Board of Directors
Andrea Jenkins, Board Chair
Andrea Jenkins is an artist-activist and award-winning poet and writer. Andrea has been awarded fellowships from the Bush Foundation, Intermedia Arts, and the Playwrights Center and has won writing and performance grants and scholarships from the Givens Foundation, Intermedia Arts, The Loft, the Napa Valley Writers Conference, and Pillsbury House Theater. Andrea is the co-curator of Queer Voices at Intermedia Arts, the longest-running series of its kind in the nation and currently works collecting oral histories from hundreds of people in the Upper Midwest transgender community as an Oral Historian in the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies.

Mark Waller, Vice Chair
Mark Waller is the Assistant Controller at the Greater Twin Cities United Way. He also serves as Treasurer for the Kingfield Neighborhood Association. He is constantly interested in meeting individuals in the great nonprofit sector in Minnesota and all over the country and is striving to build relationships that can help all of us achieve our missions.

Julia Nekessa Opoti, Board Secretary
Julia Nekessa Opoti is the producer and host of Reflections of New Minnesotans on AM950 where she interviews immigrants from all over the world who have made Minnesota their home, temporary or permanent. As a writer, Nekessa has reported extensively on Somali, Liberian and other immigrant issues in the Twin Cities for the Twin Cities Daily Planet. She served as editor of Mshale, an immigrant African newspaper. Nekessa is the co-founder and publisher of the Kenya Imagine, an opinion and analysis portal that is on hiatus.

Jeff Gatesmith, Treasurer
Jeff Gatesmith has over 20 years’ executive management experience in Retail Operations, Human Resources and Organizational Development. As the founder of Pathforth Business Advisors he has consulted with a variety of start-up and turn-around businesses on matters of structure, finance and operations. Mr. Gatesmith has a Master’s Degree in Human Resources and Change Leadership from the University of St. Thomas.

Omar Akbar
Omar R. Akbar is a Vice President at Greene Holcomb & Fisher LLC. Prior to joining GHF, Omar was a corporate attorney at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, where he focused on M&A transactions for private equity clients, private fund formations and securities regulation. He has substantial experience in structuring, negotiating and advising clients on buy- and sell-side M&A transactions ranging in size from $5 million to $1 billion. Omar also served as a law clerk to a federal appellate court judge. Akbar received his BA, with honors, from Luther College, his JD with high distinction from the University of Iowa, and his LLM in International Economic Law from New York University.

John Cairns
John Cairns is a nationally-recognized expert in charter schools and public education law. For more than 40 years, Cairns has been at the forefront of significant public policy developments in education. He has served on the Minneapolis City Council, the Twin Cities Citizens League, and the Minnesota Business Partnership, the first business organization in the US to seriously consider how to improve educational quality for public school students. His community work has included board service with many organizations including the Center For Victims of Torture where he had a 2 year term as Board Chair. With his wife, Sonia, Cairns has four children, eleven grandchildren, and lives in Minneapolis.

David Greenberg
David Greenberg is an experienced teacher, educational leader, and arts education advocate committed to quality learning opportunities for youth. He currently is the Director of Charter School Authorizing at the Audubon Center of the North Woods. David brings strong skills in finance, grant writing and management, curriculum design and implementation, teacher evaluation, strategic planning, arts integration, partnership development, charter school and non-profit management, governance, and cross-cultural communication. He is bilingual in Spanish and English and has traveled extensively. David is married and has an 11 year old daughter who loves creating art.

Andy Hestness
Andy Hestness is a Project Manager at Seward Redesign. He holds a BA in Architecture from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and an MA in Real Estate from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a concentration in Urban Planning. Andy previously worked at the Native American Community Development Institute in Minneapolis, MN and the Holsten Real Estate Development Corporation in Chicago, IL.  He keeps an active schedule, participating in the Emerging Leaders in Community Development Steering Committee, the City of Minneapolis’ Capital Long Range Improvement Committee, and Intermedia Arts’ Board of Directors.

Brandy A. Hyatt
Brandy A. Hyatt has a long-standing history with Intermedia Arts, from participating in youth programs to working as a teaching artist. She is currently enrolled at King's College London to obtain her Master's in Educational Policy. Brandy is passionate about forming safe spaces for youth to learn as a way to create equity among all peoples.

Janis Lane-Ewart
Janis Lane-Ewart studied Political Science at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago before moving to Minneapolis in 1989 where she began hosting a weekly jazz program on KFAI, the Collective Eye. In 2001 Janis became KFAI's Executive Director. She has served as a volunteer and/or board member with Minnesotan organizations including the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association, Ananya Dance Theatre, and COMPAS; regionally and nationally she served as President and Treasurer of the Minnesota Public Educational Radio Stations and Board Treasurer of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.

Jeremy McClain
Jeremy McClain is the Senior Director of Reverse Flows and Supply Chain for Best Buy, where he implements solutions for returned retail products that maximize recovery opportunities, efficiencies and automation. Previous to Best Buy, Jeremy worked as the Director of Operational Excellence and General Manager at Teleplan International. Much of his work includes developing and leading successful teams, bridging business requirements with technology, developing relationships and implementing strategies in order to enhance efficiency of companies. Currently, Jeremy is a resident of Savage, Minnesota 

Chaka MKali
Chaka Mkali (AKA I Self Devine) is a musician, MC, community organizer, racial justice trainer, graffiti artist, muralist, and Program Coordinator and Director Of Organizing And Community Building at Hope Community Center in Minneapolis. Chaka is recognized as one of the crucial figures in the revitalization of graffiti art in the Twin Cities, and has released over 10 albums of politically conscious socially aware music. At Hope Community, Chaka’s work with very diverse, largely low-income teens and young adults, is impacting individual lives and collectively helping to bring change to a challenged community.

Takawi Peters Takawi Peters works for the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women supporting their Women Who RemainProject and The Family Partnership'sBe More Campaign. She is also an active member of their Women of Color and Native Women's Leadership Project and a Teaching Artist for Penumbra Theatre. Takawi holds a Bachelor of Individualized Studies in African & African American Studies, Asian Languages & Literatures, and Dance, and is currently pursuing a Master of Education in Youth Development Leadership, both from the University of Minnesota.Takawi believes that the arts and discourse are two primary factors in eliminating issues of social injustice.

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