Skip to main content
Home2020 MAVA Conference November Speakers

2020 Conference Speakers

MAVA is honored to have the following speakers joining us for Redefining Volunteerism: Dismantling Inequities.

Speaker Bios

Rojo Andriamihaja (She/Her/Hers)

Rojo Andriamihaja was born, raised, and currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her involvement with social justice was fostered during college, focusing on history and comparative racism. In 2016, Rojo began a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at YouthLink. In 2017 she moved into her current role of Communications and Volunteer Program Coordinator at Tubman, a nonprofit that helps people of all genders and ages who have experienced relationship violence, elder abuse, addiction, sexual exploitation, and other forms of trauma in the Twin Cities. Her dual roles allow creativity, connection to all sides of the organization, and the ability to continue learning and facilitating conversation around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Chuck Bernsohn (They/Them/Theirs)
A passionate advocate for the LGBTQ+ and Chronic Illness communities, Chuck facilitates accessible conversations around inclusivity, privilege, intersectionality, and the creative power of language. They come to this work with personal life experience as a disabled, non-binary queer person with a background in Gender Studies. They approach all of their work using an anti-racist and transformational justice lens. Chuck lives in Chicago with their partner, several backyard chickens, and a yellow-eyed dog. You can connect with Chuck via their website ( or Instagram: @doijustsaythey.
Brittany Biggers (She, Her, Hers)
Brittany Biggers is a Volunteer Service Manager with Hospice of the Western Reserve where she manages the volunteer education program, overseeing the entirety of education programming for all volunteers. She currently serves on her organization’s Veteran Committee, which plans and executes support of both volunteer veterans and veterans at end-of-life across Northeast Ohio. Brittany has been managing volunteers for nearly a decade and has earned multiple degrees and certifications, including her CVA. Brittany currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, Chad, and dog, Bo. 
Danielle Brady (She/Her/Hers)
Danielle Brady has been working with volunteers for over 25 years. During this time, she has also thoroughly enjoyed providing training on intercultural awareness to  staff, volunteers and the community. In her career, she has found that volunteer engagement is rooted in systematic inequities, so both the biggest challenge and the greatest reward, comes in bridging the gap of privilege, and facilitating understanding between volunteers who tend to come from a place of privilege and the people served by the non-profit. It is her passion to help volunteers to better understand the people they are helping, provide empathy and support while making an impact.  Awareness of the differences in experience, needs, and reactions is key to understanding each other.
Eric Carpio (He/Him/His)
Eric Carpio is the Deputy Community Museum Officer for History Colorado and the Director of the Fort Garland Museum & Cultural Center. At Fort Garland, Eric is leading an effort to craft a renewed vision for the site, centered on co-creating and elevating diverse voices through community engagement and collaboration. In his role, Eric is the director of the Borderlands of Southern Colorado Educator Workshop, a National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History project, which explores the complex history of the American southwest through the intersection of racial, ethnic, religious, and geographic landscapes. Eric is one of ten Senior Fellows for Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion for the American Association of Museums and an alumnus of the University of Denver’s Latino Leadership Institute (LLI) and the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy (CSIS). Eric is an avid runner and enjoys fishing, hiking, and spending time with his wife, Lia, and son, Isaiah.
Jayne Cravens (She/Her/Hers)
Jayne Cravens is an internationally-recognized researcher, university lecturer, consultant and trainer. She is a pioneer regarding the research and practice of virtual volunteering, and she is a veteran manager of various local and international initiatives, including the United Nations. She has been quoted in articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, as well as for reports by CNN, Deutsche Well, and the BBC. Resources from her web site,, are frequently cited in reports and articles by a variety of organizations, online and in-print. She is currently based near Portland, Oregon in the USA.
Donte Curtis (He/Him/His)
Donte Curtis is the owner of Catch Your Dream Consulting where he mentors, inspires, and trains individuals and teams, nationwide, on leadership development, racial equity, entrepreneurship, making effective change and supports them to excel in their dreams and create positive change. With over 10 years of facilitation and speaking experience, Donte is adept to fostering the collective wisdom in the room and creates space to make sure everyone voice is heard. Probably one of the most energetic people you will ever meet, Donte lives a life that is dedicated to leadership, social justice and liberation.
Dr. Jermaine Davis (He/Him/His)
Dr. Jermaine Davis is Founder & CEO of Jermaine M. Davis Seminars & Workshops, Inc., a personal and professional development company that creates customized presentations, learning resources, and educational materials for individuals, teams, and organizations. Dr. Jermaine founded Snack Attack Vending of Minnesota in 2003, a snack food company that specializes in helping individuals and companies satisfy their snack food cravings. After growing Snack Attack into a successful business, Dr. Jermaine decided to fully dedicated himself to his true passions of speaking, teaching, writing, and filmmaking. Dr. Jermaine’s corporate background, entrepreneurial spirit, and accolades as an award-winning professor have positioned him to be a highly regarded communicator, an excellent leadership coach, a captivating keynote speaker, and a dynamic workshop presenter. Living in the midst of violence and frequent loss of life, Dr. Jermaine became passionate about bringing honor to his family’s name and dedicated his life to helping people break the negative cycles that keep them trapped in destructive lifestyles. As a teenager, Dr. Jermaine began studying principles of success, and with the encouragement of mentors and teachers, he enrolled in college. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication from Elmhurst College, he became the first person in his family to graduate from college! He continued his education by earning a Master’s in Speech Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Argosy University. Dr. Jermaine, an African American motivational speaker, has been actively teaching, coaching, and mentoring college adults for more than twenty years. He is currently a Professor of Communication Studies and Organizational Leadership at Century College and St. Catherine University in Minnesota. Dr. Jermaine is the proud recipient of the prestigious, student nominated, College Instructor of the Year Award and the TRIO Champion’s Award because of his commitment to helping first generation and low-income college students break the cycle of poverty. Dr. Jermaine has authored and co-authored ten books on topics of academic success, diversity and inclusion, leadership, motivation, inspiration, and women’s leadership. He is also a proud filmmaker, currently working on the release of his debut documentary and companion book, Breaking The Cycle.

