Our Staff


Headshot of Christine VeLure Roholt.
Christine VeLure Roholt
Interim Director of the Leadership Minor

Christine VeLure Roholt began teaching the Field Experience Youth and Education course for the Leadership Minor in 2007 while also serving as the Director of Research for an interactive design firm. Her passion for working with youth opened opportunities to work locally and internationally. She taught ELL for many years in Japan and Saint Paul. She also lived Belfast, Northern Ireland and Amman, Jordan working with young people in divided and contested spaces (throughout Europe and the Middle East) to build their leadership capacities for social change within their communities. Christine lives in NE Minneapolis on a block that embodies community and enjoys cooking, traveling and doing mind-bending sudoku.

Headshot of Evonne Bilotta-Burke.
Evonne Bilotta-Burke
LEAD-IN Coordinator for Instructor Centered Development and Teaching Specialist

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 2007 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.

Headshot of Melanie Buford.
Melanie Buford
Teaching Specialist & Field Experience Level Lead

Melanie Buford is a Teaching Specialist and level lead for the field experience course in the Leadership Minor. Melanie has worked for a wide range of universities and mission-driven organizations as a professor, career coach and data analyst. She has focused on developing programs and curriculum to support students in designing authentic post-graduate lives. Her research exploring the intersections among personality, identity and the pursuit of meaningful work has been featured in both academic and practitioner journals, and by popular career outlets such as Puttylike.com, Truity.com and the Happen to Your Career Podcast series. In 2019, she received the Ralph W. Tyler Award for examining the efficacy of career courses on Millennial and Gen-Z students. She was named a 2017 YWCA Rising Star for community leadership. Beyond her work in higher education, Melanie explores themes of identity and meaning-making through novel-length, character-driven fiction. She has a master's degree in Human Development from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Wesleyan University.

Headshot of Jessica Chung.
Jessica Chung
Curriculum & Instruction Coordinator

Jessica Chung first connected with the Leadership Minor in 2011 and has been passionate about leadership education since. Since receiving her Master’s degree at Bowling Green State University, Jessica began teaching in two core courses, developing curriculum, advising Leadership Minor students, supporting instructor training, and overseeing recruitment efforts. She strives to infuse her work with curiosity for the way the human brain learns and thinks, the impacts of social media and technology on teaching and living, and student engagement. She is also a calligraphy, martial arts, and coffee enthusiast.

Headshot of Maggie Harris.
Maggie Harris
Teaching Specialist & 4000-Level 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.

Headshot of David Hellstrom.
David Hellstrom
Instructor Coordinator

David Hellstrom is currently a Teaching Specialist with the Leadership Minor, as well as serving as the Student Advisor and Alumni Coordinator for the Minor. David’s history in the Minor has included collobaration 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 believes that students are magical creatures that bring courage, innovation, and hope to a world in great need of those things. David loves movies, metaphors and mojitos.

Headshot of Brianne Johnson.
Brianne Johnson
Learning Technologies Coordinator & Teaching Specialist

As the Learning Technologies Coordinator for the Leadership Minor, Brianne seeks to create vibrant online courses and programs that serve learners' diverse needs. She has been teaching online courses for the Leadership Minor since 2014. Brianne earned a Master of Arts degree for Student Affairs Administration from Michigan State University in 2013. Access and persistence of low-income, first-generation students in postsecondary education were her primary interests in graduate school; she completed specific coursework, study abroad, and practicums on leadership, finance, student development, and learning in postsecondary contexts. Beyond her passion for online learning, Brianne enjoys gardening, food science, and cooking.

Headshot of Maytham Somji.
Maytham Somji
Academic Systems Coordinator

Born and raised in Tanzania, East Africa, Maytham originally moved to the United States in 2001 and has spent the last 18 years sharing his time between Minnesota and Tanzania. An avid outdoorsman, Maytham loves learning from nature by spending time outside. He loves mountaineering, camping, and kayaking.

Maytham graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2014 with a Bachelor's degree in Human Resource Development and a Minor in Leadership. He has a passion for people, teaching adults, and having meaningful conversations. He continued his passion after graduation by helping to build a social enterprise, Tamani Foundation, in Tanzania. The organization provides access to free, high quality education in a remote village on the island of Zanzibar.

