MINN Summit

The MINN Summit is an annual conference offering local organizations and globally minded individuals a forum to connect, share, and learn. MINN’s annual Summit provides exciting professional development opportunities, offers insights, and sparks conversations that will propel international development success in a changing world.


  • Thursday, Oct. 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • Masks are required for all attendees 
  • Early bird Summit ticket prices from September 7-14 

Register now.

Questions? Email [email protected]org

Engagement in a Global World: How Minnesota NGOs Can Contribute to Enhancing US-African Strategic Partnership?

Presented by Books For Africa


Hilda Suka-Mafudze, Ambassador of the African Union to the United States of America


We're thrilled to announce our 2021 MINN Summit keynote speaker, Hilda Suka-Mafudze, Ambassador of the African Union to the United States of America. Born in Zimbabwe, Ambassador Suka-Mafudze is a seasoned diplomat with over two decades of professional experience in leading humanitarian activities, mediation, and human rights.

Born in Zimbabwe, Ambassador Suka-Mafudze is a seasoned diplomat  with over two decades of professional experience in leading humanitarian activities, mediation, and human rights. Her experience also spans a wide range of issues, with extensive knowledge in leadership skills, peace building and social issues including gender mainstreaming. 

H.E. Hilda Suka-Mafudze is the African Union Ambassador to the USA since October 2020. She was born in Zimbabwe. Ambassador Suka-Mafudze is a seasoned diplomat and political expert with over two decades of professional experience in African matters. She holds a Master of Arts (MA) Degree in International Relations and World Order from the University of Leicester as well as other academic degrees/diplomas in Sociology and gender development. She also holds other skills in leadership, diplomacy, mediation, post-conflict reconstruction and environment as well as humanitarian action and human rights, in interacting with relevant Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOS). She has served in the past as Ambassador of Zimbabwe in various countries, such as Sudan, South Sudan and Malawi.


We're are excited to welcome a group of highly talented panelists. They will discuss their experience starting and growing an INGO. The challenges, work life balance, expectations and learned lessons being a leader, especially within a small nonprofit.

Vijendra Agarwa, Founder | Vidya Gyan

Born in a village and educated in a government school, I was blessed to earn a Ph.D. in Physics in India. Not only my parents but the whole village poured their blessing toward my education. The blessings continued and I left India in 1973 for research assignments in Italy, Japan, and France until landing in the United States in 1978. Since then, I have been in public higher education/ academia both as a faculty member/researcher, and academic leadership position in many different universities. The last full-time job was as the Dean of Science and Engineering at Minnesota State, Mankato. Along the way, I also served as a Policy Analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and one-year with the MnSCU Chancellor and U of M President’s offices in the Twin Cities. Those experiences led to my transition from teaching to academic leadership.

I currently volunteer as President of a nonprofit named Vidya Gyan. It was co-founded by my wife, Indu Agarwal, M.D. and I in 2014. Vidya Gyan prides itself in its belief,“ Together we can Educate, Empower, and Enable every child to go farther, and Lift their Lives through Learning” Motivated from my own village background, we focus on improving the rural government schools because Every Child Matters, particularly the girl child. My other activities include reading, writing, speaking engagements, analyzing political issues and current events, and contributing toward improving society and transparency. Of late, my growing passions include freelance writing at the interface of policy, politics, and people, history of Nobel Prizes, learning about Dharmic traditions and practices and lost history of India.

Elaine Tymchak, Founder & Executive Director | Cultivate

Elaine is a Brazilian native with over 18 years of philanthropic and community development experience across much of the world. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry in Social Transformation, and has a Masters of Arts in International Development. Through teaching, advocacy, and challenging the status quo, she has dedicated her life to changing how the world does charity. An avid lover of people, knowledge, and the world’s diversity of culture, she is using her talents, experiences and networks to build a global movement through Cultivate.

Jill LaLonde, Executive Director | OneVillage Partners

Jill LaLonde is the Executive Director of OneVillage Partners, a Minnesota-based international NGO that implements community-led development projects in Sierra Leone.  She also serves as Adjunct Faculty at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota in the International Development program and at University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Global Studies Department.  Jill has more than 15 years of experience in the international development and nonprofit sectors, ranging from Gates-funded public health research in Northern Uganda to managing multi-million dollar USAID-funded projects across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.  Jill holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Minnesota and an MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics.

Sem Lafleur, Co-Founder & President | Technology Empowerment Research Center

Sem Lafleur is the Founder and President of the Technology Empowerment Research Center – TERC, and he is a Senior IT Program Manager at the Office for Business and Economic Development at the University of Minnesota. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and Environment from the American University of the Caribbean, and a Master of Science in Management of Technology from the University of Minnesota. His research interests include immersive technology, renewable energy, digital transformation, and industry 4.0.

Tony Sanneh, Founder & CEO | The Sanneh Foundation

Among the most successful American soccer players of his generation, Tony Sanneh enjoyed a 17-year professional soccer career.  Major career highlights include starring in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan, two Major League Soccer championships with D.C. United, and participation in the UEFA Champions League with Hertha Berlin during his six years in the German Bundesliga. At the height of his playing career, he created The Sanneh Foundation (Sanneh) to leverage the unique power of positive developmental relationships to create opportunities and social change for under-served youth from low-income families and communities of color. Since retiring from professional soccer in 2010 and becoming the organization’s full-time CEO, Sanneh has evolved into one of Minnesota’s leading youth development organizations by creating culturally responsive and equitable access to programs, opportunities and environments that empower youth and improve community well-being. In addition to his executive leadership role with The Sanneh Foundation, Tony Sanneh continues to serve the United States as a Sports Envoy on behalf of the Sports Diplomacy Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  He also continues to contribute directly to the sport of soccer in the United States as a member of Major League Soccer’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee.



