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Listening to our Communities: Building Bridges – How to Engage in Community Conversations


Aug 4, 2020 01:29 PM

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Pablo Obregon
Community Engagement Officer @Southwest Initiative Foundation
As the Community Engagement Officer, Pablo manages community research and engagement for Southwest Initiative Foundation’s intergenerational, leadership and Grow Our Own initiatives. He attended Lutheran Bible Institute in California, received his Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul and spent several years in ministry. Most recently, Pablo served as Reentry Ready Navigator with Pact for Families in Willmar, supporting youth in transitioning back into their community following a criminal offense. Pablo was born and raised in Lima Peru, where his parents gave him a great education and encouraged him to try soccer, guitar and carpentry. He loves southwest Minnesota for its mix of long-term residents and newcomers and believes it’s a great place to raise a family. He is a volunteer coach with the Willmar Soccer Association, volunteers with Willmar’s Cinco de Mayo celebration and is a member of the Willmar Lakes Area Vision 2040 Steering Committee.
Jennifer Erickson
Director of Customized Training @St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Jennifer joined St. Cloud Technical & Community College (SCTCC) as Director of Customized Training in February 2020. SCTCC’s Customized Training department provides professional development and skills training to businesses and individuals—strengthening the region by helping develop a skilled workforce. Jennifer came to SCTCC from the City of St. Cloud where, as Business Director, she led a grant-funded economic recovery project to position the City for future growth. Prior to that, Jennifer held roles in business development, export promotion, research and project management. She has a Master of Library and Information Science from St. Catherine University and Bachelor of Arts degrees in German and Japanese from Washington University in St. Louis.
Joani Nielson
President @Alexandria Area Economic Commission
Joani Nielson is a life long entrepreneur who has grown many businesses. She is passionate about her faith, people, her community and her family which includes her partner Andy and three children; Alexis, Chase and Brock. Currently Joani is President of the Alexandria Area Economic Commission, remains active in mentoring business owners, and recently launched Time for Change, a community wide initiative to address inequities. In her free time, she enjoys being active on the water, in the woods or on the beach!