Cohort 1 was trained in 2004/5, Cohort 10 in 2013
Jim Abraham - Cohort 5
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.
Daryl Arzdorf - Cohort 11
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.
Amanda Bailey - Cohort 11
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.
Judi Brandon - Cohort 8
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.
Mike Daly - Cohort 5
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.
Laura Dauffenbach - Cohort 7
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.
Diane Dobitz - Cohort 13
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.
John Dorn - Cohort 7
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.
Bill Durbahn - Cohort 11
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.
Kinney Eberhart - Cohort 7
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.
Jane Flintrop - Cohort 13
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.
Lisa Kaye - Cohort 7
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."
Linda Kilander - Cohort 10
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.
Mary Lou Kudela - Cohort 1
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.
Rachel Maccabee - Cohort 14
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.
Missy Manderfeld - Cohort 5
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.
Andrea Marti - Cohort 2
Andrea worked at the Open Door Health Center in Mankato for 16 years as a Spanish interpreter. She is married and has one child, who makes friends with others of various cultures, races, and languages without giving it a second thought. Andrea, who has been blind since grade school, shared her experiences with Mankato West High School ninth graders through presentations during their Helen Keller unit from 1994 to 2008. She trained her new guide dog Bailey in 2017 and is enjoying the extra independence and companionship he offers her. Andrea hopes that adults will also be able to participate in the same diversity discussions that are now offered to students through the Greater Mankato Diversity Council. She says she hopes that people will learn to treasure the differences among them rather than see them as flaws.
Manami Matsuoka - Cohort 15
Manami was born and grew up in Tokyo, Japan, and has been to 23 countries. She loves traveling around the world to learn other cultures and languages by meeting new people. She currently lives in Mankato where she is working to obtain her Master's degree in Ethnic and Multi-cultural Studies. She hopes to use the knowledge for cultural exchanges among people with different cultures and backgrounds.
Annette Perry - Cohort 14
Annette is mother to an incredible girl named Marley Jane and spouse of a fantastic man named AJ. Annette studied business, finance, mathematics, and dance at Minnesota State University, where she graduated in 2006 and has since worked in banking, real estate, and marketing. She is honored to be currently serving as the Education Coordinator for the Greater Mankato Diversity Council. Annette's past experience working with students includes parent volunteer for 5th grade MathMasters and WordMasters, coaching Heart & Sole for the YWCA, and volunteering with the Mankato Area Adaptive Ski program. Annette believes every community needs a diversity council because their work is powerful, proactive, and loving. Annette loves facilitating Promoting Respect Workshops, and since they have been mindfully designed for each grade, she knows the work will be effective in producing a better tomorrow.
Lori Plemens - Cohort 14
Lori was born in NC but raised in Indiana. Go Hoosiers!!! She has lived all over the upper Midwest, but now calls St. Peter home. She has been married to her wonderful spouse Tina for 4 years and has 4 great kids -- Madison, age 15, and 13 year-old triplets Emma, Joey, and Lily. This family keeps Lori busy. Tina is a full time substitute teacher in the Mankato school system and the kids are all involved in extra-curricular activities. They love to get outdoors and play all sorts of sports together. Right now, it’s soccer and tennis and in the spring it will be track and field plus golf! Sadly no one is more interested in playing basketball than Lori is. Life is good and she is so thankful and appreciative for all that she has been blessed with.
Amy Ronnkvist - Cohort 9
Amy Ronnkvist has spent most of her career working on issues related to social justice, with a specific focus on education equity. At her core, she believes that all students deserve access to a quality education. She has carried this philosophy through teaching sociology courses, work with the ACLU-MN: Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Project and through her current role in a national, non-profit organization working to help students finance their education. She lives in St. Peter with her husband and two daughters and Benny the dog who is the boss of the house.
Andrea Rossow - Cohort 8
Originally from London, England, Andrea came to the Mankato area in 2011. She is married with three wonderful stepchildren and will complete her undergraduate degree in Communication Studies, with a minor in Sociology, in May 2019. Andrea has a passion for advocacy work, and she once served as a welfare rights advisor for a non-profit organization. Her role was to facilitate disabled clients' applications for state benefits and support those who were required to attend tribunal hearings. Andrea strongly believes in community equity, inclusivity, and diversity. She is particularly passionate about ensuring that students with disabilities receive equal access to opportunities, and a recent internship at Minnesota State University, Mankato, enabled her to support others in achieving just that. Andrea continues to spread the message that each and every one of us is worthy of RESPECT.
