“I love that Roots is a powerful catalyst for youth. Our kids gain courage, realize a bigger world is available to them and discover new ways they can contribute to it.”
Sue is Executive Director of Roots for the Home Team. The longtime dietitian and nutritionist for Kowalski’s Markets provides our creative vision for helping youth change the food landscape, while giving them new tools and opportunities to dream bigger. With a self-proclaimed “stir-the-pot DNA,” Sue continually looks for new ways and new people to enrich the Roots experience. (Learn how you can help by visiting these pages: Become a Partner, Buy Our Salads and Donate.)
Having grown her first carrots as a child in her grandfather’s garden, Bonnie Halvorsen has had a passion for healthy food as long as she can remember. She is co-founder of the Learn-Earn-Grow Milwaukee program which provides summer urban agriculture jobs to high school students and prepares them for higher education and careers. She was the founding executive director of the Institute of Urban Agriculture & Nutrition, and served as an officer on the board of directors at Milwaukee Food Council. During her career at UW-Milwaukee, Bonnie has managed the start-up of two new schools, the Zilber School of Public Health, and the School of Freshwater Sciences, earning her the distinguished recognition of a Women of Influence Award by The Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee. She studied therapeutic cooking at the University of Pune (India), and has completed four semesters at Braise Culinary School, including a learning tour of Tuscany. When not at work, you’ll find Bonnie pulling weeds in any number of Milwaukee’s urban gardens, including her own backyard. She believes her Grandpa would approve.
“Roots is the only organization I’ve encountered that allows youth to reach their potential by putting them on the biggest of stages—university and professional stadiums. The experience is unique and transformational.”
Brian is one of our career development gurus. He’s dedicated his career to cultivating and developing managers and leaders most recently as the Executive Director at New Sector Alliance and as a management consultant for Spotlight Consulting. He also designed leadership development programs for the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Amy Klobuchar. También es fluido en español.
“It’s so inspiring to see the kids’ pride at serving something they’ve created. The confidence they gain from that experience is clear.”
Angie brings communications expertise and a discerning knowledge of sports concessions to Roots. She’s been a public relations veteran for 20+ years, currently serving as Director of Communications at Minnesota Public Radio. In her spare time, Angie can be found with her family running, biking and attending Twins and Lynx games, looking for healthy food options.
“I became involved because Roots takes a unique approach to youth development, and combines my personal passions of food and sports. I also think it’s important for Asian youth to see Asians on boards as role models.”
Mason is one of our seasoned youth workers. He has served youth across the United States in the areas of individual leadership and racial and cultural understanding. Mason currently works as a Community Cultural Liaison in South Washington County Schools and has been a wrestling coach at St. Paul Johnson Senior High for over a decade. He has been a lifelong Brewers fan, and now converted Twins fan.
“From the kids’ passion around creating recipes to growing the produce to selling the product, you can see the pride and accountability the program builds in them.”
Nick is another one of our career development gurus. As Talent Acquisitions Manager of College Relations at Land O’Lakes, he knows what companies look for in top job candidates and shares that knowledge with Roots participants. Having grown up on a hobby farm, Nick has a passion for agriculture and equitable food systems, so Roots was a natural fit for him.
“I love the unique role Roots plays in connecting the fresh, healthy produce these youth are growing in their gardens with customers who appreciate delicious salads made from the work of their hands.”
Megan is our community outreach expert. She’s spent the past 30 years devoted to improving the health of communities — through medicine, sustainable agriculture and energy, food policy, transportation and youth development. She was a founding co-chair of Homegrown Minneapolis, a city/community partnership to create a more healthy and sustainable local food system, support local farmers and farmers’ markets, and increase the growing, processing and distributing of fresh healthy produce and foods in the city and surrounding region.
“Roots promotes healthy eating and provides a wonderful platform for multicultural the youth in our program to dream big.”
Cory is our connection to major league sports. You may not recognize his face, but surely you recognize his voice. He’s a play-by-play broadcaster and analyst for the Minnesota Twins baseball team. The Chicago native was named 2015 Minnesota Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He’s been an announcer since his college days at Syracuse University, where he kept Orange fans in the know on football, basketball and lacrosse.
“The educator in me appreciates that Roots partnered with the University of Minnesota to gather input from participants, and now we’re using that data to inform and strengthen the program.”
Dana is our education and curriculum specialist. She’s been a teacher, literacy coach, education consultant, and worked with both gifted and remediation programs. In her current job as Mom to two young kids, she brings a maternalistic passion to helping us nurture Roots participants into concerned, contributing citizens.
“I love that the young people participating in Roots are learning how to turn their dreams and passions into careers that feed their souls.”
Vanessa know what’s happening in the youth space. She’s an educator and mentor and has the uncanny ability to create meaningful connections with the young people she encounters every day.
Vanessa earned an Entrepreneurial Management degree from the Carlson School of Management and received her Masters in Education from the University of Minnesota, with a focus on Youth Development Leadership. Currently, she works as a community Education Site Coordinator in St Paul Public Schools at Linwood Monroe Arts Plus Upper Campus where she serves as the bridge for Extended Day learning and enrichment activities for the middle school students at Monroe.
Vanessa spends her free time in activities that nourish her interest in wellness including vegetarian cooking, yoga and instruction cycling classes. She travels the world too, including trips to Mexico, Dominican Republic, Spain, Brazil, and Istanbul. She’s a firm believer in creating the energy around you and fueling your day with love and light.
“I became involved with Roots to help continue the revolution of health. The youth involved with Roots are truly engaged from the inception of their recipe through the entrepreneurial side of sales they create at the ballpark. This model ignites a passion that is bright enough to change the future.”
Courtney is our health expert. She is a preventive cardiologist and epidemiologist with strong interest and passion around primary prevention of chronic disease. She has worked in various leadership roles focusing on improving the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities locally as well as nationally. At her core, she believes in helping people find their “healer within” and discovering body, mind, and spirit in pursuit of optimal health and well-being. She feels the future of health lies within harnessing the strength of our communities.
“Roots for the Home Team allows me the opportunity to make a difference in two of my passions: equal opportunity and socially and environmentally friendly food practices.”
Randy is a Minneapolis-based creative director with a knack for uncovering compelling insights that help brands connect with their audiences.
As co-founder and current Chief Creative Officer at Shinebox, Randy transformed the agency’s offering using an “audience rules” approach that has proven to be essential to clients seeking fast growth. With over 25 years of expertise in branding, digital, advertising, retail, print and film, Randy brings both strategic and practical experience to every project.
He is an expert consultant, skilled leader, engaging speaker, huge Minnesota sports fan and lover of local food.