses on the needs of nonprofit and mission-driven organizations, and the other created to empower women to own their ambition, and pursue their world-changing ideas. An award-winning web developer, she has spoken locally and nationally about technology and communications for a variety of organizations locally and nationally including MCN, Minnesota Council on Foundations, Idealware, and NTEN.

Breakout Sessions

Dana Allen-Greil is vice president of marketing at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and teaches for the graduate Museum Studies programs at Tufts University and Johns Hopkins University. Her past positions include: director of digital strategy at the Aquarium; chief of web and social media at the National Archives; senior digital outreach producer at the National Gallery of Art; and chief of digital outreach and engagement at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Dana holds a bachelor’s degree in English from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a master’s degree in museum studies from George Washington University. Dana has taught graduate courses at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, and Tufts University.  Dana participated in the Getty Leadership Institute’s NextGen program and has served as grant reviewer. 

Allison Alstrin is a community engagement manager for Unite Minnesota. She has always believed when people and organizations work together to serve others our world becomes a better place. Her work at Unite Us allows her to offer a tool that can do just that. From vision casting to execution, she has 15 years of experience working closely with senior leaders of organizations to advance partnerships and facilitate opportunities to create exciting outcomes in organizations. Allison holds an undergraduate degree from Drake University in business administration/finance and a masters of education from Loyola University Chicago.  

Ashley Aram is a senior account manager at Goff Public, providing strategy and public relations support for clients. In her time at Goff, Ashley has led nonprofits through important transitions; built advocacy campaigns for critical issues at the state Capitol; and raised the profile of many organizations through smart media relations and digital communications strategy. Prior to Goff, Ashley served as press secretary and senior communications advisor to former Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. She started her career at Land O’ Lakes, Inc. on the corporate communications team, with a focus on public relations.

Meagan Bachmayer is the vice president, advancement & chief administrative officer at Milkweed Editions, one of the nation’s leading independent book publishers. Prior to joining Milkweed Editions in 2016, she worked in the office of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, where she was deputy state director for operations. Before working for the Senator, she served as director of marketing & development for Women Winning, a group that advocates to elect more women to public office, and as deputy finance director for the Minnesota House of Representatives DFL Caucus. She graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a degree in political science. 

Dee Baskin is a communicator, educator, advocate, and queer person of color with a deep commitment to justice and equity. Dee is the executive director of Loan Repayment Assistance Program of Minnesota, a board member of NTEN, and has extensive experience in fundraising, communications, and administration across various industries. Dee graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School and has a bachelor’s in English and public relations from the University of Indianapolis. Dee’s CliftonStrengths are: Restorative, Connectedness, Intellection, Belief, Responsibility.  

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, fundraising infrastructure, and social media strategy for nonprofits. A graduate of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Steve holds a master of nonprofit management from Hamline University, and is an alumnus of the Shannon Leadership Institute. Steve is the managing partner of Next in Nonprofits, a consulting and services firm focused on building engagement for charities. Steve also hosts the podcast Next in Nonprofits, interviewing thought leaders moving the charitable sector forward.

Sandra Boone (she/her) is a communications professional with 15 years of experience working in higher education, nonprofit, and political settings. She is a communications specialist at the University of Minnesota’s Global Programs and Strategy Alliance focusing on International Student and Scholar Services and the Immigration Response Team. Sandra graduated from the University of Minnesota in with a master’s in strategic communication and minor in literacy & rhetorical studies. She strives to bring an audience- and equity-centric lens to her work, and she seeks to all communicators to consider the power and responsibility that comes with our roles as storytellers and gatekeepers of information. Because of this, she structured her final capstone research around the need for ethical/equitable storytelling practices for communicators through an examination of anti-trafficking organizations.  

