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2023 Nonprofit Leadership Conference

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2023 Nonprofit Leadership Conference - 1100 x 360

Speaker Biographies

Jonathan Brown Headshot

Keynote Presenter

Jonathan Brown is a growing voice in people centered leadership. With 14 years of work in rural, suburban, and urban communities, he has become a recognized leader in creating positive change by empowering individuals to perform to their best capacity. Jonathan has delivered over 2,000 public speaking engagements, inspiring audiences across the region to take a more human centric approach to leadership.

Jonathan's formal education includes a B.A. in business management and an M.A. in communication and culture, providing him with a strong foundation in both business theory and the social sciences. His capstone work on the economic factors that gave rise to HipHop culture and the Temple of HipHop demonstrates his ability to blend academic rigor and cultural awareness in his work.

In addition to his academic and community work, Jonathan has 12 years of successful management experience in higher education, college athletics, state government, high school athletics, and nonprofits, making him a well-rounded leader with a broad perspective on organizational dynamics. Professionally, Jonathan is the vice president & chief program officer at Propel Nonprofits. He is also the founder and chief strategy and leadership coach at Praxis Group MN, where he supports small businesses and nonprofits with leadership training, executive coaching, and community engagement initiatives.

Sam ArmacostRaised in California, Sam Armacost (she/her) moved to Minnesota to be closer to the Mississippi River. In 2021, she and her father took 100 days to paddle the length of the Mighty Mississippi by canoe. Sam brings over 10 years of experience working at the intersection of outdoor education and youth programming. She is passionate about creating more avenues for people of all backgrounds to connect with the outdoors and spreading awareness of how our lives are interconnected with our environment. She graduated from the University of Redlands with a degree in cross-cultural ethics & social justice. She is an outdoor educator, trip leader, and program coordinator for several programs in Minnesota, including Wilderness Inquiry and Friends of the Mississippi River.  

Grace BettendorfGrace Bettendorf (she/her) is the annual fund and volunteer manager at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, a youth program that provides safe spaces for all young people, especially those who need it most, to access academic support, develop holistic healthy lifestyles, and create a plan for their future. She joined the nonprofit world in 2018 and has a passion for equitable fundraising practices (hello there, Community Centric Fundraising). She received her master’s in nonprofit Management from Walden University and an undergraduate degree in psychology from South Dakota State University.

Essence BlakemoreEssence Blakemore (she/her) works as a youth innovation associate at Youthprise. That entails equipping organizations with tools to assist them in discovering ways to effectively and best benefit the young people they work with and for by engaging them in youth-led participatory action research. Her focus is in having youth be at the epicenter of these processes through training and facilitations. Youth innovation aims to tap into the power that youth naturally possess and allows them to make change within their own agency. Essence is pursuing an independent B.A. with a minor in sociology and creative writing at Metro State University. Essence has diverse work background, with wide range.

Courtney CastleberryCourtney Castleberry (she/her) is a Twin Cities nonprofit professional passionate about education equity and dogs. She is the program manager at createMPLS, a hands-on STEM and technology education organization. She navigates, builds, and sustains partnerships between createMPLS and schools. Courtney believes the YNPN board is a great way to stay connected to events and initiatives happening in our nonprofit sector. Join us at our next event so we can connect.

Neil Ashvin ChudgarAs a consultant and coach, Neil Ashvin Chudgar helps do-gooders in the Twin Cities and beyond communicate about their biggest ideas. Before founding Chudgar Consulting in 2014, Ash spent over a decade helping students think about language and meaning at the University of Chicago and Macalester College, where he taught poetry, fiction, and philosophy. His coaching and consulting practice draws on the tools and techniques of literature, the relational ecology of Internal Family Systems theory, and the wisdom of liberation movements.

Natalie CopelandNatalie Copeland grew up in Central Minnesota and received her music education degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. She taught middle school choir in Georgia and worked in the church sector for over a decade. In 2015, she founded Unite Cloud, a nonprofit working to reduce racial, religious, and cultural tensions in Central Minnesota. She is also a trainer with the CARE (Community Anti-Racism Education) team at St. Cloud State University, a member of the St. Cloud Area School Board, and was appointed to the Minnesota Governor's task force on equity and inclusion.

Latosha CoxLatosha Cox (she/her) is a skilled facilitator, trainer, public speaker, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practitioner who always leads with authenticity and vulnerability. She brings a wealth of knowledge and lived experiences from working in various capacities and roles in nonprofit/education/finance. Her previous role in the nonprofit sector was Public Allies Twin Cities director of learning and leadership. Latosha recently started her coaching, consulting and training business called Black Girl Sabbatical™️ after embarking on an 18-month healing and self-discovery journey of prioritizing her mental health and well-being and participating in experiences that brought her JOY! Latosha loves to support people and organizations holistic wellness, leadership development, and DEI journeys so that we all can continue to do the work we have been called to do.

