Main Line: 218-894-1930 or 888-894-1930
General Email: info@NJPAcoop.org
Work hard......stay young!
Marketing Projects Coordinator
Ali O’Day joined National Joint Powers Alliance May of 2017 as the Marketing Projects Coordinator. As a member of the Marketing Team, Ali ensures efficient and timely project management, production, tracking, fulfillment and distribution of materials, and manages communication with all internal and external project stakeholders for all marketing projects – including print publications, campaigns, and events.
Ali first grasped her aptitude for communications during her time spent as Miss Nisswa. She represented the city volunteering in numerous public speaking appearances and radio and television interviews. She then took her enthusiasm of public service to the Minnesota Vikings organization as a cheerleader, making many public appearances worldwide. Ali went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication with a minor in English from Saint Cloud State University. Prior to her career at NJPA, she spent several years working as a Marketing Coordinator. From her previous role, Ali brings expertise on project planning, timelines, quality control, brand continuity, editing, and auditing.
Ali currently resides in Brainerd with her husband, Mike, daughter, Charli, and golden retriever, Sydney. Born and raised in the Brainerd Lakes Area, Ali enjoys all the perks that come with living in such a wonderful place.
Amy Tervola Hultberg, PhD
Amy joined the NJPA Education Solutions Department in October 2016 after nearly 20 years teaching and learning in Detroit Lakes, MN. During her time in Detroit Lakes, she taught kindergarten - fourth grade and multi-age classrooms, intervention and enrichment small groups, and implemented instructional coaching. She trained at The Ohio State University with the Literacy Collaborative as an instructional literacy coach.
Amy is passionate about learning with and from children, families, and educators. After undergraduate and graduate work at Concordia College, Hamline University, University of St. Thomas, The Ohio State University, and St. Mary's University, Amy completed her Ph.D. through Capella University in May 2015. Her dissertation is a study examining teachers' perceptions regarding literacy coaching, focused on adult learning and the impact with children. Her specialty of Professional Studies included work in adult learning, literacy, curriculum development, and cultural competence.
After these experiences, Amy is eager to apply her previous learning situations with new sustainable solutions throughout Region 5. She believes that when we are learning, we deeply impact those around us and inspire others to engage with learning of their own. Amy is always on the search for new, efficient, and authentic ways to stimulate learning, both personally and collectively.
In addition to her work with NJPA, Amy also serves as the Dean of Salolampi, the Finnish Concordia Language Village. She is well connected to the Finnish and Finnish American communities, both in the US and Finland. Amy's husband Adam is the Elementary Music Specialist in Pillager and together they parent and learn from their two young children while residing in New York Mills, MN. Amy is also an avid baker and enjoys time with family and friends.
Lead Contract Administrator
Andy Campbell has over 15 years of experience in sales & sales management, contract management and sales training. This direct experience and background in relationship cultivation, account management, new business prospecting, growing existing business and effective presentations lends the kind of real-world expertise and credibility that is invaluable in the vendor-training process utilized at the National Joint Powers Alliance®. As a Contract Administrator, it is critical to be able to relate to the sales teams that are being trained. Andy’s professional attributes allow him to quickly gain trust and rapport with his contracts so that they feel their time spent in training, is time well spent.
As a Contract Administrator, Andy plans sales training for the awarded vendor contracts that he manages to ensure their sales growth and overall contract success. He recommends communication methods, program benefits, sales strategies and value to awarded vendors. Andy also manages and ensures NJPA’s presence and maximum conference exhibiting exposure.
Another area vital to the success of NJPA’s contracts is the development and implementation of an aggressive marketing strategy to promote the contract. As a Contract Administrator, Andy works closely with all of his contracts to make sure the marketing plan is followed as well as managing vendor/customer interaction by supporting vendor customer calls while working with vendors to ensure member satisfaction.
Andy is a 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. He and his wife, Laura, reside in Baxter, MN, along with their two children. Andy’s passions outside of NJPA are spending time with his family, hunting, fishing, golfing, camping and University of North Dakota Athletics.
Administrative Specialist III
Andrea Mortensen joined the Education Solutions Department at NJPA in June of 2017 as an Administrative Specialist. She feels at home with her love for business, strong passion for education, and a resident of the Region 5 community.
Prior to NJPA, Andrea has had some exciting career opportunities. She reorganized and helped with the sale of a local waste company, obtained her IL Insurance license and was handpicked to open a branch location, as well as managed 105 rental units for a Brainerd area resort! She brings her strong creative and organizational skills, the can-do attitude, and a passion to learn and grow. Andrea has a great love for volunteer work and has been active on many boards starting in high school.
Andrea graduated with her A.A. degree at Central Lakes College with plans to continue to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in the near future.
She and her husband Blake reside in Breezy Point, MN with their two children, Piper and Olen (Ole). She enjoys tackling DIY projects and home design, daily adventures with her young children, and spending time at her parent’s farm. She is also a big fan of the wonderful outdoor activities Minnesota has to offer, from ice fishing and snowmobiling, to beaching and boating.
Administrative Specialist III
Angela came to NJPA September 2013.
She graduated from St. Cloud Technical College with a diploma as an Administrative Assistant w/Legal Option.
She brings with her a variety of customer service experience and administrative skills from a variety of industries including higher education, hospitality, retail, real estate title and medical billing.
At NJPA Angela assists with all things related to membership including, but not limited to, vetting incoming members for qualification with NJPA, processing applications for membership, distributing membership packets, updating the member list for the website, preparing for tradeshows, as well as assisting the marketing department on an administrative basis.
She, along with her life partner Mark, relocated to the area in the summer of 2013 to be closer to her daughter Amanda and son in-law Emil and 4 granddaughters as well as her son Adam. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family, camping, fishing, hunting and shopping.
Project Team Lead III
Ann Dibb joined as Project Team Lead III in 2017 to support the organizations' growth, transformation and project delivery strategy. Ann is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) who brings strong project management experience in the intersection of business operations and technology and is dedicated to ensuring project results meet business goals and expectations.
Ann's background includes several years of project management experience in the financial services industry. She has also held roles in leadership, website management and business process ownership. She delivers successful project outcomes by leveraging project lifecycle, continuous process improvement and software development lifecycle methodologies.
Ann lives near Staples with her husband. She can often be seen walking her two dogs, listening to her favorite music, enjoying the great outdoors, boating, biking, floating and spending valued time with family and friends
Manager of City & County Solutions
Anna’s responsibilities as Manager of City & County Solutions include identifying and promoting opportunities to serve the Cities and Counties of Region 5. She will work to gain feedback from the Cities and Counties of Region 5 to ensure expectations are being met. Anna is also responsible for developing and carrying out City and County services to ensure optimal outcomes for Region 5.
Before joining NJPA, Anna worked in the government sector in a variety of positions. She began her career at Tri-County Action Program, Inc. in 2008 as the Community Development Assistant. In 2009, she began her role as the City Administrator for the City of Pierz in Morrison County (Region 5). As the City Administrator, she managed the overall operation of the City, including development, planning and zoning, finance, human resources, marketing, and events. She was also active on the Pierz Commercial Club and Pierz Freedom Fest Committee.
Anna has a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Public Administration from Saint Cloud State University, as well as minors in Business and Community Development. Anna, her husband Nick, and their sons ,Jayce and Colsyn, reside in Sartell, MN. Anna enjoys time with family and friends, playing piano and guitar, traveling, and watching or attending any sporting events.
Travel & Logistics Specialist
Aprile joined National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) in January 2015 as an Administrative Specialist; Receptionist.
Before joining NJPA, Aprile worked as a 911 Dispatcher in Little Falls, MN and was a Senior Dispatcher and Victim Advocate in Naples, FL. Previous to that she spent many years working as a financial and investment assistant with a private wealth management firm in both Minneapolis, MN and Naples, FL.
Aprile has a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in English from the University of Minnesota and certifications in Massage Therapy and Esthetics from the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis.
Aprile is currently the Vice President of the North Central Beekeepers Association and in her spare time enjoys reading, gardening spending time at the lake and working on her farm.
Planning and Zoning Specialist
Ashley Kaisershot is a Planning & Zoning Specialist at National Joint Powers Alliance. She is responsible for providing long range planning and zoning services to the townships, communities, and counties in Region 5. Her responsibilities include comprehensive planning, special projects, long range planning, reviewing development proposals, application review, public involvement, preparing reports and presentations to local officials, data collection, and zoning administration.
Ashley holds a Bachelor’s of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design from North Dakota State University (Go Bison!). She began her career in the private sector, learning from great mentors in the field of landscape architecture and community planning. Her design background makes her well rounded and knowledgeable in healthy communities, complete streets, and low-impact development. Originally from a farming community in Southern, Minnesota, her true passion is rural planning. She enjoys working with local townships, communities, and counties with their long range planning needs.
Outside of her planning duties, Ashley enjoys camping and kayaking in the region’s best parks and rivers, as well as running in local 10k’s with her eye on a marathon in the future. You’ll find her at all of the surrounding community days searching for her favorite food truck and enjoying what our beautiful region has to offer.
Human Resources Assistant
Bart serves as Career and College Readiness Consultant for NJPA Educational Solutions that was created in the fall of 2014. His educational background includes a B.S. in Agricultural Education from South Dakota State University, a M.S Ed from Northern State in Aberdeen, and an additional M.S. in Educational Leadership that is currently in process. He has served as an Agriculture Instructor and Guidance Counselor for over 20 years in schools ranging in enrollment from 30 to 1400. Additional experiences as a Mental Health Practitioner, Church Youth Director and Events Coordinator, CNC machinist, and manager of an online sales business have helped to broaden his skills. Professionally, Bart has served as Central MN School Counselor’s Association President and MN School Counselor Association Treasurer.
Bart is dedicated to helping students find their passion in life and is excited about working with area educators through JTPA. His focus will be on helping schools to improve career planning through career-focused curriculum, portfolio development, and development of 21st Century Skills. The focus will include building plans that balance the building of strong relationships and the wise application of technology to help students make appropriate post-secondary choices.
Bart and his wife Leah have two daughters in college. One is attending Northwestern College in Orange City Iowa and the other is at Minot State University in North Dakota. Both are education majors. His spare time is spent working on projects including a street rod, motorcycles, and various restoration projects. He also has extensive volunteer work and has planned youth trips to New Orleans, Haiti, and Detroit.
Travel & Logistics Specialist
In May 2007, Bev Hoemberg joined NJPA as an Administrative Specialist. She spends her time arranging travel, booking shows, providing support services to all contract administrators and directors and covering a variety of business office needs. She enjoys working at NJPA and finds the growing needs of an expanding company a lively daily challenge.
Bev attended the University of Minnesota Crookston with an emphasis in Agricultural Business and then attended Wadena Technical College in the Administrative Assistants program. She worked in retail sales and marketing for a nationally known seafood company for nine years, advancing to a cost accounting position
Bev is active on the Lakewood Health Systems District Board and is a volunteer leader in the Cass County 4-H program. When not working or volunteering she enjoys spending time outdoors, horseback riding, hunting or gardening.
Government Relations Associate
Bill Otto serves on the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) legal team as a legislative advocate. Bill’s primary responsibilities include managing and navigating regional, state, and federal public policy and legislative matters that serve NJPA members and vendor partners nation-wide, as well as the local municipalities and residents of Minnesota’s region five.
As a government relations, communications, and advocacy professional with years of experience in local, state, and federal government affairs, Bill brings a wealth of knowledge and strategy to NJPA, as well as a deep background in policy analysis and public relations.