Melanie Schmidt - Cohort 5
Melanie, a member of the Cohort 5 facilitator group, is very excited to begin her duties as a facilitator. She has lived in Mankato since 1990 and graduated from MN State University, Mankato. Melanie has held positions with the South central Service Cooperative, Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest, and also Community Education/Recreation Department where she is currently the Youth Development Program Supervisor with primary responsibilities including enrichment programming for school age youth. She is passionate about quality education for our children and equal rights for all citizens. In her spare time she enjoys antique shopping and spending time with family and and her dog.
Marne Stover - Cohort 14
Marne Stover is a senior at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, working towards a Bachelor's Degree in Psychological Science. She grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania and moved to Mankato with her parents in 2013. She also volunteers with her school at the Hoffmann Learning Center, judges Speech & Debate for St. Peter High School, and works at River Rock Coffee (the most amazing coffee shop/restaurant in the world). Her hobbies include exploring different types of music and creating new and exciting meals at home.
Kuma Takamura - Cohort 5
It was supposed to be a melting pot, but when Kuma came to the U.S. from Japan in the '80s, what he found was "Chunky Stew." Kuma, as a biologist, an electrical engineer, and an educator, worked in many areas including private sector and higher education system. Everywhere he went he strongly felt diversity was a strength but "we were not tapping into it." Humans are inquisitive and curious beings. Difference triggers fear, but he hopes, with our effort, the curiosity/inquisitiveness will eventally take over and people will start learning each others' differences and start recognizing the power of diversity! Kuma joined the Greater Mankato Diversity staff in the summer of 2011.
Kristen Treinen - Cohort 13
Kristi is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Minnesota State University Mankato. While born in ND and raised in MN, she attended graduate school in Carbondale, IL where she began digging into ideas of diversity and the educational system. In particular, she focused her studies on antiracist pedagogy and whiteness studies. Kristi has three children, two have already graduated from Mankato East High School and one is currently a sophomore at East. Kristi is very excited to work with the Diversity Council and give back to the Mankato schools and the Mankato community.
Kevin Valasquez - Cohort 6
Kevin is an attorney at the law firm of Blethen, Gage & Krause, PLLP. He and his wife Meghan moved to Mankato from Iowa in 2007, after he graduated from law school. Kevin feels strongly that the diversity within the Mankato area can become a great strength of the community, and he is excited to help instill in area youth the notion that each individual's differences are valuable and should be embraced.
Leah White - Cohort 10
Although her parents originally came from Oklahoma, Leah was born and raised on the east side of St. Paul. After leaving MN to attend graduate school in Kansas and Arizona, she eventually made it home where she currently is a professor in the Communications Studies Department and the Interim Honors Program Director at MN State University, Mankato. Leah loves teaching in any context and is looking forward to getting off campus and into the community. She firmly believes the presence of prejudice and discrimination in a classroom is detrimental to a successful learning environment. As the parent of two children in the Mankato Public School District, Leah is committed to creating a welcoming learning environment for all students.
Miho Woelfel - Cohort 10
Being from a country that has been significantly destroyed by foreign powers, Miho has seen how prejudice and ethnocentrism can lead to tearing one entire nation apart. This background made her aware of social justice issues in her early age, and she started getting involved with them when she became old enough. Miho feels fortunate to be part of GMDC, as she believes this will leave many individuals seeds to grow toward a better community that includes everyone. She would also like to believe that this will contribute to her lifetime commitment--helping rebuild her home country.
Bradley Wolfe - Cohort 11
Bradley works as the South Central/Southwest Regional Coordinator for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. He also teaches as an adjunct in the Communication Studies Department at both Minnesota State University, Mankato and South Central College. In addition to volunteering with the Diversity Council, Bradley serves with a variety of other nonprofits organizations, including the local charter school and Optimist Club. Bradley lives in North Mankato with his partner Douglas and they both enjoy playing a variety of games in their free time. They have three pets: a dog named Jubilee and two cats named Crystal and Ambar.