Emily Dobish (She/Her/Hers)

Emily Dobish is the Director of Volunteer Engagement for History Colorado.  In that role she provides vision for and ensures the growth of the volunteer and internship strategy.  Emily has over 10 years of volunteer management experience, including 5 years on the Board of Directors for DOVIA Colorado. Prior to moving to Colorado, she worked as a Faculty Assistant at the Harvard Business School. She has an M.A. in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and a B.A. in History from York College of Pennsylvania.  Emily also has experience as a Park Ranger at the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site and the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.

Tonya Draughn (She/Her/Hers)
Tonya Draughn was born and raised in Minnesota, graduated from St Agnes High School, and attended Hamline University. She has participated in multiple trainings with organizations like Wellstone, U of MN Extension, and the MN Council of Nonprofits. She is a graduate of ASANDC Power One of Plus One Neighborhood Leadership Program, the Community Action Public Policy Training under Public Policy Project, and the Boards and Commission Leadership Institute. She was selected by St Paul City Council to sit on a Legislative Advisory Committee on Poverty and was recently selected to lend her voice to the Ramsey County Healthcare Committee to assist in their response to Covid 19.

Tonya is the Executive Director of Uplift MN, a grassroots organization that helps underrepresented communities navigate through policies that affect their lives. They lead with voter engagement efforts and collaborate with education partners like MN Parent Union to educate families on how to advocate for their children.

Tonya is a working member of The Village PTSA-an African American Parent Teacher Student Association, The Fannie Education Alliance, and The St Paul Promise Neighborhood Parent Council.