Donte CurtisDonte Curtis is the owner/leader of Catch Your Dream Consulting, where he keynotes, consults with, and trains teams and organizations nationwide on leadership development, racial equity, inclusion, and supports them to create practical change. Donte currently is the co-chair of the board of directors at Social Enterprise Alliance Twin Cities and is a member of the program investment committee at Youthprise. Donte brings his 15 years of facilitation and speaking experience with an expectation of getting you energized, and you taking practical action and finding hope for a better tomorrow. Probably one of the most energetic people you will ever meet, Donte lives a life that is dedicated to leadership, social justice, and liberation.

Holly DanielsHolly Daniels is the Minnesota Association of Volunteer Administrators’ (MAVA) training director. She leads the planning and execution of MAVA's trainings and conferences. Holly is an AmeriCorps NCCC alum and she received her M.F.A. in nonfiction creative writing. She loves training, as well as facilitating groups of volunteer engagement leaders from the Twin Cities, Greater Minnesota, and beyond. Collaboration and idea-sharing is powerful! Before MAVA, Holly coordinated volunteers at Every Meal (formerly The Sheridan Story), where she led hundreds of volunteer groups and launched Every Meal’s Service Enterprise Initiative. Holly's passionate about learner-centered training and she's training to be a personal development coach.

Molly DuboisMolly Dubois (she/her) joined Youthprise in 2022 and comes with expertise in program coordination and innovative youth engagement practices. In this time, she has been coordinating Hennepin County’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program Youth Action Board, and entering the world of design thinking as well as youth participatory action research. Molly brings insights from working with and alongside other young people in youth programs for over 10 years. She has an interdisciplinary B.S. from University of Minnesota in youth studies, political science, and democracy and social change.

Kaydee GleplayKaydee Gleplay (she/her) served as The Wildling's program administrator and a story coach, wearing many hats as she worked on everything from teaching The Wildling's curriculum to building fundraising strategies. She went on to found Brown But Black Voices in 2020, a mentoring program for Black girls to celebrate their stories and cultivate connections. Passionate about nonprofit work, Kaydee has interned for several other organizations, including Make-A-Wish foundation and the 50th & France Business Association.

Anna GrowcottAnna Growcott joined Artspace upon returning home to Minneapolis after living just about everywhere else. She has worked in a wide range of communities as a dancer, educator, and presenter. As vice president of Artspace Consulting, Anna works with communities and arts organizations at various stages of envisioning affordable space for the arts. This includes working with leaders to assess the feasibility for creating sustainable, affordable space for the creative sector in their communities. Other times, this work is focused on individual arts organizations planning for a new facility. Anna is particularly interested in how Artspace's community-led development approach can be scaled to support larger regional and state planning, as well as smaller organizations' decision-making processes. Anna graduated from Northwestern University as a cognitive science major with a Spanish minor.

Megan KaplanMegan Kaplan is the co-founder and executive director of The Wildling, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering youth to share bravely from their lived stories in a safe and meaningful way. Alongside her co-founder and sister Mekea Duffy, Megan guides the organization's mission, strategic planning, curriculum development, and dynamic programming. Prior to founding The Wildling in 2018, Megan worked for 20 years as a creative writer and journalist, editor, and content contributor to various national and local magazines, newspapers, and other publications—including Mpls. St. Paul magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Travel + Leisure, The New York Times, and Town + Country. Megan holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Laura Mann HillLaura Mann Hill (she/her) grew up in Minneapolis and has a background in theatre arts, environmental education, community organizing, and developing youth programs. She brings over 16 years of experience using multi-disciplinary approaches to create programming and curriculum for schools and community organizations in New York City and the Twin Cities Metro area, such as the Million Artist Movement and Art to Change the World. Upon graduating from Hamline University, she moved to New York to pursue a master's degree in secondary education from Pace University and teach middle school. As a classroom educator and arts administrator in Brooklyn, she strengthened her professional experience in creating more equitable and sustainable youth education and programming. Most recently, she worked with her team to expand a career development program, the Environmental Stewardship Institute. 

meghan-marriott-bioMeghan Marriott (she/her), engagement manager, works to advance the Minnesota Budget Project’s policy goals by combining strategic communications with civic and partner engagement. Working closely with her team, she deploys strategies to build a network of engaged Minnesotans who have the necessary tools to advocate for progressive change for themselves and their communities. Meghan is energized by building relationships and collaborating with others who seek a better Minnesota.

