2018-2019 C3 TwinCities VISTA Cohort

Ellie Benson

Program Associate, Pohlad Family Foundation

Ellie was born in Portland, Oregon and raised in Iowa City, Iowa. She recently graduated from Macalester College with a degree in American Studies and a concentration in Human Rights and Humanitarianism. She joined C3 to better understand philanthropy’s role in building more equitable housing systems. Outside of the office, Ellie loves camping, cooking, and attending concerts at First Ave.

Anna Schmiel

Community Engagement Specialist, Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON)

Anna was raised in Minnesota and graduated from Carleton College in 2017 with a degree in Poli Sci/IR. At Carleton, she researched economic development in Southeast Asia and an ecovillage in rural Missouri. She choose to work in North Minneapolis this year with the Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) because she's passionate about strengthening community through local business. In her spare time, Anna loves baking bread, eating her way around the Twin Cities, and asking to pet people's dogs.

Mitch Hinojosa

Youth Engagement Coordinator, Project for Pride in Living: LEAP Initiative

Born and raised in Waukegan, IL, Mitch moved to Dubuque, IA to attend Loras College where she graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice and Political Science. Mitch has 8+ years of experience working with youth of all ages, backgrounds, and needs. At Project for Pride in Living, Mitch is eager to continue to learn and work with youth in alternative schools, to help them reach different resources, and to assist them in navigating the Hennepin County system.

Olivia Glen-Rayner

Career Pathways Center Coordinator, YouthLink MN

Born in New York City, Olivia moved to the Midwest to attend Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota where she studied Political Science and International Relations. She is fascinated by all aspects of urban politics and hopes to one day create public policy that works to alleviate poverty in cities. Olivia is excited to learn about effective, community-driven social service delivery at YouthLink MN. Out of the office, you can find Olivia hanging out with friends, exploring her new neighborhood, and watching Top Chef.

Tony Salazar Mejia

East Side Workforce Advocate, Merrick Community Services

Tony Salazar Mejia grew up in Saint Paul, MN and is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota – Duluth where he studied Political Science and Sociology. He plans to use his education on political and social structures to further the causes of social, racial, and economic justice. His journey begins with serving his hometown as an East Side Workforce Advocate at Merrick Community Services in Saint Paul.

Nonkululeko Shongwe

Community Wealth Building Program Coordinator, Nexus Community Partners

Nkuli is from Athens, Ohio. She graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Arts in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and minors in Communication Studies and French. Nkuli is starting her second year at Nexus Community Partners continuing her work with community wealth building. She enjoys and believes in the work she is doing in Nexus and wanted to continue building on her first year. She stayed at C3 to continue learning . Outside of work, she enjoys bike riding, going on hikes, and attending fun events in the Twin Cities.

Joseph Miranda

Program and Engagement Coordinator, Patrick Henry High School

Joseph was born in Fort Collins, CO, and has lived across the country as an artist and crafts person for his adult life. He received his BA in studio art at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO, where he studied pottery through internship programs. Continuing his education out in CA under mentors, Joseph eventually returned to Fort Collins to start his own pottery business in order to enrich the community. He worked closely with other artists at a cooperative studio space, and grew to understand the importance of community building. He will be working with Patrick Henry High School to develop an internship program for Juniors, with the hope that he can help foster community growth and provide education for kids outside the classroom. He joined C3 Twin Cities in order to learn more about how to provide equity for all.

David Tranvik

Project Coordinator, Hennepin County Office to End Homelessness

David was born in Minneapolis, MN and graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a degree in History and Political Science. He lived in China for the past two years as a Peace Corps volunteer. He joined C3 Twin Cities to gain experience in the nonprofit sector and to provide any assistance possible to the disenfranchised people in the community.

Max Geitz

VISTA Leader, Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of MN

Max is C3 Twin Cities' VISTA Leader, having served her first year in the cohort at the Eastside Financial Center, Lutheran Social Service. Outside of C3, she enjoys eating spicy food, writing thinkpieces she'll never post, and defending St. Paul as a good place to live.

M.L. Kenney

Fundraising and Communications Coordinator, Friendship Academy of the Arts

M.L. Kenney recently graduated from Macalester College with a degree in English literature and critical theory. She is excited to promote educational equity through her work at Friendship Academy of the Arts, and, in doing so, learn more about FAA's efforts in the areas of literacy, youth development, and arts integration. She looks forward to finding a network of support in C3 as she (eagerly!) grapples with the many conundrums of a life of service.

Heidi Affi

Northside Fresh Food Partnership Coordinator, Appetite for Change

Hi! My name is Heidi and I use she/her pronouns. I’m serving as the Partnership Coordinator at Northside Fresh Coalition, supporting development for small vendors and growers as well as strengthening Coalition capacity. I love tomatoes, being active, drawing, and cooking traditional Syrian dishes. I also have a tattoo of a right hand on my right arm!

Madison McConnell

Project Specialist, City of Lakes Community Land Trust

Madison was born and raised in Duluth, MN and recently graduated from Drake University with a Bachelor of Arts Journalism and Mass Communication (B.A.J.M.C.) in Public Relations with a concentration in Leadership Education and Development. Madison is starting her second year with C3 Twin Cities, serving at the City of Lakes Community Land Trust in North Minneapolis. She is excited for another year of growth within the C3 cohort and for new challenges and opportunities in her role at the CLCLT.

Maggie Simmons

Communications and Development Coordinator, KIPP-MN

Maggie is a North Carolina native who moved to the Twin Cities a year ago to embark on her first term of service with AmeriCorps. As the Communications Coordinator for KIPP MN, she is eager to use her passion for writing and storytelling to increase the school's capacity. In her free time, Maggie enjoys exercising, reading, and cooking/eating vegan food.

Henry DeGrand

Communication + Strategy Specialist, Rêve Academy

Henry DeGrand is the Communication + Strategy Specialist for Rêve Academy. With a degree from the College of Wooster’s Urban Studies program, Henry has worked in affordable housing, research, educational technology, and graphic design in such places as Copenhagen, Eugene, Oregon, or his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. He hopes to further develop a role that facilitates learning through play, beautifully visualized information, and humanizes both our built and digital environments. When not in the office, Henry is often in motion.

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