Board of Directors
Alliance Founder and Former Lt. Governor
Joanne served Minnesota as its Lieutenant Governor from 1995-1999, during the Gov. Arne Carlson administration. A former state senator, she has also served as the chief education officer of the Minnesota Business Academy, providing fundraising support to the school. Born in Le Seur, Minnesota, she is married Robert R. Benson and has two children and six grandchildren.
Recruitment Coordinator at Iowa State University
Performance Improvement Consultant Fairview Health Services
Karen is a Senior Improvement Advisor at Fairview Heath Services with a focus in Lean transformation, patient flow, and process improvement. She works to coach and train leaders and front line staff to improve the organization’s systems and standard procedures to increase patient safety, satisfaction, and clinical outcomes. Karen has received her Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology from the University of Minnesota Duluth and her Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, with a concentration in Organizational Behavior Management, from Western Michigan University. Karen enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time exploring new hiking trails throughout Minnesota.
University of St. Thomas student and former Minnesota Youth Council member
Tiaryn is a student at the University of St Thomas. She served on the Minnesota Youth Council for five years on the education committee and loved every minute of it. She loves being a young person and working with both people younger and older than herself. Tiaryn loves learning about combinations of culture, government, language, business, and people in general.
High School Teacher at Northfield Public Schools
Kevin has been a HS teacher for the last 34 years, currently teaching Civic education in Northfield Public Schools where he serves as President of the Northfield Education Association. He received his BA from the University of Northern Iowa and his MA in education from St. Mary's University. Kevin served 7 years in the Minnesota State Senate, serving on the education finance and policy committees. He was the chief author of the bill that recognized the Minnesota Youth Council as an official legislative committee. IN 2016 he received the MN Alliance with Youth Star Partner Award for leadership. Kevin was a part of the U.S. State Department's Partners in Education program where he traveled to Ukraine to teach civic education. He and his wife Beth have 3 school age children and reside in Northfield.
Brooks Deibele, Board Co-Chair
Brooks Deibele currently serves as Regional Market Leader for Holmes Murphy. Prior to joining Holmes Murphy, he was with Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN and UnitedHealthcare. Prior to that, he worked for TCF Bank in Minneapolis and held sales and leadership positions in the Consumer Lending Division. Brooks received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Management from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, MN. He also completed the Wharton Executive Education Program in 2013. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Excelsior, MN.
Student at Metropolitan State University
D’Andre is a pansexual and Afro Caribbean man who grew up in Jamaica for most of his life. He served on the Minnesota Youth Council for three years, two of which were on the education committee and one on the philanthropy committee. D’Andre is passionate about public policy work and the real impact public policies have on people’s lives. Working with young people is something D’Andre holds near and dear to his heart because he believes that with the right support structures in place, the power and potential that young people hold can be transformational in positive ways. He is currently a senior at Metropolitan State University majoring in Criminal Justice and Psychology.
National Director of Policy and Partnerships at Educators for Excellence (E4E)
Simone is the National Director of Policy and Partnerships at Educators for Excellence (E4E). In this role, Simone manages E4Es policy, partnerships, and advocacy strategy and works to develop, enhance and maintain effective strategic national partnerships and alliances to enhance the organizations policy priorities. Simone has a deep understanding of the role that systems play and the impact they have in the lives of some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our communities. She has spent over a decade working to create environments that advance equity and opportunity for the most disadvantaged students. Prior to joining E4E, Simone served in the Obama Administration for nearly four years in a variety of roles, including Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Education. In this role, Simone served as a key adviser to two U.S. Secretaries of Education, and helped to lead the Administration’s efforts working with Congress and the education community to reauthorize the overdue Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Simone also spent six years working on Capitol Hill as a policy advisor to two United States Senators, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and the late Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC). These roles required her to create and build their education policy platforms, identify their policy priorities and serve as a strategic advisor on a variety of federal, state and local policy and political issues. Simone has also spent time working on multiple political campaigns including as Director of African American Outreach for Senator Klobuchar’s 2006 Senate race. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Simone holds both a Bachelors and a Masters degree from The American University in Washington, D.C.. She spent the last 20 years living and working in Washington, D.C. prior to moving back home to Minnesota in the spring of 2018 where she now resides with her husband and two year old son.
Student at Edina High School
Mythili is a junior at Edina High School. She is an active member and leader on her school’s debate, Model UN, and WorldQuest teams. Outside of school, she is a volunteer at Fairview Southdale Hospital. She is passionate about women’s rights and issues and looks forward to bringing more attention to this issue through her role as a youth representative on the Board of Directors. When she is not binge-watching Netflix, she enjoys reading and writing.
Associate, Bowman and Brooke, LLP
Ryan is an Associate with Bowman and Brooke LLP. During his career, he has worked with the Dakota County Attorney's Office, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, the United State's Attorney's Office and Target Corporation. Ryan has a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law, and is a graduate from Hamline University.
Student at Hamline University
Fatima is a Sophomore at Hamline University studying Political Science as well as Legal Studies. Fatima has had a long history with the Alliance - having served on the MYC since 10th grade and now is an Alliance Board member. She is interested in youth advocacy, anti-racist work, bail reform, and a range of other issues.
