Art Berman

Chair, Treasurer

Art has extensive executive leadership experience as a successful nonprofit CEO at Twin Cities RISE! (TCR!), and as a long-time senior financial and organizational strategy leader at American Express and Ameriprise Financial. Art served as Interim Executive Director at Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul before his current post as the Vice President of Finance & Administration at Mitchell Hamline Law School. Art also currently serves on the Boards of Better Futures Minnesota and Marnita’s Table.In 2011 Art was named “One of 200 Minnesotans You Should Know” by Twin Cities Business. Art has an MBA in Finance from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA (magna cum laude) in Economics from Bowdoin College.

Jennifer Tacheny


Jennifer Tacheny is Co-Director of Celeste’s Dream a ministry of the Sister’s of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Paul. She has a M.A. in Pastoral Ministry, and over 15 years of experience in religious studies, social justice, and spirituality education. As graduates of the Land Stewardship Project’s Farm Beginnings program in sustainable agriculture, she and her husband Steven run a small organic vegetable business on their family farm in Mankato during the summer months. Jennifer brings her education and experience in sustainable agriculture to Celeste’s Dream as coordinator of the community garden and mentor for the Food Justice Coalition at St. Catherine University. Food is a passion that Jennifer cultivates in a variety of ways including five years of cooking, baking, and managing at St. Martin’s Table restaurant and bookstore. Jennifer and Steven play music together when they can sneak it in amidst work, farming, and raising three young children.

Marcus Owens

Marcus was born and raised in North Minneapolis, and currently lives here with his wife and children. He has an M.B.A. from St. Thomas University. Formerly the President of NEON, Marcus is now Executive Director of the African American Leadership Forum whose mission is to improve the economic health of communities through public and private partnerships that create opportunities for underserved communities. Before these positions, Marcus had an 8 year career in various departments of Target, worked in the financial services industry and he’s an entrepreneur himself.

Lauretta Dawolo Towns

Lauretta Dawolo Towns is a Middle School English Language Arts teacher in the Twin Cities Metro Area. Her professional background is in community and ethnic media, specializing in coverage of underrepresented and underserved populations. She has worked for Insight News, KFAI-Fresh Air Community Radio, and The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. Lauretta has worked as Program Manager for Girls in Action™, a curriculum-based leadership program for urban high school girls. On a mission to help youth realize their self-worth, she aspires to not only be a good teacher but an instructional leader in the classroom and the community. She currently resides in St. Paul, MN and is a married mother of two boys.

Gavin Kaysen

Chef Gavin Kaysen, inspired by the frenetic seasonality of the upper Midwest, was beckoned home to open Spoon and Stable in the North Loop of Minneapolis, a 2015 James Beard Award Finalist for Best New Restaurant. The award-winning chef has cooked in the US and Europe’s top kitchens, but gravitates toward traditional Heartland dishes—the kind he grew up eating and cooking.  Gavin helps the next generation of young culinarians refine their skills with the nonprofit ment’or BKB Foundation. In 2007, he proudly represented the US team, and in 2015, he successfully led Team USA to a record-breaking Second Place victory, the first medal for the US.

Lester Royal III

Lester is a founder and owner of Tri-Construction and possesses over 15 years of expertise in the areas of construction and carpentry. His leadership and experience on various multi-million dollar construction projects enables him t maximize worker productivity, exceed women and minority goals, and successfully complete projects on time and on budget.  Lester provides leadership and direction for all aspects of construction throughout the company, inlcluding project management, negotiations and building community partnerships.  He teaches at Summit OIC, and has many years experience mentoring young people and working in community.

Harvey Rupert

Harvey currently works as a strategic sourcing manager for Wells Fargo negotiating contracts for Wells Fargo and managing certain key vendor relationships. Prior to working at Wells Fargo, he worked in a similar role at United Healthcare with marketing vendors. Prior to both, he was a supplier diversity champion at Target corporation. Harvey practiced law at Faegre and Benson LLP after graduating from Hamline Law School.

Amy Zaroff

Amy is the Creative Director of Amy Zaroff Events + Design. She began her career in television production and then she and her husband opened and operated Zaroff’s Delicatessen Restaurant in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Amy is active in the Minneapolis Women Presidents’ Organization and serves on local and national nonprofit boards including The Birthday Project whose mission is to celebrate homeless children through the magic of birthdays.

Elizer Darris

Elizer Darris is the ACLU Smart Justice Campaign Field Organizer in Minnesota. Previous to that, he was the Field Director with the Nekima Levy-Pounds campaign for mayor of Minneapolis. He Chair of a Hennepin County JDAI committee to reduce juvenile incarceration and a member of the JDAI Executive Steering Committee. He is also the founder of the Darris Consulting Group, which focuses on personal and communal empowerment.