Mike joined OSCS as executive director in October 2021. He is thrilled to lead such a strong team of staff and programs that make a positive impact in the community. As executive director, he seeks to listen more than he speaks and sees his role as empowering staff to do their job to the best of their abilities. He knows through his own experiences that nonprofit work is hard, and employees are at the heart of our work. He champions appreciating and valuing staff because it increases our capacity to fulfill our mission. Mike also loves pushing the envelope, thinking about systemic gaps in our community and how we can creatively meet needs. We are always challenged to find new ways to educate and house our neighbors, and OSCS wants to lead the way.
Mike brings over a decade of experience in nonprofit work, most recently as Director of Outreach and Shelter at St. Stephen’s Human Services. He spent two years in the Peace Corps as a community health educator in the Saharan desert in Morocco and holds a BA in sociology from the University of Minnesota. Mike lives in NE Minneapolis with his wife Jana, two children, and numerous pets.
Marco Alonso Schmidt-Salcedo
Human Resources Manager
Marco recently started at OSCS in December 2023, where he supports staff through his role as human resources manager. Coming from a background in engineering and having worked in several different industries, he was drawn to HR because he finds working and learning with others and assisting them in their work lives extremely rewarding.
Originally from Peru and having moved to the United States in 2019 to pursue an MBA at the University of Nebraska, Marco understands many of the struggles that the homeless and immigrants go through, drawing him towards the work of OSCS. He is excited to bring his 15 years of HR experience and continue aligning the HR procedures and policies to the values and work culture of OSCS.
La'Quadra "Qually" Neal
OSH Program Director
Ask La’Quadra why she chooses to work with individuals experiencing homelessness, and she’ll tell you that the work chose her. After volunteering in multiple homeless shelters, she realized that this is the field where she is supposed be. She believes it’s important to use her skills, privileges, and voice to advocate for those who are marginalized and wishes that others understood the road blocks many face in finding affordable housing.
La’Quadra has worked in human services since graduating with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 2014. She joined OSH as Shelter Manager in October, 2017 and became Program Director in 2021.
Emergency Shelter Manager
Cassie is passionate about working with adults experiencing homelessness because she has been where they are and wants them to succeed. She loves seeing the happiness when a resident accomplishes any goal, giving them confidence to continue on until they are happy and independently housed. She wishes others understood that life can happen to anyone, and when it does you still deserve a chance to get back on your feet. It takes a whole community contributing donations, time, and resources to make that happen.
Cassie began her career working in homeless services as front desk staff at Our Saviour’s Emergency Shelter in 2015. Since then, she’s grown with the organization, becoming a Permanent Supportive Housing Case Manager in 2017 and Emergency Shelter Manager in 2021. She’s gained so much hands-on experience working at OSH and is excited to step into this newest role.
ELC Program Director
Kate enjoys all aspects of adult basic education and running a community-based ESL program. She’s always impressed by how adult students prioritize learning in their busy lives.
Kate graduated from Earlham College with a B.A. in Peace and Global Studies and is a licensed adult basic education teacher. After starting in adult ESL over 30 years ago, Kate got side tracked by a corporate career at Best Buy before getting back into education as a classroom volunteer, teacher, and program director at VOA Adult High School in the Seward neighborhood for 12 years. She joined the ELC in March 2021 and is thrilled to be part of this community, serving learners, volunteers, and staff.
As finance manager, Liz tracks every penny in and out of OSCS. Believing that employees are the organization’s most important assets, she works to create an environment in which people are motivated, contributing, and fulfilled. Although Liz doesn’t work directly with students or residents, she’s motivated by knowing she’s making a difference in people’s lives. With an educational background in culture and language, she also loves seeing (and hearing) the variety of people that OSCS serves.
Liz came to OSCS in May 2006 with a B.A. in anthropology and French and six years of experience working in law firms. Good at math and detail-oriented, she began as the organization’s bookkeeper. As OSCS grew, she returned to school and received a B.S. in accounting, followed by a M.S. in accounting with a focus on nonprofits.
Permanent Supportive Housing Program Manager
Tim comes to this work in pursuit of “Housing for All.” He believes in the universal right to housing and wishes people had the chance to know our residents’ stories. He often hears people who have been successful in housing comment “I wish someone would subsidize my rent” but hasn’t found a single person willing to trade places or hardships with our residents. Not a day goes by where Tim isn’t grateful or amazed by what he sees from his peers and community members. He’s also learned that he’s a relatively skilled U-Haul truck driver and it pays dividends to have coworkers that are great cooks!
