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Home2021 Speaker Biographies

Kathy Ahlers, MPA has served as a board member or other principal volunteer with nine different all-volunteer nonprofits and one all-volunteer cooperative startup effort over a span of more than 35 years. She is a graduate of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Kathy has an interest is in documenting and recognizing the value of unpaid work in all-volunteer nonprofits for communities in Minnesota and across the United States.

Nancy Angus is based in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She earned a B.A. in Psychology from Lakehead University and certificates from Ryerson University (Gerontology) and the University of Victoria (Adult and Continuing Education). After 35 years in the workforce, with roles in seniors’ recreation, volunteer management and freelance writing & broadcasting, she launched Age BIG. As a speaker, blogger, storyteller, community connector and workshop facilitator, Nancy engages individuals and audiences to age BIG - Boldly, Inquisitively and Gratefully. She has been recognized as an Influential Women of Northern Ontario and was recognized as a Superior Northerner in 2017. Her website is

Chris Barlow is the Director of Beeline, who helps busy executive directors by making marketing easy. They effectively help nonprofits align marketing with mission and fundraising to both expand their reach, find new donors and attract volunteers.

Jennifer R. Bennett, CVA joined VolunteerMatch to formalize and manage the organization’s volunteer engagement program. With her breadth of experience, she is well qualified to help VolunteerMatch’s community of nonprofits better recruit and engage volunteers. She shares her knowledge with volunteer managers through the webinars found on the Learning Center, in newsletters and blog entries, and in person at conferences around the country. She contributed The New Volunteer Manager’s Toolkit chapter to the guide Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights that are Changing the World published by VolunteerMatch in 2015. And, she is the current Co-Editor and contributing author for the 4th Edition of Volunteer Administration: Professional Practice. She’s a strong believer in the importance of engaging volunteers in meaningful work and was certified in Volunteer Administration in 2009. She served on the Board of the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration from 2012-2018, and was the Chair from 2015-2018. She currently volunteers with the Justice & Diversity Center and Project Homeless Connect in San Francisco. She holds a B.A. from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, VA.

Rachel Boggs is the volunteer coordinator for the City of Roseville, Minnesota, proud to be the first city in the United States certified as a Service Enterprise. Prior to working for Roseville, Rachel has 15 years of volunteer management, having previously work for Senior Corps and hunger relief organizations. She has served on the board for the Minnesota Senior Corps Association and National Senior Corps Association. Passionate about volunteering, Rachel has volunteered for her school district’s levy committee, several advisory councils, countless school events and Planned Parenthood, just to name a few. Rachel holds a Communications degree from Marshall University.

Maureen L. Bourgeois is MAVA's Vista and Office Manager. In this role, she manages MAVA's AmeriCorps VISTA program, provides clerical support to the executive director, and manages office and financial operations. Prior to joining the MAVA staff, Maureen coordinated and oversaw administrative aspects of the Certified Family Life Educator designation with the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) the oldest nonprofit, nonpartisan, multidisciplinary professional association focused solely on family research, practice, and education. Through a variety of employment opportunities, and in her volunteer leadership role at the Basilica of Saint Mary, Maureen has had over 20 years of experience training and leading child and adult volunteers. Maureen has a passion for helping others develop interpersonal skills and works as a Standardized Patient/Client with the University of Minnesota and a Crisis Intervention Actor with the Barbara Schneider Foundation. Maureen has a Bachelor's degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, and has supervised volunteers and volunteered within the Twin Cities performing arts community for several years.

Danielle Brady has been leading volunteers for over 20 years and working with people experiencing poverty for even longer. The great joy and challenge of her career in volunteer engagement has been finding the tools that are successful when trying to bridge the gap of understanding between those who want to help and those that need help. Danielle's passion is to help change volunteer perceptions through storytelling, self-awareness and compassion. Danielle truly believes we are all one story away from understanding each other.

Karmit Bulman is MAVA’s Executive Director. She has extensive experience running non-profit organizations and has a strong background of leadership in international, national and statewide coalition building. In the past Karmit has served as an attorney and as executive director for nonprofits. Her roles have involved financial management, program development, public and community relations, fund raising and oversight of organizational operations. She has a particular passion for facilitation of collaborative processes, conflict assessment, coalition building, executive coaching and consulting, new business development, organizational turnaround, and revenue expansion. Karmit oversees strategic planning, board development, financial management, fundraising, program development and day to day programming at MAVA.

