Youthprise Leadership

Wokie Weah

(612) 564-4858 ext. 2 

As President of Youthprise, Wokie provides executive leadership and vision, works in partnership with the board of directors and brokers relationships to accelerate leadership, innovation and systems for underserved Minnesota youth. Read more ...

Marcus Pope

Vice President
(612) 564-4858 ext. 6

Marcus Pope currently serves as Vice President for Youthprise. In this role, Marcus works closely with the President, overseeing grantmaking, development, communications, policy advocacy, and special initiatives. Read more ...

Our Staff

Melissa Boone

Executive Assistant 
(612) 564-4858 ext. 90 

Melissa has an established background in customer service, leadership, new hire, and ongoing training and employee coaching. At Youthprise, Melissa provides full administrative support to the president and board of directors. Outside of work, her children keep her fairly busy and that is fine by her. However, when she makes time for herself she enjoys seeing live music, cooking, and being in the sun.

Guiding Quote: “Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” - Toni Morrison

Fayise Abrahim

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Fayise works to advance key organizational initiatives and special projects while joining coalitions, task forces, and workgroups on the president's behalf. She also leads the advancement team and cross-sector projects both within the organization and with external collaborators. Over the last ten years, she's been rooted in social justice, racial justice, community-based research, community organizing, and youth advocacy.
Outside of Youthprise, Fayise is a published writer, poet, and songwriter. You can find her writing in The BreakBeat Poets: Volume II Black Girl Magic, the 2019 Spring Edition of the Yellow Medicine Review and printed on the sidewalks at the intersection of Franklin and East 25th Street in Seward, Minneapolis.

Guiding Quote: “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called Yesterday and the other is called Tomorrow. Today is the right day to Love, Believe, Do and mostly Live. - Dalai Lama

Maurice Nins

Grants & Compliance Officer 
(612) 564-4858 ext. 3 

Maurice Nins

Maurice has over twenty five years of experience working in the fields of non-profit and government. During much of that time, he focused on youth development, racial justice, and public safety issues. He is responsible for providing funding, resources, and technical assistance to oganizations that work on youth development issues.  You can reach out to Maurice to learn more about funding and all things related to barbecue.

Guiding Quote: “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Christa DeBoer

Nutrition Program Director 
(612) 564-4858 ext. 89 

Christa leads the vision and builds the capacity of Youthprise’s Nutrition Program. She is responsible for all aspects of the program and supports Youthprise’s network of Nutrition Program participants. Christa earned a degree in Dietetics from Iowa State University and has a background working in food service and nutrition education. You should reach out to Christa to learn more about our Nutrition Program and to tap into her extensive nutrition expertise. As a young person Christa credits her relationships with strong independent women for helping her to succeed.

Colleen Jordan

Nutrition Program Manager 
(612) 564-4858 ext. 95 

As the Nutrition Program Manager, Colleen monitors and supports meal sites for Youthprise's Nutrition Program. She is responsible for conducting site visits, assessment, daily compliance paperwork, and site staff trainings. She graduated with a degree in Nutrition in 2015 and served with Americorps in Utah as a Meals Manager. You can reach out to Colleen to learn more about regulation, interest in becoming a site, and an occasional bad joke.

Guiding Quote: “To live is one of the rarest things in the world, most people just exist." -Oscar Wild

Shoua Cha

Nutrition Program Associate

Shoua graduated with a BA in Nutrition, Dietetics concentration. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, taking long walks, traveling, and tasting new cuisines and desserts. As the Nutrition Program Associate Shoua works collaboratively and assists the Nutrition Director and Coordinator in conducting site visits, assessments, paperwork, and other tasks.

Guiding Quote: “ Be the change that you wish to see in the world.- Mahatma Gandhi

My Bui

Program & Grants Administrator 
(612) 564-4858 ext. 85




My supports the grantmaking initiatives of Youthprise and provides technical assistance to youth-focused organizations. She graduated with a focus in Political Science and worked in Chicago at an equity-based philanthropy that funds youth-serving organizations prior to coming to Youthprise. You can reach out to My to learn more about our grant programs or if you’re interested in crafting and art.

Guiding Quote: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Cameron Downey

Grants Associate

As Grants Associate, Cameron works to support Youthprise’s grant crafting and management undertakings. A lifelong Northsider and recent graduate of Columbia University, having majored in Environmental Science and Fine Art, Cameron carries with her a passion for community engagement, creative problem solving and learning new skills of all kinds. You can reach out to her for all things grant-related and art-inclusive.

Guiding Quote: “There are two ways to worry words. One is hoping for the greatest possible beauty in what is created. The other is to tell the truth.” - June Jordan

Cora Marquez

Program & Grants Manager

Cora Márquez (she/her) has over a decade of experience in the nonprofit  and philanthropic sector in Chicago. Growing up in Minnesota as a daughter to a Mexican immigrant, Cora is deeply committed to Social Justice and Racial Equity. Cora hopes to bring her full self and all her identities as well as years of experience back to the Twin Cities.  Cora will manage grantmaking processes for Youthprise as well as the Believe to Build initiative. Reach out to Cora for any technical assistance needs as well as to learn more about grant opportunities.

