Our Board of Directors


Vice President, Greene Holcomb Fisher LLC

Start Date: January 2014

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. 



Director of Charter School Authorizing, Audubon Center of the North Woods

Start Date: January 2012

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. 



Writer, Producer, and Host,
Reflections of New Minnesotans, KFAI Radio

Start Date: January 2014

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. 



Development Consultant & Media Producer, KBEM Radio Station

Start Date: July 2014

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 



Attourney / Consultant to Charter Schools, John Cairns Law, P.A.

First Term | Start Date: January 2016

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. 



Rachel Speck
Senior Program Manager, Increased Earnings, United Way

First Term | Start Date: August 2017