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 ...
As the Advancement and Communication officer, Lynnea oversees and develops Youthprise’s infrastructure for advancement and communication implementation. Lynnea has more than 22 years of experience in nonprofit and public administration - bringing a creative cultural competency and equity lens to innovate in areas of education, outdoor recreation, strategy design, relationship building, and governance. Lynnea knows how to strategically disrupt, inspire, and motivate using solution-oriented critique and hard work. Lynnea currently serves as Council Member for District 6 which she now calls home for the Metropolitan Council.
Guiding Quote: “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” - Harriet Tubman
Irina leads research to inform best practices in evaluation and working with young people. Irina leads Youthprise’s YPAR (youth participatory action research) network, grants and programs. Irina earned an MSW from the University of Minnesota and is a visual artist dedicated to producing affordable and accessible art in collaboration with her community. You can reach out to Irina to learn more about our research work or to learn from her extensive knowledge of herbal healing.
Guiding Quote: “Our duty is to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” -Assata Shakur
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. You can reach out to Melissa for general organization information, or if you need makeup and hair advice.
Guiding Quote: “Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” - Toni Morrison
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.
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.”
As the Nutrition Program Coordinator, 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
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.”
Gen supports the advancement team to execute the Youthprise’s Major Gift Campaign and accomplish larger development goals for the organization. Gen received her BA from Hamline University in Sociology and Studio Art. Prior to working at Youthprise, Gen worked at the Minnesota Museum of American Art in their development department and at Praxis International in their Advocacy Learning Center program.
Guiding Quote: “We have to save each other. It’s the only way to save ourselves.” - Eboo Patel
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
Tracey conducts the majority of financial transactions and ensures that all staff are compliant with standards. In addition to a B.S. in accounting and over 5 years of experience in non-profit accounting, Tracey brings her expertise in memes to all staff emails and updates. Outside of her commitment to cute kittens, you can reach out to her to learn more about non-profit accounting and the management of restricted funds.
Guiding Quote: “Every new day is a chance to change your life.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Maya works with the communications team to manage the editorial calendar; whether writing partner profiles for the blog, editing physical reports and papers, drafting and scheduling social media posts, or analyzing our success in reaching the right audiences. She is excited about to applying the storytelling skills developed through freelance writing at Youthprise. She is passionate about using plain, vivid language and explanatory graphics to demystify complex systems and create accessibility for all kinds of audiences. Outside of work, Maya is a California transplant, a secret otaku, a bunny mom, a socially-anxious social justice bard, and a speculative fiction writer.
Guiding Quote: “What doesn't treat you gently doesn't deserve your dedication.” –Chani Nicolas
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.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
As the Policy Coordinator, Ladan supports the development of policy objectives and strategy to advance the mission and values of the organization. In addition, she provides monitoring and evaluation for the East African Youth Economic development grants. Ladan has a BA in Global Studies with a concentration in Human Rights and Justice, and has experience working with local public entities and nonprofit organizations. To learn more about Youthprise’s policy objectives and East African Youth Economic development grant funding, you can reach out to Ladan.
Guiding Quote: “If you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be." -Maya Angelou
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
Board of Directors
*Denotes youth Board Directors
Thompson Aderinkomi, Co-Chair
Founder and CEO Relate Today INC.
Renelle Mensah, Co-Chair *
Student, Cornell University
Chad Lassen, Treasurer
Principal, Clifton Larson Allen LLP
Antonio Cardona, MPA, Secretary
Director, Urban Institute, Pillsbury United Communities, Public Allies
President & CEO, Youthprise
Executive Assistant, Youthprise
Maher Abduselam *
CPA, AGM Financial
VP, Health Services Medica
Luis Salado-Herrera *
Associate Manager - Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, Best Buy
Retired, President of the Adler Graduate School
Director of the Innovations Team, City of Minneapolis
Elizabeth Zalanga *
Student, St. Paul College
Student, Breck School
Environmental Justice Intern, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
CEO, Catch Your Dream