Melissa Martinez-SonesMelissa Martinez-Sones (she/her) started consulting in 2014 and has helped define the spirit of Mighty Consulting with her passion for community and skill at moving clients and projects forward. Melissa brings a wealth of leadership, facilitation, and project management experience from her work with neighborhood organizations in both Minneapolis and Saint Paul. She’s been an executive director for two neighborhood organizations, worked as a Councilmember’s aide, developed internal policy for the City of Minneapolis, and worked on several complex projects involving a wide variety of elected officials, constituents, and community partners. She focuses on working with all stakeholders to achieve solutions to challenging issues. Melissa has a bachelor’s degree from Hamline University, and a master’s of public affairs from the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota.

Nicole MartinRogersNicole MartinRogers joined Advance Consulting LLC in 2022 to spend more time on project design and management, public policy consulting, impact storytelling, and grant writing after a 20+ year career at Wilder Research, where she still works part-time as a research scientist. As a descendant of White Earth Nation and a lifelong member of the Twin Cities American Indian community, Nicole has a particular passion for working with and supporting organizations that serve Indigenous children, families, and communities. She has extensive expertise in program evaluation and research, especially culturally responsive and mixed methods. She currently serves on the board of directors for Interfaith Action. Nicole is the former president of the Minnesota Evaluation Association and also previously served on the board of Tiwahe Foundation.

Aneesha MarwahAneesha Marwah is the director of Artspace Consulting, based in Minneapolis. She moved to Minneapolis from Chicago where she worked for a real estate research firm. Aneesha earned her master of urban planning and policy with a concentration in economic development from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to moving to Chicago, Aneesha lived in New Orleans for nine years where she attended Tulane University and worked in local politics. The position gave her valuable insight into the relationship between politics and urban planning. It also furthered her interest in affordable housing policy and the creative sector’s relationship with economic development. She’s excited that her work at Artspace leads her to assist communities around the country create affordable spaces for artists and keep their cities creative and funky.

ileana-mejia-200x200Ileana Mejia, public policy advocate, has been at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits for almost four years and is working to increase individual nonprofits' advocacy capacity through trainings, materials, and conversations. She also advocates on behalf of the nonprofit sector as a whole to advance MCN’s mission. Ileana has a passion for inclusion and racial equity work, particularly in lifting up voices who have been historically left out of policy decisions that directly influence them.

Roger MeyerSince 1993, Roger Meyer (he/him) has worked with nonprofit and government organizations through important and often difficult transitions. From taking the reins of small neighborhood nonprofits to providing interim CEO work for Volunteers of America, his work is informed by knowledge and experience from working with organizations as they grapple with change. Roger builds consensus and keeps organizations and partnerships moving through difficult issues – supporting them through transition and leaving them stronger and more focused on the other side. Roger graduated from the University of Minnesota, has received a fellowship to study community involvement across the U.S., and has received recognition for his work to improve his St. Paul neighborhood. He has served on several nonprofit and community boards and cares deeply about efforts to maintain and improve his community.

Muna MohamedMuna Mohamed is the director of diversity and inclusion at Lifeworks. She joins Lifeworks from an organizational development consultancy, where she supported clients in strategizing and maximizing their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Muna holds a master’s in management with an emphasis on organizational diversity and inclusion leadership from the University of Dubuque and a bachelor’s in international relations with a double minor in political science and communication studies from Minnesota State University – Mankato.

MortensonLaura Mortenson (she/her), communications director, has been with the Minnesota Budget Project for eight years. She manages media relations and communications that promote the research and advocacy efforts of the team. Laura is energized by making policy solutions understandable to broader audiences, and engaging Minnesotans in advocating for policies that directly improve their lives.

Rosalva Mujwid HernandezRosalva Mujwid Hernandez is a member of the Community Engagement for Equitable Systems Change team. She is the director of systems change and community engagement at People Serving People.  Rosalva also has a consulting practice focused on leadership training, human centered design, facilitation, and strategic planning. Rosalva holds an associate of arts from Southwest Texas Junior College, bachelor’s degree with Metropolitan State University, Human Services Leadership graduate certificate and a master of public affairs at the University of Minnesota. She is a member of the DHS Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council, Shannon Leadership Institute, and Latino LEAD Avanzando Líderazgo Program. Previously Rosalva was the director of Future Services Institute and adjunct faculty at Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. 