Karen Casanova is the chief development officer at the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) where she leads all aspects of fundraising programs, including campaigns. Karen has enjoyed a 30-year career in fundraising and philanthropy in the Twin Cities. Prior to NAZ, she served with Reading Partners, a national organization focused on closing the literacy achievement gap. Karen launched the Minneapolis/St. Paul chapter of Reading Partners in 2015, then went on to serve in a national role as chief advancement officer which she has held for the past two years. Prior to that, Karen spent nearly a decade at Target in a variety of positions on their corporate social responsibility team, including managing arts and design partnerships, providing strategic direction for employee volunteer programs, and overseeing a portfolio of education investments. 

Cecelia Caspram, founder/principal of Mission Growth Partners, is a social worker who has been helping nonprofits raise their necessary revenue for well over a decade – which already amounts to millions of dollars collaboratively raised. She has deep experience in meaningful, productive individual donor relations; successful public and private grant writing; and general strategy and planning for fund development. Celia has worked with both small and large organizations, always with an entrepreneurial mindset that seeks to maximize resources. Her M.S.W. is from University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and she has a B.A. in English from the College of St. Benedict/ Saint John’s University. She currently serves on the board of the Association of fundraising professionals Minnesota Chapter and is in her second year as chair of its IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access) Committee. 

Jan W. Castillo’s career spans over 20 years in the corporate world, working primarily in the field of investor relations and corporate communications. In 2015 she began volunteering at a small nonprofit, where she found her passion for grants. In 2017, Jan launched The Dotted Line Collaborative, a grants development consulting practice with the mission of connecting ideas and outcomes through grants. Starting her own grant consulting practice was a mindful shift from Jan’s corporate-based career to a place of sustaining nonprofits, schools, and faith-based organizations through grant research, proposal development and submission, communications consulting, and program management. Jan currently serves as president of the Minnesota NorthStar Chapter of the Grants Professional Association, is a member of the Association for Fundraising Professionals, Minnesota Chapter, and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.

Mirella Ceja-Orozco is co-executive director of the Minnesota Freedom Fund, an immigration attorney, and adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School Center for New Americans in the Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic. She has dedicated her entire career to helping people navigate the complex world of immigration and deportation defense. She is admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Federal District Court of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Supreme Court. She serves as vice chair for the Minnesota/Dakotas chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Mirella is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Minnesota in 2009 to attend law school at Hamline University School of Law (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law).

Miguel Cipriani is a digital inclusion strategist who became passionate about making online spaces accessible after being blinded by a group of men in 2007. His books and articles on disability issues have received numerous awards and international recognition. He has guest lectured at Yale, and, in 2020, he was appointed by Governor Tim Walz to the Minnesota Council on Disability. Through his digital access consulting firm, Oleb Media, he has helped countless organizations build inclusive websites and apps. HuffPost referred to him as an "Agent of Change," and SF Weekly named him one of the best disability advocates. Tony Coelho, the primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, called him an "important voice" in disability writing. Belo holds an Ed.D degree. 

Paul Davis is the board chair of Project Got Your Back as well as a senior project lead for Boston Scientific. He served as an active duty Marine for nine years, obtaining the rank of Captain and completing three combat deployments. He finished his Marine Corps career with the Marine Security Guard Program in 2018, where he inspected and led Marines protecting U.S. embassies as the regional executive officer and United States diplomat.  Paul holds a B.B.A. from Colorado Mesa University where he double majored in management and entrepreneurship, and an MBA from the University of North Carolina where he studied consulting and strategy. He is always looking for ways to give back to a country and its veterans who have given us so much.  

Luke Dringoli works with nonprofits and governmental organizations such as United Nations Development Programme, Cornell University, and Ceres to use technology—the right mix of platforms, integrations, and tracking solutions—to achieve more impact. There are few things he enjoys more than helping his clients realize that technology can give them time back in their day, instead of taking it away. 

Molly Gazella-Baranczyk serves as executive director of National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA). She joined NWRA as symposium manager in 2016, with over 16 years of experience in the field of animal welfare. She earned her undergraduate degree in animal biology at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and earned her master of public affairs degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, with a concentration in nonprofit management and leadership.

