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.
Elizabeth Taylor-Schiro, 2022 President
Elizabeth Taylor-Schiro - Biidabinikwe (St. Croix Chippewa/Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe) is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development department at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, focusing on the intersections of evaluation, public health, and policy. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Educational Policy and Leadership, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in Human Development and Family Studies. She is passionate about maternal and child health equity, social justice advocacy, and education development, particularly within Indigenous contexts using decolonized and anti-racist approaches. She practices as a Research Assistant at the University of Minnesota, Perinatal Educator with the Ninde Doula program, and an Evaluation and Research Consultant assisting organizations with culturally reflexive, equity-focused, and community-driven research and evaluation strategies. Elizabeth serves on the Minnesota Department of Health’s Maternal and Child Health Advisory Task Force and the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ Cultural and Ethnic Community Leadership Council. She is also the Co-Director of the Twin Cities chapter of the New Leaders Council, Chair of the American Evaluation Association’s Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation Topical Interest Group, and Co-Chair of the American Evaluation Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group
Molly O'Connor, 2023 President-Elect
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!
Claire Dunlap, 2021 Past President
Claire Dunlap is Director of Organizational Effectiveness at Youthprise, a think tank in Minneapolis dedicated to increasing equity with and for Minnesota’s indigenous, low-income, and racially diverse youth by mobilizing and investing resources, advancing knowledge, and advocating for change. Claire leads and implements strategies to advance overall effectiveness at Youthprise including: setting the evaluation agenda, reporting Youthprise’s impact externally, and improving internal organizational functioning by advancing solutions around structure, power, and culture. Claire graduated with an MA in organizational development and program evaluation from the University of Minnesota. Previously, Claire served as Community Partnerships Coordinator at Saint Paul Public Schools, Department of Family Engagement and Community Partnerships working to build the District’s community partnerships framework. In her spare time, Claire also teaches therapeutic yoga and is passionate about the mind-body connection.
Hue Schlieu, Treasurer
Hue is a Training and Programming Specialist at Saint Paul Public Schools. She finds her passion and work at the intersection of youth development and racial/gender equity. She has a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management and Public Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Art and Math. Hue loves how evaluation can provide individuals and organizations a systemic way to reflect and make informed decisions. In her personal time, she enjoys rock climbing, woodworking, and unfolding life with her wife and two kiddos.
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.
Kassira Absar, Program Co-Chair
Kassira Absar is a Consultant with The Improve Group, a research and evaluation firm located in St. Paul. Kassira’s roles include work with culturally/community responsive evaluation approaches, evaluation, participatory approaches, facilitation, and survey research. She has a passion for antiracism and social justice work. She graduated from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs with a Master’s in public policy in 2015. She received her B.A. from University of Maryland, College Park in 2009, and will always be a Terp at heart. Kassira is also a certified yoga instructor and loves hiking, mountains, and reading.
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.
Alicia Ranney, Membership Chair
Alicia Ranney is Vice President of Data and Evaluation at Metropolitan Alliance of Connected Communities (MACC). In her role, she leads a wonderful team of consultants who partner with dozens of community-based organizations across the metro who are part of the MACC Data Network. Their work supports organizational incubation, capacity building and collaborative network building in data and evaluation, as well as ongoing work to build and support members’ databases. Her evaluation interests include journey mapping, and utilization and participatory approaches to evaluation. Previously, she worked at Pillsbury United Communities’ Wait House as a Data and Program Coordinator, and worked in advocate policy advocacy as the State Director of the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition. Alicia holds a Master’s in Social Work with a specialization in research from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Florida State University. She always works to keep at least one foot in social justice movements in the Twin Cities, and also enjoys going to libraries, playing music, and going on new adventures with her husband Merle and their two kids, Sebastian and Amelia.
Naaima Khan, Communications Co-Chair
Naaima Khan is Owner and Principal of Create Good, a consultancy that helps organizations design equity-centered strategic plans and culturally-relevant evaluation capacity-building. Prior to starting her own business, she worked in philanthropy for over eight years, advocating for it to be a more accessible space for IBPOC professionals and communities. Naaima has spoken about race equity and inclusive design at Ignite Minneapolis, Black Ignite, TEDx Mahtomedi and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. Naaima holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs with a concentration in nonprofit studies. When not working on creating logic models, evaluation frameworks, DEI strategy and written content with clients, Naaima usually has her head stuck in business development and other nonfiction books.
Spectra Myers, Communications Co-Chair
Spectra Myers is an applied researcher and human-centered designer who has worked in financial inclusion, social entrepreneurship, and youth development fields. She currently supports small business banking as a Senior User Experience Design Researcher, Assistant Vice President, at U.S. Bank while continuing to consult and volunteer with local nonprofit organizations. She holds a Master of Arts in Evaluation Studies from the University of Minnesota and Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from Macalester College. Spectra enjoys making focaccia, canoeing in the Boundary Waters, and beating others ruthlessly at board games.
Carolina De La Rosa Mateo, Communications Co-Chair
Carolina (she/her) is the Research Coordinator 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 Research Coordinator, 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.
Tom Wade, Interim Communications Co-Chair
Tom received Bachelor’s degrees in Neurobiology and Psychology at UW-Madison, and is currently enrolled in his second year of the Masters in Applied Psychology program at UW-Stout. He works as a student assistant for Catalyst, an internal group at Stout that evaluates programs for the UW System and external clients. In 2021 Tom started as the Operations Manager for School Perceptions, a survey company based in Slinger, WI. He works with the SP team to create clear, useful, and topical reports for a variety of audiences. When he isn’t working on his thesis, Tom enjoys spending time outdoors and cheering on the Milwaukee Bucks.
Clare Pillsbury, Student Representative
Clare is a Master's student in Public Affairs program at the University of Minnesota, concentrating in program evaluation and human centered design. She received her undergraduate degree in environmental studies and anthropology from Macalester College and in the ten years since graduation has worked in a variety of roles including environmental education and immigration law. Currently she is working at the City of St Paul for their trash and recycling program. Her role includes developing outreach and programming centered on waste reduction as well as coordinating public hearings for billing complaints. She joined MNEA as a way to meet other evaluation professionals and hopes to be able to bring representation of non-traditional students to the organization. In her free time she enjoys reading and moving around both outside and on the dance floor.
We are a volunteer board of directors who are committed to our local community of evaluators. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will return your email as soon as we can!
Thank you to our past presidents for their service!
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