In his role, Mohamed oversees youth and adult workforce programs and services, and he provides leadership to the partnership and services at the Cedar-Riverside Opportunity Center. Mohamed has worked for EMERGE for 20+ years. He is drawn to EMERGE because it holds the same values as the ones he grew up with: helping your neighbors succeed, encouraging all people to value education, and doing whatever he can to help others realize their potential.
Aaron is a Workforce Coordinator with EMERGE who has worked with diverse populations in our Northside location, ECTC, for over three years. In 2019, he was honored as both an Employee of the Year and as a member of the top service team of the year. In 2020, in addition to his daily work, Aaron has led the effort to digitize EMERGE forms to enhance access for our participants during COVID-19. Aaron holds a Master’s degree in IT and has completed training in both GCDF and Motivational Interviewing through EMERGE.
Elijah Charalampopoulos is the Production Manager of our Nielsen Metal Manufacturing social enterprise, located in Maple Grove. Elijah has a long history of working in the business of trades and manufacturing; she began by managing a chainsaw carver’s small business. She grew throughout her career, progressing through leadership roles consistently. Her passion lies in advocating on behalf of others to ensure their successful futures. She chose EMERGE from amongst other strong options because she felt she could have a greater, more direct impact on our community. She stays because there is so much more to do, and she has the support of EMERGE behind her to continuously move projects, ideas, and work forward. What you might be surprised to learn about her is she painted the Goldy and Sally statues in Sally’s Saloon located at the University of Minnesota.
Executive Vice President of EMERGE Enterprise & Operations
Kevin Engdahl is Executive Vice President of EMERGE Enterprise and Operations for EMERGE Community Development. In that role, Kevin oversees financial strategy for the organization, and provides leadership and strategic direction to EMERGE’s social enterprise businesses. Kevin was formerly the Vice President of Finance for Momentum Enterprises which merged with EMERGE in 2015. In addition to having responsibility for all finance and administration functions at Momentum, Kevin led the Custom Manufacturing business and played an integral part in the development and implementation of business development plans. Prior to Momentum, Kevin spent 20 years in the medical device industry where he gained broad operational experience in finance, operations, business development (mergers and acquisitions), product development and marketing. Kevin holds a B.A in Accounting from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN.
Vice President of Finance & Administration
Deqa Essa is the Vice President of Finance and Administration. In this role, she leads both the finance and HR functions at EMERGE. Deqa comes to us from Habitat for Humanity where she served for over 11 years in a variety of roles. She has expertise in non-profit accounting/finance and management. She holds a master’s degree in Human Resources and a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.
Director of Training and Education
Tom Gibson is the Director of Training and Education at EMERGE, primarily residing at our Cedar-Riverside location in South Minneapolis. Tom has been a part of workforce development programming, specifically championing people of all ages overcoming barriers to employment and education, for more than 15 years. He has worked at every level, from serving as a trainer to the program director. He holds a bachelor’s degree in the humanities from Metro State University. Tom is passionate about the impact EMERGE has and continues to make in the community.
Director of MFIP
Sherry Glanton is Director of MFIP (Minnesota Family Investment Program) & the Diversionary Work Program for EMERGE. She also oversees Quick Connect MFIP services in south Minneapolis. Prior to joining EMERGE, Sherry served in a number of roles for Resource Inc. – Employment Action Center, including Division Director for Youth & Young Parent Programs, Welfare to Work Program Director, Program Supervisor – MFIP Demonstration Program, and Vocational Counselor where she provided career planning and direction to participants in the STRIDE program. Sherry is passionate about helping individuals and families achieve their employment and education goals.
Manager of Data, Reporting, and Evaluation
Danci Greene is the Manager of Data, Reporting, and Evaluation at EMERGE. She earned a bachelor’s in family social science with a focus on family violence prevention. Danci then worked, for 13 years, at Tubman in the domestic violence shelter and development departments. She began her tenure at EMERGE in 2015 as a Data Entry Specialist then worked her way up to manager. Initially, Danci chose EMERGE as a breakaway role from domestic violence, but she soon found there was a wealth of opportunity for her to grow with EMERGE. Something you may not know about Danci is she was the 2000-2001 Northeast Minneapolis Princess and she studied abroad in the Amazon Rainforest.
