Cohort 1 was trained in 2004/5, Cohort 10 in 2013
Jim Abraham
Jim has been involved in numerous Mankato area organizations, including the United Way, South Central College, School to Work programs, South Central Workforce Council and has served on various boards of his church and others. Jim owns Employment Related Services, LLC, providing Human Resource services to small and medium-sized organizations since 2009. Prior to this he was with Taylor Corporation in Human Resources for 21 years and the previous 9 years with Midland Ross-Midtex Division also in Human Resources. He is married and has 2 married daughters and 1 granddaughter. He and his wife live in Madison Lake. Jim is also a STEM facilitator for GMDC.
Cohort 5
Daryl Arzdorf
Daryl Arzdorf is a retired teacher who taught for 34 years. He recently taught at Mankato East High School. Daryl is a substitute for the district and advises Link Crew at Mankato East. He enjoys the out doors and loves to canoe, cross country and bicycle. He is on the Blue Earth County Park Board. Daryl is proud of the fact that he has bicycled for the Multiple Sclerosis Society for 25 years.
Cohort 11
Amanda Bailey
Amanda Bailey is a Communications Professional, writing and producing videos, podcasts and print for informational, educational and marketing purposes. As a freelancer, she has had the wonderful opportunity to live and work on the road in a motorhome for ten years before settling in Mankato. She has lived in every region of the US and has traveled abroad. Through these life experiences, she has come to recognize the core strengths of multicultural communities. She is honored to help the leaders of tomorrow to embrace the strengths of diversity today.
Cohort 11
Judi Brandon
Judi grew up in Detroit, Michigan and received her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees from the University of Michigan. She has been in Mankato since 1969, where she was a teacher and is a retired school principal. Judi currently serves on the Mankato School Board. Throughout her life she has had experiences that highlight both the delights and perils of navigating a diverse society. As a life-long educator, Judi believes that children start out accepting everyone and that hate and prejudice are taught. It is our responsibility to work to undo that prejudice and encourage our youth to become thoughtful, open-minded adults.
Cohort 8
Jeremy Burger
Jeremy feels like he is a piece of the larger community puzzle and that he is able to connect with many people with varieties of backgrounds. He currently is a teacher and coach in District 77. Jeremy feels that this community needs to continue to strive for change and understanding. This will be a continual process that will never be and should never be complete. He has a very supportive wife and two young boys who make him want to strive to make this community the best that it can be now and into the future.
Cohort 8
Kirstin Cronn-Mills
Kirstin Cronn-Mills was raised in Nebraska and moved to the Mankato area in 1992. She's been involved with diversity work since she was a residence hall floor assistant at the University of Nebraska. She's taught at the college level for 20+ years and she also writes young adult fiction and nonfiction. Her commitment to creating spaces for people to feel welcome and appreciated is the force that drives both her teaching and her writing.
Cohort 13
Mike Daly
Mike grew up in Moorhead, MN and moved to Mankato in 1966 after graduating from Moorhead State University. He worked in social work and business before retiring. Mike has been active in community affairs for many years and is a past president of the Mankato Diversity Kiwanis. He is on the board of the Friendship Family Program and works with the International Student Association at MN State University, Mankato. An avid sailor and traveler, Mike has been in 19 countries and all 50 states. His hobbies include amateur radio, music, photography, and computer and technical applications. Mike has enjoyed the full range of facilitator assignments with all ages. His total number of workshops facilitated through June 2018 now exceeds 500.
Cohort 5
Laura Dauffenbach
Laura recently earned GMDC's "Century Club" award for facilitating over 100 PRWs since 2010. Being a Mankato native, she has witnessed the increased growth and diversity of our community and ISD 77's students. In addition to PRWs, Laura has other connections with Mankato students. She graduated from Mankato East High School, coached award-winning divers for Mankato East and West, and is currently enjoying the diverse contexts in which she teaches as a substitute. Laura's experience and education in Teaching ESL remind her to consider the social and academic language proficiency required for all students to access the content of our PRWs.
Cohort 7
Diane Dobitz
Diane Dobitz is a retired educator who believes in and promotes respect for diversity with her students and in her relationships. She has drawn on life-lessons learned growing up with her parents on a southwest North Dakota farm. As third oldest, of 15 children, she learned early on that people are different and working together for the common good is important. She is grateful to have been able to live and work with people from different cultures – beginning with going to elementary and high school with some Native American students from Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Her teaching career took her to MN and Iowa schools and, she also taught in Appalachia for a summer and in Kenya, East Africa for five years. Having taught K-12 students and adult learners during her 40 years in the classroom, she believes that knowledge and understanding are powerful means to helping build community and promote the common good.