Tonya brings over 18 years of experience working in a variety of roles with underrepresented communities. She has worked to engage communities on everything from voting to food justice to employment opportunities.
Cardina Esparza (She/Her/Hers)
Cardina Esparza currently runs her consulting firm, Esparza Consulting LLC, with the mission to build organization health that is focused on people and culture by integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level. Cardina has over 20 years of experience providing group facilitation for committees and work groups focused on responding to changing community needs, over 15 years facilitating training and development related to inclusion and equity and has over 10 years of experience using the Intercultural Development Inventory and the Intercultural Conflict Styles inventory to help organizations and teams be more effective. She has worked in non-profits and educational institutions in the Twin Cities since 1994. 
Cardina is particularly passionate about integrating Organization development and DEI change work into her new consulting LLC. Cardina was most recently the Lead IDI qualified administrator and Manager for the Wilder Foundations Center for Learning & Excellence and had been with Wilder in multiple roles since 2001. Cardina is a doctoral candidate in Organization Development and Change Management and has a Master’s in Youth Development and Community Leadership Development and holds a Bachelor’s in Chicana/o Studies and Youth Studies.

Courtney Flug (She/Her/Hers)
Courtney is passionate about eliminating poverty and believes in the transformative power of community and volunteerism. She is currently the Volunteer Director at Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP), a nonprofit that creates pathways to stronger, more hopeful communities through access to healthy food, housing stability, and supportive services. Prior to that, her professional experience includes volunteer program management for Avivo, a Minneapolis based non-profit providing services to increase well-being through recovery, employment, and career advancement. She also spent 15 years in direct services and program management with Interfaith Outreach, a nonprofit based in Plymouth to help people overcome barriers to stability. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Social Work from University of Wisconsin-Madison. When she’s not working, you can find her running, reading, and cheering on her beloved Badgers and Packers alongside her husband, Josh.
Jay Haapala (He/Him/His)
Jay Haapala is Associate State Director – Community Engagement with AARP Minnesota where he leads volunteers in consumer education and advocacy programs. He has been a MAVA member since 2006 and served on the board for 6 years. He is an AmeriCorps alumnus and has managed volunteer programs in disaster relief, issue campaigns, sustainability initiatives, special events, early childhood programs, athletics and more.
Niila Hebert (She/Her/Hers)
Niila has worked in the Non-profit sector for over 10 years and has used her platform to be an advocate for volunteerism and advancing the profession of volunteer management. She is a trained mediator and has developed and facilitated trainings in conflict resolution, self-care and managing group dynamics, for various non-profit organizations in the twin cities. Her passion for equity, inclusion and cultural competency has led her to become one of the first DEI Ambassadors and IDI Administrators for Girl Scouts. Outside of work, Niila is an active lobbyist for Volunteerism, the Black community and the LGBTQ community. As the Public Policy Chair for MAVA, her commitment to legislative work and the opportunity to be a voice was reflected in the 2019 and 2020 Volunteer Day at the Capitol, of which she led and organized. Niila’s ability to bring high-energy, harmony, and positivity into any space solidifies that she is a G.I.R.L (go-getter, innovator, risk taker, leader). Niila received her BA in Communications Studies and Minor in Black Studies from California State University Long Beach.
María Islas-López (She/Her/Hers)
María Islas-López is a cultural sociologist (Ph.D. Rutgers University) specialized in qualitative analysis and community-engaged research and evaluation in ethnically diverse and low-income communities, especially with immigrant families and children. Her work has centered on exploring how communities build recollections of the past and ideas about the future together and on supporting these efforts. She is History Colorado’s Museum of Memory Manager. In this position she oversees a portfolio of community-based memory projects for underserved communities across. She has a record of collaborations across disciplines and sectors in projects aiming to improve the well-being of at-risk communities and in evaluation projects on the coordination of community-wide partnerships. Through these projects, she has worked with populations with diverse backgrounds, interdisciplinary research teams, community organizations, public agencies and private institutions in New Jersey, Colorado and Rhode Island. Before joining History Colorado she was a professor at the University of Denver, where she taught classes on community, social problems, memory and immigration.