Prior to joining NJPA, Bill spent six years as a member of the lobbying team at the University of Minnesota, representing Minnesota’s largest educational organization before the state legislature and in Washington, D.C. Bill also has numerous years’ experience lobbying for local governments, and managing advocacy and communications efforts for a variety of statewide and national organizations including for-profit companies, not-for-profit associations, and trade organizations in the areas of economic development, health care, insurance, transportation, and animal welfare. Additionally, Bill managed and advised numerous successful state legislative campaigns throughout Minnesota.
Bill holds a liberal studies degree and outside of NJPA is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Minnesota Governmental Relations Council, the Public Affairs Council, and serves on the board of the Minnesota Positive Coaching Alliance.
Administrative Specialist I
BreAnne is excited to be a part of the NJPA team. BreAnne started at National Joint Powers Alliance, October 2015, as an Administrative Specialist/Front Desk Receptionist. BreAnne has studied at Central Lakes College for her A.A.S in Child Development and Guidance as well as some Nursing.
BreAnne has worked extensively in Customer Service for over 10 years. Along with her many years in Customer Service, she has worked in the Education and Healthcare fields.
BreAnne lives outside of Randall with her husband of eight years, their son and two dogs. Outside of NJPA BreAnne enjoys playing softball, attending her son’s extracurricular activities, four wheeling, hunting, fishing, and spending quality time with her family.
Data Integration Specialist
Brenda was thrilled to join National Joint Powers Alliance in July of 2017 as a Data Integration Specialist and accept a homecoming of sorts. Brenda returned home to work in Region 5, where her education career took off decades ago when she taught at Grey Eagle High School. She also returned home to work with educational data, a passion built up over years of experience in St. Cloud Area Schools in the role of District Assessment Coordinator. She embraces the NJPA Mission and vows to personify it through her work.
In addition to her educational experiences in Grey Eagle and St. Cloud Area Schools, Brenda has worked as a teacher, counselor and member of various teaching and learning teams and committees at Melrose, Sauk Centre, and Alexandria Public Schools in Minnesota. Her education includes undergraduate work at Moorhead State University and North Dakota State University, a master's degree in education from North Dakota State University, counseling licensure from St. Cloud State University, and finally administrative certification and educational leadership coursework completed through St. Mary's University of Minnesota.
Brenda looks forward to serving the schools in Region 5. She will utilize her past experiences with collecting, analyzing and disseminating data to stakeholders in her work at NJPA. She will eagerly help schools and districts with all data and assessment tasks, issues and questions. Through prior experiences, Brenda has enjoyed planning and conducting data retreats, presenting data to various groups, assisting teachers with data driven decisions, leading professional development and helping with the day to day management of a balanced assessment system.
Brenda lives in rural Grey Eagle with her husband Chuck. They have two adult children, Haley and Cody, who both graduated from Long Prairie-Grey Eagle High School and are now educators as well. Brenda is involved in church and community activities and absolutely loves to be crafty
Procurement Analyst III
Carol Jackson joined National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA) in October 2006 as Coordinator of Customer Relations for the Sharp Electronics Corporation contract. Currently, Carol is a Procurement Analyst in the Procurement Department.
Raised on a cattle ranch in Northeastern Oregon, Carol graduated from Washington State University with a B.S. in Animal Science, and M.A. in Adult & Continuing Education. Her work experience includes 12 years in customer service and sales territory management in the animal health industry and 7 years in the banking industry. Carol believes customer service is all about making the business experience a pleasant one.
Dr. Chad Coauette, PhD
As Executive Director/CEO, Chad’s primary responsibilities are to serve as the Chief Executive Officer for the Board of Directors of the National Joint Powers Alliance. Chad works at a strategic level to develop new programming and services that meet the needs of our Region V, State, and National members, sets overall organizational improvement goals, actively participates in public relations efforts, recommends changes in policy, and oversees all NJPA operations.
Prior to NJPA, Chad spent his previous 15 years working within higher education with experiences throughout the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. During his time in higher education, Chad worked at Northland Community and Technical College, Anoka Technical College, and Alexandria Technical and Community College. In his final higher education role, Chad served as Dean of Customized Training and Health Divisions at Alexandria Technical and Community College where he provided leadership and management for the Customized Training Center and all health related programs. Specific attention was given to the design and delivery of innovative programming, collaboration with other education entities, partnerships with business and industry, grant opportunities, outreach and continuing education initiatives that serve to build and sustain the future workforce.
Chad is deeply involved in the communities he serves and has volunteered time and talents for several organizations:
- Current member of the National Coalition for Public Procurement Board of Directors
- Serves as a Champion for the Region 5 Resilient Region Education and Workforce Development initiatives
- Current member of the Staples LEAP Committee
- Past member of Douglas County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors, and currently serves on the Development Committee
- Has served as President of the Alexandria Swim Club
- Past member of the Executive Team for the Inclusion Network
Chad has a PhD in Educational Leadership from the University of North Dakota, and also holds Bachelors and Masters of Science Degrees from the University of North Dakota in Industrial Technology. Chad and his wife Dawn live in Alexandria, MN with their two children Kamryn and Cyler where he enjoys spending time with family, hunting, fishing, and many other outdoor sporting activities.
Regional Purchase of Service Contract Specialist
Charitie Herbst began her career at NJPA in September 2016 as the Regional Purchase of Service Contract Specialist. Charitie’s role at NJPA is focused on helping to nurture consistency and efficiency with community provider contracts within the Region 5 counties. Charitie is also the coordinator for the Adult Mental Health Initiative for Region 5. Charitie works closely with the counties and providers to help foster and build relationships, as well as helping programs meet outcome based objectives.
Charitie received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of St. Benedict. She worked for 10 years in property and casualty claims and later as a paralegal for State Farm Insurance. Prior to beginning her career with NJPA, Charitie worked for six years as a paralegal at the Stearns County Attorney’s Office. Charitie, her husband Adam, and their children reside in Sartell, MN. Charitie enjoys running and being active, outdoor activities, spending time with family and friends, and attending her children’s games and events.
Public Relations/Social Media Specialist
Chelsea Ornelas joined National Joint Powers Alliance® in November 2016 as its Public Relations and Social Media Specialist. She’s charged with promoting NJPA’s message and value, increasing awareness of its Region 5 programs, and enhancing the member to vendor connection.
Prior to NJPA, Chelsea spent three years at Gopher Sport as a copywriter crafting compelling, benefits-based sales copy for the company’s four catalogs and websites. She also named products, wrote/proofed activity and assembly instructions, and drafted scripts for product videos.
Before Gopher, Chelsea worked in the Athletics Communications Department at the University of New Mexico. She began as a graduate student assistant in 2010, transitioning to a full-time assistant director/sports information director in 2012. While at UNM, Chelsea managed all aspects of media and public relations for the Lobo volleyball, skiing, and softball teams.
Chelsea attended the University of Wisconsin-Superior and played two years of basketball for the Yellowjackets before turning her focus to intramural kickball and flag football. She graduated with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Mass Communication and Spanish, and a minor in Sport Management. She earned her Master of Science in Physical Education with an emphasis in Sport Administration from the University of New Mexico. During both her undergraduate and graduate tenures, Chelsea worked as a Writing Center tutor and manager. She also served as a graduate teaching assistant while at UNM.
Chelsea and her husband, Christian, and the couple’s small poodle, Precious, reside in Staples. Outside of work, Chelsea enjoys running, biking, hiking, kayaking, fitness and wellness, reading, and spending time with family and friends. Her favorite place is around the campfire at her parents’ lake cabin
Chris Robinson, JD
Chris Robinson joined National Joint Powers Alliance® in February 2016, and currently serves as the Procurement Manager. In this role, Chris is responsible for leading and managing all aspects of the Procurement Department, including management of the NJPA RFP solicitation, evaluation, and recommendation for award processes.
Before joining NJPA, Chris had a 20+ year career as an attorney in private practice in the Brainerd (MN) Lakes Area. He engaged in litigation and trial work, estate planning, and business counseling during that time, with extensive experience in drafting, interpreting, and implementing legal documents. In addition, Chris served as an economic development professional with Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation before becoming a member of the NJPA team.
Chris brings a unique perspective to his work on behalf of NJPA members, having served as the Mayor of the City of East Gull Lake, and as a member of the Brainerd School Board. In those roles, he has had direct experience with the value that NJPA contract purchasing provides for members and appreciates the critical role that the Procurement Department plays in ensuring fairness and transparency throughout the process.
Chris is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and the University of Minnesota Law School. He and his wife, Julie, live in Baxter, MN with their two children. He enjoys mountain biking, traveling, reading, and supporting youth sports, and serves as Co-Race Director for the Kiwanis Kids Triathlon put on each August by the Brainerd Kiwanis Club.
Cindy Swenson joined NJPA in July of 2017 after 24 years with Staples-Motley Schools where she taught in the elementary and middle schools and served as the District Data and Assessment, Curriculum and Staff Development Coordinator. She is excited to continue her work in professional learning by supporting Region 5 educators in reaching their professional goals.
Curiosity and a deep passion for learning bring energy and enjoyment to Cindy’s work. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary and Middle School Education from Bemidji State University and her Master’s Degree in Quality Teaching Strategies from Graceland University. Job-embedded professional learning, continuous improvement, data-driven instruction, peer coaching, mentoring, curriculum and standards development, and new teacher support are her areas of interest and expertise.
Cindy enjoys spending time with her husband, Greg, and their two daughters who are students at the University of Minnesota Duluth. In her free time, she enjoys reading, sewing, hiking, biking, traveling and discovering great local restaurants!
Corey Jensen is a Contract Administrator at National Joint Powers Alliance®. Corey brings over 15 years of experience in contracts, retail, and sales management His understanding of the value of customer service, marketing, sales, and training has prepared Corey well for his role as a Contract Administrator with NJPA.
As a Contact Administrator, Corey plans sales training for his awarded vendor contracts to ensure sales growth and achieve contract success. He leads and guides communication methods, contract benefits to ensure vendor embracement, and sales strategies that add value to awarded vendors and NJPA members. He also manages conference exhibiting, ensuring NJPA messaging and maximum exposure of awarded vendors to current and potential members.
Another area vital to the success of NJPA is the development and implementation of an aggressive marketing strategy to promote each contract. Corey believes in maintaining a close relationship with all of his contacts ensuring the marketing plan is effectively executed. He also supports effective vendor/customer interaction by supporting customer calls while working with vendors to ensure member satisfaction.
Corey has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration from North Dakota State University. Corey lives in Brainerd, MN with his wife Stephanie and their three children. He enjoys getting out on the area’s lakes, hunting, and spending time with his family.
Lead Government Relations Associate
Dan Listug is a Legislative Advocate for NJPA. As a member of NJPA’s Legal Department, Dan will work to serve NJPA members and vendor partners by managing legislative and public policy challenges and opportunities.
Dan brings over a decade of public policy experience to NJPA. Prior to joining NJPA, he learned the ins and outs of the legislative process working at the Minnesota House of Representatives. Dan also brings experience working on local issues having served as a policy analyst at the county level conducting research and analysis to support county policy makers. In addition to his public policy experience, Dan is a licensed attorney in Minnesota and has represented both individual and business clients in administrative and civil matters in private practice.
During his career working with policy makers, Dan recognized the important role that integrity plays in building meaningful relationships. He will bring this focus to NJPA as he applies his experience, problem solving, critical thinking, and advocacy skills to advance NJPA’s ability to serve its members.
