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 33% of our staff are AmeriCorps alumni.
Lindsay Dolce, J.D.
Chief Advancement Officer
Lindsay Dolce serves as the Chief Advancement Officer for ServeMinnesota. She is responsible for leading the development team as well as working with sourcing growth capital and working with emerging states to successfully start up and implement strategic initiatives of ServeMinnesota.
Dolce brings extensive national and state-level advocacy and outreach experience to the position, having served as Executive Director of Serve Colorado, the state’s service commission, and Colorado Reads – Colorado’s Early Literacy Initiative. She provided statewide leadership in Colorado’s AmeriCorps State program including strategic planning for national and community initiatives, program development, community outreach, organizational and financial operations, and administration. Prior to this, she worked as the Senior Program Manager for the David and Laura Merage Foundation supporting implementation of the shared services approach for early care and education providers. She also worked as a domestic relations attorney, a domestic violence prosecutor and was a staff member for United States Senator J. Robert Kerrey and President Bill Clinton.
Dolce received her B.A. in English, Political Science and International Relations from William Jewell College, studied at St. Peter’s College at Oxford University and received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri.
Vice President of Operations
Janet Johnson serves as Vice President of Operations at ServeMinnesota. She has more than 30 years experience as a human services professional and demonstrated success in multiple functions of nonprofit management and service delivery. Johnson has served in several different positions at ServeMinnesota and contributed to the growth and success of the organization for nearly 20 years. As a member of the senior leadership team, she oversees the work of the program staff, daily operations, including risk management, staffing, human resources, administrative functions and compliance with state and federal laws and regulations.
Vice President of Insight and Change
As V.P. of Insight and Change, Dean Kephart leads ServeMinnesota’s process for identifying and innovating to meet emerging community needs with AmeriCorps service. He also provides strategic assistance in building organizational partnerships and securing new sources of funding. Most recently, Dean developed and launched “Designing Your Life,” a human-centered design thinking course for AmeriCorps members to strategically position their service experience along their career paths. Prior to his work at ServeMinnesota, Dean was a Senior Group Manager at Target Corporation, where he was involved in Target’s charitable investments in education, both in Minnesota and nationally. Dean’s experience includes 30 years of executive management, education, and communications roles. He also volunteers as an English tutor for adult ESL learners, a commitment that he’s made for the past 11 years. Dean has a B.S. in Speech and Theatre Arts from Winona State and a Master’s in Business Communication from the University of St. Thomas.
Vice President of Finance
Lynn Lewis serves as the Vice President of Finance at ServeMinnesota. She is responsible for all aspects of the financial management of the organization. This includes managing the finances of the organization as well as providing fiscal support and monitoring to programs that ServeMinnesota supports.
Lynn has more than 20 years of non-profit accounting experience. Lynn joined the ServeMinnesota team in 2007, prior to working for ServeMinnesota she worked for Rise, Inc., a non-profit organization that had an AmeriCorps program at the time. Lynn has a B.S. in Accounting from St. Cloud State University.
David Parker, Ph.D.
Vice President of Research and Development
David Parker leads ServeMinnesota’s research and development efforts, including new program design, program evaluation and innovation, and the development of robust data management systems. He has been part of the ServeMinnesota mission for more than 10 years. David has a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota, where he nurtured a passion for researching ways to help students develop strong reading and math skills. He and his team remain actively committed to demonstrating the unique contribution of AmeriCorps in advancing research to practice across various issue areas. He publishes frequently in top-tiered research journals, presents at national, state and local conferences, and has helped secure over $2 million for grant-funded research projects.
Sandy Pulles, Ph.D.
Vice President of Equity & Inclusion
Sandy Pulles is the Vice President of Equity & Inclusion at ServeMinnesota where she leads diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives internally through staff and organizational development and externally through building community partnerships. She aims to ensure that ServeMinnesota’s AmeriCorps programs are designed, developed, and evaluated with community collaboration. She also works collaboratively with AmeriCorps programs to ensure Black, Indigenous, and people of color serving with AmeriCorps have a positive experience while building leadership skills. Prior to ServeMinnesota, Pulles was a School Psychologist where she collaborated with school administrators to create systems change to support students’ academic, social and emotional outcomes. She received her master’s and doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota, and is also a National Certified School Psychologist.
