Eunice Adjei is the President of Adom Consulting LLC and founder of the Jugaad Leadership Program. At Adom LLC she provides Cultural Competency training to non-profit boards and their staff. Eunice serves on a number of boards including African Women’s Alliance, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, St. Cloud Charity Commission , St. Cloud Technical and Community College Foundation Board, St. Cloud Regional Human Rights Commission and The Tri-County Action Program Inc. (TRICAP). Eunice Adjei was also the Administrator of Create CommUNITY, an initiative with a mission to dismantle racism through systemic change and make St. Cloud a welcoming place for all.
Sandy Andress is a family service worker for MAHUBE-OTWA Community Action Partnership. She previously spent 19 years as a small business owner and music instructor. Sandy sat on the boards of the Nemeth Art Center, the Region 2 Arts Council, and the Akeley Chamber of Commerce. As a single mother to two young children she graduated with her B.A. in history, humanities and Indian studies from Bemidji State University, followed by five years as a community coordinator in underserved communities. With a deep interest in cultures and movements throughout history, Sandy developed a passion for studying the causes and possible cures for poverty. This passion continued during her time as an entrepreneur where she taught creative thinking and design at corporate retreats, community classes, and individual sessions at her studio.
Ashley Charwood lives in Bemidji with her partner and 4 children. She received her BS degree in Social Work from Bemidji State University and has a minor in chemical dependency counseling and psychology. Ashley was a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of North Dakota, where she has a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Ashley also studied abroad at Malmo University in Sweden. Ashley is passionate about the nonprofit sector, and about working across cultural differences, and has held positions in the nonprofit sector in Pennsylvania, and in the Bemidji area. Ashley is employed as an Early childhood Screener with the Bemidji School District, as a Cultural Responsiveness Guide at Peacemakers Resources, and also works full time with Bemidji State University as Admissions Representative, specializing in Access, Opportunities, and Success for underrepresented students. Ashley has been an active Governance Committee Chair and Secretary on the Bi- County Community Action Board of Directors, and currently is a Secretary on the Project for Change Board.
Dr. Padam Chauhan
Charles Fai (MA) is a mental health therapist. Charles works for the state of MN as a Program Clinician with the Minnesota Sex Offending Program (MSOP). Charles also has a private practice through the Duluth Counseling Center and specializes in working with teenagers and preteens. Charles also provides trainings to organizations on equity, diversity and inclusion. Charles enjoys outdoor activities and coaching soccer in his spare time.
Katie Godfrey Demmer’s path to becoming a communications director is somewhat unconventional. After graduating from St. Olaf College in 2008 with a degree in American Studies, she worked on several organic farms before working for a nonprofit where she helped organize a large festival focused on food, art and farming. She fell into the communications world initially as the tourism director at the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and tourism where she marketed the community to visitors for three years. Katie has served as the communications director at Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) since 2017. Her favorite part of the job is being able to share people's stories. Katie lives in Owatonna with her husband and daughter.
Dr. Darla Hamann teaches classes in Public Administration, Public Service Ethics, Human Resource Management, Organizational Behavior and Theory, Non-profit Management, Leadership, and other MPA courses. She conducts research in non-profit and health care management, which has been published many academic journals including Psychological Bulletin, the Journal of Aging and Health, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, and Nonprofit Management and Leadership.
John Nehemiah Harper currently serves in the office of the president at South Central College as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and as the Interim Director of Admissions. He holds a degree in Political Science and Masters of Educational Leadership and Administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato. John has experience in recruitment, inclusion development and is passionate about access and equity within higher education. At South Central, John actively works with academic deans, faculty and staff to examine policy, procedure and assessments with an equity lens. He recently was accepted into Morgan State University and will begin his doctoral program this fall.
Dr. Misti Nicole Harper graduated from the University of Arkansas with her Ph.D. in History in 2017. Her forthcoming book project, Ladies of Little Rock: Black Femininity and Respectability Politics in the Fight to Desegregate Central High School (University of Georgia Press, 2021) explores the activism and visibility of middle-class black women during the 1957 school desegregation effort that culminated in racists’ massive resistance. Since 2018, she has served as the visiting assistant professor of US Women’s History at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota and also serves the Department of History of the University of Arkansas as an online lecturer.
Stacy Johnston is a HR thought leader at AudacityHR.com, providing innovative HR solutions with a mission to support organizations in understanding and engaging their biggest competitive advantage… their employees. As the founder and business partner at Audacity HR, she is a licensed attorney in the State of Minnesota and holds the SHRM-CP (Society for Human Resource Management – Certified Professional) and PHR (Professional in Human Resources) credentials.
Nancy Jost has been the director of early childhood at West Central Initiative for the past 17 years, advocating for the best possible start for children toward a healthy life of learning, achieving, and succeeding. With a sociology degree and licensure in Parent/Child Education, Nancy has been a licensed family child care provider, a child care center teacher, worked in Early Childhood Special Education, Early Childhood Family Education, School Readiness, and Child Care Aware. For more than 40 years, this has been her work, her life, and her passion. She has been active on many early childhood boards, committees, and work groups in our region and the state. She was appointed by former Governor Dayton to be the Chairperson for his Early Learning Council.
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.