Tim holds a B.A. in Geography from the University of Minnesota – Duluth, where he completed his thesis on a student housing conflict in the city of Duluth. He came to OSH as a volunteer about eight years ago and loved it so much that he decided he needed to commit to working full-time for the organization.
Development and Communications Manager
Robin grew up in one of the most diverse communities in the United States, as calculated by the number of languages spoken in the public school district. Would you guess that means Anchorage, Alaska? In addition to the linguistic and cultural diversity, Anchorage also mirrors Minneapolis in other ways. It’s (literally) a very cold place to experience homelessness, and that means our services for sheltered and unsheltered folks can’t look the same as they do in California or another warmer climate.
Robin has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from St. Olaf College, and completed a year of Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Wilmington, Delaware. Prior to joining the OSCS team, Robin worked for the International Institute of Minnesota and St. Stephen’s Human Services (now called Agate Housing and Services).
Renate has served in a number of different positions at OSCS since 2014. She was initially drawn to do housing case management because she saw how most of the structural deficiencies in society intersect with homelessness. She wishes people understood that the problem is systemic and deeply rooted in intergenerational poverty, historic racism, a punitive criminal justice system, and a lack of understanding of mental health. She has stayed at OSCS because of the reflective and deliberate care OSCS gives to its clients and staff. Renate takes particular pleasure in witnessing the excitement among students in the English Learning Center. In her current role, Renate is eager to capture institutional knowledge and craft systems that will serve the entire organization more effectively. Renate came to OSCS with a degree in political science and a minor in economics from Gustavus Adolphus College. She previously worked on marijuana decriminalization in D.C.
Communications and Development
Jaxon Ke’anoi Bonsack
Jaxon (he/they) joined Our Savior’s Community Services in the fall of 2023 as Grants Specialist. Jaxon is a passionate writer and storyteller who uses his skills and love for writing to support the work of OSCS. With a life-long joy for learning languages he was drawn to the mission of OSCS’s English Learning Center. Jaxon believes that being able to communicate clearly and understand the world around you can create an important sense of safety and belonging, reducing isolation, dependency, and feelings of powerlessness.
In college, Jaxon studied architecture and cultural identity in the built environment with a focus on community participation and historic preservation work. In 2005 he spent a semester living in India conducting research for his thesis, learning how architects and preservationists could use traditional restoration techniques to produce sustainable architecture and involve communities in the preservation of their historic structures and traditions. His time spent in India was transformational and still impacts his life today.
Wateen left a job in corporate health care after feeling drawn to nonprofit work. She chose Our Saviour’s Housing because she believes we need to take responsibility for our homeless community. As an immigrant and a black woman, she knows how difficult it is to make something of yourself when society is set up against you. She believes if we all spent a little less time just talking about the issues and a little more time taking action, we can start to make a genuine change. As Volunteer Coordinator, Wateen loves meeting different people, recognizing their talents, and hearing their stories.
Wateen holds a degree in business administration with a minor in economics. Throughout her undergrad career, she traveled to Africa and the United Arab Emirates, where she worked with community members who were homeless and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. She joined OSH as volunteer coordinator in March 2020.
Communications and Fundraising Coordinator
Arden (she/her) joined Our Saviour’s Community Services as Communications and Fundraising Coordinator in December 2023. After moving to South Minneapolis in 2022, she started regularly volunteering with a mutual group that provides meals to people living in encampments, becoming more aware of how structural and institutional barriers harm people who are homeless in the Twin Cities. She is excited to connect with those who use ELC and OSH programming and supporters of OSCS through communications and fundraising efforts, and further the organization’s goals.
Arden recently earned a B.A. in 2022 from St. Olaf College and came to OSCS after finishing an AmeriCorps term with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, where she got to work with communities across Minnesota. During college, she held multiple positions relating to communications and development, including working for the college’s Advancement Services department, and doing communications for student organizations focused on community wellbeing.
Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Nick was introduced to OSCS through a former board member. He quickly learned that the organization is full of passionate and humble people who truly believe in the mission, and he’s honored to offer his own insights and expertise. Nick appreciates that OSCS is a diverse organization providing tools and opportunities to people in many situations. He’s most passionate about combatting homelessness and seeking to give individuals a safe and stable environment, especially as the problem continues to grow across Minnesota.
Nick holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Minnesota Law School and has three years of experience in business and regulatory law, as well as in tax and finance. Prior to moving to Minnesota in 2015, Nick participated in various non-profit organizations, including faith-based ministries. Nick has served on the OSCS board since March 2019.