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
Shayla Thiel Stern, Vice President of Content Marketing, leads strategic digital and content marketing initiatives for ServeMinnesota, which means putting storytelling at the core of how we express our impact to funders, donors and potential AmeriCorps recruits in Minnesota. Shayla has more than 20+ years of experience in digital media and storytelling and most recently was Editorial & Content Director at Twin Cities PBS – Next Avenue, a Senior Digital Strategist at Fast Horse and an associate professor at the Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. She’s also worked at cars.com, washingtonpost.com, Iowa Public Radio, and published two books — Instant Identity: Adolescent Girls and the World of IM and From the Dance Hall to Facebook: Teen Girls, Mass Media and Moral Panic in the U.S. Shayla has a B.A. and Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Iowa and an M.A. in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University.
Vice President of External Relations
Lisa leads marketing communications, public affairs and government relations for ServeMinnesota, working with organizations, constituents and community leaders from all sectors of the state. She also oversees college student recruitment at the University of Minnesota and other campuses, driving the groundbreaking work to attract GenZ and millennials to national service. Her expertise reflects her passion to deliver results through strategic solutions and teamwork.
She brings the wisdom from more than 25 years of professional experience in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, and has served in leadership roles at The Saint Paul Foundation, St. Paul Companies (now Travelers), Girl Scouts and United Way. She joined ServeMinnesota in 2009.
Committed to collaboration and building the capacity of the field, Lisa chairs the national Communications Learning Community for America’s Service Commissions that represents commissions from 52 states and territories. She also serves on University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts Employer Advisory Council and the Board of Advocates for Backpack, a student-led marketing communications agency. She graduated with honors and has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
AmeriCorps service as a Reading Corps tutor gave Katie a chance to reconsider a career in teaching. While she loved the service, she realized the classroom wasn’t a good fit for her. She then took on a role in marketing for a global company. Now as Development Associate at ServeMinnesota, she combines her passion for service with her writing experience to support fundraising and communications for AmeriCorps programs.
Katie holds a BA in English from the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University.
Des Culpitt serves as the Program Officer for ServeMinnesota. She is responsible for program
management and monitoring systems to ensure that AmeriCorps grantees in Minnesota deliver
effective programs, accomplish stated objectives and comply with programmatic requirements
defined by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Culpitt brings 10+ years of volunteer and nonprofit expertise to ServeMinnesota. Prior to
joining ServeMinnesota, she served as Program Director for the Community Technology
Empowerment Project (CTEP), an AmeriCorps program in Minnesota focusing on digital literacy
and access for underserved and underemployed communities. Most recently, she worked as
the Workforce Development Manager at Minnesota Computers for Schools in which she
supervised AmeriCorps members and worked collaboratively with schools and community
organizations to provide technology access and skills training to individuals in need.
With a passion for fundamentally-sound program development, thoughtful strategic planning
and meaningful community engagement, she brings extensive experience in volunteer
management, including recruitment, retention and engagement. She holds a B.S. in Public
Administration and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a Master of
Public Policy degree focused on Nonprofit and Public Leadership and Management from the
Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. She is an AmeriCorps alumni
who served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and VISTA Leader with the City of Saint Paul VISTA
Data Management Associate
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!
I completed multiple years as an AmeriCorps member, including as a VISTA Leader, and I always relished the opportunity to serve alongside so many brilliant, community-minded people. After joining the ServeMinnesota team, I now provide administrative and program support to our program staff. To me, service means being part of something bigger than yourself and helping others. I’m thrilled to be among so many like-minded and talented folks here at ServeMinnesota.
When not voyaging the many realms of our databases, I typically either have my nose in a book or my swing dancing shoes laced tight.
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
Patrick Kaiser serves as the Senior Evaluation Manager at ServeMinnesota where he manages evaluation and reporting for ServeMinnesota’s programs with a focus on the strategic initiatives of Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps. He also supports the evaluation needs of partner organizations replicating these programs across the country. Patrick previously taught fifth grade in Savannah, GA as an AmeriCorps member and worked in education policy advocacy in Atlanta, GA. Patrick attended the University of Notre Dame where he received a B.A. in Political Science and Economics and a M.Ed. in Elementary Education.
Principal Software Engineer
Dmitry Konopatski has served as the Principal Software Engineer for ServeMinnesota since 2016. He was initially hired as a part-time IT contractor to build from scratch a cost-effective Data Warehouse system. Later, he switched to a full-time position and is now responsible for the systems design, development and maintenance of our state-of-art data management systems running behind Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps programs. He also oversees the quality and efficiency of the technical solutions delivered by the remote development team.