Dan lives in Baxter with his wife Brooke and two young children. Outside of the office, he enjoys being outdoors hunting and fishing, golfing, and spending time with his kids.
Planning and Zoning Specialist
Darrin Welle is a Planning & Zoning Specialist at National Joint Powers Alliance. He is responsible for providing planning and zoning services to communities within Region Five. His duties include land use permitting, creating and updating ordinances and comprehensive plans, processing plats, variance and conditional use permit applications while working closely with city/township staff, property owners and developers.
He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies, along with a minor in Geographic Information Science from St. Cloud State University. Prior to working for the NJPA, he worked for a Soil and Water Conservation District in Ortonville, MN before moving to work for Morrison County. He worked in the planning and zoning department as the Assistant Zoning Administrator and County Feedlot Officer.
Darrin lives in Little Falls, MN. He enjoys fishing, hunting, golfing and most outdoor activities in his free time.
Lead Contract Administrator
As a Contract Administrator, Dave plans sales training for the vendor contracts he manages to ensure their sales growth and overall contract success. He recommends communication methods, program benefits, sales strategies and value to awarded vendors. Dave also manages and ensures NJPA’s presence and maximum conference exhibiting exposure.
Another area vital to the success of NJPA’s contracts is the development and implementation of an aggressive marketing strategy to promote the contract. As a Contract Administrator, Dave works closely with all of his contracts to make sure the marketing plan is followed as well as managing vendor/customer interaction by supporting vendor customer calls while working with vendors to ensure customer satisfaction.
Dave is very active in his community, having served in numerous leadership positions, including Dollars for Scholars, Staples Host Lions, Faith Lutheran Church, Downtown Revitalization Committee, and LEAP. He resides in Staples, MN with his wife Lori. They are empty nesters with three children finished with college! Golf also seems to find its way into his busy schedule.
Having worked in finance, retail and online sales organizations Dean has gained a broad range of information technology experience and knowledge which he brings to NJPA, our members and business partners.
His primary responsibilities and areas of focus are to ensure that the data and information NJPA its members and business partners use every day is protected through good information security and governance practices.
In addition to his vocation and avocation around information and technology security Dean enjoys reading and spending time in the yard and by the lake.
Administrative Specialist IV
Dianne Heldman joined National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA) in September 2013 as Customer Service Specialist. In 2016, Dianne worked in Contract Purchasing as an Administrative Specialist assisting Contract Administrators preparing for trade shows. Presently, she is an Administrative Specialist in the Regional Programs for NJPA working with the Regional Low Incidence Project services.
Prior to NJPA, she did attend two years of college in general courses. Dianne has several years of Administrative Assistant experience. She has worked in offices of the government and public schools in the Staples Minnesota area. Her career goals are focused on service and communication to everyone. She strives to help others be successful in their jobs by working to excel in her job performance.
When away from her job, Dianne likes to spend time with her husband on their farm. She also enjoys investing time with her 2 daughters and son-in-laws. Dianne and her husband also love spending time with their grandkids. Her interests include attending church, reading, crocheting and baking.
Membership Development Administrator
Duff plays a prominent role in both customer and vendor relations throughout the nation. He is responsible for communicating to over 50,000 NJPA members as well as guiding Contract Administrators by developing and promoting customer service initiatives as well as identifying potential growth patterns within the organization’s nationally acclaimed vendor partners.
Duff has over 25 years of management experience in the service hospitality industry. His background in leading successful service organizations was a key factor in the NJPA decision process.
“During my initial conversation with Mr. Erholtz, it was clear that he demonstrated the leadership qualities necessary to serve at the customer level. I am confident that his passion for serving will be a valuable resource for our member customers.” said Mike Hajek, Director of Business Development & Marketing at NJPA.
Duff is excited to take on this challenge, noting, “My business philosophy has always been ‘win-win’. NJPA’s contract purchasing services enables me to facilitate positive outcomes for both our vendor partners and member groups."
Ginger Line, CPPB
Membership Development Administrator
Ginger Line is a Senior Contract Procurement Analyst and has worked at NJPA since 2008. Her position in the Contracts and Compliance department is designed to work with the procurement process. She participates in every aspect of the RFP process including advertising, opening, evaluating proposals, and recommending Vendors for award. She also leads sending product and price changes for state adopted contracts to top procurement officials. She is a member of the Minnesota Chapter of NIGP, working on committees such as the Reverse Vendor Fair, and NIGP at the national level.
Ginger received her BA in Political Science from St. Cloud State University where she served on the SCSU Survey team and her paralegal certificate from Minnesota Paralegal Institute. She also received her CPPB designation from the UPPCC in 2013 and her Certificate in Public Law and Procurement in Canada from Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in 2015. Her past experience working at law firms and with the State of Minnesota as a court reporter has given her valuable experience in the public sector working with statutes and government entities.
Ginger has two daughters and she enjoys being a part of their activities, playing sports, watching football, reading, cooking and baking.
Gordy Thompson is a Contract Administrator at National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA). In 1998 he earned two B. S. degrees - one in Life Science and one in Earth Science from Bemidji State University in Minnesota. In 2005, he earned an M. S. degree in science - also from Bemidji State University. Gordy was a high school biology instructor in central Minnesota for close to 10 years before he joined NJPA.
As a Contract Administrator, Gordy plans sales training for his vendor contracts to ensure sales growth and achieve contract success. He recommends communication methods, program benefits and sales strategies that add value to awarded vendors and NJPA members. He also manages conference exhibiting, ensuring maximum exposure of awarded vendors to potential and current NJPA members.
Another area vital to the success of NJPA is the development and implementation of an aggressive marketing strategy to promote each contract. Gordy maintains a close relationship with all of his contracts, ensuring the marketing plan is followed. He also supports member/vendor interaction by promoting all NJPA vendors, yet ensuring membership satisfaction.
Gordy and his family reside in Brainerd, MN and he enjoys spending time hunting, fishing and camping with his family.
As a Data Engineer for NJPA Greg’s responsibilities include database administration, data integration, and data related development.
Prior to NJPA, Greg gained 20 years of information technology experience in the private sector working for mid-sized and national organizations. His passion is growing business, process, and teams using data and other technology related tools and systems.
Greg, his wife Jenny, and daughter live in Miltona where they enjoy spending time with friends, outdoors, making music, and volunteering
Gwynne Gildow is a retired educator of 36 years from the Staples Motley School District where she was an elementary teacher, and then served as an elementary principal for nearly twenty years. During her years an administrator, she was also responsible for coordinating the Title I program for the district's schools. While serving as principal, the elementary schools secured a three-year Comprehensive School Reform Grant to improve reading instruction, which led to the implementation of a research-based reading intervention model, focused professional development for staff, and the use of a schoolwide assessment and data-analysis program. Gwynne's educational interests include reading and writing instruction and organizational change. Gwynne also served several years in a leadership capacity of MAASFEP (Minnesota Association of Administrators of State and Federal Programs).
Wanting to stay connected to staff and students in retirement, Gwynne has had variety of experiences in substitute teaching and serves as a student teacher supervisor for Bemidji State University.
She holds undergraduate degrees in Elementary Education and Psychology, a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and a Specialist's Licensure as an Elementary Principal.
Associate General Counsel
Ilissa Ramm joined NJPA in April 2017 as the Associate General Counsel. In this role, Ilissa is responsible for providing day to day leadership that supports NJPA’s strategic and tactical legal initiatives and provides legal advice, counsel and support to the organization.
Ilissa has significant public sector legal experience. After law school, Ilissa worked for a small firm in Southwest Minnesota serving as the Assistant City Attorney for several small towns providing legal advice and prosecuting criminal offenses. She then went on to work for Crow Wing County; first in the Attorney’s Office and then in Human Resources. Ilissa is a member of the Minnesota Bar Association and Minnesota Public Employer Labor Relations Association.
Ilissa is a graduate of Mary Washington College and Hamline University School of Law. She and her family live in Baxter. She enjoys family time, swimming, biking, running and sits on the board for Lakes Area Multisport.
Senior Education Consultant
Jackie Bruns feels privileged to have worked with hundreds of wonderful students and teachers in her 34 year career in education serving as a 7-12 English/Language Arts teacher, a District Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator, and a Pre-K-6 Elementary Principal. After a year of retirement, she found herself missing the world of education and joined the NJPA Education Solutions Team in August of 2014.
With a profound belief in collaboration and meaningful professional development, Jackie enjoys working alongside teachers as a lifelong learner. She also has a passion for positive school climate and relationship building among all stakeholders and has extensive experience in implementing and supporting Responsive Classroom, Response to Intervention, and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.
After years of working with district and building level leadership teams in developing Continuous Improvement Plans aligned with SMART goals, Jackie is convinced in the power of strategic planning, data analysis, effective assessment tools, curriculum and standards alignment, and best practices in effective instruction.
Jackie has a BS degree in 7-12 English/Language Arts from Bemidji State University, a Master’s in Education from Hamline University, and a Graduate Certificate in Leadership for K-12 Programs from Capella University. She lives in Walker, MN with her husband of 35 years and has three grown children. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, boating on Leech Lake, traveling to warmer climates, and spending time with her family.
Procurement Lead Analyst
Contract Administration Specialist
Jamie joined NJPA in October of 2014 and is currently working in the contract purchasing department as a Contract Administration Specialist. She works collaboratively within a Contract Unit to ensure contract administration processes are effectively completed.
She attended Northwest Technical College in Wadena, MN. Her work experience includes 13+ years in the medical field as a surgery coordinator.
Jamie is active in her community and church and enjoys spending time outdoors with her friends and family.
Jamie lives in Staples, MN with her husband Ron and daughters Emilya and Gabby.
Director of Information & Communication Technologies
Jamie Loken is the Director of Information & Communication Technologies at National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA). As a member of the NJPA Senior Leadership Team, Jamie’s primary responsibilities include leadership, management, and organizational strategic oversight for all areas of information technology.
Prior to NJPA, Jamie gained 20+ years of information technology experience in the private sector working for startup, mid-sized, and large scale global organizations. His passion is growing people, process, and teams in organizations experiencing rapid growth and meeting the challenges of scaling the business to support the growth.
Jamie’s leadership experience has provided him with the opportunity to directly manage many of the unique disciplines that go into making a well-balanced, high-performing technology team. This experience has prepared Jamie with intimate knowledge of these areas and understanding of what success should look like.
Jamie and his wife Julie live in Garfield where they enjoy spending time with their three children. Outside of work Jamie enjoys hockey, golf, hunting and spending time in the woods.
Jed Klein is a Contract Administrator at National Joint Powers Alliance® with an accomplished professional career as a manager of several successful direct store delivery businesses across the country. Detail at retail and delivering high level execution has been a big part of his success. With more than 20 years of experience in sales and marketing, Jed provides a solid reputation for effective networking and problem solving.
These skills and experiences, linked to the company’s vision, serve to create a partnership between vendors and members based on respect and trust. Jed works with contracts awarded through a national, competitively solicited procurement process. He is responsible for the support and success of NJPA contracts. Believing in the cooperative philosophy and recognizing the need to discover solutions to membership needs is his focus with each contract.
The success of NJPA depends on the development and implementation of an aggressive marketing strategy to promote each contract. Jed believes in maintaining a close relationship with all of his contacts, ensuring the marketing plan is effectively executed. He also supports effective vendor/customer interaction by supporting customer calls while working with vendors to ensure member satisfaction.