Vice President of Programs
Terra Mayfield is Vice President of Programs, meaning she oversees program creation, goals, and execution of all programs at EMERGE. In that role, Terra oversees a staff of more than 10 career coaches who help participants achieve their career goals. Terra has been a face at EMERGE for many years prior to this role, as well as spending more than 10 years in nonprofits focused on equity and community development. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Psychology from the University of Minnesota. Terra finds fulfillment in motivating participants to make a change and be the best version of themselves.
Vice President of Advancement
Jill Pearson-Wood is the Vice President of Advancement at EMERGE. In that role, she provides strategic direction and leadership to the Development, Data & Evaluation and Communication teams. She has 20 years of experience in fundraising, marketing, and communications in nonprofit and higher education organizations. Jill started her career as a newspaper reporter covering education, city and county government for newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Jill holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Minnesota State-Mankato and a Mini-MBA from the University of St. Thomas. She has a passion for connecting volunteers, donors, and the general public to work that addresses social and racial justice issues.
Director of Human Resources
Kris Solz serves as the Director of Human Resources at EMERGE. She earned a bachelor’s in social work from Minnesota State University, a Senior Professional in Human Resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute, and a Senior Certified Professional certification from the Society of Human Resource Management. She has over 30 years of working in nonprofit organizations. She chose to bring her talents to EMERGE because she was already deeply connected to the work, and it felt like coming home. She stays because she loves serving the community she claims as her own.
Marketing & Communications Manager
Sydney Velez is the Communications Coordinator at EMERGE. Sydney has diverse experience in communications, marketing, public relations, branding, and social media all within the nonprofit and public sectors. She holds a bachelor’s degree in both public relations and English studies as well as an international master’s degree in corporate communications and marketing. She chose EMERGE because of its holistic, closed-circuit way of serving people overcoming intergenerational poverty. She stays with EMERGE because of its proven commitment to serve people sharing her lived experience equitably, with dignity, and with no judgment. A fact that might surprise you is that Sydney lived, worked, and researched in Madrid, Spain before coming to work at EMERGE.
Youth Programs Director
Will Wallace is the Youth Programs Director, with more than 25 years worth of experience with youth, specifically focused on youth who exist in a cycle of violence, trauma, gangs, or the justice system. Will even created and stewarded the North 4 program that serves this target of youth in North Minneapolis. He has a sociology degree from St. Thomas University. He chose to bring his talent to EMERGE because of the combination of exciting, challenging, and meaningful work that impacts all sorts of people in our community. He loves working for an organization that wants to best for people. Will’s personal talent is DJ-ing at parties, making people dance, and inspiring laughter.
Operations Manager at Nielsen Metal
Mike Widhalm is the Operations Manager at Nielsen Metal Manufacturing, a social enterprise of EMERGE that provides high-quality custom metal fabrication services to a wide variety of industries. In that role, Mike manages the day-to-day operations and helps the larger organization develop training and apprentice opportunities that assist our participants in developing skills that lead to careers capable of supporting families. Mike is the former owner of a metal fabrication business that employed 30 people. There he developed his craft and business management skills. After selling his business, Mike made a career change and worked for 10 years with Volunteers of America where he worked as a counselor with at-risk-youth providing a variety of services and supports. Outside of EMERGE, Mike is also certified in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning.
President & CEO
Mike Wynne is the President and CEO of EMERGE Community Development. He has led the organization since its launch in 2006. Before that, he served in a succession of positions with Pillsbury United Communities, EMERGE’s heritage organization. He was first hired as a direct service staff person in 1988, and then served as center director, program director, and vice president before launching EMERGE in its current form.
As President and CEO, Mike has led the development of a portfolio of highly acclaimed public/private partnerships, community development initiatives and entrepreneurial initiatives. Mike earned his BA in Sociology and Urban Studies from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has completed graduate certifications in non-profit management and finance at the University of St. Thomas, The James Shannon Institute for Renewing Community Leadership, The Executive Leadership Institute at the University of Michigan School of Social Work & Business; and the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship.
Mike is a life-long Minneapolis resident and grew up in North Minneapolis and the Cedar Riverside neighborhood. He has been a featured presenter at national and regional conferences and seminars including the Alternative Staffing Alliance, Minnesota Council on Nonprofits, United Neighborhood Centers of America and Corporation for Supportive Housing.
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