Allison Ahcan is director of communications at Blandin Foundation. Allison, a native of Bigfork and Grand Rapids, joined Blandin Foundation with 22 years’ experience in professional communications. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served a variety of manufacturing and nonprofit clients through her own Twin Cities firm, True North Public Relations. In 2005 she received the “Woman to Watch” award from The Business Journal. Allison also served as national outreach manager for the American Chemistry Council in Washington, D.C., and held communications roles for Lutheran Brotherhood (now Thrivent Financial for Lutherans), a Fortune 500 organization in Minneapolis. She holds the master of business communications degree from the University of St. Thomas and bachelor of arts in English from St. Olaf College.
Terri Allred is the Southeast Minnesota regional coordinator for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits where she serves as a liaison between MCN’s St. Paul office and nonprofits in Southeast Minnesota. Terri has worked in the nonprofit sector her entire life, mostly focused around issues of sexual assault and domestic violence. She has served as the executive director of five nonprofits in three states and currently lives in Rochester. Prior to joining MCN, Terri served as the director of community engagement for the Women’s Shelter and Support Center. She has a bachelor of arts from Wake Forest University and a master of theological studies in feminist theology from Vanderbilt Divinity School.
Lorie Alveshere Sommer is a certified professional co-active coach, trained through the Coaches Training Institute of San Rafael, CA. In addition, she earned an associate’s degree in nursing from North Hennepin Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas. Lorie has spent her professional life as a coach, nurse, lobbyist, public health advocate, and challenger of the status quo. Lorie is passionate about leveraging mindfulness and neuroscience to support her individual and organizational clients achieving the change they are seeking.
Steve Anseth is a partner at the CPA firm Abdo, Eick & Meyers where he leads the firm’s Nonprofit Practice. The Firm’s Nonprofit Practice has a staff team of 12 that work exclusively with nonprofit organizations in the Twin Cities metro area and around the state (from Waseca to Virginia!). They currently perform nearly 100 nonprofit audits annually, including the audit for Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. He is a frequent speaker at MCN events and conferences. Steve is native of Duluth and loves to come north as often as possible.
Marcia Avner, principal at Avner Consulting and MCN senior fellow, works with nonprofit organizations, foundations, unions, and local governments to advance policy issues and strengthen advocacy capacity. Marcia does training and public speaking on a wide range of issues with a focus in 2019 on engaging the nonprofit and philanthropic communities in 2020 Census mobilization. She also teaches in the Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership program at Metropolitan State University. She serves on the boards of the Bauman Foundation and Friends of the Mississippi River, and co-chairs the Funders Census Initiative at the national Funders Committee for Civic Participation. Marcia’s work with MCN includes service as the organization’s first board chair and 16 years as MCN’s public policy director.
Laurie Berner is the executive director of ARC Northland. ARC Northland is affiliated with The Arc of the United States, a nationwide disability rights organization that started in Minnesota in the 1950’s. Laurie has 30+ years of experience as a human services professional. She has worked in community-based, medical, residential, and vocational agencies, and worked at organizations serving individuals with disabilities throughout her career. Laurie serves as a member of the Northeast Regional Advisory Committee for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.
Amy Brugh is a nonprofit consultant specializing in planning, facilitation, and project management, and is the principal consultant for Amy Brugh Consulting. Previously she was the director of external relations at the Minnesota AIDS Project (now JustUs Health), where she advanced the fundraising, communications, public policy, and volunteer programs. She has served on the board of directors of Our Streets Minneapolis, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, and Nonprofit Insurance Advisors. She holds a master’s degree in community health education from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
Michelle Chang is the policy and equity coordinator at MCN. Her primary focus is building power around Census 2020 in partnership with MCN's many nonprofit members. She also works internally to ensure that policies and procedures center around ending disparities in power, money, access, and more. Prior to her current position at MCN, Michelle served as MCN's AmeriCorps VISTA, spent a year working as a foreign English teacher in Yunnan, China, while receiving her masters of international studies in international development with Concordia University - Irvine. She has her B.A. in Asian studies from the College of Saint Benedict.
Ashley Charwood is the Northwest Minnesota regional coordinator at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, based in Bemidji. Through this position, Ashley provides activities, initiatives, and connections to the resources MCN provides in the Northwest Region of Minnesota. Ashley received her B.S. in social work from Bemidji State University and has a minor in chemical dependency counseling and psychology. Ashley has held positions with nonprofits in Pennsylvania and the Bemidji area. She is very passionate about the nonprofit sector. Ashley is employed as an early childhood screening team member for the Bemidji School District and has been an active board member and governance committee chair with Bi-County Community Action Programs. Ashley is currently working on her master’s degree from the University of North Dakota, where she is a graduate teaching assistant.
Greg Grell is a producer and writer for WDSE/WRPT TV in Duluth. Greg has been in the news business for over 30 years. Hired by WDSE-WRPT in 1992 to launch Almanac North, Greg's tenure as producer spans three decades and brings continuity to the weekly public affairs program. Greg also produced newscasts from 1985 to 1992 at WDIO/WIRT.
Kevin Jacobsen, an Emmy-Award winning journalist, is the news director for KBJR 6. Kevin arrived in Duluth in 2008. He anchored the news on CBS 3 (then KDLH) until moving over to anchor the KBJR 6 News at 6 and 10. In 2015 he stepped behind the scenes as assistant news director, and was promoted to news director in 2017. Before arriving in the Northland, Kevin anchored the morning news on KMEG-TV in Sioux City, Iowa. He also worked as a reporter at News 12 Connecticut. Kevin received a B.S. in television news from Lyndon State College.
