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2024 Volunteer Engagement Leadership Conference

Speaker Biographies

June 5-7, 2024



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Abby Neisen (they/them) graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Women and Gender Studies with minors in Spanish and Human Development and Family Sciences from North Dakota State University. 

 

Abby is passionate about building encouraging and supportive relationships and environments with and for youth of all backgrounds to promote individualism and pride in one’s identity. 


Zeul, Alli

Alli Zuel, CVA (she/her) is the Volunteer Engagement Manager at America’s Service Commissions (ASC). In her position, she supports service commissions that have AmeriCorps VISTA projects, are Volunteer Generation Fund grantees, are working in the youth service and service-learning space, and/or are doing work in the broader volunteer engagement field. Alli achieved her Certification in Volunteer Administration (CVA) in October 2021. She is also a proud AmeriCorps Alum who served with AmeriCorps VISTA in a food insecurity-focused position.

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Anne Sutkowi-Hemstreet (she/they) is the Program Director at QUEERSPACE collective - a mentoring program for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth ages 12-17 - and has 23 years of program development and management experience. Prior to starting at QUEERSPACE Collective, they founded Rainbow Collective for Change in North Carolina, a grassroots organization that builds safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQIA+ families and gender diverse youth. Anne's passion for LGBTQIA+ and gender inclusion work is fueled by her two children, the children of her close friends, and her personal experience as a queer parent navigating a culture and systems that are not LGBTQIA+ and gender inclusive.


Ashley Daniels is an AuDHD (autistic and ADHD) educator who has non epileptic seizures. She is passionate about disability inclusion centering an intersectional focus in order to create equitable spaces to accommodate and support from a compassion based approach. They hold a Master of Arts degree in Education and has adapted her capstone project of creating an Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder from an Autistic Perspective into giving keynote speeches for Saint Paul Public Schools to provide educators with the knowledge of how to identify and disrupt ableism in education.


Brandon Litman (he/him) is the co-founder and CEO of Kindly, a mobile-first volunteer and donation platform modernizing how individuals spend their time and funds in support of causes. With a background in community engagement, Brandon has dedicated his career to forging pathways in technology and media, all aimed at uniting people towards deeper community engagement. Before Kindly, he was co-founder and producer of the groundbreaking Netflix-distributed documentary, One Day on Earth. This project, which stands as the world’s largest collaborative film effort, showcased the power of collective storytelling by bringing together over 40,000 media creators representing every single country in the world.


Brianna Stapleton Welch is the Community Engagement Manager at Little Free Library. She connects individuals and groups with opportunities to support the growing network of Little Free Library book-sharing boxes. Brianna has worked in volunteer engagement in youth development, higher education, and the arts.


Christine Petersen is the Natural Resources Engagement Coordinator for the City of Minnetonka, MN. Her role includes volunteer coordination as well as outreach and education that informs, inspires and empowers residents to protect urban natural resources. Before working in city government, Christine was a field biologist, a middle school science teacher, and a professional writer.

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Femina Ajayi-Hackworth is an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity,  and Accessibility Consultant. She is an experienced leader who uses evidence-based practices to strategically integrate the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility into presentations. For almost 20 years, Femina has excelled in creating and presenting educational DEI Training in an engaging and informative manner. Femina uses best practices and maintains extensive knowledge of current events, equity, recruitment, community outreach, and retention issues which she incorporates into her work. Femina has a Masters in African American and African Diaspora Studies, and a Masters in Public Affairs. She was certified as a Certified Affirmative Action Professional, CAAP level in 2012.


Geng Wang, CEO of Civic Champs, leads our team of passionate change leaders to deliver the most intuitive and impactful volunteer management software for nonprofits and their champions. Prior to Civic Champs, Geng co-founded and sold two companies, RentJungle.com (an apartment search engine), and Community Elf (a social media management firm). Geng is also a former McKinsey & Company consultant and is a graduate of Michigan State University and Harvard Business School.

