Meet Our Team
Teaching Specialist & LEAD 1961W Coordinator
Carly (she/they) is a graduate of the Leadership Minor and the Tom Burnett Leadership Program. She is passionate, driven, CRITICAL, on purpose, and student-centered. Born in St.Paul, Minnesota, built and cared for by many locations and communities. Carly is a critical, queer, transnational, decolonial [praxis]itioner. They are experienced in student affairs and retention. She is entrepreneurship focused for queer and BIPOC start-ups and is an ACTIVE artist. Carly is never surprised by the brilliance that comes into the classroom but is in awe of what the classroom curates. From the instructors, the space, the students and their curriculum, she is eager to co-curate and enhance.
Teaching Specialist & Recruitment & Retention Coordinator
David Hellstrom is currently a Teaching Specialist with the Leadership Minor, as well as working with student advising, alumni connections and adjunct support. David’s history in the Minor has included collaboration with much of the original curriculum development of our courses, as well as co-founding the Intentional Emergence model alongside colleague Dr. Linnette Werner. Previous to working for the University of Minnesota David worked as a campus leadership trainer and has been lucky enough to have conducted workshops and presentations at more than 300 colleges and universities. David has a Master’s Degree in Human Development and also has been the recipient of the University of Minnesota Award for Staff Contribution to Honors Education and the Visionary Leadership Award from the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education. David believes that students are magical creatures that bring courage, innovation, and hope to a world in great need of those things.
Teaching Specialist & Development Coordinator
Evonne Bilotta-Burke is the LEAD-IN Coordinator for Instructor Centered Development for incoming adjunct instructors and a Teaching Specialist for the 1000-level course of the Leadership. She has worked on campus since 2000 with a majority of those years as part of the Office for Equity and Diversity. She holds a Master of Liberal Studies, an interdisciplinary degree with a focus of video production, theatrical direction, and emphasis on marginalized cultural patterns of change. She is author of the semi-documentary script, Inside the Gate: Perspectives of a Protest; based on the 1988 and 2006 Gallaudet Presidential protests, a work chosen as the University of Minnesota’s Rarig Performing Arts Center 1007 Diverse Voices Project. She has been facilitating for the last 18 years on local, regional, and national platforms. She considers herself a cat and dog person, loves a good rainstorm, and is an avid watcher of sunsets.
Jennifer (she/her) comes to us from Dougherty Family College at the University of St. Thomas where she used culturally sustaining pedagogy and universal design to create courses that made a difference to her students, she also used her sociology background to serve as a strong advocate and mentor for students. She brings years of organizational, teaching, and collaboration experience to the Leadership Minor. She loves connecting with others and rarely takes herself too seriously. Outside of her work life you can find her running with Mile in My Shoes, hanging with her children, going to happy hours, and reading as many fiction books as possible.
Academic Systems Coordinator
Jenn (she/her) comes to the Leadership Minor with previous experience as both a student and professional staff member at the University of Minnesota. In her role, Jenn manages administrative work for the Minor, oversees the Leadership Student Associate and Leadership Minor Intern programs, coordinates Leadership Minor graduation events, assists with student advising and human resources responsibilities, and runs day-to-day operational tasks. Jenn graduated from the Leadership Minor in Spring 2016 and feels grateful to have returned back to this community in a professional setting. Outside of work, Jenn’s interests include weightlifting, nutrition, and coaching group fitness classes.
Teaching Specialist & LEAD 1961W Coordinator
Laura Wiesner has been teaching with the Leadership Minor since 2012. She holds a master’s degree in Student Affairs Administration & Higher Education and a certificate in College & University Teaching. She previously worked with students in residence life, financial aid and veteran services. Laura excels at resolving technical problems to make more space to tackle adaptive challenges have some fun in the process. She is committed to teaching that advances equity and honors the unique identities, experiences and talents of individuals. She has always loved cooking, has recently enjoyed swimming, and consistently calls her sister (& her dogs).
Teaching Specialist & LEAD 4961W Coordinator
Maggie Harris joined the Leadership Minor in 2010. She holds a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership and teaches all core courses across the Minor, as well as a study abroad course. Maggie worked for over a decade as the founder and executive director of a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and, prior to that, with Houghton Mifflin and Yale University supporting funding and research for public schools. She has served as a board member for multiple organizations and has dedicated her time as a leadership consultant to over one hundred universities, schools, corporations, and nonprofit groups across the United States and Canada. Maggie has been honored as a Girl Scouts Centennial Woman of Promise, is the recipient of the B. Warren Hart Award for Public Service, and was one of the Ten Outstanding Minnesotans of 2011. She infuses her experience with and dedication to leadership development into dynamic, engrossing curriculum development and classroom instruction. When not adoring her time with her partner and children, Maggie travels extensively and has lived and worked in 5 different countries. Her international experiences drive her passion and practice in developing global leaders.
Teaching Specialist & Field Experience Coordinator
Melanie Buford is a Teaching Specialist and level lead for the Field Experience course in the Leadership Minor. Melanie has worked for a range of universities and mission-driven organizations as an instructor, career coach, and data analyst. She has focused on conducting research and developing curriculum to support students in designing authentic postgraduate lives. Her work exploring equity and innovation in career education has been featured in both academic and practitioner journals, and she is the lead editor of the 2022 Routledge volume Mapping the Future of Undergraduate Career Education. Melanie has received the Ralph W. Tyler Award for outstanding research and the Kenneth B. Hoyt Career Education Practitioner Award for innovative practice. Beyond her work in higher education, she explores themes of identity and meaning-making through novel-length, character-driven fiction.