Karen Graham is the managing director of education and outreach at Tech Impact, a nonprofit that connects technology with social change, and the home of Idealware. She leads a team of researchers, trainers, and writers who create technology resources such as the recent publication Unleashing Innovation, all designed to help nonprofit and philanthropic leaders put their vision into action.  

Aretha Green-Rupert is the program director for the Carlson Family Foundation. She has over 25 years of philanthropic, nonprofit, and community engagement experience. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a regional director with Otto Bremer Trust, responsible for managing its grantmaking. Aretha has worked in development for the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys and Greater Twin Cities United Way. She has served as director of youth development for the YWCA of St. Paul and director of partnership development for AchieveMpls. Aretha is currently chair of the board of the Minnesota Council on Foundations and serves on the boards of Genesys Works and the Opus Foundation. Aretha earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Tougaloo College and a master’s degree in horticulture from Mississippi State University. 

Briana Gruenewald (she/her) is account supervisor + graphic design lead at Bellmont Partners. Briana has an exceptional track record in journalism, cause marketing, media and blogger relations, graphic design, and promotions. She has developed and implemented award-winning communications campaigns for clients such as Second Harvest Heartland, People Incorporated, Minnesota Firefighter Initiative, Uptown Association, Midwest Dairy, and Explore Minnesota. Her passion for telling the stories of cause-related organizations stems from her two years as an AmeriCorps member. Prior to joining Bellmont Partners, Briana worked with ThreeSixty Journalism, where she recruited and mentored teenage writers, along with spearheading the organization’s communications and marketing efforts. In 2019, she earned her master of arts degree in graphic and web design from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Naaima Khan (sher/her) has worked with nonprofits for 10+ years as a strategic planner/facilitator, content creator, grant program manager, evaluator and equity/inclusion leader. She holds a master’s in public affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin with a concentration in nonprofit studies. Naaima helps clients center equity in their strategic planning and evaluation by applying principles of antiracism, human-centered design, and restorative practice. She served as an advisor to St. Olaf College’s Lutheran Center for Faith, Community and Values and serves on the board of the Minnesota Evaluation Association. She participates in restorative justice circles to help divert community members from the court system. 

Poh Lin Khoo is the founder and CEO of Khoo Consulting LLC, where she brings 20+ years of comprehensive marketing and communications experience to helping organizations solve critical business problems. Poh Lin's capabilities include increasing growth and revenue, advancing brand positioning, fostering media relations, and community engagement. Khoo Consulting's process of using data to inform strategies includes integrating deep-level diversity practices that reflect and resonate with all audiences including Black, Indigenous, People of Color communities.  

Angelica Klebsch has served historically underrepresented communities in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors for almost 20 years. Like many children of immigrants, Angelica’s passion for community work was sparked by teaching English to relatives and neighbors as she learned it herself as a child. Advocating on their behalf while navigating complex and confusing systems illustrated time and again the importance of serving as a community champion, a value that has shaped her life and career as a teacher, trainer, mentor, project manager, policy advocate, and now entrepreneur. Angelica holds a B.A. in psychology from Roosevelt University and a master of public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She serves on the boards of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, Saint Paul Children’s Collaborative, AMPERS Media, and ECM/Adams Publishing. 

Aparna Kothary is the director of technology operations at Global Citizen Year. Originally from the East Coast, Aparna has spent the last seven years at Global Citizen Year working in program operations, admissions, enrollment, and most recently in technology operations. Post-graduation, Aparna served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at a civil and immigrant rights organization in Washington, D.C. This experience kicked off Aparna's nonprofit career and she has since then worked at a variety of organizations with technology being the common thread. Aparna helped start the Oakland Nonprofit Tech Club and is passionate about helping people be more effective and efficient by using technology innovatively. She loves learning about new tools, tinkering, and bringing people together to talk nonprofit tech! 

