Alex was born and raised in the Twin Cities and received his Master of Public Health degree in Environmental Health from the University of Minnesota in 2016. He has been active in the pursuit of a more sustainable present and future by working with Abbott Northwestern Hospital to develop more environmentally-friendly practices. He is currently an Environmental Health Specialist for the City of Brooklyn Park and enjoys actively engaging with the community and promoting various sustainable practices within the city. He also helps his fellow staff members live and work in a more Earth-centric manner by spearheading the Green Team. Alex enjoys working on his house and is actively making it as sustainable as possible through the implementation of renewable energy, pollinator friendly native plant gardening, and growing food onsite.
Bendu is a community development practitioner, a project manager, and a small business owner. She obtained a graduate degree in Community and Economic Development from Penn State University in 2022 and a Master of Science in Project Management in 2007 from St Mary’s University of Minnesota. She began her professional career in Liberia as a program coordinator with the Justice and Peace Commission in the early 2000’s. Bendu immigrated to the USA and is the founder of the All-Nations Youth and Community Assistance Program (ANYCAP), which provides culturally specific food to minority and vulnerable populations within the Twin Cities. She partners with community organizations to address disparities within immigrant communities. Her organization also provides mental health first-aid training to immigrant and minority populations. Bendu enjoys reading, gardening, spending time with her family and engaging community youth through sustainable outdoor practices.
Carol is a professor emerita at the School of Social Work at St. Kate’s – St. Thomas and a lifelong gardener who began her affiliation with Metro Blooms as an early attendee of rain garden workshops. As a graduate of the inaugural class of Minnesota Water Stewards in 2013, she was further drawn to the work of Metro Blooms as a volunteer alley captain for the Blooming Alleys initiative to capture stormwater runoff before it gets to Minnehaha Creek and nearby lakes. A member of the Hale neighborhood, Carol received the Best Environmental Stewardship and Nate Siegel Award from Metro Blooms in 2016.
Carol’s experiences as a teacher, project director, researcher, administrator and board member of an international professional organization provide a solid basis for her work with the Metro Blooms Board. She is passionate about Metro Blooms’ growing work toward environmental justice through engaging all community members in shaping sustainable landscapes for our businesses, schools and neighborhoods and is particularly proud of our programs to educate young people for work in the green infrastructure. Carol is committed to the resilience focus of Metro Blooms and values its mission-based commitment to sustainability through partnering with organizations and communities for environmental justice and stewardship that integrates beauty, healing and protection into our landscapes.
Catherine is a Texas-born, Illinois-raised Minnesotan who came to this state for college and never left. She majored in Linguistics at the University of Minnesota and returned for another round to obtain a Master’s in Public Policy with a concentration on Public and Nonprofit Leadership and Management with emphasis on Financial Management and Budgeting. She puts her education to use at Propel Nonprofits as a loan officer & financial specialist, working with nonprofit organizations to manage and/or obtain the capital to fulfill their many valuable missions. In her spare time, she also volunteers with Prepare + Prosper as a tax preparer, visits our many great regional parks for hiking, and enjoys fiber crafts like embroidery and knitting.
Catherine is drawn to Metro Blooms as a lover of nature and our relationship with it. She discovered camping later in life and since then has become passionate about connecting folks with their natural environment, and learning best practices for maintaining its health. She also believes firmly that nature is for all, and is passionate about nurturing relationships in the greater community. She believes everyone is able to forge an identity as a steward of the natural world.
Dan was born and raised in the Twin Cities. He moved to Milwaukee, WI, for his undergrad in Accounting and Finance, before coming back to the Twin Cities. Dan works for Sage Intacct as a professional services consultant. Previously he worked in nonprofit management and various software and other accounting management roles. Dan recently moved to Roseville with his husband and several dogs and is looking forward to growing a new garden in their new space. He has always had a love for plants and all things gardening. He was drawn to Metro Blooms to gain and share knowledge about native plant gardens, and to learn the things he can do to make our community a great place for pollinators and people.
Jeanette has spent most of her career working in the government sector. Currently she does investment and debt issuance for Ramsey County as the Debt and Investment Manager. Before going to Ramsey County, she served as the Assistant Finance Director at the City of Brooklyn Park. Jeanette holds an MBA from La Sierra University in Riverside, CA. Born and raised in Kenya, she loves to connect and engage with her cultural community and has served in leadership positions in community organizations. Jeanette and her family enjoy the outdoors, traveling, playing soccer, and entertaining friends and family.