Heather, Femina, and Karen Dismantling Inequities 2023

Heather Stein (she/her) (pictured left) is a dynamic and resilient business leader with over 12 years of progressive experience in human resources, workforce diversity & inclusion, equal opportunity, and adult education. She specializes in leading organizational change that carefully nurtures employee engagement, increases retention of talent, and optimizes culturally responsive service delivery. Heather enjoys building coalitions and thrives when serving as systems change agent. She has worked in public service for the State of Minnesota for nearly 10 years. In her current role, Heather oversees federal and state Equal Opportunity and ADA compliance, harassment and discrimination policy adherence, Affirmative Action, and DEIA programming and training. Heather lives in Minneapolis, MN with her partner and two daughters. She enjoys spending time in nature, visiting local restaurants and businesses, and giving back to her community.


Jayne Cravens is an internationally-recognized researcher, consultant, university lecturer and trainer. Her work is focused on communicationsvolunteer involvement, community engagement, and effective project management. She is the co-author, with Susan Ellis, of The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, the most comprehensive work to date on involving and supporting volunteers using Internet tools. She is a pioneer and expert regarding the research, promotion and practice of virtual volunteeringShe is also a veteran manager of various local and international initiatives, including United Nations programs, and has worked in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Germany, Egypt, Serbia and Poland, among other countries. She oversaw the transition of the UN's Online Volunteering Service from NetAid to the UN Volunteers program, and was a co-manager of the Secretary General's United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS), also at UNV. Jayne became active online in 1993, and she created one of the first web sites to help to build the capacity of nonprofits to use the Internet. For more than a decade she has tracked practices to prevent folklore, fake news and rumors from derailing humanitarian aid and development activities. She has been quoted in articles in The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, as well as for reports by CNN, Deutsche Well, and the BBC. Resources from her web site, coyotecommunications.com, are frequently cited in reports and articles by a variety of organizations, online and in-print. She was the Fall 2015 Duvall Leader in Residence at the University of Kentucky’s Center for Leadership Development and has guest lectured at classes at Portland State University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work, and St. Edward's University. Jayne was a co-winner of the 2003 Dewey Winburne Community Service Award. Jayne received her BA in Journalism from Western Kentucky University and her Master's degree in Development Management from Open University in the U.K. A native of Kentucky, she lived in Germany for eight years and has visited more than 35 countries, some of them by motorcycle. She is based near Portland, Oregon in the USA.



Johnanna Ganz, Ph.D., (name/they) is a systems-thinking, data-focused pragmatist who looks for opportunities to turn theory and ideas into action. As the founder of J. Ganz Consulting, LLC, Johnanna’s passion lies in increasing the sustainability of mission-driven agencies and their people through education and coaching. In their doctoral research, Johnanna studied occupational and organizational identity development in victim advocates and their agencies using quantitative and qualitative approaches. Johnanna has used this research to develop tools and trainings to work in deep collaboration with mission-driven staff and leaders as they build their skills around healthy occupational identities and sustainable organizational cultures. Johnanna approaches every project and relationship with the philosophy of, “Let’s do better, together.”



Dr. Ganz has served in a variety of mission-driven roles, particularly focused on ending gendered violence in local, state, territory, and national communities. Some of Johnanna’s prior roles include adjunct professor of Sociology and Women’s/Gender Studies, Domestic Violence Victim Advocate, Sexual Assault Response Team Leader, Systems Change Program Manager, Rural Projects Coordinator for a national training and technical assistance provider, and the Sexual Violence Justice Institute Director. Johnanna has also had the privilege of serving as a grant reviewer for the Office on Violence Against Women (2020-2024), an adjunct faculty of Hamline University in the Social Change and Social Justice Department (Fall 2022), a member of the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Alliance on Crime (2021-2022), and the Advocacy Policy Subcommittee Chair for the National Taskforce on Advocate Wellness (2023-present).