Hope Lockett (She/Her/Hers)

With such a well known intransitive verb as a namesake Hope has always felt she has a strength of helping people find it, hope. As a Black woman and a lesbian and a person with a chronic illness Hope has learned to thrive in the unknown space of intersections. Hope has a degree in Political Science, is a trained trauma informed yoga teacher and loves to learn and share knowledge.

Lisa Joyslin (She/Her/Hers)
Lisa Joyslin is the Equity and Inclusion Manager at the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA).  Her work is focused on learning how to address systemic inequities in volunteer engagement systems to better engage communities of color as volunteers at nonprofit and government organizations.  Lisa has worked in the field of volunteer engagement for nearly 15 years, including 4 years as the Volunteer Services Officer for the Red Cross Minnesota Region and positions at multiple volunteer centers. She holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Minnesota.
Katie Mahoney (She/Her/Hers)
Katie Mahoney, MSW has served as the Program Manager at the Seattle affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) since 2015. As Program Manager, she coordinates all of NAMI Seattle’s volunteer-led community programs, which reach over 3,000 people in the greater Seattle area each year whose lives have been impacted by mental illness.  She holds a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin, and her previous work includes program coordination, volunteer management and direct client services in women’s health, HIV, employment training, and community self-defense. In additional to her role at NAMI Seattle, Katie is also involved with the Northwest Volunteer Administrators Network.
Anne Phibbs (She/Her/Hers)
Anne Phibbs, PhD is Founder and President of Strategic Diversity Initiatives.  In this role, she helps organizations move their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts forward with training, consultation, audits, assessments, and strategic planning.  Anne directed LGBTQ offices at both Metropolitan State University and the University of Minnesota.  She also served as Director of Education in the Office for Equity and Diversity at the University of Minnesota, where she built a DEI leadership program centered around emotional intelligence.  Anne earned her PhD in Philosophy and Feminist Studies from the University of Minnesota and lives in Minneapolis.
Cairn Reisch (She/Her/Hers)
With nearly a decade of experience in the industry, Cairn has firmly established herself as a leader, innovator, and strategic professional in every aspect of volunteer engagement. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion and Non-Profit Management at Central College in Pella, Iowa. In addition to her professional experience, she went on to obtain her Volunteer Administration certification, the first person in North Dakota to do so. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her partner and fur babies. They love to travel and spend time exploring unique culinary experiences in new cities.
Janene Riedeman (She/Her/Hers)
Janene Riedeman is the Director, Volunteer Services at CentraCare overseeing volunteer programs, retail gift shop locations, patient and family housing, home delivered meals, personal emergency response system, and Volunteer Auxiliary activities. She has served in leadership roles for many professional organizations including MN Association for Volunteer Administration, Administrators of Healthcare Volunteers, MN Association of Healthcare Volunteers, and MN Health Care Gift Shop Association.
Wendy Roberts (She/Her/Hers)
Wendy Roberts is MAVA's Training Manager. In this role, she manages MAVA's trainings, annual conference and the Professional Development and Conference Committees. Prior to joining the MAVA staff, she was the Volunteer Outreach and Hotline Manager at Literacy Minnesota and managed volunteer and adult learner outreach and volunteer coordinator support for Adult Basic Education programs statewide. Wendy holds a Master of Public and Nonprofit Administration from Metropolitan State University, and serves on the Antiracism Study Dialogue Circles (ASDIC) Metamorphosis Board of Directors and Marketing Committee.
Margie Solomon (She/Her/Hers)
Margie Solomon serves as Volunteer Engagement Specialist at Jewish Family Service of St. Paul. In her role, she works with JFS staff to identify client and agency-wide needs; and then to recruit and train motivated, caring individuals to serve our clients in the community. Margie’s work with JFS began 6 years ago when she connected with the agency as a volunteer herself, facilitating discussions about dementia with caregivers and community organizations. In addition to this role, she serves on two non-profit boards and is chair of two committees, while managing the consulting business she founded in 2011, Leap Forward Coaching and Development. The focus in Margie’s work across all of these settings is deeply connected with her personal passion for helping people focus on what’s next in their life, leadership, and career journey.
Beth Steinhorn (She/Her/Hers)
Beth Steinhorn is President of VQ Volunteer Strategies, where she partners with organizations and their leadership to increase their impact through strategic and innovative engagement. The author of multiple books and articles on strategic volunteer engagement, she is a popular speaker and trainer, known for her interactive and inspiring presentations. As a thought leader, Beth regularly participates in the national dialogue about volunteerism and engagement. Prior to becoming a consultant, Beth worked as an executive director and marketing director for education and faith-based organizations and spent years working with museums as an educator, manager, and anthropologist, including work at the American Museum of Natural History and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. She also taught Museum Education at the University of Denver. She draws upon her anthropology experience still, helping organizations through the culture-shift process—from viewing volunteer management as a program to embracing engagement as a strategy to fulfill mission.
Jerome Tennille (He/Him/His)
With over 9 years of volunteer engagement experience, Jerome Tennille is the Manager of Social Impact & Volunteerism for Marriott International. Jerome is also an independent consultant and advisor in the subject matter of Sustainability and Social Impact. Prior to that Jerome held the position of Senior Manager of Impact Analysis and Assessment for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a national organization that offers help, hope, and healing to all those grieving the death of a loved one serving in America’s armed forces. Jerome also served on the board of directors of Peace Through Action USA for four years and also serves on the PsychArmor Institute Advisory Committee for the School of Volunteers & Nonprofits. Jerome holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in operations management and a Master of Sustainability Leadership (MSL) from Arizona State University. Jerome is designated as Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) and is also a veteran of the US Navy.
Faiza Venzant (She/Her/Hers)

