Staff & Board
Catalysts for Positive Social Change
Our ServeMinnesota team provides the building blocks that help AmeriCorps programs run across the state of Minnesota. As a catalyst for positive social change, ServeMinnesota moves research to practice and deploys the people power of AmeriCorps to meet critical needs in Minnesota.
We foster an inclusive workplace environment made up of individuals all strongly committed to mission-driven work and service to our communities.
ServeMinnesota is a proud Employer of National Service. Currently 30% of our staff are AmeriCorps alumni.
Vice President of Operations
I like my job because it includes a wide variety of projects and responsibilities, and I am always learning and growing. I’m proud to work for an organization like ServeMinnesota that exists to address critical needs to make Minnesota better. To me, service means willingly and enthusiastically helping improve someone’s life or community. Intentionally going out of your way to do something good, making the world better. My favorite service moment was the 20th anniversary of AmeriCorps’ celebration at Mall of America September 12, 2014. We had over 1,200 members participate in the pledge ceremony lead via video by President Obama. This event was followed with an afternoon of various service projects.
Vice President of Insight and Change
I spend most of my time thinking about where we need to be headed next as well as how to strategically assist with outreach and development. As a student of human-centered design, this forward thinking is exactly what strikes in the center of my passion. Using empathy and compassion with our potential future service recipients is so exciting for me and never seems like work. I have been with ServeMinnesota since 2016, but have been a funder and supporter of this work for several years in my role at Target. I see service as my responsibility as being part of a community. My favorite service moment was witnessing one of my adult ESL students I was tutoring, master English and secure her first job here in America.
Vice President of Finance
I am responsible for the finances of ServeMinnesota. I knew in high school that I wanted to be an accountant, but here it is more than just accounting work. At ServeMinnesota, our finance team supports the programs by reviewing and making recommendations for their budgets during the application process, doing reviews or visits to make sure they are spending the funding appropriately and tracking it accurately, and we are here to answer questions and to provide support on the finance side of the grant as needed.
One of my favorite service experiences was an AmeriCorps week project at a Children’s Garden. I brought my oldest daughter, who was about 10 at the time. It was incredible to see her helping at this garden, and to see her learning about gardening and why they need that garden, who benefits from it. It was a great experience, and it led to my daughters going to a canning and jamming summer program at that park.
David Parker, Ph.D.
Vice President of Research and Development
In my position, I leverage data, evaluation and research as tools to improve the impact of AmeriCorps. I love what I do because it combines the practical with the aspirational, which is the true spirit of AmeriCorps. In college I coached with Special Olympics in basketball, track and field and bowling. I worked with elementary school kids, and I always knew I would do something that helped kids learn. To me, service means giving some of yourself — in time and in talent — to improving someone or something else. My favorite service moment has to be when we launch 1,000+ AmeriCorps members into successful service years at the end of their Institute training each summer. I think the best part of working for ServeMinnesota is working with the team of people we have here. Everyone is so fun and focused. We have some really talented people and I love my “little collection of nerds” here in the R&D department.
Chief Executive Officer
Audrey Suker leads ServeMinnesota. During her tenure, the number of opportunities for Minnesotans to serve their community has more than tripled, state support for AmeriCorps has increased from $900,000 annually to more than $7 million, and private funds have increased from $75,000 to $2.5 million. The nomination called Suker a “fierce advocate for finding innovative solutions that address unsolved problems,” such as the rate of early literacy failure in Minnesota. Suker’s vision led to the creation of Minnesota Reading Corps, a statewide initiative to ensure all children are reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Today, the program has tutors in 900 elementary schools and early learning centers across Minnesota, 11 additional states and Washington, D.C., making it the largest AmeriCorps tutoring program nationally.
Shayla Thiel Stern, Ph.D.
Vice President of Content Marketing
ServeMinnesota has a million stories to tell about the impact that our AmeriCorps members have serving their state and the people in it. These range from how how children learn to how our forests evolve to how Minnesotans going through a tough time — addiction, homelessness, unemployment — make their way to better days. I am in charge of our strategic content initiatives, which means making storytelling a key part of who we are, with the hope of recruiting more AmeriCorps members and encouraging people to donate to fund our amazing programs.