Guiding Quote: “Your no makes the way for your yes. Boundaries create the container within which your yes is authentic. Being able to say no makes yes a choice" - adrienne maree brown

Libby Rau

Senior Innovation Officer 
(612) 564-4858 ext. 7 

Libby Rau develops a statewide infrastructure for youth engagement in philanthropy and is responsible for providing strategic thinking and innovative strategies for engaging youth in all areas of the organization. She has 15 years of experience with youth service organizations, specifically in program management and philanthropy. She is responsible for identifying strategies, program opportunities and partnerships that will advance the mission of Youthprise.

Guiding Quote: “Step forward into growth or step back into comfort.”

Claire Dunlap

Director of Organizational Effectiveness 
(612) 564-4858 ext. 5 

Claire leads and implements strategies to advance overall organizational effectiveness at Youthprise. This includes setting the evaluation agenda to measure external organizational impact and improving internal organizational functioning by advancing solutions around structure, human relations, power, and culture. Claire has an MA in Organizational Leadership and Evaluation and is trained in teaching therapeutic yoga. You can reach out to Claire to learn more about organizational strategy; yoga and alignment; or her dogs, Luis and Remington.

Guiding Quote: “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed; happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.”

Neese Parker

Youth Engagement Manager 
(612) 564-4858 ext. 97 

Neese coordinates youth engagement at Youthprise. This includes providing support to the young people partnering with Youthprise and facilitating programmatic initiatives such as YouthBank and the YPAR network. Neese previously served a term with the Minnesota Youth Council and is trained in Design Thinking facilitation. Contact Neese to learn more about her knowledge of art history or to learn about how to infuse youth voice in design thinking.

Nadia Linoo 

Research Manager

Nadia Linoo manages the Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) network, grants, and programs. Her passion for research, specifically YPAR, was ignited after experiencing traditional research models all too often not centering nor respecting young and/or marginalized folks. Nadia’s background includes a B.S. in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota and past work involving mental health, youth program coordinating, refugee/immigrant support, organizing on the UMN campus and photography.

Guiding Quote: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”― Rumi

Aimee Vue 

Youth Philanthropy Manager

Aimee is the go-to person for all things Youthbank. Having several experiences in startups, she wants to channel her passion for building and scaling into Youthbank by making it a nationwide program. Her background includes a BA from Brown University, working on designing kombucha popsicles, and navigating the commerce committee at the MN legislature. Unabashedly from Minnesota, she has a deep passion for anything cheese-related, a strong aversion for unnecessary niceties, and a long history of figuring out how we can do better when we all do better.

Guiding Quote: “True love allows you to preserve your freedom and the freedom of your beloved.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

James Miller

Youth Philanthropy Fellow

As the Youth Philanthropy Fellow, James provides support to the YouthBank Program. Having participated in YouthBank himself, he is eager to help expand the program’s reach and engage young people from all corners of Minnesota. His background includes a BA from Gustavus Adolphus College, multiple years of facilitation experience, conference planning, and urban farming. You can contact James to learn more about YouthBank, talk about plants, or swap book recommendations.

Guiding Quote:“How we are at the small scale is how we are at the large scale” -Adrienne Maree Brown

Alejandra Lemus Rivera

Mission Advancement Manager 
(612) 564-4858 ext. 1 

Alejandra has a well seasoned background in administration and working with diverse populations. As Mission Advancement Manager, Alejandra plays a lead role in creating opportunities for various stakeholders to get more engaged with Youthprise's mission. She is experienced in big picture planning, strategic and analytical thinking, and creating an atmosphere of harmony and calmness.

Guiding Quote: “If you don't live by the applause of man, you won't die by their criticism.”

Melissa Mitchell

Director of Partnerships 
(612) 564-4858 ext. 81 

Melissa oversees management, technical support and the cultivation of positive relationships with public, private and non-profit community partners at Youthprise. She has 11 years of experience in youth development, project management and capacity building. Her strengths include positivity, connectedness and empathy. Melissa is a mother and enjoys being a positive role model for those seeking holistic healing and purpose-driven lives.

Guiding Quote: “The sun keeps shining...don't let anyone try and dim your light when you were created to shine!" -Original

Matt Norris

Policy Director & Director of Minnesota Afterschool Advance  
(763) 202-9012

Matt leads Minnesota Afterschool Advance, a program Youthprise operates collaboratively with Venn Foundation, which helps families who meet income guidelines leverage the Minnesota K-12 Education Tax Credit to pay for out-of-school time programs.  Matt has worked in youth development for over a decade and has a JD from the University of Minnesota Law School.  You can reach out to Matt to learn more about participating in activities through Minnesota Afterschool Advance, offering out-of-school time activities through the program, or to chat about the most recent Vikings game.

Maya Nguyen

Minnesota Afterschool Advance Associate

Maya helps drive the day-to-day operations of the Minnesota Afterschool Program. This includes assisting families with the program application and ordering/registration process along with recruiting service providers and supporting them throughout their relationship with MAA. Maya earned a Bachelor's degree in Finance and Human Resources from the Carlson School of Management and has over six years of customer service experience. You can reach out to Maya to learn more about the Minnesota Afterschool Program or to discuss furniture flipping or woodworking.