Faiza Venzant CVA, CVRM is the Executive Director of the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration and General Manager, Volunteer Development at the YMCA of Greater Toronto. With 20 years of leadership experience in volunteer engagement, she continues this work with a goal of improving equity and access to volunteerism and increasing diversity amongst professional leaders of volunteers.  In 2018, Faiza published her first children’s book entitled, My Mamma Wants to Eat Me Up!  As a mother of two young boys, she has not actually eaten any of her children up.

Julie Vreeland (She/Her/Hers)

Julie Vreeland is MAVA's Greater Minnesota Program Manager; she is responsible for working to expand and build capacity for Greater Minnesota nonprofits and government entities through excellence in volunteerism. She assesses needs and creates strategic partnerships while building capacity for volunteerism in Greater Minnesota. Julie comes to MAVA with over 30 years of non-profit experience, over 15 of those years in the Chamber of Commerce management field. Following her chamber career she continued to work for regional non-profit organizations including: Minnesota Technology and as the Non Profit Resource Specialist for Bremer Bank in Brainerd. Julie earned her IOM designation at the University of Colorado, Boulder, through the US Chamber of Commerce IOM Program. She received her undergraduate degree at St. Cloud State University and is a 2016 graduate of the University of St. Thomas Executive Director Leadership Program.

Kia Xiong (She/Her/Hers)
Kia Xiong is a Community Engagement Coordinator at Girl Scouts River Valleys. She attended Hamline University for three years and decided on her career in community engagement when she joined her first few political campaigns starting at the age of 21, as the Communications Director for both campaigns. The victory of her first campaign marked a first for many—the first person of color to ever be on Brooklyn Park’s City Council and the first Hmong City Councilwoman, Susan Pha. Kia’s second campaign, Cindy Yang for MN House Representative, was likewise an empowering experience for her because, also for the very first time, it was a race between two Hmong women candidates. When Kia isn’t busy watching horror movies or trying to feed her stubborn and energetic toddler, she spends time playing Harvest Moon. She is currently working on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Girl Scouts by doing intentional outreach to cultivate authentic and long-term relationships with organizations that primarily serve the BIPOC community. Simultaneously, Kia works hands-on together with communities from different racial/ethnic backgrounds through recruitment, training, and mentorship with Mentored Troops, a Girl Scout pathway that is a safe and empowering space for girls and leaders of color.