MINN Board

  • Posted on: 4 February 2019
  • By: minnesotangos

The MINN Board of Directors is comprised of individuals with diverse backgrounds and expertise who are selected to meet MINN's evolving needs and support its mission and vision. Many of the members of the Board are former leaders of MINN’s volunteer teams. Applications to serve on the Board are open each fall for positions that begin in January. 

Executive Team

President: Nicholas Hayen

Nicholas is the Marketing and Communications Manager for Global Minnesota, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to advancing Minnesota's international understanding and engagement. He is also a member of the Minnesota Advisory Committee for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, which is dedicated to the importance of American global leadership in world affairs and advocates for strengthening America's diplomatic and development tools. He has an academic background in the modern Middle East, International Relations, and American Foreign Policy. He brings a passion for educating Americans about global affairs and his blog and podcast series, The Orientalist Express, simplifies current events to make foreign policy easier to understand for the everyday person.


President Ex Officio: Krister Karlsson
After graduating with a degree in Business & Economics from Kalamazoo College, Krister moved to Sweden where he earned a Master’s in Politics and International Studies from Uppsala University.  Now back home in Minnesota, Krister joins the MINN board of directors with over 10 years experience - spanning five countries and four continents - in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and currently works as an IT-professional in the Twin Cities.



Vice President: Tyler Vogel

Tyler is passionate about the way sustainable development and social entrepreneurship can be used to drive innovation for the INGO industry. He lives out this passion through his current role as Impact Program Manager at Community Reinvestment Fund, a national nonprofit that works to address social and economic inequity through financial solutions. Prior to joining CRF, Tyler’s work was primarily focused on sustainability and social impact. His work as a social entrepreneur enabled him to pursue social impact fellowships domestically and in the Czech Republic. Since 2014, Tyler has directed Wings of the Night, a social venture in Loreto, Peru supporting culturally and environmentally sustainable malaria prevention strategies with Maijuna leaders. Tyler received his Master of Development Practice (MDP) from the Humphrey School at the University or Minnesota and a B.A. in Biology from Wartburg College.


Treasurer: Sarah Novack
Sarah Novack is a Grant and Contracts Specialist at the Center for Victims of Torture, a nonprofit delivering behavioral health services to vulnerable populations and training advocates and providers on trauma and resiliency. She earned a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia and Tanzania. Sarah’s interests include hiking and spending time outside, going to bar trivia, and drinking coffee.  




Secretary: Nancy Silva

Nancy is an analyst with MMCAP Infuse, her focus is in data reporting and website development. She attended St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN and has a background in public health. Most of Nancy's experience is in addressing and understanding socioeconomic inequalities and pushing efforts to reduce gaps in socioeconomic status.


Board Members

Catherine Ryan

Catherine is a Democracy and Governance professional with experience in international development as a writer, researcher and educator. She has worked in the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Asia. In addition to a Master’s degree in International Leadership, she holds a BA in Journalism and has written on a variety of topics for numerous publications.

From as far back as Catherine can remember her goal was to experience the world—its vastness, differences, wonders and challenges. Upon completing her BA she moved to Spain to work as an ESL teacher. A few years later her wanderlust hit the jackpot when she took a job with Pan American Airlines. Based in London, the world lay at her doorstep. During her tenure with Pan Am she roamed the globe and discovered that she was most interested in Africa and the Middle East. The era of deregulation saw many airlines fold and Pan Am was one of them.

Returning to the US, Catherine settled in New York for a few years and worked as a free-lance writer. She supplemented her writing income by teaching fitness classes, which she continues to do to this day.

When a full-time position opened up at the Minnesota Senate Catherine returned to Minnesota as a non-partisan news reporter for Session Weekly. She later moved on to a partisan role as a Committee Administrator, first for a Tax Division and then with the Higher Education Committee. She spent her final years at the Senate as the Director of the Office of the President where she assisted in floor management and procedures; developed methods to professionalize the institution with staff and member training; and launched a Health and Wellness initiative.

Since retiring from the Senate Catherine is focusing on another life-long interest:  dance. She is certified in Zumba, Hip Hop Hustle, and OULA, among other formats. Presently, she teaches a variety of classes in the Twin Cities.

Besides traveling and dancing, Catherine is interested in global sustainability and equity. She hopes to continue working toward these goals, lending a hand to make the world a better place for all.

Ceallaigh Anderson Smart

Ceallaigh is the Executive Director and Founder of Print the Love, an NGO she founded in 2015. In addition, she works as an Online Business Course Consultant and serves as the Philanthropy Director at Global Health Ministries. She has worked in nonprofits for over 20 years in sectors including communication, fundraising, consulting, programming, higher education, event planning, international travel logistics, and administration. She has a MA in Arts Administration from St. Mary's University, and a BA in Experiential/Adventure Education and Art Therapy from Prescott College.

Emily Nohner

Emily Nohner comes to MINN with over 10 years of nonprofit experience. She is dedicated to human development, both overseas or as she puts it- "in her own backyard". She has amassed particular focuses on women's rights, fair housing, financial equity, increasing access to capital, and value-driven leadership. A graduate of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a Truman Scholar, Emily looks forward to applying her experience and collaborating with MINN on outreach and furthering meaningful connections in the community.

Moussa Ousmane 

Moussa joined Cargill Incorporated in 2007, and currently serves as the Senior Trade Execution Coordinator. Born in Niger, he moved to the United States in 2001, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Agribusiness at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. He serves as  Board of Directors for Tractors for Africa a Minnesota based NGO with mission of empowering African communities to harvest their agricultural potential. Moussa brings a passion for reforming the International Development to focus more on Partnership, Equity and Inclusion.

Sheena Harris

Sheena is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative and International Development Education at the University of Minnesota. Growing up in rural North Carolina, she did not have much exposure to cultural diversity. During college, she discovered anthropology and her interest in other places, people, and cultures was nurtured from that point on. She has taught English as a second and foreign language, studied several languages herself, lived in an international residence house, and traveled to 13 countries outside the U.S. Her interests are in post-conflict history education, transitional justice, and human rights and she currently spends some of her time volunteering with Asia Justice and Rights, a non-profit dedicated to human rights and transitional justice in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Hanna Getachew-Kreusser
Hanna received her B.A in Psychology and International Business Management from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, and her M.A. in Behavioral Science/Counseling and Psychological Services from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Prior to becoming the Executive Director in 2018, Hanna was the Director of Operations at Face to Face. Hanna has over 25 years of nonprofit administration experience including at Tubman Inc. and Avenues for Homeless Youth, leading health and human services for populations across the life span.
Hanna is an active community leader, involved in working to strengthen systems designed to support those served in the community and globally. Additionally, she currently serves on various boards and community groups- including the St. Paul, Ramsey Community Health Advisory Committee and Clair Housing Board of Directors. Hanna has had the honor of being a co-founder of a nonprofit that works to enrich African lives (R.E.A.L Inc.-Resources for Reaching African Lives)

Gary Ly

A recent graduate of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Gary is passionate about international development, particularly public health and food injustice. Gary has worked with the Rainforest Alliance in Guatemala to create a client-facing website meant to sell non-timber forest products to potential buyers from around the world. He spent several years training youth and adults on resume writing, networking, and computer skills for roles in the public sector. Working with communities abroad is a passion for Gary, who has been blessed to spend time as an English teacher in northern Thailand and rural Colombia as an English instructor at a vocational trade school. He hopes to work with an NGO to bring communities together.


Anne Betzner

Anne loves problem solving and working toward equity globally. She is Vice President of Programs and Evaluation at Children’s HeartLink, an NGO treating children with heart disease in low and middle income countries. She loves evaluation and scaling interventions to increase impact.






Patrick Plonski

Pat Plonski is Executive Director of Books For Africa, the world’s largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent.  Books For Africa has shipped over 47 million books and served every African country since 1988 with an annual fiscal impact exceeding $30 million. Plonski has traveled to 48 countries in his career. He has served as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences teaching coursework on world development issues. Previously, Plonski has served as Executive Director of the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council at the University of Minnesota, and Committee Administrator of the Minnesota House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture. He holds a PhD in International Education from the University of Minnesota,  a Master’s Degree in History from the University of Minnesota, and a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in History from St. John’s University. Plonski has also studied at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Education Program in Istanbul, Turkey, the University of Salzburg, Austria and the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. He has presented at the Summit of the Book at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, and the World Literacy Summit at Oxford University). He was awarded a Cargill Fellowship for European Union agricultural research in Belgium and Hungary, and a University of Minnesota Human Rights Fellowship for agricultural research in Italy and Poland). He has served on Minnesota Trade Office agricultural delegations to New Zealand and Denmark. Plonski is frequent commentator in the media on topics pertaining to development, education, and literacy in Africa.

Dawn Pauls 

Having lived, worked, studied, and traveled in numerous countries around the world, Dawn is passionate about being an informed, authentic, and responsible global citizen. She works as an evaluation consultant and recently completed a graduate certificate in program evaluation at the U of MN. She has worked and/or volunteered in the fields of community development, education, anti-tobacco, public health, refugee health and humanitarian assistance. She has a masters from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She is excited to learn more about the work Minnesotans are doing around the world through serving with MINN.



Katherine Wojtan

Katherine has been in the role of Executive Director of Mary’s Pence since 2008. Mary’s Pence provides funds and capacity building to women’s organizations in North and Central America. In the United States they provide grants to women’s groups working on social change.  In Mexico and Central America they partner with 10 organizations in 5 countries, focusing on supporting small business initiatives, the empowerment of women, and strengthening local organizations in the region.    

Kelsey King 

Kelsey works in on-farm sustainability for Land O'Lakes and has a background in supply chain and operations. Following an international development assignment in Sri Lanka, she moved to Minnesota and found community through MINN that shared her passion for global issues. Kelsey has since been an active volunteer, most recently serving as one of the 2020 MINN Summit Co-Chairs.









Paul Hanscom, Ewald Consulting





Karen Baumgaertner, Karen Baumgaertner Consulting