Eleanor (Ellie) Burkett is MAVA's Greater Minnesota Program Manager serving volunteer engagement networks and sectors in central and northern Minnesota. Prior to joining MAVA in January of 2021 she was a Civic Engagement Organizer with the Our Mississippi Our Future campaign for The Nature Conservancy and is a retired University of Minnesota Associate Extension Professor where she worked with community leaders and volunteers throughout Minnesota in water resource policy and management for over eighteen years. Ellie earned a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Minnesota Duluth. She brings extensive teaching, facilitation and program management skills and has created opportunities for volunteer engagement throughout her working life. As a volunteer herself for the Brainerd Lakes Area Master Naturalist and chair of the City of Brainerd Walkable/Bikeable City Committee, Ellie practices giving back to her community through volunteerism.

Kathleen Cannon (she/her/hers) enjoys people, problem-solving, and dreaming big, and as Program Director of Girls on the Run Twin Cities, she has ample opportunity for all three. Kathleen is a member of MAVA's Board of Directors and also serves on the National GOTR Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Commission. Before joining GOTR Twin Cities, she was the executive director of Girls on the Run of Eastern Iowa, and previously worked as an attorney. Outside of work, you can find her running her 3 kids around, trying to keep up with her goldendoodle, cheering for the Minnesota Lynx, and/or chatting about her new favorite podcast. 

Sue Carter Kahl is the President of Sue Carter Kahl Consulting and has 25 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Her work is infused with lessons learned as a volunteer center executive, state service commissioner, nonprofit board member, staff member, volunteer, and researcher. Her current projects include teaching volunteer engagement and translating her research on the value that volunteers bring to organizations into practitioner-friendly resources. Sue has a PhD in Leadership Studies and is committed to bridging practice and theory in the volunteer field.

Susan Connolly is the director of volunteer services at Saint Therese, a leading nonprofit senior healthcare and living organization in the Twin Cities, where she is responsible for volunteer engagement at five Saint Therese communities. Susan has worked and volunteered in a variety of nonprofit settings from animal welfare to senior healthcare for over 20 years and holds the Certification in Volunteer Administration (CVA). She believes that by bringing people and causes together, we can change the world. When not at Saint Therese, Susan finds joy in her family, delights in being with animals and recharges by spending time in the great outdoors.


Dr. Ken Culp, III is Principal Extension Specialist for Volunteerism in the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Family Sciences at the University of Kentucky. He supports 146 4-H Agents who utilize 19,815 adult and 4,489 youth volunteers.  Ken has 32 years of experience in volunteer administration, volunteer development and leadership development. He is a consultant, educator and keynote speaker and has presented more than 400 workshops and seminars since 1996 in 43 states, Canada, England, Japan and South Korea and has published 41 articles in professional journals.


Donte Curtis is the owner of Catch Your Dream Consulting where he mentors, inspires, consults and trains individuals, teams and organizations, nationwide, on leadership development, racial equity, entrepreneurship and making effective change. Donte currently serves on the Board of Directors at Youthprise, where he is a co-chair of the program investment committee. With over 12 years of facilitation and speaking experience, Donte is skilled at fostering the collective wisdom in the room and engaging audiences in multiple ways. Probably one of the most energetic people you will ever meet, Donte lives a life that is dedicated to leadership, social justice and liberation.


Breauna Dorelus is the Founder and Chief Cause Consultant at Connecting the Cause, a consultancy dedicated to identifying and uprooting harmful volunteer practices implemented by nonprofits and volunteers specifically towards Black and brown communities. Breauna believes in community inclusion in all aspects of the volunteer process and has dedicated her work to ensuring that service is centered around helping and not harming. Starting her decade plus stint in the nonprofit sector as an AmeriCorps member, she has continuously held positions in leading volunteers, creating programming, and spearheading community initiatives in the areas of humanitarian aid, refugee resettlement and ministry. She received her Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Georgia Southern University, and her Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Georgia State University (Summa Cum Laude). In her free time you can find her trying to find the best hot chocolate, taking mini adventures with her husband and daughter Arteese and going to thrift stores trying to find the latest deals.


Diane Erickson is the shared Volunteer Engagement Manager for the cities of Apple Valley, Inver Grove Heights, Rosemount and West St. Paul. She works 32 hours per week, and usually spends one day in each city, but with COVID has been working remotely from home since March 2020. Diane developed this program, and has been in the position seve years. She had worked for various nonprofits as volunteer manager and program director prior to joining the staff of the four cities. After reflecting on her many career roles, Diane knows that for her, nothing is more rewarding than working with volunteers and is grateful every day to be in this field.