Jed is active in the communities where he has lived and consistently supports youth sports through coaching and other supporting roles. He has served in numerous leadership positions in Kiwanis, Little League, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and school district funding campaigns and employee search committees.
Jed has two bachelor’s degrees: one in Business Administration and one in Industrial Management from Valley City State University in North Dakota. Jed lives in Pequot Lakes, MN, and he enjoys fishing, hunting, golfing, and spending time with family and friends. He and his wife Angie have three children: MacKenzie, Madison, and Marcus.
Graphic Design Specialist
Jenny Hoppe joined NJPA in July 2014 as the organization’s marketing specialist. Media relations, print production and event coordination are her specialties. She is currently one of two graphic designers at NJPA specializing in supporting the Contract Purchasing marketing needs.
Jenny has a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Marketing and has many years of experience working in the marketing and graphic design fields. She worked at the Wadena Pioneer Journal as production manager and graphic designer for 13 years and for Tri-County Health Care in the marketing department for 9 years. She also is a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and has worked many years on an ambulance crew.
Jenny and her family live in rural Sebeka, MN. She enjoys photography, gardening, fishing, reading, traveling and being ‘mom.’ She is an active volunteer for her community – especially helping children.
Jeremy Schwartz, ASQ CSSBB
Director of Operations & Contracts/CPO
Jeremy Schwartz is the Director of Operations & Contracts/CPO at NJPA. In this role, Jeremy’s primary responsibilities include organizational strategy as a member of the NJPA Senior Leadership Team, and strategic direction, visioning, and oversight of the Contracts and Compliance, Contract Administration, and Business Development departments.
Jeremy’s 16+ years of public and private sector practice in applying and training process improvement prepared him well for the multi-purpose role he fills as a Director of Cooperative Contracts and Procurement. His passion for service excellence combined with his experiences in public service, contract administration, continuous improvement, customer experience management, project management, and operations management have allowed Jeremy to develop an eye for maximizing value-add.
In 1998, Jeremy earned a B.S. degree in Industrial Technology from Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota. He is also a certified Six Sigma Black Belt through the American Society for Quality (ASQ).
Graphic Design Specialist
Jill Kinsley joined NJPA in 2010 and is the organization’s graphic designer. She is in charge of the “look and feel” of NJPA and creates the organization’s marketing materials and digital graphics.
Originally from the Twin Cities, Jill graduated cum laude from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a bachelor’s degree in Business Communications. Upon graduating, Jill started her career as the Area Director of the American Heart Association in La Crosse, WI where she learned how to be creative on a tight budget. Since then she has developed her graphic design skills while heading up the marketing for a technology research firm and energy security firm in Boston, MA for seven years before joining NJPA.
Jill is passionate about streamlining communications and is dedicated to creating eye-catching designs. When she’s not hard at work creating or designing she is focused on staying active, enjoying the area lakes, playing sports and recently discovered the game of golf. She and her family live in Brainerd, MN.
Membership Development Administrator
With over two decades of solid experience in business development and contract administration, Jim Kane is a leader in all phases of developing and managing large mullti-million dollar procurement contracts with government and private entities. This depth of experience well equips him with skills and knowledge needed to assist procurement professionals in negotiating the hurdles to establish and maintain a valuable cooperative procurement contract with NJPA.
Early in Jim’s security career, he began at the ground level as a special operations technician/manager where he learned the technical intricacies for installing, operating and maintaining integrated security systems. In a short period of time, he was recognized for his management potential he began his rapid career climb and quickly progressed up the ranks to local, regional and then national sales management responsibilities. After 18 years in the security industry, he became owner and director of his own private security solutions firm in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Jim’s venture brought him to the attention of a national leader in security solutions. This industry leader in large integrated security protection systems recognized Jim’s talents and recruited him as a National Account Manager. As a National Account Manager, his responsibilities included working with Fortune 500 clients where he successfully managed their security sales and business development - first in Massachusetts, then nationwide. This position also allowed him to develop a broad knowledge and close relationships with over 200 Sales and Service Offices across the United States.
There, Jim also was promoted to National Program Manager of Vertical Markets and given responsibility for initiating, developing and acquiring State and Local Government Contracts to provide government solutions nationwide, which he also successfully managed and provided close client support. Jim was the lead professional in one of the largest national cooperative contracts established with the National Joint Powers Alliance at that time.
Jim has a well established reputation for trust and communications with his clients that make him an extremely valuable asset to his suppliers and government agencies in North America.
Educated by the United States Navy and assigned to the Nuclear Aircraft Carrier Nimitz, Jim also attended San Diego Mesa College where he studied business management and specialized in logistics.
Early Childhood Professional Development Facilitator
Jodi Altringer joined NJPA in July 2016. Jodi Altringer is the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) Professional Development Facilitator for Region 7. She is excited to have the opportunity to provide support to ECSE leaders and programs in Region 7 with the goal of providing high quality services and improving positive outcomes for children and families in the region.
Jodi worked in the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District for 22 years. For 21 years, she was an ECSE teacher. During those years she taught in a variety of ECSE classrooms, provided services in inclusive settings, and provided home based services to infants, toddlers and their families. Eventually she joined the evaluation team and took on the role of coordinating and completing initial evaluations of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who were suspected of having developmental delays. Jodi’s experiences as an ECSE teacher affirmed her belief in the importance and effectiveness of early intervention services. She worked to increase the awareness of the available services, conducting public awareness and child find activities across agencies and the community. Jodi frequently represented her ECSE team at ECSE leadership functions and served on a various committees including the Interagency Early Childhood Intervention Committee. She is currently a member of the Minnesota Division of Early Childhood board.
During the 2015-2016 school year, Jodi served as an instructional coach, gaining valuable experience in coaching and in providing support to professional learning communities. Jodi provided coaching support to special education teachers, special education service providers, and early childhood educators. She attended training to become more familiar with the Danielson Framework for Teaching, working with her team to meaningfully apply the principles of the framework to those who were in non-traditional teaching roles. She also completed training to receive her certification in cognitive coaching.
Jodi has an undergraduate degree in Special Education and a Master of Science degree in Child and Family Studies from St. Cloud State University. She also obtained a Teaching and Technology certificate from Hamline University. She lives in the Howard Lake area with her husband and son.
Lead Contract Administrator
Joe Morgan is a Contract Administrator at National Joint Powers Alliance®. Joe brings years of sales experience in the commercial insurance industry to NJPA’s Cooperative Purchasing Unit. His understanding of the value of customer service, marketing, sales, and training has prepared Joe well for his role as a Contract Administrator with NJPA.
As a Contract Administrator, he uses this experience to serve over 50,000 members throughout the nation with competitively awarded purchasing solutions and also assists with the management of NJPA’s National Construction Program called ezIQC®, which includes the oversight of NJPA’s Mitigation and Restoration contracts. These contracts provide public agencies high quality construction and renovation work that are ideal for disaster and emergency projects.
An area vital to the success of NJPA is the development and implementation of an aggressive marketing strategy to promote each contract. Joe believes in maintaining a close relationship with all of his contacts ensuring the marketing plan is effectively executed. He also supports effective vendor/customer interaction by supporting customer calls while working with vendors to ensure member satisfaction.
Joe has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Sociology from Minnesota State University Mankato. Joe lives in Brainerd, MN and he enjoys getting out on the area’s lakes, golfing, coaching basketball and spending time with his family.
Regional Membership Relations and Communications
Jon’s responsibilities as Regional Membership Specialist include identifying and promoting opportunities to serve the Cities and Counties of Region 5. He will work to gain feedback from the Cities and Counties of Region 5 to ensure expectations are being met. In addition to serving Region 5 Cities and Counties, Jon works to support membership throughout the state of Minnesota with cooperative purchasing.
Jon has worked extensively in Sales and Management for over 10 years. Throughout these 10 years, Jon has worked in many different industries, including city/county government, where he was able to learn a great deal about their processes. Jon’s customer service, industry knowledge, and work ethic will make him a great tool for Members in Minnesota to utilize!
Jon has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management and Entrepreneurship, as well as a minor in Management Information Systems. Jon and his wife Missy, reside in Rice, MN. Jon enjoys time with family and friends, playing golf, and anything that gets him outdoors.
Julie joined the NJPA Education Solutions Team in July of 2016 with a passion for teaching, students and respect for educators. She received her degree from Moorhead State University where she majored in Elementary Education with a concentration in Reading. She has 20 years of teaching experience in different places around the country, Palmdale, CA, Jacksonville, FL, and in Minnesota; Wheaton, Minnetonka and Pequot Lakes. Her years in the classroom have included teaching 2nd , 5th , 6th grades, Title 1 and gifted education.
With a desire to keep learning, she is pursuing her Master's degree in Reading and Literacy from Capella University. Her passion for helping students become better readers has led her to wanting to be along-side teachers to discover effective ways to work with students. She believes that collaboration is the way to bring strengths together, to be resources for each other and the greater good.
She lives in Pequot Lakes with her husband and two teenage children. She enjoys being on the water, reading, and supporting her children's academics and activities.
Julie Mertens is the 21st Century Learning Specialist for NJPA Education Solutions. This exciting position lured Julie from her 26 year employment with ISD 2170 Staples Motley where she was the technology coordinator, grades K-5 technology and health specialist and Title 1 resource teacher at Staples Elementary. She also works with the NJPA Technology Solutions department providing support in the area of software use including Microsoft Office products. Part of Julie’s work for Education Solutions is to support the use of the iObservation tool for teacher growth.
Julie has previously provided professional development for district staff with training in the use of technology-related initiatives such as: NWEA, Study Island, Viewpoint, ActivInspire software and Promethean interactive white boards as well the use of the Microsoft Office 10 suite and 6+ 1 Trait Writing. She has SMART Notebook 11 and 14 certifications. She was also the coordinator of Professional Learning Communities for three years.
Julie’s classroom experience runs from 1st to 6th grade homerooms, a 4th-6th multiage house of learners, high school speech coach, middle school yearbook advisor and basketball coach. She supervised three student teachers and was a mentor for one new teacher during her career.
Staying current on professional research, critically analyzing trends and identifying best practices, keeps Julie on the leading edge of changes and new challenges in education. She received her Master's degree in Educational Leadership with an Emphasis in Technology from MSUM in the spring of 2016, but she is focused on continued learning.
Julie is passionate about the need for purposeful, intentional integration of technology and curriculum. In addition she is dedicated to providing support to schools that are seeking to bring modern learning environments that engage today’s learners. Providing learning opportunities for learners to be creative, collaborative, communicating, critical thinkers with technology is a new pedagogy for many. Julie is dedicated to empowering teachers and students to transform learning in Region 5!
Planning and Zoning Specialist
Justin Burslie is the Planning & Zoning Specialist at National Joint Powers Alliance. He is responsible for providing planning and zoning services to communities within Region Five. His duties include land use permitting, creating and updating ordinances and comprehensive plans, and processing plat, variance and conditional use permit applications while working closely with city/township staff, property owners and developers.
He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Geography (Community and Urban Development) in 2007 from the University of North Dakota. He began his career working for a private planning firm gaining valuable knowledge and experience in the field of planning and zoning administration.
Justin lives north of Brainerd, MN. He is passionate about hunting, fishing, and camping. He is a member of an area kayak club and enjoys visiting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
Manager of Education Solutions
Kassidy Rice was promoted to Manager of Education Solutions at National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) in Staples. Rice joined NJPA in the summer of 2013 as an Education Consultant, with an excitement for supporting schools in empowering all students to achieve academic success. She strongly believes that great educators make the biggest difference in a child’s educational career and she seeks to support teachers and administrators in growing towards excellence.