Rob MuschlerRob Muschler (he/him) is a senior associate at HMA Community Strategies, a consulting company that specializes in strategy development, capacity building, and evaluation for nonprofit and public sector organizations. Following over five years of living in Los Angeles, he returned to Minnesota in 2019 and is excited to reconnect with the local nonprofit scene. He received his masters of public administration from the University of Southern California and holds an undergraduate degree from St. Cloud State University. Rob is a former board member of YNPN Los Angeles.

Naomi NickelNaomi Nickel (she/her) is the Environmental Stewardship Institute (ESI) program associate at Friends of the Mississippi River. Naomi is from Roseville and attended Roseville Area High School. Naomi is a junior at the University of Minnesota, majoring in linguistics. As the ESI program associate, she has supported the expansion of  Friends of the Mississippi River’s career pathways programming, such as coordinating youth-led public stewardship events, environmental career days, and presentations at the State Capitol for climate and environmental justice. Most recently, she has been the ESI project manager for the ESI Met Council 2050 Water and Parks Policy Plan. Naomi works alongside the Stewardship & Education team to support program communications, planning and implementation, curriculum, and mentoring the high school ESI assistants.

Neese ParkerNeese Parker (she/her) coordinates youth engagement at Youthprise. This includes providing support to the young people partnering with Youthprise and facilitating programmatic initiatives such as YouthBank and the youth participatory action research network. Neese previously served a term with the Minnesota Youth Council and is trained in Design Thinking facilitation. Contact Neese to learn more about how to infuse youth voice in design thinking.

Jehra PatrickJehra Patrick is an accomplished arts leader with a record of creating valuable systems of support for artists and innovative public programming. Her experience includes founding and directing arts organizations, guiding strategic transitions, fundraising, managing teams, creating educational programs for all ages, and building advocacy for the arts through boards and committees. She is currently executive director at Highpoint Center for Printmaking. Previously, Jehra served as gallery director for the Law Warschaw Gallery at Macalester College, was director and founder of the Emerging Curators Institute, and director and founder of the exhibition space, Waiting Room. Jehra has a background as a studio artist.

Sarah PetersSarah Peters is the executive director of Northern (NL), an arts nonprofit that supports artists working in public spaces to explore expanded possibilities for civic engagement. At NL she oversees strategic partnerships and initiatives, communications, and a broad ranging outreach plan for all projects, including Northern Spark, an annual free, late-night public arts festival with attendance of over 50,000 people. In January 2023 NL announced the closure of the organization due to extraordinary challenges in fundraising for large-scale, free events. Sarah will lead the sunset effort, including forming an archive of the organization’s work to be housed at the University of Minnesota’s Performing Arts Archive, and a publication about NL’s 15 years of experimental, artist-centered programming to be completed in 2024.

Nikki_PieratosNikki Pieratos, executive director of Tiwahe Foundation and previous board member and donor, is a member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. She has over 10 years of experience in community development finance, most recently providing financing and capacity building for large-scale Indigenous regenerative development projects. Nikki also is also a recognized thought leader on changing systems within philanthropy and impact investing to align and support racial justice, social justice, economic justice, and climate justice. Nikki holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago. She currently serves on the board of CommonFuture and previously served on the board of Mni Sota Fund (a Native CDFI). Her past work includes chartering and running the Northern Eagle Federal Credit Union to serve the Bois Forte community.

Leah PorterLeah Porter (she/her) is a strategic services consultant at Propel Nonprofits. Leah brings over 20 years of experience as a strategic leader in the nonprofit sector. Her work has focused on developing new ways of meeting community needs, which has included program development, business and financial planning, community engagement, and change management. She has developed innovative and award-winning programs for various organizations. In her role, Leah helps organizations re-think their work in the world via strategic planning, board development, and business, financial, and capacity planning. Leah believes in a more just, equitable future for all and loves supporting nonprofits and their boards toward that vision. She serves on multiple boards, bringing both management and governance lenses to help boards and leaders work together more effectively. She has master’s in nonprofit management.

Kathy QuickKathy Quick (she/her) is associate professor and chair of the Humphrey School’s management and leadership area, academic co-director of the university-wide Center for Integrative Leadership, and a distinguished reaching professor of the University of Minnesota. Her focus is bringing together people with diverse perspectives to work on high-stakes, complex, and often contentious public policy problems, with a particular focus on practices and processes that improve equity and inclusion. Kathy holds a Ph.D. in planning, policy, and design from the University of California – Irvine, which recognized her as one of their top 50 graduate student alumni from the first 50 years of the university.