How to enter and grow in the USAID market

Mike Shanley, CEO of AidKonekt Data

USAID distributed more than $21 billion last fiscal year. Attend this seminar to learn best practices for starting and growing your work with USAID. We will share USAID partnering best practices our firm has learned through supporting our client’s work with USAID and USAID prime implementers. Come learn how to start building your organization's USAID market strategy, and ways to get started as a subcontractor by connecting with established USAID primes. The seminar will cover how to learn about USAID funding opportunities, the USAID procurement process, and will give you tools you can take back to your organization to build and grow your USAID work. This will be targeted to international development and aid organizations based outside of Washington, D.C. that are interested in USAID funding. We will discuss changes under the Biden Administration, the New Partnerships Initiative, and USAID's direction under Administrator Samantha Power. Please bring your questions about working with USAID!

Circular Flow | What is it, and why should charities care?

Sasha Nicolle, Founder and CEO of Emanate International

Two primary models that nonprofits and NGOs use in developing countries are: are known as “Relief or humanitarian Aid” and “Development.” What is the differences are between the two, and why does defining that matter? Many people working (or volunteering for) humanitarian organizations have good intentions. However, the repercussions of applying a “relief” model for the long-term can be more harmful than helpful. In this interactive presentation Sasha Nicolle will discuss why using relief aid for a prolonged duration is detrimental to local economies. She will share a case study to demonstrate the impacts and will also offer ideas for nonprofits and NGOs to help people flourish sustainably. 

Learn more about Emanate International. Got questions? Email us at: [email protected]

Sustainability is About Caring for People: Approaching Sustainable Development as a Strategy to Create Impactful Businesses Run by Women

Karla Godoy, CFO of EcoCiclo and Fulbright Fellow

Karla will discuss her experience as the CFO of EcoCiclo, a StartUp that manufactures the first 100% biodegradable sanitary pad produced in Brazil and through the manufacturing process empowers women in situations of social and economic vulnerability by employing and giving them chances for personal development.

Putting Old Wine in New Wineskins: A New Paradigm to Solving World Problems

Rosemond Sarpong Owens, Author

Rosemond Sarpong Owens is a Pan African, mother, wife, storyteller, activist, seasoned Racial & Health Equity practitioner. Her interests include improving diversity and improving equity for populations experiencing inequities. A public health/health equity practitioner by training, she understands the struggles of underserved and priority populations.

She is the author of “Apples In A Seed- Unleashing The Unique You” and has recently launched, “The Lion’s Historian." Her goal is to amplify authentic voices as a way to mitigate against the issue of the lack of representation in Children’s books.

COVID-19 safety 


Since the beginning of the pandemic, MINN has continued to monitor national, state, and local guidance on public health and safety measures. As COVID-19 transmission rates continue to fluctuate, we continue to do so. As a result, and in an effort to keep our MINN Summit as safe as possible, we will be requiring all in-person attendees, speakers, and volunteers of the Summit to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations 

Upon arrival, all attendees will be required to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination, with the original record card or a viable copy of the card (including photos). If you do not have proof of vaccination, please provide proof of a negative test within 48 hours prior to the Summit.  

Please see additional details about the plan below. 

  1. Consider using the Docket mobile app, a free and secure digital option for Minnesotans to view and track their immunization records. 

  2. Remember that the mask mandate continues in all University of Minnesota buildings, including the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. This mandate is strictly implemented.

  3. Looking to get tested? Testing locations are widely available. 

  4. If you haven’t done so already, get vaccinated. It is free and easily accessible in most Minnesota communities. If you are uncertain about COVID-19 vaccines, learn the facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health

  5. Masks will be required for all attendees.

Thank you for your commitment to the safety and health of our community, and for adjusting with us as needed. We will continue to follow all state and local guidance, public health data, and local transmission rates. We encourage you to reach out with any questions or concerns. 

Stay safe, 

MINN Board and Summit Co-Chairs

Thank you so much to our sponsors, exhibitors, & community partners:

Conference Sponsor:

Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Keynote Sponsor:

Books for Africa

Gold Sponsors:

Land O'Lakes

Program Sponsors:

GHR Foundation - Registration Sponsor

Silver Sponsors:

MINNER Circle Sponsors:

Center for Victims of Torture

Karen Baumgaertner Consulting

Global Minnesota

Anole Sisters

Children's Heartlink

Mary's Pence

Bronze Sponsors:

Alight (formerly American Refugee Committee)

EOS International

Kayla Meyers

Masters of Development Practice (MDP) @ UMN

Nicholas Hayen

United Language Group

One Heart Health

Face to Face Health and Counseling

Nonviolent Peace Force

Fellows Sponsor:

McKnight Foundation



American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa (ARAHA)

Fair Anita

Lion's Historian

St. Catherine University

Master of Development Practice @UMN

Mary's Pence

Backpack EMR

Community partners

Afro Deli

Sponsor the MINN Summit!

See below for opportunities to sponsor this year's Summit.