Kassidy’s expertise lies in infusing literacy across the curriculum, instructional coaching, and navigating cultural differences. She has also had the opportunity to help support and develop embedded professional learning models that focus on collaboration and growth. She has led training and coached educators in data analysis, assessment and grading, literacy, curriculum and lesson design, cultural proficiency, technology tools, and instructional best practices.
She received her Bachelor’s Degree in English Education her Master’s Degree in Literacy Education from Bethel University. She has eleven years of secondary teaching experience in urban (Minneapolis), suburban (Wayzata), and rural (Perham) contexts in Minnesota. In addition, she has served as an English Language Art Standards Implementation Field Representative for the Minnesota Department of Education. Kassidy lives in Henning with her husband, two daughters, and son. She enjoys reading, cooking, and volunteering in her church.
Membership Development Administrator
Katie joined NJPA in February, 2016. As a Membership Development Administrator, Katie promotes membership and contract awareness to current and potential members. She is responsible for communicating to over 50,000 NJPA members, and recognizes the importance in building open, honest and trustworthy relationships that ensure positive outcomes with NJPA’s contract purchasing services.
Katie has earned a BA in Psychology from Concordia College and is currently pursuing her MBA from Saint Mary’s University. She brings a diverse background of experience in customer relations and is passionate about strategizing communications methods that will directly impact and capture the voice of the customer.
Katie resides in Wadena with her husband, daughter, and Boxer. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, running, reading, coaching and playing volleyball.
Keith Hanson, CPA
Keith Hanson has over 15 years of financial and management experience varying from banking to manufacturing and most recently public accounting. He graduated from the University Wisconsin with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant. Keith also serves on his hometown’s city council and sees the difficulties facing small governmental municipalities. This combined experience gives him the ability to look at accounting situations from many different perspectives.
Keith’s jobs at National Joint Powers Alliance are numerous. They include assisting the Manager of Financial Services with the yearend audit process, managing the accounting portion of administrative revenue sharing contracts, managing cash investments, and assisting in maintaining the general ledger.
Keith enjoys the variety and challenges of his position. He also finds it rewarding being part of an organization that is reducing costs and making the purchasing process easier for governmental and non-profit agencies.
Kelly McAllister is a Contract Administrator at National Joint Powers Alliance® with an accomplished professional career as a manager of retail, business to business and dealer channel development. More than 15 years experience in sales and marketing provides a solid reputation for effective networking and strategic alliance building among crucial industry resources. These skills and experience linked to the company’s vision serves to create a partnership between buyers and suppliers based on respect and trust.
Kelly works with contracts awarded through a national, competitively bid procurement process. He is responsible for the day-to-day support and success of NJPA contracts that includes anything from training to marketing support. Kelly believes in the cooperative philosophy and realizes the need to reduce the cost of purchasing in this economy. He likes the opportunity to work with awarded vendors not only to guarantee the success of each contract but promote NJPA’s efforts as we face challenges of purchasing in the future.
Another area vital to the success of NJPA’s contracts is the development and implementation of an aggressive marketing strategy to promote the contract. As a Contract Adminstrator Kelly works closely with all of his contracts to make sure the marketing plan is followed as well as managing vendor/customer interaction by supporting vendor customer calls while working with vendors to ensure customer satisfaction. Kelly’s philosophy is that he cannot serve NJPA’ s members without first serving it’s vendor partners.
A graduate of St Cloud State University in Business Management, Kelly has extensive experience in telecommunications as a sales manager and is retired from the United States Army Reserve, the recipient of numerous medals, commendations, and awards. Kelly, a Backus, Minnesota native, has lived and worked in many communities throughout the state but finds the Staples area close to home. It is this close proximity that allows him to enjoy the great outdoors and a wide variety of seasonal activities as well as hunting and fishing with family, friends and two sons.
Kelly Pearson joined NJPA in May 2014 and currently serves as a Contract Administrator. Within her role as a Contract Administrator Kelly manages and implements sales training for the awarded vendors she manages, assists in business development, ensures contract development, and supports vendor and member interactions.
Kelly holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from St. Cloud State University. Prior to NJPA Kelly worked as a Realtor and gained valuable experience in sales, marketing, and customer service. She has been able to take the skills and techniques she developed from her previous roles and integrate them into her position as a Contract Administrator.
Kelly currently resides in Staples, MN with her husband Jamie and their son. Outside of NJPA, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and taking advantage of the beautiful outdoors surrounding her home.
Consultant of the Visually Impaired: O&M Specialist
Kevin Lund is the Consultant of the Blind and Visually Impaired/Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist for National Joint Powers Alliance. Kevin’s primary responsibilities are to provide students with visual impairments the skills needed to travel independently and safely and to provide specialized instruction and services required to meet the unique educational needs of students with visual impairments.
Prior to working at NJPA, Kevin worked for a special education cooperative in northern Minnesota for 18 years. He received his Bachelors of Science Degree from the University of North Dakota in Elementary Education/Visual Impairment and his Masters of Science of Degree from the University of Northern Colorado in Special Education/Orientation and Mobility.
Kevin and his wife Kristen live in Park Rapids, MN with their two children Jaxson and Macey. He enjoys spending time with his family, hunting, fishing, watching their football, hockey, basketball, baseball, and softball games.
Procurement Analyst III
Kim Austin joined National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA) in September 2015 as a Contract Procurement Analyst. Her position is designed to work with the RFP process and our nationwide construction program (ezIQC), ensuring all components of the competitive solicitation and evaluation process are completed. She analyzes, interprets, evaluates and scores complex, detailed RFP responses for a wide variety of industries as part of the evaluation committee.
Kim is a graduate of St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. Kim has over 15 years of experience working in the financial services industry, primarily in retirement services. While in the retirement services industry she focused the majority of her efforts on relationship management and customer service, working with some of the largest financial companies in the United States.
Kim lives in Brainerd with her husband and two golden retrievers.
Contract Administration Specialist
Kim joined NJPA in October 2010 as an Administrative Specialist. She currently works in Contract Purchasing where she provides support to various contract administrators and the membership department.
Kim has various work experience ranging from customer service, office management, and administrative support. She graduated in 2011 from Northwest Technical College with an AAS Degree in the area of Administrative Technology.
Kim resides in Upsala with her husband, son, and two daughters who are currently attending St. Cloud State University. Kim is active in her community, church and enjoys spending her free time reading, eating chocolate, and going for walks, bike riding, flower gardening, and bird watching. Most recently, she completed training to be a first responder.
Marketing & Public Relations Lead
As a storyteller, Kip continues to study and practice effective communication in an ever-changing world. After graduating with a BS in Mass Communications from Moorhead State University, he’s been able to add real-world experience to his resume as a writer, photographer, editor, and reporter at television stations in Fargo, ND.
Kip also has a real passion for learning. That drive, combined with a natural bend toward science and technology, eventually led him back to the classroom to learn about weather forecasting. He then put the formal training into practice for 13 years as the Chief Meteorologist at KVRR-TV.
After chasing storms at all hours of the day/night, Kip transitioned to a more predictable schedule in the marketing department at Titan Machinery, where he was able to expand his website and writing skills.
With his vast experience in communication, technology, leadership, and customer service; Kip is a perfect fit for NJPA, where he has been the Website Content Specialist since summer 2016.
He is a strong believer in building local communities through service. That core value started while growing up in Huron, SD. No matter where he’s lived, Kip has volunteered countless hours to his church, local schools, American Cancer Society, and Salvation Army.
Kip and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. Their son, Laken, is the oldest, and he is very protective of his two sisters- Bella and Willow. While they do enjoy biking, camping, and vacations, their true family passion is watching television together. They are all proud to call Staples, MN home.
Insurance Contract Administrator
Laura Dwyer attended the University of Alaska, Anchorage and the College of St. Scholastica, attaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, with a minor in Business Management. Prior to working at National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA), Laura was a Certified Microsoft Small Business Solutions Specialist serving as a Consultant for Microsoft Dynamics GP and CRM software packages.
Laura has been with NJPA since February of 2008. As Manager of Risk Management Services and licensed insurance agent, she spends her time serving the members of the risk management pool in whatever capacity needed. She takes pride in being a part of an organization that is in existence to serve its members, who are in turn serving our communities.
Outside of NJPA, Laura spends time with her husband and two very active children.
Contract Administration Specialist
Lindsey Meech started at NJPA July 2012 and she currently works in contract purchasing assisting the contract administrators where needed.
She attended Central Lakes College in Brainerd MN for her AA and nursing degree. Her work experience includes 10+ years of customer service.
Outside of NJPA, she enjoys spending time with my family and friends. She also enjoys running, playing sports, boating and being outside.
Lindsey lives in Wadena MN, with her Husband Josh and Son Griffin.
Lisa Pingrey comes to NJPA with over 20 years of experience in education. During her career, she has taught 7-12 math, 7-12 science as well as college chemistry, advised Student Council, Students Against Destructive Decisions, and coached gymnastics, track, and cross country. She has also served on various committees including technology integration and curriculum development. Lisa has presented at multiple conferences to include the Teachers Teaching with Technology (T3) International Conference as well as the Technology In Education Conference (TIE).
Throughout her years in education, she believes there is nothing more rewarding than watching students succeed both in and out of the classroom. Students immersed in a learning environment that is collaborative, challenging and engaging allows students to reach their potential. Her dedication to this philosophy has earned her multiple awards to include the Department of Education Rising Star award as well as the Peabody Leadership in Education and the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement award.
Lisa has Bachelor of Science degrees in Mathematics, Biology, and Secondary Education from Black Hills State University, along with a Master of Science degree in Science Education from Montana State University. She has taught in South Dakota and Wyoming prior to moving to Minnesota in 2016 with her husband and teenage daughter. Her son is studying to be an electrician in Wyoming. She enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with her family to include her two rescue dogs.
Manager of Business and Membership Development
As Manager of Business and Membership Development, Liz’s primary responsibilities are to lead her team of talented professionals whose purpose is to provide solutions and opportunities for government, education and non-profit entities. The team also strives to maintain an enriching experience for our current members. Liz provides a strategic framework for her team to maximize efforts regionally, statewide, nationally, and in Canada.
Prior to NJPA, Liz spent the previous 17 years working within state and county government in the states of Wyoming and Minnesota. During her tenure working within government, she served in a leadership capacity for 10 years. She spent time ensuring the work within her teams was evidence-based, and she also created initiatives which led to positive outcomes for the organizations and entities she served. Liz is known professionally as a team builder and facilitator fostering an atmosphere that encourages talented personnel to achieve maximum potential in alignment with agency objectives. She carries this passion with her to NJPA which lends to our member-centered approach with the desire to exceed member expectations.
Liz holds a Master of Business Administration from the College of St. Scholastica, and she also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Wyoming. She resides in Brainerd, Minnesota with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending time reading, scrapbooking, traveling and spending time on the lakes in the Brainerd area.
Education Program Coordinator
Lori Duhn joined National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA) in December of 2009. With her background in accounting and 15+ years of operations experience, Lori is uniquely well suited to serve as administrative specialist for all of NJPA programs including an expanded role in Education Solutions.
Lori is very involved in her community having served as secretary and board member of the Staples Community Foundation, secretary of the Staples Area Rotary Club, and numerous rolls with her church. She resides in Staples, MN with her husband, Dave; they have one daughter in high school and two boys in college. Family, friends, volunteering and scrapbooking fill her spare time.