Karl Johnson supports and acts as a resource for nonprofits as regional coordinator in Central Minnesota for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. His focus is on providing local trainings, networking and collaboration opportunities and other MCN resources. Karl serves various nonprofits in multiple capacities and continues to be active in St. Cloud’s community. A former Community Impact intern of United Way of Central Minnesota, he developed a strong network in and outside of the nonprofit sector. His passion for youth mentoring is a foundation for his work at The Yes Network, providing meals and play therapy to youth in low-income housing during the summer, as a varsity boys soccer coach at Sauk Rapids High School, and formerly as a substitute teacher at Sauk Rapids Middle School.
Danielle Kaeding is a reporter at the Superior Bureau of Wisconsin Public Radio. Prior to this role, Danielle served as the station manager of WRNC-LPFM (97.7) at Northland College in Ashland. She studied mass communications at the University of Wisconsin – Superior. She won her first Wisconsin Associated Press Award in the Division One category at the age of 21 for a radio documentary on methamphetamine abuse called "I Can Handle My Drugs." Danielle also received a Wisconsin AP Award for her series reporting on sudden infant death syndrome. She has written and reported stories for National Public Radio, National Native News, Aspen Daily News, Business North, Ashland Daily Press, Superior Telegram, and KQDS-TV.
Cameron Kruger is the president/CEO for the Duluth Children's Museum and founder of Horizon Nonprofit Solutions, a consultancy focused on innovative communication strategies for community organizations. He is an avid techie, supporter of social causes, and drinker of coffee (black please). Cameron is a member of the board of directors and the Northeast Minnesota Advisory Committee for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.
Katherine LaFleur is the operations director of Duluth Sister Cities International (DSCI). She is a Duluth native who first heard of DSCI through the anecdotes of friends and family who had gone on delegations to Ohara, Petrozavodsk, and Växjö. Passionate about travel and seeking connections with people from all across the globe, Katherine completed her bachelor of arts at the College of St. Scholastica, graduating from the Global, Culture & Language program with minors in Spanish language and management.
DeeDee LeMier is a passionate rural advocate, intent on breaking barriers to communication, understanding, and community across the state. She serves as the engagement and outreach manager for Charities Review Council and is deeply involved with rural advocacy work in Pine County, where she resides. Charities Review Council is a nonprofit based in St. Paul, serving over 600 nonprofit partners and 8000+ donors across the region and country. Their mission is to transform philanthropy by building donor and nonprofit relationships for strong, vibrant, and just communities.
Paul Masiarchin, program director at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, works with the program team to guide the organization's educational training programs, including the conferences and professional development workshops offered in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota. Previously, Paul was the executive director of the Minnesota Fathers & Families Network, and worked on projects at nationwide nonprofits. Paul served three years as a Peace Corps volunteer and volunteer coordinator in Paraguay. He holds an M.A. from American University and a B.A. from Cardinal Stritch University. Paul has served on the board of directors or leadership teams of various nonprofits and community organizations. He is an adjunct instructor at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, where he teaches for the master’s program in Arts and Cultural Management.
A fifth-generation Iron Ranger, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board deputy commissioner Jason Metsa previously served District 6B in the Minnesota House of Representatives for six years. During his time in the legislature, he successfully pushed for funding to create jobs and build infrastructure in northeastern Minnesota. As deputy commissioner, Jason helps carry out the agency's mission of promoting and investing in business, community and workforce development for the region. In addition to serving as the strategic lead for the agency's development initiatives, Jason also focuses on civic engagement, diversity and inclusion, and relationship building with community partners.
Beth Olson is a commissioner of St. Louis County, representing the 3rd District. Beth has been an advocate and counselor for sexual and domestic violence victims for over 25 years, previously serving at PAVSA and Duluth Family Visitation Center. A dedicated community activist, Beth has led many human rights efforts to increase equality and safety for the community. Beth taught two courses she designed at the College of St. Scholastica for nine years on sexual violence and community intervention. As the executive director at First Witness Child Advocacy Center from 2011-2017, Beth prioritized the creation of an advocacy program built on the principles of social change advocacy and implemented a comprehensive prevention and community education program. Beth holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota – Duluth.
Chris Swanson is the mayor of Two Harbors. Chris was elected in 2016 after serving nine years on the city council. He is also the CEO of the digital marketing company PureDriven, and the co-founder of Destination Duluth. Previously he held leadership positions at Lighthouse Financial Marketing, PremierSpot iMarketing, Wi-Fi Guys, and The Computer Shop. Chris has a degree in legal studies from University of Wisconsin – Superior.
Renee VanNett is a city councilor of Duluth, representing the 4th District. She relocated to Duluth from northern Minnesota at age 10 and is a licensed foster mother who works as an employment liaison for Community Action Duluth. Renee is active in the Duluth community; serving as the current past president of the Duluth Civilian Review Board, board co-chair of the Cross Cultural Alliance of Duluth, and chair of the Lincoln Park Children and Family Collaborative. She actively reaches out to build connections to make sure the people of Duluth’s 4th District have their issues heard. Renee received an associates of arts degree from the Leech Lake Tribal College and a B.A. in organizational management and communications from Concordia University.
Daryl K. Yankee is the director of operations at Animal Allies Humane Society. In his current role, Daryl co-leads all aspects of operating a nationally recognized Humane Society including oversight, strategic planning, and management for a staff of 33 employees and 250 volunteers. With two decades as an internal consultant helping NGOs, Daryl has seen the printed word spur dialogue and invite a larger audience to join in the work. Holding a master’s degree in the science of organization development from Pepperdine University, Daryl specializes in crafting strategic plans that are adaptive and allow for innovation in today’s increasingly complex world. Daryl is on the board of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits