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.
President: 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.
President Ex Officio: Natasha Brownlee
Natasha brings a passion for inclusive, community-led program design to her work in the gender and international development field. She has a background in curriculum development, facilitation, project management and evaluation. A Minnesota native with a global perspective, Natasha has worked for girl-centered organizations and schools across five countries.
Vice-President: Alyce Eaton
Alyce Eaton is an Evaluator I at Professional Data Analysts. Her previous experience includes working in the Research Department at the Center for Victims of Torture and completing her Master's degree in Human Rights with a capstone project in Nepal. Alyce volunteered on the Summit Evaluation Committee for three years before joining MINN’s board.
Secretary: Laurel Stoneking
Dedicated to understanding global issues, Laurel Stoneking manages the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program for a Minneapolis non-profit, Global Minnesota. Laurel earned a Master’s in Global Public Policy from the University of Minnesota. She is an avid traveler, photographer, and novice sailor.
Treasurer: Emily Beltmann-Swenson
Emily is an International Service Program Coordinator with The Center for Victims of Torture where she works with the Ethiopia and Partners in Trauma Healing projects. She has a background in International Relations specializing in the Middle East. Emily has volunteered with MINN since 2013 on the Networking and Programming Committees and joined the Board in 2018.
Rachel Hawley (Satterlee)
Rachel is the Associate Director of the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research where she manages NIH grants and organizational operations. She has been volunteering with MINN since 2013 when she finished her Master of Arts in Sustainable International Development. She has fourteen years of experience supporting and growing NGOs.
Rufo Jiru came to the USA in 1993 as a refugee from Oromia, Ethiopia. She has been a Research Chemist at Bio-Techne for over 15 years. Rufo is the founder of Anole Sisters, an organization committed to working with women in the Oromo diaspora to acknowledge past trauma, embrace healing, build connections, and create systems and supports to effect change in our global and local communities. This organization came about as a result of Rufo's observations of the past trauma affecting her community, and the lack of resources available to women in particular. She felt moved to build connections and community for Oromo women to provide sister-to-sister support. Rufo is also currently a board member on the Multicultural Autism Action Network (MAAN), and an active member of the Disability Support International Advisory Working group and the MN Autism Council group. Rufo served on the Oromo Community board from 2016-2018.
Tom is a global health consultant active in policy research, advocacy, and resource mobilization, following twelve years at the New York-based International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. He’s a big believer in immunizations, participatory health research, getting soft drinks away from kids, and (alas) the New York Mets.
Wes is the co-founder and CEO of EOS International, a social enterprise that empowers rural families in Central America with access to safe water. Wes served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua and has led engineering design and manufacturing teams in Western Africa, Eastern Africa, and Central America.
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.
Kyla is the Management and Inclusion Lead for Mama Hope’s Global Advocate Program, which trains a generation of social change workers globally to become ambassadors for and practitioners of community-led development and ethical media. Mama Hope is a nonprofit organization that works to help communities achieve lasting, self-directed prosperity by challenging a broken aid system. Kyla studied Sociology/Anthropology and Race and Ethnic Studies at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.
Hannah Litfin is the Development and Events Coordinator at Loaves & Fishes where she oversees the majority of the organization's fundraising efforts. Her previous experiences include research on at-risk youth in Amsterdam and an internship at Cultivate International. She has been a part of the MINN Summit Planning Committee since 2018 and most recently served as one of the 2019 MINN Summit Co-Chairs.
Nicholas is currently a Team Lead Project Manager for United Language Group, a language translation company. 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.
Yodit is a multifaceted international development professional with local and global experience in program management, monitoring and evaluation, education management, and business systems improvement. Yodit holds a Master's in International Sustainable Development Practice and brings rich experience from the nonprofit, public, and private fields. She's thrilled to serve as a board member for the Minnesota International NGO Network.
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.
Rodolfo Gutierrez is the Executive Director of HACER. He is greatly committed to working with those interested in drawing a state of Minnesota where disparities tend to be eliminated, and not based on ethnic or cultural differences anymore. Originally from Mexico, Rodolfo carries previous experience in research in Mexico and the U.S., which has been extremely useful while working with difference and diverse communities, not only Latino. His formal education includes History (bachelor's and PhD) and Demography (MS), with extensive experience in research on demographic change. He offers a strong background in quantitative and qualitative research with an emphasis on immigration, education, healthcare access, and cultural incorporation of diverse communities. As part of his work, Rodolfo has worked together with over 100 organizations in Minnesota.
Tyler is a Community Solutions Fellow at Community Reinvestment Fund, a national nonprofit that works to address social and economic inequity through new financial solutions. He has a background in biology, social entrepreneurship, and international development and is passionate about cross-sector innovation. Since 2014, Tyler has also directed a social venture in Loreto, Peru supporting sustainable malaria prevention.
Karen Baumgaertner, Karen Baumgaertner Consulting