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MINN's New 2015 Board Members

on Sat, 2015-01-17 17:29

Please welcome our new 2015 MINN Board Members! In their new roles, these members are anxious to bring innovative ideas and new energy to MINN and make 2015 a great success. For a full list of new and returning board members, please click here.

Hayley Hontos, MPH, currently a Philanthropic Initiative Manager at Lutheran World Relief, comes to MINN with a recently acquired Master’s in Public Health. Hayley has extensive experience in fundraising development efforts for a variety of nonprofit organizations. Additionally, she has directed several organizations in their operations, bringing these logistical skills to MINN. After working for many years in Washington D.C., she is excited to get more involved in the international development network here in Minnesota. “I’m excited to engage with more people in the Minnesota NGO community and to support their continued development through MINN.”



Miriam Monono, MBA, MPA, is a lead implementation project manager for MDI Achieve, a software company. Miriam came to the board through her service as an education committee member. She led the Education Committee in 2014, and co-Chaired the IDEA Summit in the same year. Miriam’s experience working in sales and on the education committee has sharpened her networking skills. She hopes to exercise her interpersonal abilities on the board by continuing to engage and facilitate MINN’s professional connections.  “As a new board member, I am excited to be a part of the team that will help guide MINN as we grow and become a more professional organization.

Practitioner Portrait: Sarah Kanan

on Sat, 2015-01-17 15:44

Practitioner Portrait: Iraqi American Reconcilation Project (IARP) and Sarah Kanan, an IARP Board Member

By Lori Imsdahl, MINN Contributor


Sarah Kanan, a twenty-four year-old Iraqi American, feels pulled between two cultures. In America, where she’s lived most of her life, Sarah feels too Iraqi. But the two times she visited Iraq — the country her family fled during the Gulf War — she felt too American. “Sometimes it feels like I don’t belong anywhere,” Sarah said recently. Nonetheless, she’s determined to bridge the gap that exists between Iraq and America — in her life and in society at large.

Sarah is an arrestingly beautiful woman with long hair, dark eyes, and an infectious smile. She holds bachelor’s degrees from the University of Minnesota — in Business Management and Marketing Education and in Design Studies and Child Psychology. She speaks Farsi, Arabic, and English. And she’s garnered private sector experience with GE Capital.

But the road there was fraught with challenges.

Sarah’s parents — Ameerah and Samir — suffered injuries in the Gulf War and resolved to take their family somewhere safer. So in 1991 they left their hometown of Basrah and trekked 160 miles northeast to a refugee camp in Ahvaz, Iran. Sarah’s life began there, on March 15, 1991.

“I spent my first months living in an environment that was filed with sorrow and sadness,” she writes in her memoir Objects for Deployment, which was published in December 2012. “Everyone [in the camp] had been forced to leave behind their home country and their families or had lost a family member or loved one in the war.”

After nine months as refugees, the Kanan family were granted Iranian immigrant status. They relocated to Qom, a city southwest of Tehran, where they lived for the next nine years.

While in Iran, Sarah’s parents struggled with the fact that Iraq was so close, less than a day’s drive away. They talked about it incessantly. Their message was clear, said Sarah: “You’re going to go back one day.”

MINN 2014: The Year in Numbers

on Wed, 2014-12-24 13:58

As the year comes to an end, it is time to give thanks to the many volunteers who have given their time and effort to improve Minnesota’s international practitioner community in 2014.
  • Thank you to the nearly 50 pro bono speakers who gave their time to present to the MINN community in 2014.
  • Thank you to the dedicated volunteers and leaders from MINN’s Education, Philanthropy, Networking and Summit committees who have hosted dozens of activities in 2014, from coffee hours, to improv evenings, to full-day events.