MCN and AmeriCorps VISTAs

As an intermediary for the AmeriCorps VISTA program, MCN manages VISTA members assigned to different projects within the community aimed at fighting poverty and investing in individuals, families, and the community.

VISTA members commit to serve full-time for a year at nonprofits that strengthen, inform, and connect with immigrant and refugee communities and communities of color. With passion, commitment, and hard work, VISTAs create or expand programs to build the capacity of these critical organizations in our community.


Jackie Schell

Systems Development Specialist, African Development Center (ADC)

Jackie graduated from the University of Minnesota this spring with a degree in Global Studies. She will be spending her year as a VISTA as the Systems Development Specialist at the African Development Center where she will be helping create a data management system and a more robust volunteer program. In her free time she enjoys knitting, hammocking, and exploring the Twin Cities craft breweries and restaurants.

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Jacob Alex

Development Specialist, American Indian Family Center

Jacob graduated from Washington University in St. Louis (Wash U) with a Biology and Healthcare Management degree in the spring of 2018. There he was involved with organizations such as Strive for College, Food Recovery Network, Sigma Chi, and College Council as well as medical research at the Wash U School of Medicine. In his free time, Jacob enjoys playing soccer, watching Game of Thrones, and working to improve the lives of others.


Tyra Payer

Evaluation & Communications Specialist, Dream of Wild Health

Tyra Payer (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) is originally from Belcourt, North Dakota. She moved to Fargo and graduated from North Dakota State University in 2017. Tyra completed her first year of service in the Public Allies AmeriCorps program and led community engagement at a neighborhood organization. She plans on continuing serving Native communities after she completes her year as a VISTA.


Anika Johnson

Outreach/Fundraising Specialist, Exodus Lending

Anika Johnson is a recent graduate from the University of St. Thomas where she gained a passion for social justice and fighting inequity. She hopes to learn community development skills that she can continue to use as she moves forward in her career. 


Sharon Rebar (Second year VISTA)

Administrative Systems Developer, Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota (LACM)

Sharon is a retired social work administrator with two adult children and four young adult grandchildren all of whom live out-of-state. In the past three years, Sharon was accepted into the Peace Corps twice and served briefly in the Republic of Georgia and the Philippines. Due to circumstances beyond her control she was unable to complete service in either location. Abandoning her dream of serving in the Peace Corps, Sharon decided to submit an application to AmeriCorps VISTA to serve people by working in a minority-led nonprofit agency. Much to her delight, Sharon will be working as an Administrative Systems Developer at the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota (LACM) in Minneapolis, MN.


Tori Dylla

Community Outreach Coordinator, Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute (MOI)

Tori is an energetic new gradauate from the University of MN Twin Cities where they centered their studies around human rights and justice. Tori began their nonprofit career working with All Parks Alliance for Change to preserve manufactured housing as a source of decent and affordable housing in the Midwest. They now serve with MOI to to build the organization’s capacity to work with underserved youth in order to develop essential writing and creative thinking skills that lead to academic success.

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Jacob Vang

Marketing & Communications Specialist, MIGIZI

Jacob graduated from the University of North Dakota (UND) with a Marketing and Management degree in the spring of 2018. There he was involved with many opportunities such as being a part of UND’s Television Center/Marketing Creative Services as a brand journalist and having the privilege to conduct a market research project based in China. He is eager to apply his experiences and knowledge to better benefit the community and society as a whole. In his free time, Jacob travels out of the state, explores the Twin Cities for good eats and cafes, does photography, and is learning to become an aircraft pilot. He also considers himself a “music junkie” and deadpan comedian.

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Kat McCaffery

VISTA Leader, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Kat grew up in the Chicago area and graduated from Simpson College with a B.A. in English. Her first term in AmeriCorps was with La Puente in Alamosa, Colorado as a Summer Volunteer Coordinator. She served a second AmeriCorps term as a VISTA Development Specialist at the American Indian Family Center in East St. Paul. This year she will be serving as MCN's VISTA Leader where she will be responsible for supporting the personal and professional growth of the VISTA members in this year's cohort. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and being outdoors as well as binging Netflix.


Hannah passmore

Volunteer & Communications Coordinator, Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center (MIWRC)

Hannah graduated from the College of Wooster in Wooster, OH in the spring of 2018 with a degree in Global and International Studies. She was able to focus much of her academic research on issues in global health, including research conducted abroad in Switzerland. Previously Hannah served as a Summer VISTA in Ohio with a program focused on sustainable community-based agriculture and food access. Hannah is passionate about community-centered health and development. She is excited to be back in Minnesota to work with the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center where she will be focusing on volunteer coordination and communications. In her free time, she loves to cook and bake, read poetry, and attempt to make art and music.


Taylor gauthier

Community Organizer, Neighborhood Development Center (NeDA)

Taylor graduated from Marquette University in May 2017 with a degree in History. After graduation, she did an AmeriCorps term with CollegePossible-Milwaukee, which was a fantastic learning experience. Orginally from Minneapolis, she wanted to move back and pursue service opportunities in the cities. She is extremely excited to work with the Neighborhood Development Alliance as their Community Organizer, connecting residents with the larger St. Paul community. After her service, she plans to head to grad school, pursuing a masters in Public Policy. In her free time, Taylor enjoys reading, drinking coffee, learning as much as possible, and traveling when she can.


Lydia Maendel

House Development CoordinatorNorthside Residents Redevelopment Council (NRRC)

Lydia graduated from Baldwin Wallace University in May 2018 with a degree in Sustainability, minoring in Urban Studies and Public and Nonprofit Management. She will be spending her VISTA year with the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council (NRRC), creating and implementing a sustainability plan for the NRRC house and its environmental initiatives. After her service, she plans to get a Master in Urban Planning to support her passion for urban sustainability. In her free time, she is looking forward to exploring the Twin Cities, thrifting, and listening to audiobooks.


Ellen Wallingford

Communications & Sustainability Specialist, Standpoint

Ellen recently graduated from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN with a degree in Women and International Development and Sociology. She will be working with Standpoint, a legal aid nonprofit, to develop their communications capacity and social media outreach. She is looking forward to working and gaining experience in legal advocacy and the nonprofit sector and hopes to attend law school in the near future. She enjoys traveling, having visited India and Germany in college, and hopes to continue traveling as much as possible. She also enjoys exploring the cities, yoga and long walks, cooking, reading, and discovering new music.


Pakou Khang

Communications & Development Coordinator,  Women's Initative for Self-Empowerment (WISE)

After graduating from St. Olaf College with a BA in English and Asian Studies, Pakou completed a year of AmeriCorps in Early Childhood Development work and then went on to serve two years as an English Teacher in Peace Corps Thailand. There, she not only helped develop the English curriculum, but she also facilitated leadership, life skills, and gender equity sessions with Thai youths. Pakou is passionate about gender empowerment, working with underrepresented communities, and learning about different cultures! With the Women's Initiative for Self-Empowerment, she will be developing new fundraising strategies to support the professional development and education of immigrant and refugee women.