John Kinara works for the City of Brooklyn Park in the Community Development Department, where he serves as the housing expert, policy liaison, and primary contact in several areas of housing policy, programs, and redevelopment, including the City’s role in addressing homelessness, promoting affordable housing, environmental sustainability, and economic development.
John is passionate in multiple areas of housing policy, such as landlord-tenant relations, fair housing, redevelopment, land use, housing finance, federal and state housing programs, foreclosures and low-income homeowner issues, homelessness, health, and safety, building codes and enforcement, and the intersection of these issue areas with environmental justice as well as racial equity, diversity, and inclusion.
John holds a master’s degree from Hamline University in Public Administration and Non-Profit Management as well as an MBA in Business Administration from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. John and his family enjoy gardening, traveling, playing tennis, and entertaining friends.
Norman is a retired corporate scientist that helped to develop nutrition support products for hospital patients. He developed a strong interest in how to grow his own vegetables due to his training in food science and nutrition. Once he had his own yard to dig in, Norman set up both edible and flower gardens. He also worked with a local cemetery to develop an area of prairie restoration where patrons could participate in environmentally responsible memorialization, and helps to maintain it. Norman enjoys silent sports, especially bicycling and cross-country skiing.
Norman joined the board of Metro Blooms in 2018 with the goal of helping the local community learn about gardening that incorporates improvement of the environment.
Rachael is a Minnesota gal born and raised and has always loved being outdoors and digging in the dirt. After getting her Bachelors in Social Studies Education from St. Catherine University, she took a circuitous 10-year path to receiving her JD from the University of St. Thomas. Along the way, she has always tried to promote green living and practices in her workplaces. She chaired one of her employer’s green teams for several years, and helped to get a composting program implemented in her building. In law school she chaired the Environmental Law Society, and she clerked with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Rachael now works as a Housing Attorney for HOME Line, a Minnesota-based non-profit that helps tenants navigate legal rights under Minnesota’s tenant/landlord law.
Steph is the founder of Trailblazer Leadership, a professional coaching firm that works with people interested in a different way of being. She is also the Co-Director of Ambient Collective, a Minneapolis-St. Paul based consulting practice that specializes in the design and management of social change. She is a graduate of St. Olaf College and has a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Throughout her career, Steph has created and facilitated programs on equity and inclusion, systems change, and leadership development in state and local government and in nonprofit organizations. She brings her knowledge and expertise in organizational development, emotional intelligence, governance, and living systems to her work.
Steph has always loved the outdoors and is an advocate for environmental justice. After attending a Resilient Yards workshop through Metro Blooms, she immediately sheet mulched her backyard, removing the turf grass to make way for vegetable gardens, a rain garden, and even more native pollinators. Steph is excited to be a part of the organization’s vision for a just and equitable future for people and the planet.
Todd is a Kansas native who considers Minnesota his home. He is a former kindergarten teacher, and he enjoyed seeing the positive impact his work had on the children he taught. Todd has spent the last twenty-four years focused on technology and information security. He has led teams and has been a senior leader in organizations. He received his MBA from UW-Madison.
Todd’s interest in joining Metro Blooms was his desire to have a greater impact on addressing the environmental and social challenges we face. He has spent the last few summers working in his yard to replace the buckthorn and turf grass with native and pollinator friendly plants.
Travis is a Kansas City native with a background in finance. His decision to go back for a full-time MBA and subsequent move to Target brought him up to Minneapolis. He is now working in digital fulfillment strategy for their store operations organization. A long leash allows him a creative outlet for testing and measuring future capabilities for delivering more product, faster, for Target.com.
From a young age, he has had a deep passion for wildlife and the environment. His summer in graduate school was spent working in San Francisco for a residential solar installer. Travis has more recently found his love of native plants and gardening with the onset of quarantine, unwittingly becoming familiar with Metro Blooms in his own neighborhood with our “I am a Raingarden” signs in nearby boulevards in Northeast Minneapolis. He is in the process of transforming his previously lackluster yard into a multi-season pollinator landscape.