Dmitry has more than 20 years of experience in computer programming and software development, with expertise in database design and performance tuning, data mining and web development. Before joining ServeMinnesota, he worked as a software developer for the Office of Information Technology at the University of Minnesota, where he was involved in multiple enterprise-level projects, including the Electronic Grants Management System (EGMS) and large-scale Enterprise Systems Upgrade Program (ESUP).
Julie McLeod serves as a Project Manager on ServeMinnesota’s Research & Development Team. Julie is responsible for managing the development and implementation of new education initiatives and programs. She approaches all projects with a strong strategic focus, passion for achieving equitable outcomes for all students, and overseeing multidisciplinary teams while maintaining a clear path towards achieving project goals. Currently, Julie oversees the K-3 Math Pilot project, which launched in the 2020-21 school year to provide math intervention support to students in early elementary grades.
Julie brings 10+ years of expertise in education and project management to ServeMinnesota. Prior to joining ServeMinnesota, she worked at Minneapolis Public Schools in a variety of roles, including volunteer management, community partnerships, and building pathways to teaching. Most recently, she designed and launched a paraprofessional to special education teacher residency program with the goal of recruiting and retaining diverse candidates in the teaching profession.
Julie received her B.A. in Secondary Education and History from Boston College and a M.A. in Evaluation Studies at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. Julie is a proud AmeriCorps alum, having served as a VISTA at Edison High School in Minneapolis.
Peter Nelson, Ph.D.
Director of Research and Innovation
Peter Nelson is the Director of Research and Innovation at ServeMinnesota where he engages with ServeMinnesota pilot programs and existing programs to ensure key principles of effective implementation and evidence-building occur. Peter has more than 10 years of experience in research and evaluation methodology with a particular focus on the educational context. Before joining ServeMinnesota, Peter was an Assistant Professor of School Psychology at Penn State University. In addition to his direct work with AmeriCorps programs, Peter has published over 35 peer-reviewed articles in academic journals and helped secure over 2 million dollars in funding to facilitate new program development and research related to data-based decision making and academic intervention in the school setting. Peter holds a B.A. in Psychology from St. Olaf College, an M.A. in Education from the University of Mississippi, and an M.Ed and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in School Psychology. Peter serves on the editorial board for School Psychology Review, School Psychology Forum and Assessment for Effective Intervention.
Director of Programs
Stacey Scherschligt has been with ServeMinnesota since 2006 and currently serves as the Director of Programs. She is responsible for providing guidance to new applicants, managing the Request for Proposal process, providing training and technical assistance to AmeriCorps grantees and ensuring compliance with federal regulations. Prior to ServeMinnesota, she served as the Program Coordinator for the National Service Training Project where she provided training and technical assistance to AmeriCorps programs across the country. Stacey received a B.S. in Business Management from the University of South Dakota and is an AmeriCorps alum who served two years with the USVets program in Washington, DC. In 2019, she was awarded Outstanding Commission Staff Member of the Year by America’s Service Commissions.
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
As Strategic Outreach Director, Donna Svendsen forges relationships and builds partnerships between ServeMinnesota and stakeholders in the communities we serve. She also co-leads ServeMinnesota’s strategic process for recruiting and retaining AmeriCorps members of color. Donna’s expertise in Minnesota’s non-profit landscape spans 20+ years and uniquely positions her for these efforts. Before her current role, Donna was the Associate Director for the General Mills Foundation, where she led the company’s global employee engagement program, grants programs, and its multi-million dollar United Way campaign in the U.S. and Canada. Donna’s experience also includes working as the Media Relations Manager for Macalester College and as a Reporter & Producer for Minnesota Public Radio. Donna has a B.A. in Journalism from Drake University.
Senior Strategic Analyst
Susan helps lead research, program innovation and strategic initiatives. She plays a critical role in developing the programs, partnerships and resources needed to grow and expand Reading Corps. Susan leads ServeMinnesota’s role in HELP (Higher Education Literacy Partnership) a statewide network of reading professionals committed to improve reading skills for struggling readers including students with dyslexia. Prior to joining ServeMinnesota, Susan worked as a reading tutor and organized a parent advocacy group that engaged in successful passage of reading legislation and related funding for schools. She also worked as a member of the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board Special Education work group and its Reading task force to redesign reading standards for newly-licensed teachers. In 2009, she received the STAR Literacy Award from the National Association for Reading First for her efforts on the Minnesota Literacy Bill. Susan holds a BA in Economics from Carleton College.
Martha Jones Sichko
Kate Kelly, Board Chair
Representative Debra Kiel
Representative Erin Koegel
Mary Cathryn Ricker