Anne Marie Parish
Program Coordinator for the REACH Mentoring Program
Anne is the Program Coordinator for the REACH Mentoring Program of Carlton County, Minnesota. Anne has a multi-faceted background that includes an M.Ed. in Education from St. Catherine University and an M.Ed. in Youth Development from the University of Minnesota. Anne has intensive international and domestic experiences working with youth in a variety of cultures and communities; and has lived and worked in Southern Europe with youth survivors of war. Anne is a resourceful, positive youth development advocate,committed to fostering authentic youth voice and action within rural Carlton County, Minnesota.Anne works on mentor training development and implementation, grant writing, school and community service-learning collaborations, evaluation, and strengthening REACH’s Students Offering Support (SOS) youth leaders’ community of practice.
Minnesota Youth Council alumnus
Angelo serves on many boards and committees both local, including several councils at Northfield High School, and state wide. He is very passionate about government and history and joined the Minnesota Youth Council because he is passionate about immigration, equity, justice and education. He admires John F. Kennedy because he was a natural born leader and a national hero who served our country proudly, and lead our country during perhaps one of the darkest times in our history.”
Program Director for Environment & Democracy 2050, COPAL
Ryan directs the climate and electoral programs at Comunidades Organizando el Poder y la Acción Latina (COPAL), a statewide Latinx nonprofit organization. He was born in Chicago, IL, and moved to the Twin Cities to attend Macalester College in St. Paul. After moving to Minnesota, he was deeply involved in student organizing, winning the Newman Civic Fellowship for his voter engagement work with the Campus Vote Project and his leadership in Students Demand Action, part of the nationwide student movement to affect gun policy. A first-generation college student, Ryan emphasizes racial and economic justice in all of his work.
Student at The Blake School
Jack has attended Blake since he was in Pre-K. Next year, he looks forward to writing in the school newspaper and being on the robotics team. While serving on the Minnesota Youth Council this past year, he has represented youth on the Education Committee. Jack’s other interests include playing competitive tennis, studying Latin and singing in the school choir.
Student at The Blake School
James is currently an 8th grader at The Blake School in Minneapolis. At school, he participates in many theatrical performances and school sports. Outside of school, he worked on the campaigns for two different Minnesota elected officials this past election cycle. He has spent a couple years fundraising and doing sales for a nonprofit historical organization. His particular passion centers around youth wellness, a growing issue at his school and in his community.
Ram’s strengths are collaborative partnerships, visionary thinking and strategic alignment. Ram has a MBA at U of M’s Carlson School of Management, focused on Strategy and HealthCare. He has received a Master of Science in Graphic Communications from Clemson University and a Bachelor of Engineering from Anna University, India. Ram has served on Student Boards and has led student run social welfare organizations and technical groups but gravitates most to children and youth causes. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Southwest Minneapolis.
Student at Spring Grove High School
Gavin is a student at Spring Grove High School and serves as the Student Council Vice President, his class Vice President and on the School Board as a student representative. He is in many extracurricular activities, including knowledge bowl, jazz band/combo, speech, drama club, and is Vice President of his school newspaper group, as well. Beyond school, he studies AP courses that typically aren’t offered and has worked in a museum of Norwegian heritage. Gavin is also passionate about studying elections and politics, and, related to that, trying to improve the lives of youth in Minnesota as best he can. In the sage words of the Dalai Lama, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.”
Target Corporate Social Responsibility
Jody Warden is a Manager on Target’s Corporate Social Responsibility team where she oversees a wide range of partnerships and initiatives. At Target for 15 years, Jody has held various positions within the CSR/Community Relations team, but she also spent several years managing the Corporate GiftCard product team within Target’s Financial Services group. A three year CSR stint in Washington D.C. was focused on developing education partnerships in NYC, Boston, DC, Philadelphia and Baltimore, and allowed her to work closely with America’s Promise Alliance and the US Department of Education. She has served on several youth-focused boards in both a governance and grantmaking role. Prior to Target, Jody spent 8 years working full-time with youth, serving as the Director of Youth Ministries in a United Methodist Church. Jody is a graduate of Dartmouth College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Education.
Community Engagement Coordinator, Three Rivers Park District
Kaja is a queer and non-binary Hmong-American who grew up in Minnesota. They were raised by two wonderful parents who immigrated to the U.S. in their late teens, and grew up with an older sister, and two younger brothers, and currently resides in South Minneapolis. Kaja graduated from St. Thomas University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Biology. They have always had a passion for youth leadership development and bring with them the perspective of integrating their life’s work of being trauma informed, building trusting youth-adult relationships, and aim to provide a more holistic and youth centered space wherever they are. Kaja is passionate about addressing inequities that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) face – specifically queer and trans BIPOC and being a part of the movement in investing in youth.
Elizabeth Zalanga, Board Co-Chair
Student at Saint Paul College
Elizabeth is completing an Associate in Arts Degree with an Emphasis in Social Science/Public Affairs at Saint Paul College. She was elected to serve on the Student Senate as the Senate Diversity Officer, in which she will serve on the Programming Board and lead efforts to develop programming with The Office of Student Life and Student Associations that focuses on diversity. Elizabeth also works for the City of Minneapolis – City Clerk’s Office in the Elections and Voter Services Division, assisting in coordinating with Minneapolis public, private, and charter high-schools and youth-serving organizations in recruiting and managing high-school students from diverse backgrounds to work in polling places on Election Day. In September 2016 she was appointed by the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners to serve and represent her district on the Food and Nutrition Commission. After completing her Associate’s degree, she plans to transfer to the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) to pursue a Bachelor’s in Global Studies and a minor in economics. She hopes to work for a government agency or nonprofit organization that works domestically and/or internationally to address the global issues of advancing women’s rights, environmental pollution, or hunger and malnutrition.