Cohort 13
John Dorn
John was born in the old St. Joseph's Hospital in 1943. For the first ten years of his life, he lived on North 6th Street, below the Kato Brewery, which provided a fascinating setting for childhood games and adventures. He attended St. John's University in Collegeville. He and his wife lived in Milwaukee and Madison, WI before moving to Hawaii where he taught for three years. They returned to Mankato in 1971 where John taught a variety of English courses in the Mankato Public Schools and raised a family of three children. John served in the MN House of Representatives from 1987-2006. Though retired, John continues to substitute teach and enjoys playing with his four grandchildren as time allows.
Cohort 7
Nancy Drescher
Nancy mostly lived and grew up in Colorado until graduating from college and joining the Peace Corps . In the Peace Corps, she worked and lived in the Kingdom of Tonga for 3 and a half years before returning to the country and becoming a teacher and administrator for an English Language Learner program in Colorado and beginning to work on her graduate degrees. After finishing graduate school in Colorado and then Arizona, she began teaching in the English Department (with a specialty in teaching English Language learners) at MN State University, Mankato. She is excited to be part of the Diversity Council and hopes to make a difference for her children, who are in the Mankato public schools, as well as the rest of the community.
Cohort 12
Bill Durbahn
Bill Durbahn is a recently retired social studies teacher from Mankato. He taught at West High School for 25 years and coached wrestling and track and field. He taught previously in Windom. Bill and his wife Barb have two children, Leigh and Paul, and two adorable granddaughters, Samantha and Charlie. Bill, a lifelong educator is a Hamline University alumnus, with graduate work at Southern Illinois, Augustana and MSU-Mankato. He is very excited to be a part of the Diversity Council's Prejudice Reduction Workshops. Now that he has retired he is looking forward to his hobby of cycling and spending time with his family.
Cohort 11
Kinney Eberhart
Kinney grew up in this community and has delighted in the changes that have brought diversity to Mankato, Teaching in the Mankato Public Schools for 26 years gave her the opoortunity to interact with people who have come to this city from far places and different backgrounds. She is proud to be a member of the school board for the Mankato Area Public Schools. Kinney hopes that she will be better informed in the decisions she makes on behalf of the entire community through her work with the Diversity Council. She looks forward to working in classrooms, sharing her commitment to diversity and the learning opportunities that come with it.
Cohort 7
Jane Flintrop
Jane is a Personal Care Attendant for differently abled individuals, a part time sales associate, and is pursuing a career as a Paraprofessional. She is a happy mother to her beautiful son and currently awaiting the arrival of her second child. Jane was raised within an untraditional family structure and has grown in quite a diverse environment of people and places, which reflects in her own understanding and beliefs. To best describe herself Jane tells the story of her friend who recently asked, " What do you want to be when you grow up?" Her response was simply this, "I want to be content, happy, and a positive contribution to the people around me and in my community." Jane seeks a greater understanding for not only herself but as a collective, and has a strong belief in the human race and our grand potential. Jane is excited and happy to be able to be involved with a group such as the Greater Mankato Diversity Council.
Cohort 13
Heather Hamilton
Heather Elise Hamilton has a PhD in drama from the University of California, Santa Barbara. A published author, her research interests include theatre in conflict zones and theatre as advocacy. Heather has performed and directed on both American coasts. She is presently an Associate Professor of Theatre at the Minnesota State University, Mankato. Last summer she received an Andreas Grant to travel to Turkey, where she participated in CESRAN International's Global Peace Workshops.
Cohort 12
Kelsey Hanson
Kelsey Hanson is a student at Minnesota State University, Mankato and is pursuing a Social Work degree. Currently, she works part-time as a Resident Assistant at Monarch Meadows Assisted Living. Some of her favorite hobbies are reading, hiking, camping, and spending time with family and friends. Kelsey is excited to help spread the GMDC’s message of respect.
Cohort 14
Alyssa Harter
Alyssa grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska. She moved to Mankato in 2016, where she began her Master's program in Communication Studies. She teaches public speaking courses at MSU-Mankato, coaches the competitive speech team, and tutors college students. Alyssa's first experience with community outreach in Mankato was through the YWCA's "It's Time to Talk" forum, which fueled passion and a need to become involved in promoting diversity in Greater Mankato. Her academic research focuses on diversity within the classroom, which Alyssa plans to bring to the table when acting as a facilitator with the Greater Mankato Diversity Council and acting as an agent for change in our community.