Liz Kuoppala’s (she/her) commitment to securing upward mobility for others is deeply rooted in her own personal odyssey out of poverty and trauma. For more than 20 years, Liz has led organizations and advocacy to be more inclusive and effective in creating opportunity for people. Liz currently serves as executive director at MAHUBE-OTWA Community Action Partnership in Detroit Lakes. She serves on national, state, and local boards focused on service integration, leadership, and multi-generational strategies to ending poverty. She holds degrees in chemistry and political leadership. Liz lives in rural Otter Tail County.
Dr. Kara Lindaman is a professor of political science and public administration at Winona State University. Earning her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, she studies the policy process and citizen engagement in wicked problems on campuses and in communities. She teaches courses in public administration in the fields of public service, public budgeting and finance, and public policy, and is fortunate to have advised many students-citizens into public service. This has led to numerous opportunities to work with colleagues and students as moderators and in deliberation. She is an ambassador of the National Issues Forum Institute (NIFI) Board of Directors and and also serves as the NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative for Winona State University and the faculty advisor to Pi Sigma Alpha, the College Democrats and College Republicans. Through her work with the Kettering Foundation, she focuses on democratic practices and deliberative pedagogy to think and talk differently across differences in fulfillment of the core commitments to higher education in “taking seriously the perspectives of others” and “educating for personal and social responsibility.”
Alice Meyer is a licensed social worker in Minnesota. She has spent the last 20 years doing family service work to help families move out of poverty. Alice is currently working as a family coach mentor at MAHUBE OTWA Community Action Partnership Inc., where she is professionally mentoring staff in strength-based relationship coaching, and assisting staff in moving from a regulative mindset to a generative mindset model. She took it to heart when her dad told her that she should get her education because it is the one thing that can never be taken away once it is earned.
Ben Nwachukwu is currently the IT helpdesk manager at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU). He has been in this role for eight years. Ben oversees the day to day operation of SMSU IT helpdesk and conducts different tech workshops on how to utilize different software and tools like Office 365 apps and many more. Ben is a graduate of SMSU with a bachelor of science in accounting, finance, and management, with a minor in agribusiness. He also has a master’s in business administration.
Pablo Obregón is the Community Engagement Officer for Southwest Initiative Foundation’s intergenerational, leadership and Grow Our Own initiatives. He attended Lutheran Bible Institute in California, received his Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul and spent several years in ministry. Most recently, Pablo served as Reentry Ready Navigator with Pact for Families in Willmar, supporting youth in transitioning back into their community following a criminal offense. Pablo was born and raised in Lima Peru, where his parents gave him a great education and encouraged him to try soccer, guitar and carpentry. He loves southwest Minnesota for its mix of long-term residents and newcomers and believes it’s a great place to raise a family. Outside work, Pablo enjoys time with his family, hitting the pickleball courts, cooking Peruvian food and having a strong cup of coffee. He is a volunteer coach with the Willmar Soccer Association, volunteers with Willmar’s Cinco de Mayo celebration and is a member of the Willmar Lakes Area Vision 2040 Steering Committee.
Ayodeji Oyebola, Ed. D. is the Founder of Emmright Business Management & Consulting Services. The company bundles payroll, bookkeeping, electronic forms, human resources, technology, strategic management, and others to provide small and medium businesses with the expertise of large companies. The company also offers consulting services on leadership, organization development, strategic development, process improvement, and technology. Ayodeji holds a Doctor of Education in leadership and has professional experience in the healthcare and financial industries. He is the author of Caring: The Soul of Leadership, a book that discusses how leadership care sets the tone for leadership success. The book is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.
Tuleah Palmer began her role as president and CEO of Blandin Foundation in Grand Rapids, Minn., in July 2020. In this role, she oversees the foundation’s grantmaking, community leadership training and public policy initiatives, as well as stewardship of foundation resources. A lifelong resident of rural Minnesota, Tuleah served as executive director of Northwest Indian Community Development Center (formerly NWIOIC), which works to identify, coordinate and deliver resources that promote wellness and equity for American Indian families in northwest and north-central Minnesota. Tuleah was born in Deer River, Minn., and has worked in and lived across Northern Minnesota. She holds the Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Psychology from Bemidji State University. She has served as tribal planner and community development grant writer for Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, as an independent nonprofit management consultant, and executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Leech Lake Area.
Jason (Jay) Schlender is an Extension American Indian leadership and civic engagement educator. He is a member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. He has served in many roles in his community, including vice chairman of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board, chairman of Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Institute, and chairman of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Voigt Inter-Tribal Taskforce. Prior to joining Extension, Jay served one 4-year term on the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board and spent 10 years as an instructor and adjunct faculty at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College.
Benjamin Winchester has been working both in and for small towns across the Midwest for over 25 years. He lives in St. Cloud, Minnesota with his wife and two children. Ben is trained as a Rural Sociologist and works as a Senior Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality. He conducts applied research on economic, social, and demographic topics surrounding a theme of “rewriting the rural narrative” that are vital to rural America. Winchester received his B.A. in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Minnesota, Morris (1995) and M.S. in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri, Columbia (2001). He was a founding employee at the Center for Small Towns, an outreach and engagement program at the University of Minnesota, Morris and specializes in community development, demographic analysis, data visualization, and moving communities away from anecdata.