HR Specialist: Benefits Administration
Lori Elfering joined NJPA in September 2016 as an Account Clerk in the Finance Department and as of April 2017, she has transitioned into her new role as a Human Resource Specialist in Benefit Administration. Lori’s responsibilities encompass all aspects of benefit administration within the company including open enrollment, administering & tracking benefits and employee customer service. Lori is a member of the Lakes Area Human Resources Association (LAHRA), the Public Employees Labor Relations Association (PELRA), and the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). She feels extremely blessed to be working for such an outstanding organization that continues to grow and succeed!
Lori’s previous experience includes twenty plus years of Administrative, Human Resource, Accounting, and Payroll knowledge. Lori and her husband also owned their own construction company for 12 years in the Twin Cities before moving to the Brainerd Lakes area. She comes to us from Pequot Lakes ISD 186 where she filled the role of their Payroll and Human Resources Coordinator for over 4 ½ years.
Lori currently lives in Breezy Point with her husband; Kelly of 19 years, her son; Drew (17), and her daughter; Jenna (15). She enjoys the outdoors, boating, volunteering, shopping, attending her children’s sporting events & activities, and spending quality time with her family & friends. Lori is also involved in her son’s High School hockey team and her daughter’s High School volleyball teams.
IT Network Engineer
Louis Wermter is a graduate of Bemidji State University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He has 21 years’ experience in the information systems field; both in technical support and network engineering. He is knowledgeable in healthcare, banking, energy and government fields.
Louis has experience with installation/support of Microsoft servers, Microsoft active directory, storage systems, firewalls, networking equipment. He also has experience with installation/support of highly available systems utilizing Microsoft clustering and redundant storage.
Account Clerk III
Machel Marshall joined NJPA in March 2007 and currently serves in the Finance Department. Her job duties have changed over the years as she has developed new skills through learning opportunities and by taking on various accounting responsibilities. Raised in Staples, Machel graduated from Wadena Area Vocational Technical College and has worked in the banking industry for 15 years. She then spent 16 years with The Boeing Company as an Engineering Data Control Specialist and a Supply Chain Management Analyst in Seattle, WA.
Machel lives in Motley, MN with her husband, who recently retired from trucking, and has 4 adult children, 8 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
Building and Grounds Worker
Mark Lund joined NJPA in September of 2015 as a Building and Grounds Worker. Mark is responsible for performing custodian and grounds work and providing proper maintenance and repair of the building and grounds.
Mark is married to a fabulous woman, Justine, who works at Lakewood Health Systems. The two have three adult children. Mark and Justine moved to Staples from Plymouth, MN in 2013 - wanting a slower lifestyle and to try their hand at farming. Mark’s farm includes horses, dogs, ducks, chickens, and a rooster!
Mark enjoys farming, fishing, golfing, and hunting. He states that it is nice to have a job he enjoys, which includes the people he works alongside each day.
Mary Jacobson, Ed.D.
Senior Education Consultant
Throughout her 26 years in education, Mary Jacobson has developed immense respect for the teaching profession. She understands the significant difference that an adult can make in the life a child. She speaks passionately about the role that adult beliefs and attitudes play in shaping the lives of students, families, and communities that educators serve.
With a BS in Elementary Education from the University of North Dakota in hand, Mary began her career as a 2nd grade teacher in Phoenix, Arizona. She then taught in K-2 multiage classrooms in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and Maplewood, Minnesota.
In her early years, Mary was surrounded by exemplary teachers that nurtured her love for literacy instruction. She became a believer (and collector) of using children's literature and continues to use books as a primary teaching tool. Her desire to hone her literacy skills lead her to complete her Masters and Doctorate in Education from Hamline University. She then had the great privilege of preparing future teachers, spending 14 years teaching both undergraduate and graduate literacy courses at Augsburg College in Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Most recently, Mary worked first as a Reading Specialist and later as Director for the Regional Centers of Excellence at Lakes Country Service Cooperative in Fergus Falls. During her 5 years with the Regional Centers, Mary stretched her learning by supporting administrators and leadership teams with their school and district continuous improvement efforts.
Since moving to Central Minnesota, Mary has kept her eye on NJPA and admired the significant impact Educational Solutions has had on the region's schools. She is now honored to serve as Sr. Education Consultant for Education Solutions.
Mary lives in Perham, Minnesota with her two sons, Austin and Andrew. In addition to spending time with her boys, she loves getting together with her mom, 3 sisters and 6 nieces. At the day's end, Mary unwinds by playing piano or going for walks
Teacher Recruitment Specialist
Maureen Knight, JD
Maureen Knight has over 20 years of sales and marketing experience in diverse businesses and roles. She has worked in diverse private companies, a business college, an advertising/PR agency, spent 13 years employed by a member-owned cooperative, and at NJPA she previously held the Contracts & Compliance Manager position as well as the Marketing Manager position. This well-rounded background with both members and vendors gives her unique insight; she understands the needs of members and vendors and is able to nurture the cooperative relationship necessary for NJPA contract awarded vendors to effectively serve NJPA members. Maureen has developed numerous strategic alliances and believes building relationships is the key to success.
As Contract Administrator, Maureen plans sales training for her vendor contracts to ensure sales growth and to achieve contract success. She recommends communication methods, program benefits and sales strategies that add value to awarded vendors and NJPA members. She also manages conference exhibiting, ensuring maximum exposure of awarded vendors to current and potential NJPA members.
Another area vital to the success of NJPA is the development and implementation of an aggressive marketing strategy to promote each contract. Maureen maintains a close relationship with all of her contracts ensuring the marketing plan is followed. She manages vendor/customer interaction by supporting vendor and member contract inquiries while working with vendors to ensure customer satisfaction
Maureen has earned two degrees - a Juris Doctor from the University of North Dakota School of Law and a B.B.A. in Marketing from the University of North Dakota. She has been active in her community and served in numerous leadership positions including Rotary, Junior Achievement and the St. Francis of the Lakes School. She lives in Brainerd, MN with her husband, Pete, and their two children. She enjoys family time, traveling, boating, camping, cooking, reading and golfing.
Conference Services Specialist
In June 2015, Missy joined NJPA as an Administrative Specialist; Receptionist.
Missy graduated in the spring of 2014 with her Associates of Applied Science Degree in Medical Administrative Assistant. For the past 8 years she has also been involved with her husband's family restaurant, Ted & Gens BBQ. She truly enjoys working with people and believes a smile and positive attitude can make everyone's day a little better!
Missy was born and raised in Staples, and loves her small town roots. She is married with two young, and very active children. She loves spending time with friends and family and especially enjoys being on the boat fishing with her husband.
Michael Brandt, CPA
Michael Brandt joined NJPA in January of 2014. As Controller, Michael leads all day-to-day operations of the finance department, including budget development and analysis, accounts payable and receivable, general ledger, payroll, and audit preparation.
Michael graduated from St. Cloud State University and is a Certified Public Accountant. Michael spent 6 years working for CliftonLarsonAllen in Brainerd, Minnesota, where he provided businesses and individuals with advice and expertise in taxation, consulting, and audits of financial statements. Michael is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants (MNCPA).
Michael resides in Pillager with his wife, son and daughter. Michael spends his free time playing softball, volleyball, darts, and coaching baseball, basketball, and wrestling.
Michelle is excited to be a part of the NJPA team! Michelle started at National Joint Powers Alliance® in November of 2016 as a Front Desk Administrative Specialist. Michelle has studied at Century College and Concorde in the areas of medical secretary and medical assistant.
Michelle has worked as an administrative assistant for over five years and devoted many hours of volunteering at her church.
Michelle lives north of Staples with her husband of 23 years, their two sons, and daughter. Outside of NJPA, Michelle enjoys attending her children’s extracurricular activities, volunteering, camping, and spending quality time with her family
Regional Licensing Specialist
Director of Finance
Mike Carlson is the Director of Finance at National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA). As a member of the NJPA Senior Leadership Team, Mike’s primary responsibilities include leadership, management, and organizational strategic oversight for all areas of finance and risk management.
Mike joined NJPA in August of 2015. Prior to NJPA, Mike gained 13+ years of financial leadership experience at Crow Wing County, in Brainerd, MN. Mike appreciates his unique public sector experience and considers it a privilege to intimately understand the need for value added services in the public sector.
Being exposed to the global aspects of finance over the course of his career, Mike specifically enjoys leading financial teams in the creation of innovative solutions and long-term financial management strategies. Mike has a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting from St. Cloud State University and is a member of the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).
Mike and his wife Sara live in Brainerd, MN where they enjoy spending time with their three children. Outside of his work, Mike enjoys being active volunteering at church, coaching youth sports, watching Sara’s triathlons, hunting, and fishing.
Mike Domin is a Contract Administrator at National Joint Powers Alliance®. Mike brings over 16 years of experience in marketing, customer relations, developing strategic plans and working as an independent contractor for a small firm. Coming from a small independent firm, Mike knows the importance of having great relationships with clients.
As a Contract Administrator, Mike plans sales training events for the vendor contracts he manages to ensure their sales growth and overall contract success. He recommends communication methods and program benefits to ensure vendor embracement along with strategies that will add value to the awarded vendors, in working with NJPA members. Mike works closely with the vendors to achieve their contract success and making sure this leads to NJPA member satisfaction.
Marketing strategy is another vital aspect to the success of NJPA. Mike helps develop and implement an aggressive marketing strategy to promote each contract. Mike maintains a close relationship with all of his contracts ensuring the marketing plan is followed.
Mike has a BA in Political Science and Computer Studies from St. Cloud University. Mike is very active in his community, having served on numerous boards, including his local school board, Minnesota School Boards Association, and alumni boards. Mike enjoys the outdoors, golfing, traveling and spending time with family and friends.
Director of Strategic Initiatives
For the past 16 years Mike Hajek has served at the director level for NJPA. In his current role of Director of Business Development, he leverages his unique instinct for business focusing on the foundational value of trust on both sides of business transactions. This level of leadership has been strategically instrumental in guiding NJPA to the highest quality contracted business solutions, all developed and customized to better serve NJPA Member agencies locally and nationally. He continues to develop innovative approaches to business strategies and relationships that equally serve the needs and interests of member agencies and the national business community. These opportunities have presented exciting challenges, resulting in NJPA making a difference for government and education agencies across the country.
Mike was awarded the “Outstanding Service Award” by the Minnesota Service Cooperatives for his years of service. He was instrumental in the development of an innovative method of contracting. This innovate contracting method leads government and education agencies across the country to leverage and enjoy the efficiencies and benefits of cooperative contracting, while creatinga fair and efficient approach to the government sales process for the business community.
In November 2015 his first book was published, “Great Moments”. In his book he writes of the historic journey that led NJPA, Members and Vendors through multiple challenges. Challenges which resulted in the positioning of the uncommon NJPA Way of business as a game changing “go-to-market” strategy. You’ll sense a parallel of NJPA’s uncommon achievements and national impact to the amazing journey of the 1980 Olympic U.S. hockey team that defeated the Russians in that historic Olympic event.
Mike’s passion outside of NJPA includes hunting, fishing and all outdoor activities. He lives in Staples, MN with his wife and has three grown children and nine grandchildren.
Administrative Specialist III
Missy re-joined NJPA in June 2016 as an Administrative Specialist for both Low Incidence and Cities & Counties, having previously worked from 2003-2006.