Hlee Lee-Kron (she/her/) is a community-based, globally-minded storyteller. She is a photographer, communications professional, program manager, and organizational guru. Hlee established the other media group after six years as an independent/freelance consultant and more than 15 years in media. She began her career as a journalist working on a program for youth of color by youth of color. Through this experience, she was introduced to the production world, but also the world of diverse storytelling and organizing; understanding that everyone has their own story and their own journey. Fifteen years later, she continues to follow her passion for diverse storytelling, working as a producer and independent contractor. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from the University of St. Thomas and extensive experience working in diverse communities.  

Clara Lind (she/her) has been a fundraiser for five years and has a variety of experience managing annual fund and mid-level programs. She has been Beacon’s donor experience manager since 2019 and delights in connecting donors to live into their values through transformative and personally significant gifts. She comes with expertise in managing fundraising events, cultivating relationships with mid-level donors, writing fundraising messaging, and building a robust base of support to nurture and sustain organizational missions for years to come. 

A Minnesotan born and bred, Barb Martenson began working in fundraising (and writing grants) in 1992. Her work as a communications director, development director and grant writer in the Middle East and in Minnesota has raised funds for media projects, food programs, housing for the homeless, free dental care for the poor, women and children’s programming, and a broad range of capital projects from asbestos remediation to elevators, HVAC projects to green roofs, kitchen remodels, and even canoes for the Boundary Waters! She has a special interest in building on the strengths of an organization to help achieve their goals, while inspiriting area individuals, businesses, and foundations to partner with nonprofits with good organization, strong vision and board development, with multiple streams of income, to accomplish common goals.

Kathy Mock brings two decades in corporate leadership positions and a unique mix of business, legal, public affairs, and senior management experience to her role. She previously served as the senior vice president of marketing and public and health affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN. Earlier in her career, Kathy practiced law. Kathy has a B.A. from the College of St. Benedict's and a J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law. She currently serves on the Animal Law Section Council of the Minnesota State Bar Association, chairs the Legislative Advocacy Committee of the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, and is a past board member of the Minnesota Partnership for Animal Welfare. 

Kim Morgan (she/her) is CEO of Prosperity Digital Marketplace LLC and United Way of Western Connecticut. Kim works to improve the quality of life for those impacted by poverty, mental health, substance abuse issues, and homelessness. She’s focused CT United Way to transform our model to serve those living paycheck-to-paycheck, and our subsidiary Prosperity Digital Marketplace provides the technology that enables businesses and nonprofits to provide accessible resources and services to those in need.  

Megan Muske (she/her) is chief development officer of Second Harvest Heartland. Megan has dedicated her career to connecting those with a little extra to those who need a little more. During her first year with Second Harvest Heartland, she led the organization to its most successful fundraising year in its 40-year history. The stakes were exceptionally high that year, as hunger was hitting historic highs due to the COVID recession. For the past 18 years, Megan has served the Twin Cities community as a nonprofit leader in fundraising, capital campaigns, operations, marketing, communications, and community organizing. Megan kicked off her fundraising career at her alma mater, St. Olaf College, then led philanthropy efforts at Children’s Minnesota, Allina Health, and Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, where she served as director and then president.

Jake Muszynski is a proven and resourceful development professional. Jake is vice president at Creative Fundraising Advisors and focuses on major gifts strategy, planned giving, and capacity building for nonprofits. Jake has over 10 years of experience in higher education fundraising at both private and public institutions, including annual giving, crowdfunding, data analytics, planned gifts, major gifts, and campaign strategy. Through challenging assumptions, and combining data-driven decisions with passionate determination, Jake has helped provide organizations with system-level solutions that affect sustainable change. Jake is a member of the National Philanthropy Day Committee for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Minnesota Chapter, and the former President of Association of Fundraising Professionals – Northeast Iowa Chapter. 

Dana Nelson (she/her) is an entrepreneurial leader who champions community partnerships. Recently, as vice president of Legacy and Community Partnerships for the Super Bowl Host Committee, Dana oversaw the charitable strategy and community relations for Super Bowl LII. She led a 52-week giving campaign, investing $5.5M in to improve the health and wellness of Minnesotans. Prior to that, Dana was the founding executive director of GiveMN. She led the launch of Give to the Max Day in 2009, which raised $14 million for Minnesota nonprofits in one day. Minnesota’s Give to the Max Day continues to be one the largest online giving events in the world. Previous to GiveMN, Dana oversaw global workforce engagement of 350,000 team members at Target and had stints at Minneapolis Public Schools and Sun Country Airlines.

