Cohort 1 was trained in 2004/5, Cohort 10 in 2013
Jessica Schomberg
Jessica is a librarian at MSU, Mankato, where she enjoys the opportunity to work with students and faculty from many different backgrounds. She has a BA in French, a Master’s in Library & Information Science, and an MA in English: Teaching English as a Second Language. Jessica is also a STEM facilitator for GMDC.
Cohort 10
Tara Snilsberg
Past President
A native of Mankato, Tara sees the potential to build an inclusive community full of opportunity and support for all. A spinal cord injury in 1997, resulting in tetraplegia, inspires her to educate and advocate for the unique differences in all. "Seeing differences is one thing, but living it is very eye opening. I see potential in individuals that may not be realized even within themselves." She appreciates her time with the Greater Mankato Diversity Council as a Promoting Respect Workshop facilitator in the classroom. "We need to listen, share and embrace one another... there is so much to learn. Some of the most valued conversations I have take place with complete strangers!" Tara is gradually pursuing a degree in Sociology at MN State University, Mankato. She appreciates the valued experiences she has had with GMDC, Mankato Area United Way, BENCHS, MRCI and VINE and SMILES CIL. She is the past Director of DreamsWork, an art organization tailored to individuals with a variety of disabilities, and an alumna of Bethany Lutheran College, the YWCA Women's Leadership Development Program and the GMDC Century Club.
Cohort 2
Tracy Stokes-Hernandez
Tracy earned her bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from MSU, Mankato and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. Tracy currently works as an Academic Advisor in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at MSU, Mankato. She has lived in Mankato for 20 years, and as a parent of 3 children attending District #77 schools, Tracy wants to ensure a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.
Cohort 1
Marne Stover
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.
Cohort 14
Kuma Takamura
Education Director
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.
Cohort 5
Kassidy Tocco
Kassidy is currently a second-year student at Minnesota State University, Mankato studying Special Education. She is an active member of the Honors Program at MSU where Kassidy works to grow in three competencies: leadership, global citizenship, and research. She is also a member of the Maverick Forensics team where she competes in public speaking. Kassidy is also employed by the MSU admissions as a campus tour guide. In addition, she volunteers as a Language Learning Partner, and more recently as a Promoting Respect Workshop Facilitator.
Cohort 15
Karen Toft
Karen works at Greater Mankato Growth as the Director of Member Relations & Office Operations. In this position, Karen engages with potential new and existing members to ensure they get the most out of their GMG membership. She also manages two GMG volunteer groups - the Cavaliers and Ambassadors. Karen has a degree in Business and is also certified as a Global Career Development Facilitator. She previously worked with K-12 students for 13 years in the Mankato Public Schools with the Title I program as well as in the Career Centers of East and West High Schools before working at Rasmussen College as a Senior Program Manager in Admissions. Diversity awareness and acceptance for all people is important to her. Karen is an avid traveler and embraces new cultures, new countries, enjoys meeting new people and trying new foods.
Cohort 14
Kristen Treinen
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.
Cohort 13
Jenny Turner
Jenny is a librarian at MN State University, Mankato, where she works to meet the information needs of students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds. She has been interested in other people and cultures since her parents enrolled her in a three-week summer intensive French class at the ripe old age of nine. Jenny has a BA in French and Communication, a Master's in Library and Information Science, and an MA in English: Technical Communication.
Cohort 12
Kevin Velasquez
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.
Cohort 6
Leah White
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.
Cohort 10
Miho Woelfel
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.
Cohort 10
Tyler Woelfel
Tyler is a native of Mankato, MN and throughout his time of living in this community has been a witness to the changing population and demographics. He studied Sociology, Political Science and Ethnic Studies and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies from MN State University, Mankato in 2010. He works for MRCI WorkSource and is contracted to Blue Earth and Steele Counties to work with people who receive public assistance benefits. Valuing everyone for who they are has always been an important aspect in Tyler’s thinking and he hopes to help students in his community understand that diversity is not only acceptable and good but is needed.
Cohort 12
Bradley Wolfe
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.
Cohort 11