Rinal RayRinal Ray is the CEO at People Serving People. She leads a dynamic team in responding to the crisis of family homelessness and works to change systems to prevent the experience of family homelessness in Hennepin County. Rinal currently serves as a co-chair for the Voices & Choices Coalition for Children, on the State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care, and is on the board of Healthcare for the Homeless and policy committee for Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative.

Meg ReidMeg Reid (she/her) is an associate consultant and operations manager at Michael Anderson Consulting. A process-oriented operations professional with experience across nonprofit and small business environments, she has previously consulted on customer development and strategic planning with social impact startups, worked on business development for a community bank, and managed a warehouse. Meg graduated with her master’s in business administration from the University of Minnesota.

Rick RittmasterRick Rittmaster is a leadership and talent development expert and leads the consulting practice at CorTalent. He co-founded Groveland Leadership, an innovative development program supporting new leaders. He is an avid consumer of leadership literature and research, and “gets out of bed” each day to coach and mentor leaders to help them accomplish their goals. Rick has over a decade of experience partnering with organizations to increase the engagement and impact of talent and help companies grow. Rick has consulted on leadership and organizational effectiveness, innovation strategy, change management, diversity and inclusion, and employee engagement and culture.

Polly RoachPolly Roach is the Minnesota Association of Volunteer Administrators’ (MAVA) program director. She leads MAVA’s Service Enterprise Initiative, a holistic change management process designed to help organizations deploy volunteer talent more strategically to build capacity, increase return on investment, and better achieve their missions. Polly has worked in the volunteer engagement field for over 30 years, primarily in youth development and mentoring. Before joining MAVA’s staff in 2018, she served on its board of directors, chairing the Strategic Directions committee, which developed MAVA initiatives such as the Shifting Environment trends research. Polly holds a master of social work degree from the University of Minnesota.

Darcy SchatzDarcy Schatz is the founder and CEO of Nonprofit Ops Pro which provides administrative support, conference and event planning, resources, and operations consulting for nonprofit organizations. For the last 20+ years, she’s held volunteer and staff roles including operations manager, executive director, and board director for a wide range of local, national, and international nonprofits across many industries in addition to consulting work. Darcy is passionate about setting up nonprofits with effective, efficient back-office systems that allow them to focus on doing good in the world. She is a Macalester College graduate with a J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law. 

Samantha SilkerSamantha Silker (she/her) is the program director for the Center for Integrative Leadership and is responsible for Center operations and programming. Samantha is experienced in leading and operationalizing complex projects, has strong attention to detail, and a vision of how to work in complex spaces with multiple stakeholders. Prior to joining the University, she managed and coordinated operations for nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Samantha earned her MBA from the Carlson School of Management, and her B.S. in communication studies and political science from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

Amelia ThomasAmelia Thomas (she/her) is the volunteer and donor engagement manager at Perspectives, a nonprofit in St. Louis Park. She brings 10 years of nonprofit sector experience, including direct client services, program management, and volunteer and donor engagement. Amelia is passionate about social justice and connecting with her community. She volunteers as a sexual assault advocate for the State of Minnesota.

Florence WeeBorn and raised in Malaysia, Florence Wee (she/her) transferred to University of Minnesota in 2018 to pursue a B.A. in sociology and global studies. Florence is the development operations coordinator at Pillsbury United Communities where she coordinates the timelines, communications, and relationships of multiple government, foundation, and corporate grants applications to help the organization achieve its $9M annual institutional fundraising goal. Her passion and interest also lies in food justice and equity work, having prior work experience in nonprofit food support.

Alyssa WhalonAlyssa Whalon (she/her) works at the Science Museum of Minnesota as a mid-level giving specialist. In this role she leads engagement strategies for mid-level donors and builds relationships with new and current donors. Previously, she worked as engagement strategist at YWCA Minneapolis.

Amanda Ziebell MawandaAmanda Ziebell Mawanda (she/her) is senior strategic services consultant at Propel Nonprofits. Amanda’s work is grounded in a deep belief in the power of authentic, reciprocal relationships to transform individuals and communities. Her greatest motivation is the endless creativity, ingenuity, and passion of the nonprofit sector to address the most pressing challenges. In her current work at Propel Nonprofits, Amanda facilitates Leaders Circles® for executive leaders in Greater Minnesota and works with nonprofit professionals and boards to clarify purpose, manage change, and to develop boards that are effective and mission driven. Amanda brings over 20 years of nonprofit consulting experience, has a master’s in organizational leadership, has received multiple certifications, and is a doctoral candidate with research focusing on transformational leadership practices.

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