Ree Ford is VEAP’s Volunteer Engagement Coordinator. In this role, she helps coordinate and support more than 3,000 annual volunteers to ensure VEAP’s daily operations are covered while also making sure volunteers have a positive, meaningful experience while serving with VEAP. Prior to her current role at VEAP, she served as a VISTA through MAVA’s AmeriCorps program and dedicated her year of service to helping VEAP diversify and train their volunteer corps. Ree has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and has been an active member of Minnesota’s volunteer community for several years.

Ms. Jewelean Jackson is an Elder Community Servant Leader, lives by the philosophical thought of life-long learning, learning from the cradle to the grave. Her greatest accomplishment is having birthed and raised an extraordinary daughter, (Thandisizwe) with village input that makes us proud. Lifetime National Ms. Kwanzaa is a title and an opportunity for her to speak to Kwanzaa as a way of life as her platform. She believes in participatory community building, recognizing an issue and being a component of the solution, as evidenced by the following: Miss Black Minnesota Pageant Founding Director/Producer, Twin Cities Juneteenth Founding Mother with Founding Fathers Michael Chaney and Gregory Reed, Minnesota National Night Out Founding Committee Member, Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota Freedom Schools Founding Trio Member lead by Ruby Hughes, UMOJA Founding Parent, Vegan Byy Nature Founding Consultant, Inaugural Vegan Byy Nature Freedom School Experience Site Coordinator, Video Brigade Founding Elder and Urban Minnesota Youth Leaders International Founding Parent Advisor (many of which still exist and have grown greatly). In spite of COVID and unrest, this past two weeks, Jewelean has graduated from two fellowships, Boards Commissions Leadership Institute (BCLI) and Josie Johnson Leadership Academy (JRJLA). Ms. Jackson believes that one should contribute to leaving one’s community a brighter place than it was found.


Rob Jackson has worked in the volunteering movement for more than 25 years, during which time he has led and managed volunteers and volunteering in education, advice, fundraising and children’s services settings at local, regional and national levels. In 2011 Rob established Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd and now provides consultancy, public speaking and training services on a range of topics, with strategic volunteer engagement remaining at the core of his work. Rob works with clients large and small in the UK, USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.


Paul Johnson is the founder of Proactivism, a coaching and consulting firm that helps activists and nonprofit professionals change the world from a place of balance, mindfulness and resilience. He is passionate about helping people working for social change prevent burnout and develop a sustainable approach to their work. He is also a Gallup Certified StrengthsFinder Coach and Intercultural Development Inventory Qualified Administrator. Paul resides in South Minneapolis with his partner, Bailey, and their daughter, Mirae.


Lisa Joyslin is the Equity and Inclusion Manager at MAVA. Her work is focused on learning how to address systemic inequities in volunteer engagement systems to better engage communities of color as volunteers at nonprofit and government organizations. Lisa has worked in the field of volunteer engagement for nearly 15 years, including 4 years as the Volunteer Services Officer for the Red Cross Minnesota Region and positions at multiple volunteer centers. She holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Minnesota.

Carla Kress is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the City of Shakopee. Carla has an undergraduate degree in Child Development/Family Relations from South Dakota State University and a Master’s degree in Parks, Recreation & Natural Resource/Therapeutic Recreation from the University of MN. Carla has a passion for inclusion and Recreation for ALL. She has worked in various settings working with people of all ability levels as well as volunteer coordination. Currently, Carla oversees sponsorships, donations, inclusion programs and volunteers. She is in the process of developing a volunteer for the City of Shakopee from the ground up.

Cameron Kruger is 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 serves as Chair of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Board of Directors and has spent nearly two decades advancing the work of nonprofits.


Dana Litwin, CVA is a strategic advisor, public speaker and thought leader in volunteerism and civic service. Since 2002 she has guided organizations in California's Silicon Valley and world-wide to produce breakthrough talent and community engagement programs. She is the creator of the premiere web series “Priceless Advice with Leaders of Volunteers.” Dana served as the 2019 President for the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE), and is a founder and co-facilitator of the multi-sector National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement.


Becky Lunders (teamWorks) helps organizations build capacity so they can raise more money, recruit more volunteers and have greater mission impact. She's a volunteer, fundraiser, board president, event staff, trainer, strategist and consultant. Her enthusiasm is contagious! Becky cut her teeth in the nonprofit sector with Relay For Life and has helped countless organizations mobilize volunteers and raise millions of dollars. Becky teaches relationship building as the foundation for mobilizing communities and engaging constituents around a shared vision. Becky lives in Loomis, CA where she works out, volunteers in her community and cheers on her three kids at sporting events.