Cohort 14
Bukata Hayes
Executive Director
The most important thing about Bukata Hayes is that he is the son of Dia Damani Courtney and Karen Hayes, husband to Lisa and father to Damani, Jalen, Zavier, and Zuri. In addition to this, Bukata has served as the Executive Director of the Greater Mankato Diversity Council since September, 2006. Prior to this role, he served as the Coordinator of the Multi Ethnic Center at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, the first-ever position of its kind at the college. Bukata received his Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. He has membership and/or is on the board of numerous organizations such as the Mankato Chapter of the NAACP (President), Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Board (President), Latin American Multicultural Association for Networking and Opportunity –LA MANO (Board), and Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation Board.
Cohort 2
Jesus Hernandez Mejia
Having grown up in Mexico and moving to the U.S., Jesus is comfortable with people with different ethnic backgrounds and enjoys learning about other cultures. His work and personal world is very diverse in many ways. He earned a degree in Computer Engineering and Spanish. His ability to make use of his Spanish is a plus in his community volunteering at the GMDC and the YMCA. He also brings his cultural background to the Open Door Clinic as a Board Member. Jesus is currently working as the Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. He has also worked at VoyageurWeb and at MN State University, Mankato. Jesus has two children and thinks the schools in Mankato area are doing good work in creating an inclusive environment. He hopes for a better world for his children.
Cohort 4
Christina Hinz
Christina and her husband have lived in the Mankato area for 15 years and greatly enjoy the community. She has worked as an Academic Advisor at South Central College and currently works in the Registrar's office at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Christina enjoys meeting and working with college students from all walks of life and getting to know their backgrounds. She enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, and spending time with friends and family. Christina is excited to share GMDC's message of respect within our Mankato-area community.
Cohort 13
Anissa Horner
Anissa is a diverse individual who’s had adversity living with M.S. before being diagnosed. Her mother, who was also a social worker, had it and Anissa was her caregiver until she moved to Wisconsin in 1999, where she continued to pursue her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education. However, because Anissa has the helper/helpee tendencies predisposed, she majored in Social work instead. While in Wisconsin, Anissa facilitated an M.S. support group for five years with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and did her internship at the House of Mercy Homeless Center. She did public speaking for United Way organizations and volunteered at a nursing home. Her positivity, care and compassion for others is what energizes Anissa. She has lived in the Mankato area since 2005 and has enjoyed volunteering with Vine, Salvation Army, Mending Spirits Animal Rescue and the YMCA for their Big Sister program. She currently works at Angie's Artisan Treats as a taste-tester and is an aspiring children's book author and artist. Anissa feels rewarded whenever she’s able to advocate for people and animals. Says Anissa, “My cup overfloweth and I'm grateful and excited to be a facilitator for the GMD, Cohort 12.”
Cohort 12
Emily Javens
After working as a math and science teacher, Emily went back to school to pursue a degree in civil engineering. Now working as a woman in a male-dominated profession, Emily enjoys going back into the schools to encourage kids to pursue careers that they are interested in even if they don’t see people who look like them in those fields. She also enjoys encouraging students to think of ways they can help those who “don’t look the part” successfully break through the stereotypes associated with the way they look.
Cohort 4
Lisa Kaye
Lisa Kaye lives in Mankato and is a wife and mother of 4 children. She is half of the longest running FM morning radio team in the Mankato area. Currently she can be heard Weekdays, 5-9am, on Radio Mankato's "Minnesota 93 (93.1 FM)." Lisa loves her work with the Greater Mankato Area Diversity Council. Growing up in a multi-cultural home, and raising her children to be inclusive members of the world, she feels very connected to the mission of this program. "My goal is to send our children out into the world with strong, humble empathy and to always respect and see the value and worth of others."
Cohort 7
Kelten Kelly
Kelten grew up on a hobby farm outside of Saint Peter, MN where he actively participated in 4-H, FIRST Robotics, and international mission trips. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering. Kelten currently works as a civil engineer designer at ISG in downtown Mankato and volunteers with the YMCA Brother/Sister program in his free time. Kelten lives in Mankato with his two rescued dogs Luna and Reggie.
Cohort 14
Linda Kilander
Linda is a retired educator from the Mankato Area Public Schools. She began teaching at the Children's House on the MNSU campus and continued to work with young children and their families in District #77 until 2011 as a classroom teacher and school administrator. Interests include reading, biking, sewing, gardening and spending time with her five grandchildren, all of whom live in the Mankato area. Her ethnic background is Croatian and Swedish, with all four of her grandparents coming to the U.S. in the early part of the last century.
Cohort 10