Vice President of External Relations
For my position, I do a variety of things from legislative outreach to communications to recruitment. Having the opportunity to work with AmeriCorps members is inspiring and very fun. They are amazing people! To me, service is harnessing goodwill and transforming it into impact. There are so many favorite moments of service for me, but getting a jar of homemade sauerkraut from one of our members was pretty delicious. Welcome to Minnesota!
My year of service as a Reading Corps member led me to my current role with ServeMinnesota, where my time is split between development (i.e., fundraising) and communications. The best part of my job is getting to hear and share the inspiring stories of the passionate, caring people who serve and the transformations that result from their AmeriCorps experience.
Outside of work, I like to plan my next travel adventure and hang out with my dog. I can’t resist a library book sale or Little Free Libraries on the roadside.
I love being a part of something greater than myself. Getting to learn about the admirable work that’s being done while continuing to improve upon our AmeriCorps programs is the best part of my job. Prior to working at ServeMinnesota, I served two years in AmeriCorps and then became the Program Director for CTEP. I believe service allows us to shape our world through participatory action and evidence-based programming. My favorite service moments were when participating in or facilitating the AmeriCorps pledge. It’s a uniting moment at the beginning of each service year in which members recite their pledge to service for the year and promise that when “Faced with apathy, I will take action.”
A fun fact about me is I completed the YWCA’s all women’s triathlon in 2011. It took me three months to train and was really rewarding. I would definitely do it again!
Reading Corps Data Management Associate
As a member of the Research & Development Department, I work with a team of people dedicated to using evaluation and data analytics in their projects. My role gives me ongoing opportunities to support AmeriCorps tutors, coaches and program staff. In my experience, service involves people collaborating with one another to make the world an easier place to live in! A favorite memory centers upon the 2003 Minnesota PeaceJam, when as an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow, I stood in a packed auditorium, hearing Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams exchange stories with high-school-age youth — a soul-tingling moment!
My proudest non-work achievement has to be when I volunteered at KFAI, a community radio station. I was the producer of a weekly hour-long webcast series which featured host Collin Robinson, who lived in Liverpool.
Many people are surprised to learn that AmeriCorps requires a local match on its investment of federal funding in our communities. I’m part of the team that makes sure ServeMinnesota raises enough funding from the private and philanthropic sector in order to maximize the AmeriCorps funding we receive from government. I love sharing ServeMinnesota’s work and programs with funders. It really energizes me to give others the chance to be change-agents in their communities through their giving.
One of my first site visits took place on a chilly winter day in northern Minnesota. As the Reading Corps tutor progressed through a lesson, the student became more fluent and confident with each moment. I glanced at the funder and there was amazement on his face. I knew then that this funder “got it” – that he understood the impact of Reading Corps was real. A few weeks later, his organization made its very first grant for Reading Corps and their support has continued every year since.
Information Systems Analyst
From data collection development and support, to website development, to reporting out to our stakeholders, I enjoy anything and everything technology related. I served as a Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) AmeriCorps member from 2013 to 2015 and enjoyed teaching vital technology skills to underserved populations in St. Paul and Minneapolis. My favorite moments as an AmeriCorps member were whenever a participant had an “ah-ha!” moment, and I could see the light switch flip in their head. The “I will get things done” AmeriCorps mentality has stuck with me ever since I served.
In my free time I enjoy producing music, hanging out with my cat and learning everything I can related to cryptocurrency. I enjoy all types of music such as electronic, alternative, jazz and classical — anything but country!
Video Storyteller & Editor
Deborah Honore is a 2018 graduate of the University of St. Thomas who previously was a video producer for St. Thomas before joining the ServeMinnesota team. Additionally, she was a video production intern for “PBS NewsHour’s Under-Told Stories” Project and a Community Engagement Intern at Pollen Midwest.
Senior Evaluation Manager
In my position, I collect, analyze and report on AmeriCorps programs’ outcomes. I like helping programs understand their impact and identify areas of improvement. The best part of working at ServeMinnesota is that the people here are really talented and motivated. For me, service is the giving of one’s time and talents to make a positive difference in their community. Prior to working at ServeMinnesota, I taught 5th grade as an AmeriCorps member in Savannah, Georgia, for two years. My favorite moments were the excitement of the first day of school where so much is possible and relationships start to be built. In my spare time I like to travel a lot, and I’m also on a basketball and shuffleboard league.
