Board of Directors.
Chris Bubser. Chris Bubser is a Registered Architect in the State of Minnesota, and works for a major commercial construction company. He lives in the Windom Park neighborhood, where he and his wife own and manage several units of rental property. Chris previously served on the Central Avenue Small Area Plan Steering Committee (2007-08), and has served on Windom Park Citizens in Action’s Community and Land Use Committee for several years. He was also on the Board of First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis from 2002-2007, including two years as chair. During that time, he maintained the organization’s budget and started a Strategic Planning committee. Chris is the chair of NEIC’s Property and Tenant Committee.
Amy Fields. Amy Fields is the general manager of the Eastside Food Cooperative, a natural food co-op that opened on Central Avenue in 2003 and currently has over $8 million per year in sales. She oversees all of the co-op’s operations and is responsible for the co-op’s business plan and financial projections, as well as its operating budgets. Having worked in cooperatives for over 20 years, Amy has extensive experience with cooperative governance and consensus building. She previously served on the board of her children’s child development center, including a term as secretary; on her church council for several terms, including one as treasurer; and as vice-president and president of the East Minneapolis Exchange Club. She has also served on several committees with the National Cooperative Grocers Association. Amy lives with her family in the Holland Neighborhood.
Jackie Francis. Jackie and her husband were among the first to join NEIC. At the time, buying 2 A-Shares depleted their savings account, but they loved their neighborhood and joined NEIC because they believed in its vision to make Northeast a better, more vibrant place to live. Jackie has lived in NE Minneapolis since 2005, bought her home in 2008, and has restored it from foreclosure. Jackie has a Bachelor’s degree in print journalism with a minor in political science from the University of St. Thomas. She has worked at a health insurance company since 1999 where she is currently a Senior Clinical System Analyst working with stakeholders to efficiently and accurately implement business rules in order to preserve integrity. Jackie joined the board in 2016.
Brandon Hallstrand. Brandon is a Financial Analyst at a small Twin Cities non-profit where he works on budgeting, forecasting, and data projects. His background includes brokerage operations, manufacturing, and agriculture. He holds a BBA in Finance, Investments and Banking from the University of Madison, and is currently enrolled in an MBA program through Capella. Brandon has lived in Minneapolis for 5 years, and while new to Northeast as of May 2015, NEIC intrigued him from the start. He has been consistently active in the Finance and Governance Committee since joining NEIC in the summer of 2015. Brandon joined the board in 2016.
Stephen Norton, President. Stephen and his wife have been Audubon Park residents since 2013. Stephen is a licensed Professional Engineer in Minnesota and currently works for Metropolitan Council Environmental Services doing work on infrastructure project planning, design, and project management. Stephen has experience scoping, designing, bidding, and overseeing construction of multi-million dollar public infrastructure projects. Stephen spent a year as AmeriCorps member with Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte with experience working in volunteer management and home construction. He has additional experience in managing and leading volunteer construction projects and developing partnerships with local organizations. He attended Iowa State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. Stephen has been on the board since 2014.
Colleen O’Connor Toberman. Colleen works at the University of Minnesota in the Center for Transportation Studies, where she manages events and community-engagement efforts. Thanks to years working in nonprofits and now at the University of Minnesota, she has experience in community engagement, writing and social media, public speaking, and volunteer recruitment. Colleen has spent time serving on all three of NEIC’s committees. She has really enjoyed doing outreach on behalf of NEIC, including speaking at two conferences in 2015, writing newsletters, and planning events. Colleen has lived in the Audubon Park neighborhood since 2010 and has owned and renovated several properties in Northeast. Colleen has served on the NEIC Board of Directors since 2013.
Loren Schirber, Vice President. Loren Schirber is one of the owners of Castle Building & Remodeling, which is a professional, award-winning, design/build firm with three design showrooms (Minneapolis & St. Paul) specializing in residential remodeling. Since acquiring Castle Loren has utilized his marketing and management skills to grow Castle to one of the largest and most successful residential design build remodeling firms in the Twin Cities. Castle also owns and operates 1) Save A Castle which focuses on acquiring, rehabbing, and selling older homes with charm and 2) Natural Built Home Store and eco-friendly building materials showroom in South Minneapolis. Loren attended the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management, and received his MBA in 2005. He attended the University of North Dakota where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and received a Certificate of Entrepreneurship. Loren lives in NE Minneapolis and is married. Loren and wife are approved and waiting to adopt an infant domestically. Loren also currently chairs NEIC’s Marketing and Membership Committee.
Alexander Vasatka , Treasurer. Alex and his wife have lived in Waite Park since 2009. Alex has undergraduate degree in Business and Philosophy, with a minor in German, from the University of St. Thomas and is currently working towards a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. Alex has spent six years working in various roles in commercial banking. He has experience in financial forecasting, capital allocation, profitability analysis, and portfolio management. Alex also currently chairs NEIC’s Finance and Governance Committee.
Leslie Watson. Leslie has many years of board experience, both in cooperatives and the nonprofit sector. She served on the Eastside Food Co-op’s board of directors from 2002 through 2011, including three years as its board president, and is also a past board member and co-chair of the Northeast Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. She holds a J.D. from the U of MN Law school and a Master’s in Public Affairs from the Humphrey School, and is the recipient of a 2013-15 Bush fellowship. Leslie is a consultant and member-owner with CDS Consulting Co-op, which works with food co-ops all around the U.S., and she is also on staff with Cooperative Development Services, a nonprofit development center located in St. Paul.
Jill Wilhelmi, Secretary. Jill Wilhelmi holds a J.D. from Hamline University School of Law and undergraduate degrees from University of North Dakota. From 2002-2004, she worked as the office manager of Castle Building & Remodeling; more recently, she drafted and advises the company on its construction contracts. Jill was the business liaison to the Midwest Minority Supplier Development Council from 2008-2010, where she served on the certification team for businesses who were applying for a certification as a minority-owned business. She currently works for a large health insurance company where she helps business teams draft and negotiate contracts and manage risk. Jill and her husband have lived in the Waite Park neighborhood since 2003.