Together with his wife Maryam, Maytham recently moved back to Minnesota to explore new opportunities. He looks forward to learning every day and to contribute his gifts in his new role as the Academic Systems Coordinator with the Leadership Minor at the University of Minnesota.

Headshot of Laura Wiesner.
Laura Wiesner
1000-Level Coordinator & Teaching Specialist

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 space to tackle adaptive challenges. She is committed to creating curriculum that advances equity and honors the unique identities and experiences of individuals. Beyond leadership, Laura loves learning about culture, cognition and cooking.

Student Associates

Headshot of Solveig Erickson
Solveig Erickson
Academic Experience Student Associate

Solveig Erickson is a student of the Minor and works in the department as an Events Coordinator and Academic Specialist. She is drawn to the compassionate nature and intentionality of the Leadership Minor. She hopes to bring the many values that are instilled in the Leadership Minor into her future endeavors someday, including connection and relationship building. Alongside a minor in leadership, she is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Business Law. Solveig loves spending time outdoors, cooking (kitchen dance parties included), and reading.

Headshot of Justin Goetz
Justin Goetz
Leadership Enrichment Programs Student Associate

Justin serves as a support force in the office, from managing resources to organizing program events and meetings for the LEP and Leadership Minor departments, he does a little bit of everything. He is a sophomore double majoring in Political Science and Strategic Communications with minors in Leadership and Management. As an Influencer, he uses his strengths of Command, Significance, Woo, Communication and Input to foster engagement and inspire his teammates.

Headshot of Grace Gothard
Grace Gothard
Marketing Program Student Associate

Grace Gothard began her journey with the Minor in Spring of 2018, and has now completed the Community, and Field Experience courses. After the Community course, Grace began to understand how special the LEAD community is, pushing her to apply for this position, and becoming a part of the Leadership Minor Staff in March of 2019. She works closely with Jessica Chung, who was also her instructor in the Community course. Alongside the Leadership Minor, she is currently pursuing a Strategic Communication major, with an interdisciplinary minor as well. She loves attending concerts, Harry Styles, spending time with friends & family, and cooking.

Headshot of Jael Kerandi
Jael Kerandi
Instructor Development Program Student Associate

Jael Kerandi is the third leadership minor student in her family. She works with Evonne, David, and Maytham on advising and on the LEAD-IN team. Jael has been working in the Minor since 2018. Jael is currently pursuing a major in Finance and Marketing with a minor in Business Law and Leadership. Jael enjoys watching football, babysitting, and cooking. 

Headshot of Brynn Nguyen
Brynn Nguyen
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 under Laura Wiesner, as part of the LEAD-IN team with Evonne Billota-Burke, and does 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.

Headshot of Ames Olson.
Ames Olson
Intern Program Student Associate

Ames Olson has been a student of the Leadership Minor since his first year at the U of M when he was recommended to the program by a staff member. He was then quickly hired as the Leadership Minor Intern Coordinator, hiring, training and supporting the LMIs each semester. He is an ideator who uses his strategic thinking and achiever strengths to effectively solve problems and explore possibilities. In addition to leadership, Ames has an affinity for ballroom dancing and board game playing.

Headshot of Amritha Ramsankar.
Amritha Ramsankar
Online Technologies Student Associate

Amritha Ramsankar has been with the Leadership Minor as an Online Technologies Specialist since early 2019. She works with Brianne by providing online support and resources to both students and instructors. She is currently pursuing a psychology major and beyond working at the Leadership Minor, Amritha loves to learn Indian classical dance. She loves learning about culture and spending time with friends and family.

Headshot of Maria Ryan.
Maria Ryan
1000-Level, Purchasing & Financial Support

Maria Ryan has been a student of the Minor since the Fall of 2017, and has since then completed the Community and Field Experience courses. To further her practice, growth, and passion in Leadership, Maria joined the Leadership Minor team as a Student Associate and the 1000 Level Instructor Support Specialist in Spring 2019. She also works closely with Evonne Bilotta-Burke during the LEAD-IN process; does department purchasing; and works with office financing. Maria's relationship building skills allow her to effectively foster new connections and thrive in our community environment!