David Kraft (second year member)

Marketing and Communications VISTA, MIGIZI 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.

 

David Langley

Community Engagement Specialist, All Parks Alliance for Change (APAC)

David is from Rochester, NY, and a graduate of SUNY Brockport in 2014 with an M.P.A in Nonprofit Management. He enjoys camping, drinking delicious beers, and general tomfoolery.

 

Grete Oanes 

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

Grete grew up in Moorhead, MN. She graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN with a BA in Political Science and Environmental Studies. While at Concordia she was involved in multiple sustainability focused clubs and volunteered at the local Rape and Abuse Crisis Center. For the last five years, she has worked for Registration and Transportation team at the Concordia Language Villages, a language immersion summer camp that prepares young people to be responsible global citizens. Grete also enjoys listening to podcasts, reading, being outside, and spending time with family and friends.

I am really looking forward to working with my organization. I went to a luncheon they hosted earlier this summer and was inspired by their work and relationships with the young girls they serve. I can't wait to get started and help support that work. I am hoping to develop positive relationships with those that I am working with and gain more knowledge about the struggles that immigrant and refugee people are facing in Minnesota. I am also hoping to learn more about different styles communication and the role it can play in an organization. 

 

 

Jessica Del Fiacco

Volunteer & Communication SpecialistMinnesota Indian Women's Resource Center (MIWRC)

Jessica graduated from Macalester College in the spring of 2016 with a BA in geography and minors in English and environmental studies. Since then, she has worked as an Assistant Market Manager for Neighborhood Roots farmers markets, as a Communications Coordinator for local environmental non-profit WaterLegacy, in grant administration for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, along with a few other things. She is looking forward to returning to community-focused work in her position with the Minnesota Indian Woman's Resource Center. 

 

Joy Hammer

Program Specialist, Ka Joog

Joy graduated from Yonsei University in South Korea with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Political Science. Before becoming the VISTA fellow at Ka Joog, she worked for an ESL university preparation program in Massachusetts. This is also her second AmeriCorps program after volunteering previously with the MN Alliance with Youth as a Promise Fellow. Joy has a strong interest in different cultures coming together, education equity, and social justice which led her to pursue another year with AmeriCorps.

 
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Kaitlyn Szabo

Organization Strengthener, Exodus Lending

Kaitlyn is originally from Illinois and first came to Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota. After recently graduating from the U with Bachelor's degrees in Urban Studies and Sociology of Law, she is eager to begin working with Exodus Lending to work towards solving the problems people and communities experiencing poverty are facing today and continue to explore issues of social inequality in the US. In her free time, she spends her days watching (but not playing) baseball and hockey, and reading.

 

kathleen mccaffery

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Development Specialist, American Indian Family Center

Kathleen grew up in the Chicago area and recently graduated from Simpson College with a B.A. in English and minored in Sociology. During herstudy aborad semester at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland Kathleen learning about the historical conflict of the country and its current sociological impacts. She is passionate about serving others and in my free time she enjoys exploring and be outdoors as well as binge Netflix. 

 

Madeline Hyde (second year member)

Evaluation & 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.

 

Madeline Kiehn

Communications & Sustainability Specialist, Standpoint

Maddie grew up in Northeastern Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2016 with a major in Communications and a minor in Hispanic Studies. Volunteer trips with Habitat for Humanity Global Village helped her to discover her passion for working with underserved communities—both foreign and domestic. She believes her service with AmeriCorps VISTA and Standpoint will lay the foundation for her future in the nonprofit sector.

 

Meredith Bensen

Community Capacity Building Specialist, Casa de Esperenza

Meredith grew up in Northern Wisconsin and graduated from Macalester College in 2017. She double majored in Hispanic Studies and International Studies. Her junior year was spent in Madrid, Spain completing a language immersion program and cultivating her love of the Spanish language. Her senior year she interned with Casa de Esperanza during which she found out about the AmeriCorps VISTA program and the VISTA position within the organization. 

 
 

Nadia Hecker-O'Brien

Outreach Coordinator, Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota (CAIR-MN)

Nadia grew up in a secular Jewish household in the Pacific Northwest. Through her upbringing and involvement in the Jewish community she became increasingly interested in religion and Semitic peoples and graduated with a BA in religious studies and critical identities studies from Beloit College in 2015. In her studies she focused primarily on women and Islam with an aim to uncover misconceptions as well as the ways in which colonialism and imperialism impact Muslim communities. In her free time Nadia enjoys baking, biking, and cooking of all kinds. 

 
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Sharon Rebar

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

Sharon is an older, 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, but 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 in the domestic Peace Corps to serve poor minority 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.

 

Shelby Rutzick

 Communication & Development Specialist, Frogtown Farm

Shelby grew up in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Urban Studies. During her undergraduate career, she was involved in volunteering at local schools and holding leadership positions in various student groups. Through her involvement on and off campus, she discovered her passion to work with nonprofit organizations. She is interested in learning about strategies and dedicating efforts to create more equitable and resilient communities, especially along the lines of food systems and food justice this year. Shelby is excited to serve as Frogtown Farm’s first MCN VISTA! 

 

Suzanne Olive

Community Engagement Specialist, Karen Organization of Minnesota (KOM)

Suzanne Olive is from Saint Paul, MN and graduated from the University of Minnesota in May of 2017 with a B.A. in Sociology, a minor in Spanish Studies, and a second minor in Chinese. She has always been passionate about learning languages, and her studies in Sociology helped her uncover another passion: social justice. Working at a non-profit, specifically geared towards immigrant groups, stood out as an opportunity to combine both of those passions. Through her church in Saint Paul, Suzanne came to know many Karen people, who are refugees from Burma and Thailand, and is now married into a Karen family. She has known about the Karen Organization of Minnesota for some time, and was excited to see that they were a host site for a VISTA position through MCN. Suzanne is looking forward to serving the Karen community in MN and developing her professional skills.