Joshua Meyer is the VP of Market Engagement at Bloomerang, a nonprofit fundraising software company. He has over 20 years of experience in fundraising, volunteer management, software, and marketing. Josh is passionate about helping nonprofits strive to fulfill their mission. He believes that nonprofits are essential to our communities and that they deserve the best tools and resources to succeed. In his role at Bloomerang, Josh helps nonprofits acquire and retain donors through innovative marketing and fundraising strategies. He is also a frequent speaker at nonprofit conferences and events, and is committed to helping nonprofits make a difference in the world.

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Karen Caldwell MSC, BA (Hons), Artist, Socologist and Creative Wellness Coach, is an arts-based creative wellness coach with a Master of Science degree in Sociology from University College London. Her unique art-centered approach to wellness coaching empowers corporations, non-profit organizations, and individuals globally to facilitate self-expression, self-discovery, healing, and personal growth. With her sociological expertise, Karen has developed an innovative employee engagement program that utilizes the power of art-making to improve workplace well-being, boost productivity, encourage team-building, and improve overall employee engagement. Karen works collaboratively with her clients to create customized plans that address their specific needs and goals. She is passionate about helping individuals and teams achieve greater levels of success and fulfillment in both their personal and professional lives by using creativity and self-expression as essential tools for achieving mental, emotional, and physical wellness.


Karen Pattison has been the Volunteer Services Manager at Naples Botanical Garden for the past six years, where she manages 200+ volunteers in Horticulture, Conservation, and Education. She also engages in the larger community with various student groups and community volunteers. She is a co-founder of the SWFL Volunteer Coordinators Group, which brings together coordinators in the area to share with and support each other. Along with a degree in psychology, Karen also spent 25 years working with families and children in a preschool setting as a teacher and program director. When not at the Garden, she can usually be found at home with her husband, her houseful of books, and her rescue animals.


Karl Samp retired after seven years as Executive Director with the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation. Previously, Karl spent nine years consulting with private and community foundations, as well as nonprofit organizations. Before that, Karl was vice president at the Initiative Foundation for nine years overseeing grant-making and leadership training activities. Karl previously worked nine years at Central Lakes College and was a trainer for MAVA. Karl’s education is in outdoor recreation and environmental education. Karl lives on the Mississippi River north of Brainerd, and serves on three nonprofit boards.


Kelly Mortvedt fell into the volunteer engagement field at age 21 when someone said “here’s a week of training, 3 staff to manage, and 500 youth volunteers. Go make summer service-learning events happen.” There’s no learning quite like trial by fire education! Today, Kelly is the Volunteer Resource Manager at Second Harvest Heartland, partnering with pro bono volunteers on short-term projects utilizing professional expertise and working with the volunteer program support team to foster life-long hunger relief advocates.

Luiza Dreasher Dismantling Inequities 2023


Dr. Luiza Dreasher has over 20 years of experience in the areas of DEI+, and intercultural competence development. Her expertise in global and domestic diversity has led to publications, international speaking invitations, and training opportunities for numerous audiences including the United States Department of Defense, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Schreiber Foods of Brazil, MN Department of Public Safety, and numerous institutions of higher education. Her articles have reached an audience of over 200 thousand individuals. She has written about strategies for recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, the detrimental impact of microaggressions, achieving inclusive religious observance, how organizations can play a critical role in addressing racial inequities, and how biases and lack of intercultural competence keep diversity out. In her book, "Mastering Cultural Differences: Strategies for Leading a Global Workforce," she provides incredible insight into cultural differences impacting today's diverse workplaces, and best practices for increased performance in a global economy. Dr. Dreasher's expertise has been showcased on prominent platforms such as ABC, NBC, Fox, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, and various other media forums.  