St. Catherine University
As Director of New Business Development and Continuing Education at St. Catherine University, Carrie partners with local non-profits and employers in the Phillips neighborhood to advance the work of social justice, human dignity, inclusion and workforce development. Her most recent work has focused on initiatives and education around the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Epidemic in Minnesota. She is eager to continue to deepen her commitment to the work of human dignity by supporting the populations that OSCS serves.
Carrie has worked in higher education for twenty years. She has taught composition, communications, literature, and digital literacy at Boston University, Harvard Extension School and Saint Mary’s University. Her student-centered approach to instruction and course design emphasizes inclusive practices that empower faculty and students to embrace the opportunities for creativity, innovation and collaboration that diversity fosters. Her research interests include knowledge acquisition and inclusivity in the digital age, psychometric assessment practices, and the role metacognition plays in inclusive teaching and learning. She received her MA in English and her Ed.D. in Postsecondary Teaching and Learning.
BEKA Wood Products
Jane believes that OSCS is doing two really important things in the community simultaneously— providing a safe and positive space for people to learn English skills AND providing emergency, transitional, and permanent housing! Each of these branches alone is challenging for an organization to provide, but doing both successfully is truly amazing. She is most passionate about how empowering and life changing the programs can be and loves to hear the stories of those who have felt ready to start the next chapter in their lives.
Jane was born and raised in the Twin Cities and attended college at the University of Minnesota, earning a degree in biology. She has worked in education, environmental management, and urban farming and joined the OSCS board in May 2018. As a board member, she hopes to better educate the public in issues surrounding homelessness and immigration and to help facilitate an active and dynamic group of board members!
Jireh (G-Ray) Mabamba
Born in a Christian household in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jireh has always been passionate about serving others in any way possible. He is new to OSCS as an organization, but he is not new to the fantastic work OSCS has been doing for the community. Jireh is a member of the Rotary Club of Minneapolis, a non-profit organization that partners with organizations like OSCS locally and worldwide to serve the community. Jireh is excited and eager to learn more about the OSCS and the impact it has been making in changing the lives of ordinary people locally and those who come from abroad and make our city their home. Jireh comes with an extensive amount of experience in fundraising and relationship building. Jireh is inspired daily by his wife and their two children. In his free time, Jireh enjoys playing basketball and practicing his Minnesota slang words such as Uff-da, Dontcha, and You-Betcha.
Martha Schwehn Bardwell
Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church
Martha joined the OSCS board in 2021. She first got involved with OSCS 10 years ago when she offered a weekly spirituality circle for OSH shelter residents, which she was inspired to offer after working with adults experiencing homelessness in Tacoma, WA. She is honored to serve on the board and is eager to discern how the Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church congregation can keep supporting all the good work that OSCS does in the community. She is most passionate about how OSCS walks alongside community members in its programs in dignity-affirming ways, equipping folks with the skills they need for resilience and agency in their lives. She is inspired by the ways OSCS has worked hard to adapt and reimagine its programs to serve the expressed needs of its students and residents during the pandemic.
Martha has served as a pastor at Our Saviour’s since 2017. She brings a discerning spirit, a passion for antiracism and justice work, and congregational and community connections to the board. She lives in North Minneapolis with her husband Sam and 2 children.
Katie has spent 20+ years and counting working in affordable housing development, specifically working with nonprofit organizations on the development of new housing and preservation of existing housing. She is particularly drawn to the work, projects and organizations that can most effectively support and serve individuals with the lowest incomes and highest potential housing barriers. She looks forward to the opportunity to contributing her technical affordable housing knowledge to OSCS’s growth, evolution, and success. At the same time, Katie humbly aims to broaden her perspective and knowledge on the hard work that community-based organizations such as OSCS do to positively impact its community and individual lives.
Katie has always integrated volunteering into her life in various ways. In addition, to her OSCS Board service, she is currently a volunteer English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom instructor with Lyndale Neighborhood Association (LNA) in Minneapolis and hopes that work can also be an asset to OSCS.
Katie is a native of the Twin Cities area but spent multiple years in both Washington DC and Chicago and returned to the area in 2017. She has a graduate degree in Urban Planning from the University of Minnesota.
Dereck is a strategic HR leader and internal consultant with experience in education, retail operations, health care, and manufacturing. Dereck has a track record as an HR business partner collaborating with hiring managers across multiple locations and business units. As a thought leader, Dereck leads strategy design in talent acquisition, training, and talent development. Dereck is skilled in research and policy analysis, developing positive work teams, Implementing technology-driven change management initiatives, and improving employee engagement. Dereck is a results-oriented individual committed to effectively deploying the strengths and talents of the diverse teams Dereck leads. Dereck is an effective strategic leader and an exceptional communicator of change management processes who leverages technology to smoothen business operations to achieve business goals.
