Board of Directors
The MNEA Board is an all-volunteer working board. All board members are responsible for and actively involved in the on-going management, implementation, and work of the organization.
Alissa Jones, 2024 President
Alissa Jones (she/her) is the Associate Director of Operations at Wilder Research. In her role, she develops long-term and short-term strategies with a focus on organizational effectiveness, advancing tactical initiatives, and assessing results to support organizational vitality, culture, and the achievement of mission-oriented goals. She is passionate about cultural competency, culturally responsive evaluation, and reflexivity in evaluation practice. She is the Outgoing-Chair of the American Evaluation Association’s Leadership and Organizational Performance workgroup. Alissa is a doctoral candidate in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She holds a Master’s degree in Anthropological Studies of Mexico from the Universidad de las Américas- Puebla, in Cholula, Mexico, and received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with a double major in Spanish/Portuguese and Chicano Studies. In her free time, she snuggles with her dog (Moxie), sings with the Prairie Fire Lady Choir, and consumes non-fiction books as much as possible.
Kylie Nicholas, 2026 President-Elect
Kylie Nicholas is the founder of KA Nicholas Consulting. KANC is a woman-owned, full-service evaluation, facilitation and planning consulting firm that provides tailored support and tools to individuals, programs, and organizations that are working to achieve more equitable outcomes through their work. She is passionate about helping organizations develop evaluation strategies that tell the full story of the program’s work without burdening program staff or participants. Kylie has developed evaluation strategies for foundations, nonprofits, and government agencies, including multi-year evaluation strategies for Greater Twin Cities United Way Innovation Initiatives programs. For over 10 years, she has been drawing on her complementary backgrounds in program evaluation and the arts to develop creative strategies for gathering insights to help nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies understand and refine programs. When she's not thinking about evaluation, Kylie is probably exploring her St. Paul neighborhood with her dog and toddler, digging in her gardens, or trying a new-to-us brewery with her spouse.
Molly O'Connor, 2023 Past President
Molly O’Connor (she/her) is a creative evaluation consultant for her firm Coco Canary Consulting, LLC. She finds that her passion weaves between art-based methods, community-centered approaches, and equity work. She has an M.S. in Natural Resources Science & Management with a minor in Evaluation Studies and a professional background in ecology, youth programs, human services, and museum education. Her specialties are Creative Evaluation & Engagement, principles-based approaches, and radical facilitation (self and organizational equity work). Molly loves that evaluation offers opportunities for reflection, learning, healing, and transformational change. Fun Facts About Molly, she: (1) Is the lead singer in a band, (2) Has an identical twin sister based in Washington, D.C., (3) Lives in an intentional community with her partner, two friends, and a dog, (4) Loves to cook delicious food (mostly vegetarian), host gatherings, and spend time outdoors birding, hiking, skiing, foraging, and more!
Sam Stork-Post, Treasurer
Samuel Storck-Post is an Evaluation Officer at The Constellation Fund, a foundation mixing philanthropy with cost-benefit analysis. He earned a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and has a background in education and college access. Sam was driven to pursue evaluation out of an interest in understanding how to apply evidence-based practices. In his free time he enjoys hiking, sewing and various other crafts, and sword fighting.
Robin Phinney, Secretary
Robin Phinney is the Founder and President of Rise Research, a Twin Cities-based research and evaluation firm. She holds a PhD in Public Policy and Political Science from the University of Michigan and most recently was a Research Director at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Robin has expertise in systems change, cash assistance and housing programs, juvenile justice, and strategies to create livable communities. She has written extensively for both academic, policy, and community audiences and her book, Strange Bedfellows (Cambridge University Press) examines how advocates collaborate to influence policy choices. When not working on Rise projects, Robin supervises Capstone projects at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and works as an Affiliated Researcher at the Future Services Institute and a Master Contractor for the State of Minnesota. In her off time, she enjoys cooking, camping, and traveling with her husband and two young sons.
Ivory Love, Student Representative
Ivory Love (she/her) is driven by a passion for community and economic development, climate change adaptation, and sustainable living. Her interests revolve around contributing to public programs and policies that enhance quality of life and address societal inequalities through informed and collaborative efforts. She's also a founding member of the Ramsey County PRIDE: LGBTQIA2S+ Employee Resource Group and a MPNA student at Metropolitan State University.