Jaylen Lyles is the Volunteer Services Coordinator at Project for Pride in Living (PPL) in Minneapolis, MN. Jaylen’s responsibilities consist in building relationships with organizations and schools, providing support and fulfilling needs for PPL departments, and engaging with volunteers and interns. Jaylen is the founder of his own business called JAM Communications, which helps small businesses with their social media and other communication tools. He recently graduated with a B.A. in Professional Communications: Public Relations at Metropolitan State University. During his free time, he likes to travel to various countries, go hiking at state parks, and check out new restaurants and bars.


Jackie Maas has managed volunteers for 30 years and has received MAVA’s Mary Wiser Award of Excellence in the field of volunteerism. Currently the volunteer coordinator with the City of Plymouth, Minnesota, she has also managed volunteer programs at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Minnesota Historical Society. She enjoys building relationships with the city’s volunteers and the challenge of matching their skills and abilities with work that needs to get done. She believes that the number one reason why people volunteer is to feel useful. Jackie received a BA from the University of Jamestown in English, psychology and history/political science.

Christian McCleary (he/him/his) is 25 years old and holds an AA Degree in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Psychology and in Women Studies. He is currently attending Hamline University. He works for Literacy Minnesota and St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium, hosts the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) Podcast and is a member of the Council for Black Male Success. Christian supports the Black community in narrative writing, housing, education, employment, mental health and wellness and lifelong mentoring. He is experienced in consulting, educational development, management, administration and overall creativity. Socially, he is affable, respectful, dedicated, ambitious and overall passionate. No matter the project he gives 100% commitment and effort. Christian recently ran for City Council in Apple Valley, MN where he fell a few votes behind the incumbents. Overall success placing fourth out of seven candidates, the youngest and first Black male City Council candidate in history. Post-election, he has increased his knowledge and understanding of policy, management and business operations to represent and serve the community at a stronger level. Christian believes in Ubuntu and the Indigenous tribe Iroquois philosophy and applies principles and work ethic to his daily activities. His hobbies are playing sports, cooking, advocacy, supporting community, reading and learning.

Betsy McFarland is a strategist and problem-solver who has forged a unique professional niche focused on empowering staff and volunteers committed to tackling challenging societal issues. During her twenty-year career in animal protection, she created The Humane Society National Volunteer Center, a broad-scale effort that engages thousands of volunteers nationwide. Betsy is a trained facilitator through Georgetown University and specializes in partnering with organizations to maximize volunteer impact. Betsy worked with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to published research on staff-volunteer relationships and helped develop a research-supported Volunteer Program Assessment utilized by thousands of organizations.

Kelly O’Brien is the Volunteer Services Manager at Hennepin Healthcare in Minnesota. Hennepin Healthcare is a complex, integrated healthcare entity with its main campus in downtown Minneapolis and neighborhood clinics in surrounding suburbs. As a Level 1 trauma center, teaching hospital and research institution with experts in primary and specialty care, Hennepin Healthcare plays a central role in caring for a variety of patient segments including the uninsured. Prior to her position with Hennepin Healthcare, Kelly had over 20 years of experience working with volunteers in a wide range of settings, including small, grass roots organizations, large multi-national non-profits and government settings. She is a firm believer that volunteers are the resource with the greatest potential for continued growth. Kelly continues to be inspired by volunteers and their passion to give their valuable time to causes that improve the greater good.

Karen Reid is the CEO and founder of Kaber Communications and is changing the conversation around workforce engagement. Partnering with clients across all sectors, her tailored programs and experiences emphasize effective communication and increased participation for associations, nonprofits, corporations, alumni and community organizations, educational institutions, executive boards and foundations. A dynamic and sought-after speaker, Karen delights local, regional and international audiences with customized and interactive presentations and training sessions. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, is certified in volunteer administration (CVA) and is Interim Co-Chair of the Communication Working Group for The National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement.

Cairn Reisch, CVA With nearly a decade of experience in the industry, Cairn has firmly established herself as a leader, innovator and strategic professional in every aspect of volunteer engagement. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion and Non-Profit Management at Central College in Pella, Iowa. In addition to her professional experience, she went on to obtain her Certification in Volunteer Administration, the first person in North Dakota to do so. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her partner and fur babies. They love to travel and spend time exploring unique culinary experiences in new cities.