English Learning Center Volunteer
Andrea is a long-time tutor at ELC. She tutored 1990 – 1995 (in the old building when students were primarily from SE Asia), took a break when her kids were little, and then resumed teaching 2012 – present (new building and very different student population). Andrea loves the saying “give a person a fish and they eat for a day, but teach them to fish and they eat for life”. Education is the key to a better life. She is continually impressed by her students’ willingness to learn as they navigate their life in America. She wants to help them attain their goals and dreams.
Andrea recently served as President of her church council. It was eye opening to see all the work that goes on behind the scenes to make an organization run smoothly. She learned so much about finance, dealing with personnel matters, strategy work and supporting the staff. She is excited to support OSCS program by not only teaching at ELC but also being a member of the board. Andrea also looks forward to learning more about OSH program.
American Indian Community Development Corporation
Travis wanted to join this board due to the fact that his experience with helping individuals that experienced hardships in their life were assisted by OSCS, by being housed and helped to stabilize their lives. His professional life has been to serve those that needed hope and guidance to services that would assist them in their life changes, one of those services Travis utilized was OSCS and they showed care and compassion throughout.
Jenny’s personal and professional interests align well with the mission and vision of OSCS, including a dedication to justice through compassionate support rooted in mutual respect. Jenny has worked at local nonprofits in multiple roles, including at a homeless shelter for women and children, as a home visitor working with formerly unhoused families, and as a program manager for a community organization responding to the needs of people experiencing crisis. Because of her experience, Jenny believes that dignified housing is a fundamental need and that our local systems and policies will best serve our community if they are also based in this view.
Jenny holds graduate degrees in Social Work and Public Policy from the University of Minnesota. In addition to what she’s learned through her work, her perspective is influenced by the importance of using both existing research as well as the authentic input of program participants when making decisions about programs and policies.
University of Minnesota
Born in a refugee camp and a child of refugees, Annie understands the difficulties of navigating life in a new country where you can easily be misunderstood and dismissed. Her parents have had to navigate housing and learning English and they have since raised four college-educated kids with successful careers and families. She is grateful for the services and help her family received when they were new to this country and is looking for an opportunity to give back.
She has 14 years of experience working in communications and media in TV newsrooms and is currently in an Operations Administrator at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing. She is eager to put her knowledge and experience to work for OSCS and hope to contribute in an impactful way. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and two elementary aged kids where they love outdoor activities and exploring year-round.
Apple Valley High School
Tezra originally became involved with OSCS in 2014 as a volunteer teacher at the English Learning Center. After a few years of volunteering, she realized that she loved teaching English to immigrants and refugees so much that she decided to change careers and go to school to become a licensed English Language teacher. Now, she serves on the board because she believes the work OSCS does is important and makes a difference during vulnerable times in people’s lives. She likes feeling inspired and being part of a force for good in the world. She also believes that those who serve at OSCS are changed just as much as those who are served.
Tezra has a Master’s in Social Work and a Master’s in Education. She has worked in nonprofits directly with clients, as well as in fundraising. She currently works full time as an English Language teacher. Tezra has served on the OSCS board since April 2019.
Tom, new with OSCS as of July 2022, is ready to serve and expects to learn a great deal along the way. He has been attending Bethlehem Lutheran Church Twin Cities with his wife for roughly three decades, where they have sung in the choir for much of that time.
He’s traveled from a rural background in Montana to an urban experience at Macalester College in St. Paul, followed by a career in Engineering, working primarily with fluids and automation here in the Twin Cities.
Retired; Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church Member
James feels drawn to organizations that provide human services out of the simple Gospel call to care for the needs of the neighbor, the stranger, the person in need. As a member of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, he frequently describes how the congregation served as a birthing center for OSCS. He’s most passionate about the way the English Learning Center assists those who come to the U.S. with no English language knowledge and opens up a “new world” for them.
James has spent his career in Lutheran higher education at two colleges and as a member of the churchwide staff, in roles as varied as a college professor of chemistry, a college’s chief academic officer, a churchwide staff member who advocated on behalf of church-related higher education, and as a college’s chief development officer. He joined the OSCS board in April 2019.
2315 Chicago Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Phone | 612.871.5900
Fax | 612.871.0017