Guiding Quote: "I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance." - Pablo Casals

Noah Jordan 

Director of Content & Marketing

As the Director of Content & Marketing for Youthprise, Noah has a knack for creating content, telling stories, and building awareness in print, the digital space, and through social media. For the majority of his career, he has worked in the private sector, but among those experiences, there was one common denominator: his passion for communicating with and telling stories about individuals, businesses, and other organizations. Through a series of serendipitous events, Noah is ready to bring his decade of experience to the nonprofit world to shake things up a bit and work alongside Youthprise to amplify their ongoing mission.

Guiding Quote: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou

Law Thao

Communications Specialist

Law is part of the communications team, he works on the graphic designs, photos and video content for Youthprise. Incorporating his creative skills in storytelling, he hopes to inspire others to see the importance of youth work. Law received his BA from Hamline University Digital Media Arts with a focus in Marketing/Advertisement and a minor in Nonprofit Management.

Guiding Quote: “Creativity Is Intelligence Having Fun.” – Albert Einstein

Tracey Mittelstadt

Finance Director 
(612) 564-4858 ext. 86 

As the Finance Director, Tracey is responsible for the overall financial operations of Youthprise. In addition to a B.S. in accounting, she has over eight years of non-profit accounting experience. Tracey is passionate about increasing financial literacy and works continuously to improve communication and collaboration between program and finance.

Guiding Quote: “Every new day is a chance to change your life.”

Lynne Matthews

Sr. Advancement Consultant

Lynne Matthews is an experienced communication and development professional, with a 25-year background in grant, business, and promotional writing; event management; community engagement; and fundraising. Lynne specializes in working with organizations that address public health, youth development, education, and workforce development, particularly among marginalized populations. She has a strong affinity for serving nonprofits that view their work through a lens of racial equity and social justice. Lynne is a graduate of the University of Maryland, where she earned a BS in Journalism, with an emphasis in Public Relations.

Guiding Quote: “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napoleon Hill

Aisha (aka Adyiam) Kimbrough

Development Associate

Aisha (aka Adyiam) as a Development Associate supports and helps organize grant details and data entry. She graduated from Whitman College in 2019 with a B.A. in Politics and Global Studies. She spent 2 years teaching English in Spain and loves to travel. Aisha also has spent several years in community organizing and youth programming in her hometown, Worthington, where she advocates for BIPOC, immigrant/refugee communities. You can reach out to Aisha for all things grant-related as well as international travel, politics, jazz music, and spirituality.

Guiding Quote: "Remember where you came from to know where you're going" - Unknown

Shamim Yarrow

MAA Community Navigator
(612) 547-9756 

Shamim graduated with a degree in International Business Administration with a major in marketing. She has a passion for working with people in the community that developed while she worked for a locally owned pharmacy. Having the ability to speak Somali, English and Swahili, she helps with translations with all three languages. Outside of work, Shamim enjoys painting and expressing herself through art.

Guiding Quote: "Technique and ability alone do not get you to the top; it is the willpower that is most important." - Junko Tabei (The first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest)

Janelle Hosfield

MAA Community Navigator
(612) 568-8770 

As a Community Navigator with MN Afterschool Advance, Janelle supports families as they access funding to help pay for out-of-school time enrichment activities. Janelle has her Masters in Social Work from the University of IL-Chicago and has experience working with youth and families in a variety of settings. One of her greatest joys in life is being a mom to her foster and adopted children. Janelle enjoys yoga fitness classes, cooking and tasting new foods, and trying not to be confused with her identical twin sister!

Guiding Quote: "Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God." - The Prophet Micah

Board of Directors

*Denotes Youth Board Directors


Thompson Aderinkomi, Co-Chair

Co founder and CEO, Nice Healthcare

Chad Lassen, Treasurer

Principal, Clifton Larson Allen LLP

Executive Staff

Wokie Weah

President & CEO, Youthprise

Melissa Boone

Executive Assistant, Youthprise


Nichole White

Vice President, and General Manager Express Scripts, a Cigna Company

Dan Haugen

PhD, Retired Nonprofit Administrator

Elizabeth Zalanga

Student, St. Paul College

Deneene Graham

Dr. Jennifer Waltman

Kalid Ali*

Student, Macalester College

Darian Lofton*

Jonathan Nudler

Essense Blackenmore

Lincoln Bacal*

Student, Minerva University

Leah Cox*

Student, Minnesota State University Mankato

Hayat Muse*

Maria Sala

President, Amethyst Specialty Resources

Delina Haileab*

Student, Carleton College

Donte Curtis

CEO, Catch Your Dream

Coral Crutchfield*

Student, Highland Park Senior High

Anika Ward

Founder & Principal, Sankofa Leadership Network

Wylie Klawitter

Audit Manager, BWK Rogers PC


Interested in joining our board? Click here to apply!

Consultants & Interns

Marsha Pitts-Phillips

Communications Consultant

Christina Neubauer

Meal Access Intern

Alfonso J. Mayfield

Racial Equity Specialist