Polly Roach is the Service Enterprise Program Manager at the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA), supporting a holistic change management process to help organizations strategically deploy volunteer talent to better achieve their social missions. Polly has worked in the volunteer engagement field for over 30 years, primarily in youth mentoring. Before joining MAVA’s staff in 2018, she served on its Board of Directors, where she chaired the Strategic Services Committee, shaping MAVA initiatives such as the Shifting Environment trends research. She received MAVA’s Mary Wiser Award for Leadership in the Field of Volunteer Resources in 2011. Polly holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Minnesota.

Cydnee Sanders moved to Minnesota in 2017 to join Literacy Minnesota as an AmeriCorps VISTA. She served for two years as a Distance Learning VISTA, while also volunteering in the pre-beginning ESL class. Realizing she loved teaching, she earned a TEFL Certificate from Hamline in 2019, and is now continuing with the MA in TESOL program. Cydnee’s capstone research is about antiracist and decolonizing practices in the adult English classroom. She’s continued working with Literacy Minnesota by working as a Teaching Intern to help run the volunteer-led pre-beginning class.

Nicole R. Smith, of Panamanian-American decent, is an author, blogger, podcast host, motivational speaker and Manager of Volunteer and Internship Services at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. She is responsible for managing 300+ volunteers and interns in all aspects including recruiting, training, people development and team building. She recently received a national IMPACT Award from the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE) as an emerging leader displaying exemplary leadership in the field and sits on the Board of the Arts and Business Council, AL!VE and Ageles Chic Magazine.

Lauren Spero serves as the National MS Society’s Vice President of Volunteer & Community Engagement. In this role, Lauren ensures over 50,000 volunteers build organizational capacity through strategic volunteer engagement. She also leads the organization’s efforts to deliver educational programming and build local presence through engagement of volunteers and community leaders. As part of the Society’s Leadership and Management Team, Lauren is charged with ensuring the National MS Society is a national organization with local presence. She received her undergraduate degree from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) and her master’s in public administration from The Ohio State University.

Terry Straub is the U of M Extension Master Gardner Volunteer Program – Hennepin County Extension Educator. Master Gardener volunteers bring research-based horticultural information to the Hennepin County community through various educational community engagement activities.  Terry has worked as the director for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of the Greater Twin Cities, volunteer program manager for the former Minnesota Office of Citizenship and Volunteer Services and the Minnesota AIDS Project. He is adjunct faculty with the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business, teaching “volunteer management” in the Mini-MBA in Non-profit management. He is one of MAVA’s Volunteer Impact Leadership Training Series Trainers, as well as a North Central Region co-facilitator in the “Achieving the Extension Mission Through Volunteer Engagement” series. Terry is the recipient of the MAVA Award for Excellence in Volunteer Leadership, Volunteer of the Year and the U of M Extension Dean’s Distinguished Staff Award.  He has a BA in Music from Minnesota State University - Mankato. Terry received his Certificate in Volunteer Management from Hamline University.

Annette Sutfin serves as the Senior Manager, Philanthropic Experiences at Southwest Human Development, an Arizona-based family services organization. Annette started the volunteer program at Southwest Human Development in 2014 and particularly enjoys telling the story of volunteer impact. Using knowledge and skills gained from 20 years working in the nonprofit sector and a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from Arizona State University, Annette crafts unique and appealing engagement opportunities for volunteers and constituents. She spearheaded the effort to obtain Southwest Human Development’s Service Enterprise Certification, and the organization was recognized as the Service Enterprise Champion for 2018.

Wendy Vang-Roberts (she/her) is MAVA's Training Manager. Prior to joining the MAVA staff, Wendy served on MAVA's Inclusive Volunteerism Task Force and provided training around inclusive volunteer recruitment. She has worked in a variety of adult student, volunteer and national service outreach and recruitment roles. She most recently managed volunteer and adult learner outreach, coordinated support and professional development for volunteer coordinators and facilitated racial justice trainings for staff and volunteers at Adult Basic Education programs statewide. Wendy holds a Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration from Metropolitan State University and serves on the Antiracism Study Dialogue Circles (ASDIC) Metamorphosis Board of Directors and Marketing Committee.

Dr. Bradley Wolfe is the regional coordinator for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ Southwest Minnesota Regional Chapter, based in Nicollet. Through his part-time position, Bradley provides local activities, initiatives and connections to the resources MCN provides in the Southwest region of Minnesota. Bradley has a doctorate in educational leadership through which he studied the relationship between nonprofits and higher education. He regularly works for equity and justice through his role as a Diversity Facilitator with the Greater Mankato Diversity Council. He is grateful for the opportunity to help nonprofits through his position at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.