SARAH DIXON – CEO and PRESIDENT
Sarah has 25 years of experience working across all areas of adolescent health and development, including intervention and treatment, counseling, education, and community-wide youth development. She has worked with thousands of young people in developing leadership, public service, advocacy, and positive social change efforts at local, state, and national levels.
A co-founder of Faribault’s Community of Promise Collaborative, she was appointed chair of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee by the Governor, and has served two four-year terms. She also serves on a number of local and statewide boards dedicated to the health and well-being of young people.
As one who loves her work, she quotes Margaret Wheatley: ”What brings us together is our compassion – our dream of how to make a difference for the good.” She also loves spending time with her family at Leech Lake and traveling.
RENEE ANDERSON – DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION and TRAINING
Renee provides direct support to Promise Fellow members and communities to ensure successful partnerships and service experiences. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2005, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Minneapolis at Edison High School. She is committed to supporting youth and families, and has done so in various capacities including education systems, academia, and social service organizations — locally and internationally. She holds dual graduate degrees in Social Work and Public Policy from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, focusing on child welfare policy, community organizing/advocacy, and public and nonprofit leadership. As a central Minnesota native, Renee embraces and enjoys the four seasons. She loves to explore and travel to visit friends and family, and will gladly sit down for coffee to discuss current events or an upcoming live show.
ASHLEY BARNES- AMERICORPS PROMISE FELLOW
Ashley, a recent graduate of Hamline University with an honors degree in Middle East Studies and History, works with the Minnesota Youth Council, helping to expand youth voice in policy-making circles across the state. She has worked with youth in several previous positions, including as a tutor with the Somali-American Parent’s Association and as a Model United Nations Trainer with the United Nations Association of Minnesota. She is particularly interested in democratic theory and in how the marginalization of various groups affects full participation in democracy.
MELISSA BURWELL- DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC INITIATIVES
Melissa Burwell, Director of Strategic Initiatives, provides strategic leadership and planning to the Training and Education Team. She develops relationships with Alliance partner organizations, bridging the youth development and education sectors to support youth success in schools. Her role is to coach and celebrate the work of AmeriCorps Promise Fellow Host sites and communities. Melissa joined the Alliance in 2004 and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Gordon College in Massachusetts and a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Higher Education from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. Outside of work, Melissa loves to travel (especially to Great Britain), can often be found with a good book, and volunteers at her church.
MARK GRUEN – EVALUATION SPECIALIST
Mark Gruen joined the Alliance in January 2013, and helps coordinate evaluation-related activities. He’s passionate about youth, fruit smoothies, FC Barcelona, and reframing evaluation as an invitation to think deeply about our actions so that we may act with more insight and effectiveness. He has coached high school soccer for several years, served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Native American Soccer Project in the Southwest, and still daydreams about his job as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador. In the summer of 2013, he will finish his graduate degree in nonprofit leadership and management at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
JULIE MUKLEBUST - BUSINESS MANAGER
Julie oversees all the financial and human resource functions of the Alliance. She works directly with the CEO/President and Board of Directors to ensure all systems run efficiently and effectively while complying with operational requirements. She also works closely with staff and Promise Fellows to assist them with benefits and payroll related items. Julie has more than 15 years of experience managing offices and providing financial and human resource support in both the public and private sectors, with emphasis on nonprofits. When not working, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and two boys at their getaway on Sturgeon Lake.
SPENCER NEITZEL – YOUTH ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR
Spencer is a graduate of Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin with a B.A. in Psychology and German. As the Youth Engagement Coordinator, he is responsible for supporting the work of the Minnesota Youth Council, with members of the Youth Engagement team. He served as the AmeriCorps Promise Fellow at the Alliance from 2010-2012, during which he also worked closely with the MYC. He is currently enrolled in the Masters in Teaching program at Hamline University, pursuing his dream of being an English as a Second Language educator that formed when teaching abroad in Hamburg, Germany. Spencer enjoys traveling near and far, hiking, biking, and serving as the unofficial music aficionado at the Alliance.
KORI REDEPENNING – DIRECTOR OF ENGAGEMENT and POLICY
Kori leads the work for the youth engagement team, working closely with the Minnesota Youth Council to increase youth voice in Minnesota. Before coming to the Alliance in September of 2013, she spent nine years with the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship, most recently serving as the Director. She has a long history of national service work and is a proud AmeriCorps alumnus. Born and raised in Minnesota, Kori studied in Thailand, England, and Ghana, and graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in entrepreneurship. She also holds an M.B.A from Northeastern University, with a concentration in marketing and entrepreneurship.
SARAH ULLMER – DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION and TRAINING
Sarah is a 2000 graduate of Macalester College, and has worked for the past decade in youth and community development at local, statewide, and national levels. Having begun her career at YouthCARE/Camp Sunrise, her paths have since included working with youth and adults to organize community gardens with GardenWorks, teaching environmental education at Wolf Ridge Environmental Center, and facilitating trainings on service-learning and youth engagement from Minnesota to Qatar. She also has studied and practiced massage therapy and is currently pursuing certification as a life coach. She believes deeply in the power of people to create change for good in the world, and looks forward to fresh tomatoes and basil in the summer and sliding on frozen lake ice in the winter. She is proud to call Minnesota home, but sometimes — as a Colorado native — gets lost looking for the mountains.
Hannah graduated from St. Olaf College in 2011 earning a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. In addition to greeting visitors with a cheery smile, Hannah’s role at the Alliance is threefold: she supports executive functions, manages the enrollment of Promise Fellows, and is the “go-to” person for social media communications. When not organizing or cataloging, she is often romping through nature, exploring the cities for new discoveries, or spending time with her many animal companions.
119 AMERICORPS PROMISE FELLOWS –
AmeriCorps Promise Fellows serve in schools and organizations across Minnesota to increase the sites’ capacity to deliver the Five Promises: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education, and opportunities to help others.