Did you know studies show that preschoolers are only spending 6% of their school day learning math? That accounts for only 2 minutes of their entire day! With my position, I’m able to expand on our programming to bring innovative math practice to preschoolers. Before working at ServeMinnesota, I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in Minneapolis Public Schools. My favorite service moment has to be when my VISTA cohort distributed food, clothing and water to support the community after a tornado hit North Minneapolis in May 2011.
Outside of work, I enjoy playing trombone in an 80-person band. We perform all over the Twin Cities area!
Peter Nelson, Ph.D.
Director of Research and Innovation
My role at ServeMinnesota is particularly rewarding because it offers the opportunity to engage in research and development projects that can almost immediately be applied to practice. At its heart, I think of service as a collection of unselfish acts. This of course includes long-term efforts, but it also includes countless small opportunities to help others each day. This past year I had the opportunity to observe the pledge ceremony for Reading and Math Corps. For me, it was a reminder of how many people in our state devote a significant amount of their time to helping others.
Every family has their tradition — ours was a new board game every year for each of the three kids. Fast forward a few decades (and families of our own) and we’ve got a lot of options. Just in case the opportunity arises, I keep a few games in my trunk and always have a deck of cards in my briefcase. I can never tell if this is more weird than fun, but let’s go with fun.
Sandy Pulles, Ph.D.
Assistant Director of Equity, Inclusion & Innovation
I’ve been part of Reading Corps and Math Corps for several years as a consultant to evaluate reading materials for cultural relevance, a member of the Math Corps Task Force and trainer, and as a Total Learning Classroom (TLC) Coach. Now at ServeMinnesota, I will continue my work in equity by managing the expansion and continued development of the TLC model. I am also the TLC Coach at Sojourner Truth Academy. To me, service means giving back to the community to continue empowering the next generation.
- I hold a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota and am a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. I grew up speaking “Spanglish” and am a proud Puerto Rican.
- Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and being outdoors in warm weather!
- One fun place that I traveled to was Kauai, HI in college where I did a service project on native ducks (Koloa Maoli) with students from a small school.
I like my position as Staff Accountant because I find it satisfying to keep things in good order. I really like and admire the people I work with and I appreciate the ServeMinnesota mission very much. To me, service is how we express care for our neighbors. It is how we can effect positive change in the world regardless of what is happening politically.
In my spare time, I play the ukulele in a four-piece band called Repeat and Fade. My favorite gig has to be when we performed at the Vikings Bar and packed the house for an entire 20 minutes!
Director of Programs
In my position I get to help AmeriCorps programs be their very best so that they, in turn, can support solutions to community challenges. I love that I get to help our AmeriCorps programs make a difference in people’s lives. I would describe service as giving of yourself without expecting something in return. It’s hard to describe a favorite service moment because almost every experience changes who you are. By engaging with new people or experiences and learning from them, you both get the opportunity to become a better version of yourself.
In my spare time, I like to hike, travel and attend concerts! My favorite artists are Weezer and Jimmy Buffett.
Ben is a project coordinator for ServeMinnesota’s Opioid Response Program. He has experience in developing and maintaining recordkeeping systems to capture capacity building processes and program effectivenesses and supports training and program materials design for the Recovery Corps program. Prior to joining ServeMinnesota, Ben worked for a program evaluation consultancy, specifically focusing on collecting and analyzing data pertaining to the Minnesota Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) program for Dakota County and developing technical assistance toolkits and culturally valid evaluation practices for the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and is an AmeriCorps alumni who served as a Promise Fellow, doing drop-out prevention work in the South Metro area.
Strategic Outreach Director
I am responsible for the development of new and enhanced partnerships and relationships that amplify ServeMinnesota’s mission and goals. I also lead the organization’s development function and the growth of ServeMinnesota’s fundraising portfolio. Before that, I served as the associate director of the General Mills Foundation where she led General Mills’ global employee engagement program and served as the grants officer for the company’s education and international community grants programs as well as the former Twin Cities Celebrating Communities of Color Grants. The best part of working for ServeMinnesota — besides the people — is the cause of serving others. Closing the gaps that exists for people really resonates with who I am. I am currently on the board of directors of the Salvation Army Northern Division as well as HandsOn Twin Cities.
Martha Jones Sichko
Kate Kelly, Board Chair
Senator Susan Kent
Representative Debra Kiel
Representative Erin Koegel