Before re-joining NJPA, Missy spent over two years volunteering with Minnesota Reading Corps as a literacy tutor for both pre-school and K-3. Previous to that, she worked in the business world, owned her own business, and spent some time as a substitute teacher.
Missy has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Rasmussen College in St. Cloud. She and her fiancé live in Cushing with their two dogs and cats.
Low Incidence Program Facilitator
Nan Records is currently the Facilitator for Low Incidence Programs for the State’s Economic Development Regions 5 and 7. National Joint Powers Alliance® is fiscal host to the Low Incidence program.
As the Facilitator, Nan oversees a regional grant provided by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). In order to address geographic equity, the Special Education Policy Section of the MDE funds eight Low Incidence projects throughout the state. These projects seek to minimize the impact of the regional differences and staffing patterns in the Low Incidence disability areas that have high needs combined with difficulties in attracting and maintaining staff.
Prior to joining NJPA in 2016, Nan served most recently as a Director of Special Education. Her passion for educating students with the most significant needs began in the early 1980’s while teaching special education in a high school setting. Nan brings her passion to the role Facilitator when working with staff and administrators across Central MN to meet the needs students and staff.
In her spare time, Nan enjoys spending time with her two adult children, traveling, cycling and hot yoga!
Director of Regional Programs
Paul’s responsibilities as Director of Regional Programs include identifying and promoting opportunities to serve Region 5 members. He also works to gain feedback from Region 5 members to ensure expectations are being met. Paul is also responsible for developing and carrying out continuous improvement and strategic planning to ensure optimal programming for Region 5 members.
Before joining NJPA, Paul worked in the higher education field in a variety of positions. Paul worked as an enrollment director at Capella University in Minneapolis before joining Minnesota State Community and Technical College in 2004. In his most recent position, Paul served as the Director of the Center for College Readiness (CCR) at M State. In this role Paul managed the day to day operations of the CCR which included outreach and promotion of college readiness programming, continuous technology / website improvement, and providing feedback and data to teachers and students using the programs. Paul also previously served on the Wadena Area Chamber Board of Directors.
Paul has a Masters of Science Degree in Higher Education Leadership from Capella University in Minneapolis and a Bachelors of Arts Degree from Concordia University in Saint Paul. Paul, his wife Steph, and their son Noah reside in Wadena, MN. Paul enjoys time with his family, hunting, fishing, and attending sporting events.
Regional IT Support Specialist
Following high school, I attended Central Lakes College working towards a certificate in their Personal Computer Support Specialist program. After the programs completion, I enrolled at Bemidji State University, graduating in the spring of 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems.
After graduation, my first job brought me to Owatonna as a software engineer for a regional insurance company. After working in southern Minnesota for 2 years, I was offered a position at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in my hometown of Brainerd. As a technology specialist I worked with patients, nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff to resolve any, and all, of their technology issues.
My position as a Regional Support Specialist allows me to work with our members to provide technical support on a wide variety of issues. Most days I can be found working at a local school or city office working to resolve hardware and software issues, along with attempting to make their work easier with creative technology solutions.
Currently I live in Baxter and enjoy spending my free time at sporting events, golfing, working around the house, and occasionally spending some time on a local lake.
Rachel Logan joined NJPA in July of 2015. She is thrilled to be a part of an organization that is dedicated to supporting schools in academic excellence through evidence and researched based approaches.
Concordia College in Moorhead, MN is where Rachel received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education (K-6) specializing in communication arts (5-8). She also has her masters in curriculum and instruction and a K-12 reading license from Concordia University, St. Paul. Rachel’s classroom teaching experience includes a variety of grades as well as demographics.
Rachel comes to NJPA with 9 years of classroom experience; her career began in Fargo, ND teaching 6th grade Language Arts and Science. Next she traveled to Houston, TX where she taught 5th grade Language Arts and Social Studies in an inner city school. After three years she decided to move back closer to home and taught both Kindergarten and first grade for Bloomington Public Schools in the Twin Cities. In 2013 Rachel’s husband Aaron decided to return to school to get his teaching license and got a teaching job in the area. Rachel was hired as a 4th grade teacher in Wadena.
This rich experience ranging from small town to inner city and everything in between has given Rachel a great perspective on education. It has only deepened her belief that no matter your age, demographic, or socioeconomic status all students can achieve great results when supported with standards based and data driven instruction. Rachel feels honored to have the opportunity to live out the mission statement of NJPA by building valued relationships, delivering innovative solutions with integrity and exceeding the expectations of our members.
When Rachel is not thinking about literacy or education, she is enjoying her family, including baby boy, Hudson, who joined them in May of 2015. The family especially loves spending time at the lake cabin boating, fishing, swimming, and appreciating the beautiful lakes area.
Administrative Specialist III
Rae Ann joined NJPA in April 2013. She currently works in customer service for the Sharp Electronics Corporation Contract.
Prior to NJPA Rae Ann’s work experience includes, administrative support, accounting, production scheduling, logistics coordinator and most important of all outstanding customer service.
Rae Ann married her high school sweetheart, has 2 beautiful daughters and 3 loving grandchildren. In her spare time she enjoys walks, camping, quilting and spending quality time with family.
Manager of Human Resources
Rebecca Cromwell is the Manager of Human Resources at National Joint Powers Alliance®. Rebecca brings a strong business background of management, marketing and human resources. Her background includes over 20 years of experience in private industry with 12 of those serving a municipal client base. Her understanding of change management, high performance culture, employee engagement, workforce development and business analytics has prepared Rebecca well for her role with NJPA.
Rebecca is a member of the Management Council and is responsible for the leadership, management and strategic direction of the human resource function. Her expertise lies in consensus building, process improvement, employee relations, teambuilding and collaboration, coaching and staff development. Rebecca is excited to join the NJPA team as it continues to grow.
Rebecca is a certified professional (PHR) through the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) and Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM-CP). She is also member of the Lakes Area Human Resources Association (LAHRA), the Public Employers Labor Relations Association (PELRA), and the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).
Rebecca Thorne, SHRM-CP
HR Specialist: Staff Development
Rebecca Thorne joined NJPA in December 2015. As a Human Resources Specialist, Rebecca handles many of the day-to-day HR operations, including recruitment, retention, annual and regular training, policy updates and interpretation, and employee relations. Rebecca is excited to join the NJPA team as it continues to grow.
Rebecca graduated from the University of Minnesota with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizations and Human Resource Management. Prior to beginning at NJPA, she spent several years working at West Wind Village in Morris, MN as the Director of Human Resources where she managed all aspects of the Human Resources Department. In addition, she became a trainer on multi-generational workforces and coordinating a recruitment, selection, and retention grant for the facility. Rebecca is also member of the Lakes Area Human Resources Association (LAHRA), the Public Employers Labor Relations Association (PELRA), and the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).
Rebecca lives in Staples with her husband, son, and two dogs. Rebecca enjoys being outdoors, running, reading, traveling, boating, and spending time with family and friends.
Manager of Insurance and Risk Management
Ryan Donovan is the Manager of Insurance and Risk Management at National Joint Powers Alliance®. As a member of the NJPA Management Council, Ryan’s primary responsibilities include leadership, management, and organizational strategic oversight for all areas of Insurance and Risk Management.
He is a graduate of Bemidji State University with a B.S. in Biology. This education provided the foundation for understanding and applying complex subject matters. Prior to NJPA, Ryan gained 15+ years of commercial insurance, group health, life/disability, and employee benefits experience working in the private sector with small-to-medium-sized businesses in central Minnesota.
This leadership and sales experience has provided him with the opportunity to directly impact the NJPA members by developing and maintaining insurance programs which bring value to the member organizations and their individuals. Ryan is a licensed insurance agent who enjoys working with people to help make the complicated insurance industry more transparent and easier to understand, while developing options to provide members more control.
Ryan and his wife, Melissa, live in Alexandria where they enjoy spending time with friends and family admiring and exploring the great outdoors.
Senior Education Consultant
Rynell Schock serves NJPA Education Solutions as a Senior Consultant focusing on research and development in leadership and innovations for new programs in education. Since Education Solutions was launched in 2011 under her leadership, Rynell has been dedicated to NJPA’s mission and its role in building leaders, teachers, and programs that will dramatically impact the lives of children in Region 5. As a member of the NJPA Education Solutions Team of highly-trained consultants, Rynell is dedicated to supporting effective schools for the sake of children.
Professionally, Rynell brings decades of experience in education to NJPA Education Solutions as a teacher, administrator, consultant, instructional coach, and program developer in educational leadership, K-12 literacy, interventions, gifted education, curriculum, and professional development. Facing the challenges in transforming education has demonstrated to Rynell that ALL schools can overcome the odds of low achievement. Rynell has co-authored with University of Minnesota researchers, Dr. Barbara Taylor and Dr. Deb Peterson, on the topic of critical conversations in instructional coaching that influences teacher’s effective practice. Most recently, Rynell has become an Associate of GiANT Worldwide, which is an organization committed to building leaders worth following.
Personally, Rynell is grateful for time with her husband and the families of their four, grown children. You will find her involved in her church and community, enjoying their family farm operation, and traveling with her family. Rynell believes she will always thrill at being with children: reading books, building with Legos, and having tea parties.
IT Support Specialist
Sandie joined National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA) in July 2016 as an IT Support Specialist I. Her job duties include helping users with innovative technology solutions, creative problem solving, and strong partnerships. She enjoys working with the other members of the IT team to continually provide excellent support to NJPA employees, members, and regional partners.
Sandie has a BS in Business Management with an emphasis in Business Computer Information Systems from St. Cloud State University. She also holds her High School Business Teaching Licensure from Concordia and has over 13 years of experience in the IT field. Sandie came from the Verndale School where she was employed as the IT Coordinator. Along the way, she had the opportunity to be involved with grant writing, website design, social media, graphic design, yearbook, substitute teaching, and bus driving.
Sandie is originally from Rogers, MN and has been living in Verndale since 1995. Sandie, with her husband Brad and their two daughters, enjoys riding 4-wheeler, hunting, camping, attending church activities, and just spending time together.
Early Childhood Professional Development Facilitator
Sara Hight is a retired educator of 35 years from the Brainerd Public School District. She holds a special education degree from St. Cloud State University and has completed graduate studies to obtain her Early Childhood Special Education license. Her career includes a long history of work with children with disabilities and their families, birth through age 21. Experiences include providing both Part C and Part B services, coordination of interagency activities and implementing professional training opportunities for a variety of curriculums and evidence based practices including the Pyramid Model. Sara has worked as a consultant for the Paul Bunyan Education Cooperative mentoring new teachers and supporting teachers with strategies for students with challenging behaviors.
Sara’s passion for improving positive outcomes for children and their families lead her to find a means to continue to stay connected after retiring from the classroom. She accepted the position of Professional Development Facilitator (PDF) through the Minnesota Centers of Excellence in 2015. As a PDF for Region 5 Sara connects with local ECSE leaders to provide updates and serve as a liaison to/from the Minnesota Department of Education. She will support program-wide quality improvement planning by assisting with identification of program strengths and needs and locating necessary resources. The goal is to empower programs to implement innovations by guiding an exploration process and supporting the installation through external coaching.
Sara lives in the Brainerd Lakes Area and enjoys everything the lake offers year round including boating, kayaking, snow shoeing and cross country skiing.
Marketing and Public Relations Manager
Sarah Speer is the Marketing and Public Relations Manager at NJPA. Media planning, communication strategies, and organizational brand management are her primary areas of focus.
