Cohort 1 was trained in 2004/5, Cohort 10 in 2013
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
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
Lynn Klaber
Lynn is a retired special education teacher who has 38 years of experience working in Iowa, Montana and Minnesota. She has called Mankato home for the past 29 years and Lynn and her husband are very pleased with the quality education their children received in the Mankato Public Schools. The majority of Lynn’s teaching career has been in early childhood family education, which has provided her a multitude of opportunities to interact with a variety of cultures, families and learning environments. Lynn’s hobbies include grandchildren, sewing, quilting, gardening and reading.
Cohort 12
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
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
Andrea Marti
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.
Cohort 2
Manami Matsuoka
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.
Cohort 15
Cheiron McMahill
Cheiron has been an educator for 36 years and loves kids. She thinks the mission of the Greater Mankato Diversity Council and the PRW is so positive and concrete. What could be better than for adults to get out there, and to show young people what diversity is, and how much they care about it? She is excited about going to visit classrooms in the public schools with PRW. She has three daughters who are both Japanese and American, and a Japanese husband. Her very favorite kind of diversity is linguistic diversity. She speaks Japanese herself, and is learning Somali. She is currently the ESL instructor at South Central College.
Cohort 15
Vicky Meyer
Vicky was born and raised in Minot, ND and moved to Minnesota in 1990. Her childhood, having an Air Force Base in town, provided an education rich in diversity and cultures. This sparked her interest to learn more about the broader world. She’s been employed in banking for 30 years, thus allowing her to satisfy her compassion for helping people when interacting with the variety of ages and nationalities. In recent years, her family has enjoyed hosting foreign exchange students from India, Switzerland and Columbia. Vicky has been involved with teaching Junior Achievement, Coaching YMCA sports, volunteering for United Way and currently serving as a Greater Mankato Area Ambassador.
Cohort 11
Laura Mueller
Laura is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Gustavus Adolphus College, where she regularly teaches classes on education and culture, ethics, and American philosophy. One of her main areas of interest--in research, teaching, and practice- is educational reform, focusing on liberation pedagogy and experiential teaching. She firmly believes that true change will come from community engagement, not from the 'ivory tower.' In her free time, she enjoys cross-country skiing and playing her banjo. Her dream is to open her own philosophical institute for public engagement.
Cohort 15
Ayan Musse
Diversity and Inclusion Specialist
Ayan was born in East Africa (Somalia) and grew up in Egypt. In 1997, she came to the United State as a refugee. She has lived the refugee experience, leaving Somalia at the age of 13. Due to her life experiences, she understands the struggles of the racial inequality and the importance of building an all-inclusive community where everyone feels welcome. She has called Mankato her home since 2002 and is very involved in the community. She has obtained her Associate of Arts (AA) Degree at South Central College and in progress obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) at Minnesota State University Mankato. Ayan is passionate for challenging individuals to expand their thinking while equipping and empowering those who desire to see actual, sustainable change within our community regarding diversity and racial inequity. She is committed to improve the quality of life for all individuals by effecting system-wide change through the pursuit of social justice.
Cohort 14
Pam Oster
Diversity has always been a big part of Pam's life. She attended a variety of churches as a child and has worked with a wonderful diverse group of people in almost every job she has held. Pam loves the tapestry of life and enjoys meeting and interacting with a wide variety of people. That is why the work of the greater Mankato Diversity Council appealed so much to her. Pam looks forward to an interesting year, and appreciates the opportunity to work once again in classrooms.
Cohort 9
Lindsey Weis Owens
Lindsey loves working with children and adults and sharing her passion for diversity. She enjoys learning about different people, cultures, and ideas, while helping others appreciate their own experiences. She has a Master of Science K-12 School Counseling degree from MSU, Mankato and currently is an Admission Counselor at Gustavus Adolphus College. Lindsey is an only child and has been blessed with a wonderful family. She currently lives in Mankato with her two cats, Luey and Marley. Lindsey thinks the community is doing a great job at reaching children at a young age and helping them see the value and excitement in diversity .Having the community continue on a path to an even more welcoming and safe community for people of all backgrounds is part of her hope for the future.
Cohort 4
Annette Perry
Education Coordinator
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.
Cohort 14
Lori Plemens
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.
Cohort 14
Jeri Retzlaff
As a business instructor at Rasmussen College, Jeri has the opportunity to interact with students and community members who represent the diversity of southern Minnesota. She received her MBA from MSU Mankato. Jeri believes that as a community we need to do more than simply accept differences among people, but learn about each other to fully respect, appreciate, and encourage each other. Jeri lives in Mankato with her husband and stepson.
Cohort 7
Corrine Riley
Corri was taught that all people should be valued and have the same rights. Working with children, she has tried to teach them to respect others and themselves. Her hope is that we will all welcome and embrace diversity for what it can teach us.
Cohort 6
Erin Roberts
Erin is a Mankato native and has witnessed first hand the growth of the community and what that means for members of marginalized populations. She attended Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she earned a Bachelor's in Corrections and a Master's in Public Administration. She is currently employed at YWCA Mankato within the New American Families program area and Racial Justice. She facilitates all racial justice training and workshops the YWCA offers. She is raising her 3 kids in Mankato, who all attend school in District 77. Erin wants to ensure that all students feel welcome and have a place in their school. In her free time, she like to make homemade products such as soaps, lip balm, candles and fragrance. She understands the important work of the Diversity Council and is very happy to be a part of the bigger picture to ensure acceptance to all who live here.
Cohort 14
Amy Ronnkvist
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.
Cohort 9
Andrea Rossow
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.
Cohort 8
Melanie Schmidt
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.
Cohort 5