Teaching Graduate Assistant
Neela (she/her) is PhD candidate in Comparative and International Development Education in the department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development within CEHD. Her dissertation research focuses on climate hope and environmental education within the context of formal schooling in coastal Ecuador. Prior to doctoral study, Neela spent several years working in international education, with a special emphasis on issues of diversity and inclusion in advising, and campus internationalization. Neela is also a proud University of Wisconsin-Madison alumna, with a B.A. and M.S. in Geography. She lives in St. Paul with her spouse and two school-age children.
Teaching Specialist & LEAD 3961 Coordinator
My career and life have been centered on inclusivity, systems improvement (or justice when possible) and collaborative leadership. I have worked toward these things as a mother, community member, educator, youth worker, and supervisor of community-based programs. I describe myself as a white, cishet, woman, mom, and St. Paul West Sider (even though I now live in Minneapolis). I have an undergraduate and master's degree in Women & Gender Studies and PhD in Education with a focus on student voices in educational systems change. My core values are discovery, empathy, and authenticity.
Vongrathayuth (Yuth) Hingphith
Teaching Graduate Assistant
Vongrathayuth (aka Yuth) (He/Him/His) believes each journey of leadership development is as unique as it can be. A great facilitator and instructor first shall aim to empathize with those they intend to inspire. Therefore, empathy should be at the forefront. He has worked in non-profits since 2014 and has been teaching since 2015. He has come to term with the importance of the mutual learning relationship that exist in the conversation about leadership and inspires to create a space where growth is a common discussion. He holds an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction and MA in Comparative and International Development Education. He is excited to be pursuing his PhD in Comparative and International Development Education this upcoming fall in the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota.
Co-Curricular Coordinator Student Associate
Boysen (he/him) first got a taste of the Leadership Minor when he took both 1961W and FYLI in the Spring of his freshman year and has been hooked ever since. Now as a Junior studying Biology, Society, and the Environment, he is absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity to grow and dig deep with a new group of first year students as they learn more about how they show up as leaders and how their great gifts fit the world’s great needs, just as he did when he was a freshman. In his free time, Boysen loves to run and explore around campus, watch the latest Marvel or Star Wars movie/tv show, cross country ski and hunt with his family in Northern Minnesota, and is a die hard Twins fan.
LEAD 1961W Student Associate
Brynn Nguyen joined our Leadership Minor Community during her first semester at the U of M in the fall of 2020. Taking the 1000 level class as a recommendation from an advisor, she quickly found a passion and a sense of belonging that prompted her to become a Student Associate. Here, Brynn works as a 1000 Level Instructor Support Specialist, is part of the LEAD-IN and Coffee Talks team, and coordinates department purchasing. Outside of the Leadership Minor, she is a Carlson School of Management student who loves to travel, particularly to her father’s home country Vietnam, learn about different cultures, practice music, and continue to try to be the best version of herself.
Marketing Coordinator Student Associate
Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Student Associate
Delaney (she/her) was lucky enough to take the first class within our Minor during her first semester of her freshman year. She has been involved with the Minor ever since- taking leadership classes, acting as a teaching assistant in leadership classes, and now working in our office. Her role in our office is in Recruitment and Retention, and she is dedicated to helping more students find the community that has been so important to her throughout her time here at the U. She is currently a junior double-majoring in Psychology and Communications; but in her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, and spending time with her wonderful friends.
Programming Coordinator Student Associate
Julia (she/her) is the Student Associate responsible for supporting, developing, and managing the programs within the Leadership Minor! After engaging with the 1000 level class her freshman year, she was drawn to the deep sense of community and purpose within the minor. Julia is a junior studying Business and Marketing Education and minoring in leadership. Outside of the office, Julia enjoys traveling with her triplet brothers, trying new coffee concoctions, reading, and weightlifting.
Academic Experience Coordinator Student Associate
Lindsey (she/they) fell in love with the Leadership Minor after taking the first class her freshman year and learning so much about herself, the community around her, and how to embrace discomfort. Within her position as the Academic Experience Coordinator, Lindsey offers advising services, declares the minor, and plans the graduation event for all Leadership Minor students. She also really enjoys having one-to-ones with students to talk about everything leadership! Outside of the office, Lindsey is a member of the University of Minnesota Marching Band, where she practices and performs halftime shows during the football season. She also loves traveling back to her hometown in Colorado to visit family, find new hiking spots, and go to concerts at Red Rocks.
Technology Coordinator Student Associate
Rohan Rokkam began his Leadership Minor journey in the Spring of 2021 and has never looked back since! He is studying Computer Science with a minor in Leadership. Here, Rohan is responsible for maintaining, fixing, and improving all technological devices and applications that the Leadership Department uses. Outside of the Leadership Minor, Rohan loves to play tennis and go hiking up north during the summers, ski during the winters, and take an extensive amount of naps all year round!
Leadership Minor Intern Coordinator Student Associate
Sean started his leadership minor journey in 2022 after taking the first course with Evonne Bilotta-Burke. Since then, he has never stopped looking for ways to become more involved in the minor. Within his position as Leadership Minor Intern Coordinator, Sean offers support for LMI’s which play a key role within the leadership minor. Outside of the leadership minor, Sean runs his own cookie shop where he utilizes class concepts on a daily basis. In Between his leadership roles you can find Sean with his nose in a sci-fi book or in the Walter library toaster, coding his homework.