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
Briana Baker
Briana grew up in Kerkhoven, MN and graduated from Gustavus in 2014. She moved to Mankato in 2016 where she works as a Refugee Services Assistant for the Minnesota Council of Churches. Briana is also the Southern MN Coordinator for Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light - a nonprofit committed to climate justice and a safe, livable environment for current and future generations. Briana is grateful to join the Greater Mankato Diversity Council in its work of helping students to treat themselves, their classmates, and the world with respect and compassion.
Cohort 15
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
Rebecca DeMiller
Rebecca is a graduate from MNSU Mankato, with her bachelor's in sociology and international relations. She is currently enrolled in a master's program at MNSU with an emphasis in studying diversity, globalization, cultures, class, race, and gender. She also works in social services within the community. She has a passion for traveling and learning about different cultures around the globe.
Cohort 15
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
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
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
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
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
Ensun Kim
Ensun is a mother of a beautiful daughter, is from South Korea, and married a Canadian in1998. Her family moved to Mankato in 2013 due to her husband's job relocation. She is a graduate student at MSU, Mankato, majoring in Experiential Education. Her career is mostly related to international education and she has had many opportunities to meet people from different types of backgrounds. Ensun thinks that the definition of diversity would include openness and acceptance of differences among people, cultures, and perspectives. As an educator, she believes that we can live more joyful lives when we celebrate diversity and share universal values such as love, forgiveness, and honesty with each other.
Cohort 14
Mary Lou Kudela
After “retiring” as Principal of Mankato East Junior High in 2003, Mary Lou accepted a position as the Education Director for the newly formed Greater Mankato Area Diversity Council. She has also since "retired" from this position, but continues to be a facilitator. Mary Lou has been involved in Mankato Area Healthy Youth, a facilitator for the United Way Vision Council, member of South Central College’s Diversity Committee, member of the Anti-violence committee, member of Civitan International, Kiwanis Diversity, Board of YWCA, racial justice facilitator for the YWCA, and has been singing with the Minnesota Valley Sweet Adelines Chorus for over 30 years. Mary Lou has been a recipient of the Pathfinder Award for her work with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee. She has attended training by the Storefront Youth Action Agency in Diversity and Diversity Training at MSU,M and at the Rochester Diversity Council. She has presented at the MASSP Winter Workshop. Mary Lou's vision and determination have helped pave the way for the Greater Mankato Diversity Council’s success in Mankato.
Cohort 1
Sara Leadholm
Sara is a Minnesota artist, having graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Fine Arts degree in drawing and painting. She spent eight years as an advertising art director in New York City for national companies. Sara received her Masters in Art Education from New York University, moved back to Minnesota, and presently lives in St. Peter. She has retired from teaching Art K-12 in the Le Center School District and is presently working as a landscape outdoor painter. Her interests are gardening, travel and spending time in the greater outdoors. She feels strongly that everyone has access to our social justice systems and is treated with respect and seen as unique.
Cohort 14
Rachel Maccabee
Rachel grew up in rural northern Nevada before coming to Minnesota as a teen, eventually graduating from Minnesota State Mankato with a BS in Anthropology. Her further studies took her to Washington D.C., where she received her Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. Rachel and her husband decided to return to Mankato to raise their child here in the community she fell in love with during her time as a student. Rachel enjoys singing karaoke, camping, and engaging in good conversation.
Cohort 14
Missy Manderfeld
Administrative Assistant
Missy is recently retired from Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she worked in the Social Work Department. Her volunteer experience includes VINE Faith in Action, YWCA, Echo Food Shelf, etc. Missy says that presenting respect workshops in the classroom takes her out of her comfort zone in a good way and she enjoys getting to know the other facilitators. Her most important role is that of mom (4 grown children) and proud grandmother.
Cohort 5