Sarah has more than a decade of marketing experience working with cooperatives and not-for-profits. Her professional career also includes television producing and anchoring, newspaper copywriting, radio news reporting, and teaching language arts.
Sarah holds a degree in Communications from Concordia College and a degree in English and Secondary Education from Minnesota State University - Moorhead. She is very involved in her community and church and enjoys reading historical non-fiction, traveling to places she’s never been, sprint-distance triathlons, and spending time with her family. Sarah and her family live in Brainerd, MN.
Scott brings a strong background of business-to-business sales and marketing in wholesale as well as retail through his 13 years in the produce wholesale industry. Scott was Sales Manager overseeing sales in 5 distribution centers throughout the Midwest before being promoted to Branch Manager in LaCrosse, WI. He understands the competitive landscape in sales at the retail/wholesale level and has the ability to develop customized business strategies.
As Contract Administrator, Scott will facilitate collaborative sales training with his vendor contracts to ensure sales growth and achieve contract success. His objective is to provide communication methods, program benefits and sales strategies that add value to awarded vendors and NJPA members to provide them the tools needed for contract to be successful. He also manages conference exhibiting, ensuring maximum exposure of awarded vendors to potential and current NJPA members.
Another area vital to the success of NJPA is the development and implementation of an aggressive marketing strategy to promote each contract. Scott maintains a close relationship with all of his contracts ensuring the marketing plan is followed.
Scott is a graduate of St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management with Minor in Marketing and Operations. Scott and his wife, Karla, along with their three boys live in Little Falls, MN. Scott and his family are into a variety of sports activities. In their free time in winter you can find them at the hockey arena and in the summer either on the lake or on the golf course.
Marketing Multimedia Specialist
Sean Costas is a Marketing Multimedia Specialist at NJPA. His focus is creating video, still photography, and related media that tells NJPA’s story. Sean is a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles and worked in film/video production for twenty years, twelve of them in Los Angeles. His credits include Hollywood and Independent motion pictures, episodic TV shows, commercials, corporate videos, documentaries, short films, children’s sitcoms, and streamed music performances with major recording artists. He also ran a business in Southern California that restored classic Toyota FJ40 Landcruisers and sold them online. Sean relocated to the Brainerd Lakes area in 2011 and quickly became a fan of the quality of life the region has to offer. As a resident of the Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd, MN he participates in gallery exhibitions and open house events. He’s involved in his church’s activities and choir, enjoys dancing swing, salsa & tango; fishing, attending local festivals and live music performances, and recently began learning to kitesurf and snowboard.
Procurement Support Specialist
Sheila joined National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) in November 2011 as an Administrative Specialist. She currently works in the Bids & Contract s Department, helping with the bid processes and evaluations as well as making sure all information is updated and current.
Sheila attended St. Cloud Business College and Central Lakes College in Brainerd, MN. Her work experience includes 14 years in customer service/scheduling along with being a Project Coordinator of offshore business in the manufacturing industry.
Outside of NJPA, Sheila enjoys camping, reading, spending time with her family and attending her children’s sports activities. She lives in Staples with her husband and two children.
Travel & Logistics Specialist
Susan Nanik, PHR, SHRM-CP
Director of Administration
Susan Nanik is Director of Administration at the National Joint Powers Alliance®. Susan brought her education and experience in Insurance, Office Management and Finance to NJPA. Susan earned her Professional in Human Resources (PHR) status through the Human Resource Certification Institute in May 2009. She is a member of the Lakes Area Human Resource Association (LAHRA) and served on the LAHRA Board as Program Director. She currently serves on the LEAP (Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy, Positiveness) Board. She also served as an elected official as Board Clerk of Bullard Township for 14 years.
Susan works to maximize strategic use of human resources to benefit NJPA. She is committed to ensuring human resource programs and services support the needs of our employees while meeting the goals set forth in the NJPA Business Plan.
Susan lives with her family on a farm north of Staples where she enjoys biking, gardening, swimming, floating the Crow Wing River and relaxing in the great outdoors.
Tami Bennett-Tait joined NJPA the summer of 2015 motivated to support schools and teachers in effective use of data, assessment, and curriculum. She believes that student learning depends on teacher efficacy which occurs when teachers grow and develop through collaboration and coaching with supportive leadership providing time for job-embedded professional development.
Tami grew up in Floodwood, MN and after high school graduation attended the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology and Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Teaching Life Science and Teaching Mathematics. After years of teaching high school, Tami achieved her Master’s in Teaching and Learning from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota focused on Curriculum and Instruction. As a passionate lifelong learner, she is dedicated to obtain a Doctorate in Education from St. Mary’s focused on Leadership and Adult Learning and hopes to reach her goal by the summer of 2018.
As a teacher of over 20 years, Tami has taught numerous 7-12 science and math courses with most of those years at ACGC High School. She has also worked passionately as a data/instructional coach as well as leading professional development and curriculum alignment across the school. Some opportunities that she has led for teachers include topics on math manipulatives, foldables, graphic organizers, math and science vocabulary, and writing rubrics.
Tami lives in Grove City with her husband and two daughters on a small hobby farm with a 1 acre garden. Both daughters are active in 4-H (6 years) and the Diamond Edge Figure Skating Club (8 years) in addition to dance or volleyball, softball, and Knowledge Bowl. Before Tami started her doctorate, she enjoyed nature, photography, scrapbooking, and traveling (Minnesota and the US). A family goal is to visit all 50 states before her oldest daughter graduates from high school; as of June 2015 they have only six states left to visit.
Project Team Lead
Tania Denny joined National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA) September 2013. She currently works as a Project Team Leader. Her responsibilities include providing leadership, strategic thinking, and coordinating the projects so they align with NJPA. She has many years of experience in lean methodologies and enjoys helping others make their jobs easier by streamlining processes.
Tania graduated from Central Lakes College with an A.A.S in Computer Information Systems, also went through 2 years of Microsoft training and received MCP certification (Microsoft Certified Professional) certification, then received her Bachelor’s degree in CIS (Computer Information Systems) from Saint Scholastica. Tania has been in technology for 15+ years in many facets. She is very excited to join the National Joint Powers Alliance team! In her time off she enjoys fishing, hunting, walking, being outdoors and most of all spending time with her family.
Thomas L. Morgan
Thomas Morgan was born and raised in the Brainerd Lakes Area and graduated from the University of MN – Duluth with a BA in Political Science and Sociology. Tom moved to Madison, WI and joined a world-wide insurance brokerage firm where he assisted with the Sales & Marketing strategies for the state of Wisconsin, produced commercial property and casualty insurance contracts as well as helped build & improve client relationships.
As Contract Administrator, Tom plans sales training for his vendor contracts to ensure sales growth and achieve contract success. He recommends communication methods, program benefits and sales strategies that add value to awarded vendors and NJPA members. He also manages conference exhibiting, ensuring maximum exposure of awarded vendors to current and potential NJPA members.
Another area vital to the success of NJPA is the development and implementation of an aggressive marketing strategy to promote each contract. Tom maintains a close relationship with all of his contracts ensuring the marketing plan is followed. He also supports member/vendor interaction by promoting all NJPA vendors, yet ensuring membership satisfaction.
Tom lives in Brainerd and enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and the lakes with his family/friends.
Building and Grounds Worker
Tom joined NJPA in January 2017 as a Building and Grounds Worker. Tom is responsible for performing custodial and grounds work, while providing proper maintenance and repair of the building and other property.
Tom is married to his wife Jayne and they have two adult children. He moved back to Staples in 2015, after spending 28 years in Barnesville, MN working for the telephone company and co-owning a grocery store. Tom and Jayne enjoy following their daughter to yoga retreats in Colorado every year and going to their son’s rock and roll shows. Tom also enjoys anything that gets him outside.
Manager of Contract Administration
Tom Perttula is the manager of contract administration at National Joint Powers Alliance®. Tom brings a strong background of business ownership and sales experience with over 13 years of owning and managing multiple restaurant concepts. His background also includes over 10 years of sales experience in the food industry. His understanding of business development, sales and training has prepared Tom well for his role with NJPA.
As manager of contract administration, Tom plans recommends communication methods, program benefits and sales strategies that add value to awarded vendors and NJPA members. He also manages conference exhibiting, ensuring maximum exposure of awarded vendors to potential and current NJPA members.
Another area vital to the success of NJPA is the development and implementation of an aggressive marketing strategy to promote each contract. Tom ensures the marketing plan is followed. He also supports member/vendor interaction by promoting all NJPA vendors, yet ensuring membership satisfaction.
Tom is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing. He and his wife, Beth, live in Baxter, MN and have two children.
Lead Contract Administrator
Tony Glenz is a Contract Administrator at National Joint Powers Alliance®. Tony has over 15 years of management experience in retail, direct sales, marketing and customer service, covering both the construction and equipment sectors. These experiences along with owning his own small business have prepared him well to excel and effectively perform all aspects required to be a successful Contract Administrator at NJPA.
As Contract Administrator, Tony plans and facilitates sales training for his vendor contracts to ensure sales growth and achieve contract success. He guides the communication methods, program benefits and sales strategies that add value to awarded vendors and NJPA members. He also manages conference exhibiting, ensuring NJPA messaging and maximum exposure of awarded vendors to potential and current NJPA members. This is all part of the development and implementation of an aggressive marketing strategy to promote each contract Tony works with.
Tony maintains a close relationship with all of his contracts ensuring the marketing plan is followed. He also supports member/vendor interaction by promoting all NJPA Vendors, and ensuring membership satisfaction. Through his role in the business development phase of the contracting process, Tony is actively engaged in translating the needs expressed by NJPA members to interest from quality potential vendors.
Tony resides in Verndale, MN with his wife Shelley and their three daughters. Tony is very active in his community and church, is a school board member, and enjoys spending time with his family, hunting, fishing and the outdoors.
Contract Administration Specialist
Tracy Plinske joined National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA) in August 2010. She currently works as a Contract Administration Specialist within our Contract Purchasing group. She works collaboratively within a Contract Unit to ensure contract administration processes are effectively completed. Her focus is on the completion and quality control of vendor reporting, contract marketing, research and compilation of market intelligence, and contract documentation compliance. She also collaborates on contract training, business development, annual business reviews, vendor communications and contract marketing at conferences/tradeshows. She also serves as a resource to the bid evaluation team.
Tracy lives in Brainerd, MN with her family. She enjoys spending time with friends and family.
Financial Analyst I
Trevor Loftis is a Financial Analyst at National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA). He is responsible for performing preparation, analysis, and reporting in the organizational budgetary and strategic planning process. Trevor is also responsible for developing and maintaining the organization’s ERP system and other financial management systems of the organization, capital asset management, and account receivable management.
Trevor joined NJPA in November of 2010. He holds a Bachelors in Business Management from The College of St. Scholastica-Duluth, MN. Prior to joining NJPA, Trevor worked for a financial institution where he gained valuable experience in the accounting and banking field.
Outside of NJPA, Trevor is currently working on his MBA and enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing sports, and attending sporting events.
Account Clerk IV
Vicky joined NJPA in June 2017 as an Account Clerk in the Finance Department. She brings over twenty years of accounting experience and is responsible for payroll, accounts payable, and cash receipts. Vicky is excited to join an organization that has a strong commitment to the communities it serves.
Vicky lives in the Greater Brainerd Lakes Area with her husband, Andy. She has adult twin daughters who live out of state. She enjoys fishing, bowling, reading, and spending time with her husband.