Jon Pratt the executive director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN). MCN is an association of 2,200 organizations that sponsors research, training, lobbying, and negotiated discounts to strengthen Minnesota’s nonprofit sector. Jon has worked with MCN since 1987. He also serves as co-director and is a founding partner of GrantAdvisor. Jon previously 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. He 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. 

Jerome Rankine, Pollen’s editorial director, finds ways to incorporate storytelling into every aspect of Pollen’s work. He helps to nurture all of Pollen’s stories from seed to flower, partnering with Pollen’s talented group of writers to help strengthen their voices and nudge narratives into place.  

Kristen Rosenberger is the director of advocacy and external engagement at Greater Twin Cities United Way, providing support and leadership for the organization’s policy agenda driving equitable systems change that is aligned with its strategic focus areas. Kristen joined United Way in 2012 where she managed partnerships with the Start Early Funders Coalition and MinneMinds to create aligned, state-wide efforts to ensure all children are prepared for kindergarten and lifelong success. Kristen received her degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder and has resided in the Twin Cities for the past 18 years which she considers home.  

Jasmine RuKim is a writer, creative analyst, and business strategist. She is co-founder and CEO of Monicat Data and Sunsett.io. Jasmine holds 12 years of strategic and creative expertise within: R&D, marketing implementation, digital analytics, and technology design. Her discipline has been practiced across creative markets of: retail, consumer products, art institutions, entertainment, nonprofits, and publication industries. In her local community, Jasmine has contributed as a speaker curator for TEDxMinneapolis, is a previous board member of GiveMN, has taught as an adjunct professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is an active board member of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. Jasmine has an MBA in marketing from the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, and a B.A. in psychology from Purdue University.

Jason Samuels is a nonprofit IT Manager with experience managing projects, budgets, and vendor relations. He is an expert at designing, implementing, and supporting information systems that strategically and effectively meet business needs. 

Stu Silberman is senior donor advisor for the Alzheimer’s Association, the global leader in Alzheimer's and dementia education, advocacy, research, and support. Stu leads major gift fundraising for a six-state region. Previously, Stu served as CEO of two Jewish Federations: Minneapolis, Minnesota and Louisville, Kentucky. In each location he also oversaw foundations and administered donor-advised funds. Stu began his career in information technology with PaineWebber (now UBS), then spent 13 years with Ford Motor Company in leadership positions in marketing and product development with an assignment in Hiroshima, Japan, and information technology. Following Ford, he served as vice president of marketing and sales for two technology companies. Stu earned his B.S. in in computer engineering from Lehigh University and MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 

Paul Spies is a co-founder of the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota and is a member of its core steering committee. He has served as the Coalition’s legislative action team lead since the Coalition’s first legislative session in 2016, and has worked with dozens of stakeholder groups to craft the comprehensive 2017-2021 Increase Teachers of Color Acts. Paul is a founding faculty member of the Urban Teacher Program at Metropolitan State University, which in two decades has become the most racially diverse teacher education unit in the state in terms of total number and percentage of candidates of color, all served by a faculty/staff that is majority persons of color. Paul holds a Ph.D. degree. 

Melanie Walby is the design director of Pollen Midwest who joined Pollen’s team after working at various ad agencies in Minneapolis. Her illustration, typography, and design bring stories to life in collaboration with Pollen’s freelance network of illustrators and photographers. She's a former board member of American Institute of Graphic Arts Minnesota, was recently named one of AdFed’s “32 Under 32”, and has been featured in Communication Arts, blackswho.design, and Adobe Creative Jam. Melanie’s work is driven by a deep understanding of how art and design moves people towards social change.

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