Veronica Seifert, Membership Co-Chair
Veronica A. Seifert is Anishinaabe, affiliated with the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe. She is currently a Grant Manager for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education in Minnesota, working for the Minnesota Department of Human Services. She most recently served the American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICAF) as their Evaluation Specialist providing technical support and evaluation services for Tribal and urban Indigenous communities reporting to state and federal programs and grants. With these and other funded projects through AICAF, she provided evaluation training, planning, guidance, and incorporated the Indigenous Evaluation Framework as much as possible. She has a Master’s degree in Science (Cell Biology & Ecology) from the University of Minnesota. Additionally, she worked as an educator throughout her graduate and undergraduate degrees, through outreach, graduate teaching opportunities, and as employed by the Center for American Indian and Minority Health. She enjoys all aspects of exploration, discovery, planning, research, and collaboration with people on sharing knowledge and solutions. She was raised with values tied to the land and being of service.
Ashley Estrella, Membership Co-Chair
Ashley Estrella is a program evaluator with over 10 years of experience in non-profit, federal government, and state government settings. She holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Community Health Promotion with a focus in Program Evaluation from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is passionate about co-developing evaluation frameworks with health and human services professionals and the communities they serve.
Ava Yang-Lewis, Program Co-Chair
Ava Yang-Lewis is the Founder and Principal Consultant at ACT Research, a research and evaluation consultancy. Her consultancy works with foundations, intermediaries, non-profits, and educational institutions at the intersection of research and evaluation, learning, planning, design, and development. Ava’s education and training as a counseling psychologist and social science researcher and her lived experience as a refugee Hmong American woman have helped shape her approach to evaluation. In her work with clients, she draws upon evaluation theories and approaches that lift up voices and perspectives that are often marginalized in the evaluation and research processes, promote shared ownership and use of the evaluation results, and promote a culture of learning and improvement. Ava holds a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Molly Illes, Program Co-Chair
Molly Illes (she/her) is a program evaluator at the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota. Her work at CAREI focuses on evaluating educational interventions primarily for students from kindergarten through post-secondary. As a white woman, she recognizes her power and privilege in her evaluation practice and continues a life-long journey to further her identity awareness. She is committed to transformative evaluation approaches, engaging diverse participants and program leaders in the design, implementation, data gathering, analysis and reporting, ensuring the presence of authentic voices that have historically been excluded. Molly completed a Ph.D. in Evaluation Studies in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development at the University of Minnesota in 2017 and M.P.A. at the Humphrey School in 2011. In her free time, Molly enjoys gardening (especially native perennials), kayaking, reading, knitting, and spending time with her children and husband.
Carolina De La Rosa Mateo, Communications Co-ChairCarolina (she/her) is the Director of Operations at Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research (HACER), a nonprofit based in the Twin Cities whose mission is to collect, generate, and disseminate culturally responsive and credible research to and with the Latine population to inform institutional and public policy. As the Director of Operations, Carolina oversees and supports 20+ research and evaluation projects across the organization. Carolina earned a master’s in public health with a focus on community health promotion from the University of Minnesota. She completed the Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) program through the American Evaluation Association and is a co-founder of the MN IBPOC in Evaluation Community of Praxis, which aims to build a network for BIPOC evaluators in Minnesota. She has a passion for antiracism work and disability advocacy. During her personal time, Carolina helps direct one of the local bachata dance team in the Twin Cities and spends time with her life partner Ed and the bestest boy, their dog Paco.
Jennifer Aranda, Communications Co-Chair
Jennifer Aranda (she/her), founder of Aranda Integrative Mentoring, is a University of Minnesota Extension educator for leadership and civic engagement in the Department of Community Development. Her background includes service and community-building with a focus on marginalized populations, particularly in rural and satellite cities of Greater Minnesota She has partnered with multiple sectors exploring the many facets of inclusion by facilitating dialogue that shapes pathways toward change and advocates for holistic community transformation. A resident of Moorhead, Minnesota, she is an ardent activator for projects that promote an enhanced understanding of equity and belonging. Her past, present, and future contributions are born from the conviction, “I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors”. Dr. Aranda acknowledges any achievements are directly tied to the sacrifices and support of those who came before. In turn, she embraces that responsibility to be an accomplice in the social justice arena and serve as a partner-mentor. As a former antiques/vintage small business owner, Jennifer continues to integrate and honor that historical perspectives and lived experiences are an important facet of evaluation and recognizes that individual stories are the foundations of the collective.
We are a volunteer board of directors who are committed to our local community of evaluators. Feel free to email us at email@example.com. We will return your email as soon as we can!
Thank you to our past presidents for their service!
2023 Molly O'Connor
2022 Elizabeth Taylor-Shiro
2021 Claire Dunlap
2020 Maira Rosas-Lee
2019 Nicole MartinRogers
2018 Melissa Chapman Haynes
2017 Sarah Cohn
2016 Randi Nelson
2015 Ann Zukoski
2014 Rosemary White Shield
2013 Gail Mason-Chagil
2012 Leah Goldstein Moses
2011 Frank Schweigert
2010 Kathy Gilmore