Luiza Dreasher Dismantling Inequities 2023


Marilou Chanrasmi is a certified somatics coach, mindfulness and qigong practitioner and an experienced facilitator of circles. She is the founder of The Ahnung Way and the co-founder of the non-profit Four Winds Connections. She facilitates learning and practice circles in the areas of Leadership, Communication, Mindfulness, and DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging). She is a founding member of Deep Listening for Social Change, a peaceful action group that was formed by members of the Twin Cities BIPOC mindfulness community in response to the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

Mary Uran


Mary Uran brings more than 15 years of strategic planning, nonprofit leadership, governance and entrepreneurship to Compass Pro Bono as its inaugural Managing Director in the Twin Cities. Most recently, Mary spent ten years with Girls on the Run Minnesota as Co-Founder and Executive Director, growing the organization from a small start-up to a robust statewide nonprofit. Mary launched her career in public health and public policy with the National Association of Attorneys General and the Network for Public Health Law. She received her BA in Political Science & Communication from the College of Saint Benedict and her Masters in Public Health from the University of Minnesota. She currently serves as Board Chair for the Brave Like Gabe Foundation and the National CMV Foundation. Mary lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her husband and 3 kids.


Dr. Noel Landuyt has extensively worked with multiple aspects of employee, volunteer, leadership and customer assessment for non-profit, governmental, human services, public safety, as well as for profit organizations. He has developed quantitative and qualitative research on topics of organizational climate, customer/client satisfaction, volunteer engagement and related organizational capacity issues. Noel’s responsibilities include serving as an university professor for leadership training and organizational consulting. Additional, he has served on multiple boards and held a variety of leadership roles in service organizations.

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Patti J. Neiman, M.A., is the Director of Educational Efficacy and Leadership at the University YMCA, Y of the North on the University of MN Twin Cities campus. As an equity and social justice leader, Patti provides young adults enrolled in higher education the opportunity to serve as mentors within the Minneapolis and St. Paul out-of-school time programs. She is also a trainer for Adult, Higher Ed, Youth Mental Health First Aid.

Robin Hunt


Robin Hunt, a compassionate change agent of volunteer talent, has been in the volunteer management space for over 15 years in the healthcare industry. She recently received her CAVS certification and is focused to help elevate the volunteer management field as well as introduce more African Americans to the sector. Her dedication to being a servant leader has been instrumental in refreshing her current volunteer team after COVID, increasing volunteer engagement with the clinical team and has been called on to participate on teams to create increased patient experience opportunities. She is especially excited about utilizing DEI strategies to recruit volunteer talent for workforce development.


Tony Goodrow is the founder and CEO of Better Impact, a software company that has been helping leaders of volunteer since 2001. As the Founding Chair of a residential hospice, he sought out volunteer management software for the hospice to use, but at the time, none of the software that could be used for managing volunteers was web based. Running a small three-person website development company at the time, he donated staff time to build something just for the hospice. That was the genesis of what we now know as Volunteer Impact software. Tony discovered he was far more passionate about helping volunteer engaging organizations that he was about company websites so his company changed direction. He and the Better Impact team of 30 now work with over 3,400 organizations in 14 countries.


Tony is a producer and sponsor of the Volunteer Manager Hybrid Conference and has spoken at conferences around the world on a variety of topics related to volunteer management. He also sits on the board of a local non-profit music festival and is a volunteer chair for his neighborhood home owner’s association.

Zeinab Mohamud


Zeinab Mohamud graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in May 2023 with a major in Biology, Society, and Environment and minors in public health and sociology. Currently, she is serving as a Program Assistant for the University YMCA Achievers Program dedicated to fostering resilience and retention among underrepresented students in higher education. She hopes to continue her education after her undergraduate career with a focus in healthcare, health advocacy, human rights, and community engagement. She is passionate about the health and wellbeing of youth, particularly those who have been subjected to marginalization, and is excited to learn how to best serve and cultivate relationships with youth in trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, community-centered ways while keeping their voices and experiences at the center of her work.