Alana DuLyn

Development and Outreach Specialist, HACER

Alana grew up in Michigan and graduated from Alma College in 2016, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Anthropology. Her junior year she spent a semester in Oviedo, Spain practicing Spanish and studying the impact of immigration on the EU. The following year she spent time in New Delhi, India on a diplomacy initiative to start up a Model United Nations conference for high school students in collaboration with Alma College and the United Nations Information Center. Through these experiences she became interested in the impact nonprofits have on all aspects of social and economic development which led her to apply with HACER and Americorps VISTA.

"I have always known that I want a fulfilling career, something that can make a difference. The VISTA position at my site allowed me to have that and follow my passion for working with Latino communities all at once, an opportunity I couldn’t pass up!"

Anna Kaiser

Development Specialist, American Indian Family Center

Anna is from Toledo, Ohio. She studied History at Irish American University. Before becoming a VISTA, she was a high school history teacher and preschool aid. She has also been involved with Mosaic Ministries, a nonprofit which serves families in Toledo’s South Side. Anna has a strong interest in history, including narrative surrounding American Indian history and legal issues. 

"I joined because there are such a wide variety of benefits and the pros outweigh the cons: the adventure, the feel-good aspect of working for a nonprofit, the honor of working with another culture/group of people very different from me, the education award, the healthcare allowance, how it looks on my resume, and the professional development."


David Kraft

Marketing and Communications VISTAMIGIZI Communications, Inc.

David majored in Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota, having transferred from Minneapolis Community & Technical College. He focused on interpersonal communication and rhetorical studies, and also designed a webpage. At both institutions, he was passionate about being involved in his student community, taking active roles in multiple student organizations. He has years of experience with volunteering, such as tutoring adults and children with diverse backgrounds and working with youth at a hospital. David has American Indian heritage with membership in the Lac Courte Orielles tribe. He is excited about working with an organization that serves the American Indian community, setting up a virtual alumni network, revising their website, and managing their social media, while preparing future VISTAs to take over his work when his year is over.

 "I joined VISTA to use the gifts given to me to give to others. I want to serve organizations, not by simply doing their work for them, but by empowering them to work more sustainably, efficiently, and effectively."

Edita Sabovic

Inclusion and Engagement Resource Specialist, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Edita graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelor's degree in Public Administration and a minor in Nonprofit Leadership. While completing her studies she was active both on and off campus in international and multicultural organizations and events. In her spare time she enjoys being outdoors and taking time to volunteer in her local community.

"I decided to become involved with the AmeriCorps VISTA program in order to help in the effort to fight poverty in the United States, with a particular focus on refugee and immigrant communities of color. I am excited to be part of MCN as I will be able to contribute and work on projects that help strengthen communities and address their needs."

Emily Pence

Communication SpecialistHmong American Farmers Association

Emily grew up in Evanston and Peoria IL. She graduated from Carleton College in Northfield MN with a BA in American Studies. During undergrad, she was involved in volunteering at the local schools, creating a huge cooking club, farming and running. Last year she served at College Possible, an organization that helps low income students gain admission and succeed in college. She enjoys working with youth but is excited to pursue food justice, another passion of hers, this coming year at HAFA. She also loves spending time with her friends and family, cooking and eating, running, biking and reading!

"What motivated me to join the MCN VISTA program was a strong desire to give back to an important part of my Twin Cities Community that I am not particularly familiar with. I also knew that MCN would help develop valuable skills for working in the nonprofit sector."

Hannah Vansant-Ouellette

VISTA LeaderMinnesota Council of Nonprofits

Hannah is a Chinese transracial transnational adoptee who grew up in Southern California. She is a proud USC Trojan alumna graduating with a BA in Social Science (Psychology emphasis) and a minor in Children and Families in Urban America from the School of Social Work. After moving to the Twin Cities last summer she has been busy working at the Science Museum of Minnesota, serving a year with Minnesota Math Corps (a state AmeriCorps program), and volunteering with Families with Children from Asia (FCA) on their board as the Adoptee Liaison and Outreach Director. For this year, she will be serving as MCN's VISTA Leader organizing and facilitating professional development, providing one-on-one support, and managing recruitment and sustainability efforts for MCN's VISTA program. Hannah is excited to lead this year's MCN VISTA cohort as their VISTA Leader! 

"While there are endless national service opportunities, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits VISTA Program captivated me because its program enables their members to become immersed in the nonprofit sector with a team of support and in-depth professional development opportunities. There were no doubts in my mind, I wanted to be a part of the MCN VISTA Cohort 2016-2017 and lead a group of remarkable individuals to transform nonprofits serving or led by immigrant and refugee communities and communities of color."

Jato Wake

Fund Development and Volunteer Recruitment SpecialistAfrican Economic Development Solutions

Jato was born and raised in East Africa Oromia/Ethiopia. He graduated from Metropolitan State University as a double major with a Bachelors Degree in Accounting and Buisness Administration. While he was an undergrad he also volunteered at the Oromo Community Center of Minnesota. He helped immigrants and refugees get appointments at doctors offices, and government offices. He also helped connect them to more places where they could get help. He still does that. He enjoys spending time with his family, and working with numbers.

"I found Vista while I was searching for internship job; then I got that the mission & value of Vista is interested to me. So I decided to apply and volunteer for vista, and also to learn (develop communication skills) in many ways from different communities of Vista’s member. It also motivated me to put Vista’s volunteering experience on my resume."


Community Engagement Program Associate, Nexus Community Partners

Jocelyn was born in Baltimore, MD. After graduating from Goucher College in 2009, she went on to complete a Master of Science in Modern Chinese Studies at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford and a Master of Arts in Political Science at the University of Minnesota. While at U of M, she studied how community-based, global health nonprofits balanced the needs of beneficiaries with the demands of donors especially when beneficiaries and donors resided in different countries. She is a firm believer that non-profits should not only materially improve their beneficiaries’ lives but also tackle structural discrimination that prevents beneficiaries from having control over framing their own life plans. In her free time, she enjoys listening to Nina Simone and Bach. Walter Bishop in Fringe and Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project are her all-time favorite TV characters.

"The goal of ‘making poverty history’ can be daunting and abstract, but the work I share with community based organizations in making sure that community members have a say in how the light rail can help them lead healthier and better lives is very real and moving.  It’s our responsibility to make sure their voices change policies and light rail development throughout a long-term public works project."

Joshua Hutchings

Nonprofit Engagement Specialist, Nonprofits Assistance Fund

Joshua  recently worked for five years as a food service manager. In winter 2015 he earned a long-delayed BA from St. Catherine University in English and Women’s Studies with an unofficial concentration in gender diversity. He is interested in poverty, labor, equity, and accessibility for marginalized groups. Joshua is learning to perform glitch related tricks in a few video games. He plays some guitar and skateboards a little.

"I joined the MCN VISTA Program in order to gain experience in non-profit work at an introductory level. My organization serves other organizations, which appealed to me because I did not have to choose only one issue or population to work with."

Madeline Hyde

Evaluation and Communications Specialist, Dream of Wild Health

Maddie is serving as the Communications and Evaluations Specialist with Dream of Wild Health. She grew up in Fargo, ND and recently graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead with Bachelor's degrees in Studio Art and Global Development with a focus in environmental sustainability issues. She has a particular passion for sustainable agriculture and seed saving as tools to reclaim our food system and to eliminate poverty. Combining her experiences growing in the field and working behind a desk, she hopes to help build resilient and just food systems for all. She loves to drink coffee, grow plants, paint, and talk to others about their passions in life.

"When searching for my next step after undergrad, I knew that I wanted to act at a systems level to work for justice in my community. I joined VISTA, because it allowed me to do that while also gaining skills to work in the non-profit sector through a number of professional development opportunities."

Marissa Kurtz

Volunteer Program Specialist, Casa de Esperanza

Marissa is a Guatemalan transnational and transracial adoptee from Arlington, VA. She received her bachelors in English from Macalester College in 2015. During her time in the Twin Cities she wanted to strengthen her sense of community, so for two years she served as a youth mentor with Casa de Esperanza. Their curriculum focused on healthy relationship education and youth leadership development within the Twin Cities Latin@ community. She also spent the past several years as facilitator on Macalester's transnational/ transracial adoptee collective, a supportive space for those who share this identity. She is obsessed with black cats, Afrofuturism, and pupusas.

"I became a MCN Vista because this program equally values community engagement and community service. MCN Vista encourages me to build with my community."

Monica Pagani

Program SpecialistKa Joog

Monica grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and graduated from University of Michigan this spring where she studied Political Science and Statistics. Monica also spent a semester at Leiden University in the Netherlands. While at University of Michigan, Monica was involved in a student run nonprofit that helped facilitate volunteer opportunities in the city of Detroit.

"I chose MCN VISTA because MCN provides an opportunity to continue learning about the nonprofit sector and provides the support necessary for professional development. The MCN VISTA program allows me the opportunities to pursue my academic and career interests in a professional and supportive environment."


Nick Smoger

Entrepreneurs of Color Program Coordinator, LegalCORPS

Nick grew up in rural Wheaton, MN, and graduated from St. John’s University, MN, in May 2016 with a B.A. in Political Science. In college, he spent a summer interning with a non-governmental organization in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. He also studied abroad for a semester in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  After his year as a VISTA with LegalCORPS, Nick hopes to go to law school and eventually find a career in the federal or state judiciary. He enjoys biking, camping, and listening to music.

"I decided to join the MCN VISTA Program because I believe helping to orient disadvantaged communities towards greater efficacy, leadership, and upward mobilization is imperative to building a stronger Minnesota for everyone. Often, community development work feels slow, small, and incremental, but I hope when we consider our work together, we'll see obstacles transcended and lives improved."


Community Engagement SpecialistKaren Organization of Minnesota

Rebekah Jacobson is from Hanover, MN and graduated from North Central University in May 2015 with a B.A. in communication arts and a minor in international development. In 2014, she traveled to Thailand for three months with a nonprofit and met Karen refugees for the first time. When she arrived back in the Twin Cities, she learned that there were over 10,000 Karen people living in her own city. Her discovery sparked an interest in learning as much as possible about Karen people, which eventually led to a volunteer position and now a VISTA position at the Karen Organization of Minnesota. She has loved working at KOM for the past year and is excited to continue building her work at the organization for a second year. In her free time, she enjoys spending time within the Karen community, biking, and cooking food from around the world.

"I joined the AmeriCorps VISTA program because it was a good step into nonprofit work after graduating from college. I had desired to work at the organization I currently serve at, and being a VISTA has given me that opportunity plus a lot of extra benefits – professional development, networking, etc. – I did not know about before I began my service as a VISTA."

Reed Larsen

Administrative System Developer, Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota

Reed is a 2016 graduate of the University of Minnesota, Morris. There she learned to inform her passion for social justice with historic contextual understanding as well as analytic philosophical thinking (a B.A in History will do that to you)! Reed is the current VISTA at the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota where she works as an Administrative System Developer. Outside of her position at LACM Reed spends her time as an activist around LGBTQ rights, anti-racist organizing, and class equity. After her VISTA year, Reed will be pursuing graduate work in nursing and a career in HIV/AIDS, transgender, and reproductive healthcare.