Introductions

Meet our newest Board Member, Luis Moreno!

Meet our newest Board Member, Luis Moreno! 3334 1459 Maren Nelson

Tell us about yourself!

I have over 20 years of corporate experience in marketing, strategy and communications at multiple Fortune 500 companies. I have worked in multiple industries, including marine, powersports, outdoor power equipment, hospitality, healthcare, food, foodservice, food ingredients, and banking, among others. I have an MBA in marketing and strategy from the Carlson School, I am a Public Policy Fellow from the Humphrey School and a member of the Young American Leaders Programs (YALP) at Harvard Business School. In the past few years, I have been leveraging my knowledge of and experience in Human Centered Leadership and Emotional Intelligence to collaborate with experts from around the world to train a new generation of leaders to be more human. 

As you look into the future, what do you envision for our community?

I envision a community that is more united, connected and equitable, with good opportunities for all, for high quality education, career, healthcare, wealth, and overall prosperity. I envision a community where we all work together to reduce the achievement gap and the unacceptable racial and socioeconomic disparities. I also envision a community with leaders that are more human to foster workplaces that are healthier and happier.

Why is early education important to you?

Because given the fact that learning starts in very early childhood, I want to make sure that every child is provided with the gift of receiving effective education as soon as they start learning. No time to waste! 

What drew you to Way to Grow?

I have been learning more and more about Early Childhood in the past few years and last year, Vanessa Laird and Carolyn Smallwood told me about the opportunity to join the Way to Grow board. I was impressed with the organization, the work it has been doing, its trajectory, its partners, collaborators and the high caliber board members so I jumped at the opportunity! Thank you, Vanessa and Carolyn!

What do you do in your free time?

I like to spend time with my family, play with our pets, watch movies, series, and documentaries, listen to music, travel nationally and internationally and eat cuisine from all regions of the world!

Welcome, New Staff!

Welcome, New Staff! 3334 1459 Maren Nelson

Meet our new Family Educator, Roxanne!

What brings you to Way to Grow?

I have felt aligned with values of Way to Grow’s mission and vision for some time now. After a friend mentioned Way to Grow in conversation about a month ago, I was happy to find, apply for, and accept a position that I feel will fulfill my desire to positively impact the lives of families and young children. 

Where did you work before Way to Grow?

I have worked a variety of positions in the past, including an ABA therapist, home visiting Developmental Therapist, and nanny, but none that have been able to meet my passion for advocacy and progress as closely as this position as Family Educator. 

What excites you most about working at Way to Grow?

The enthusiasm of staff and their determination to encourage positive change in the community excites me every day and it brings me joy to work for Way to Grow! 

What do you do for fun?

In my spare time I do yoga, paint, play with my adorable attention- seeking puppy, and play video games and board games with friends (virtually of course).

Meet our New Development & Communications Associate, Agatha!

What brings you to Way to Grow?

As I was seeking a new position, I wanted to find an organization that shares my values and makes a real difference in the lives of the people being helped. When I connected with Way to Grow, I knew that I had found the right organization. 

Where did you work before Way to Grow?

I have been volunteering and working for nonprofits since I graduated from college. My most recent position was as Database and Development Officer at Books For Africa, a St. Paul-based nonprofit that provides books for schools and libraries across the African continent. 

What excites you most about working at Way to Grow?

I’m excited to be working for an organization that does so much for our local community. I’m passionate about the importance of education for children, so it’s very rewarding to work with likeminded people and to be able to meet and get to know the families we help and see the impact of our work firsthand. 

What do you do for fun?

I have a lot of hobbies! I really enjoy camping and being outdoors, reading, and art. During the pandemic, I wanted to be able to make my own masks so I got a sewing machine and started learning how to sew, which has been really fun. 

Welcome Roxanne and Agatha!

A New Face at Preschool Pals

A New Face at Preschool Pals 2500 1459 Way to Grow

Meet our new Preschool Teacher, Melissa!

Tell us a little bit about you!

I have worked in the Early Childhood field for 27 years. I have my Bachelor’s Degree in Early childhood Education.

What brings you to Way to Grow?

What attracted me to Way to Grow is the organization’s value of connecting the parents and the community in their child’s learning and growth. 

Where did you work before Way to Grow?

My last position was a Preschool Teacher at an Intergenerational Program. This program allowed memory care residents and the children in the child care center to learn together through activities as well as help one another through art and problem solving. 

What excites you most about working at Way to Grow?

I am excited to get to know the families and their children. I am also excited to help the children in the program be successful and ready for their first day of Kindergarten, and meeting all of the people that have a part in making this organization so successful. 

What do you do for fun?

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family, walking my dog, gardening, reading books, and enjoying the outdoors. 

Welcome, Melissa!

Meet our newest Family Educator!

Meet our newest Family Educator! 2500 1459 Angelique McDonald

Meet our newest Family Educator, Courtney!

Tell us a little bit about you!

I grew up in Inver Grove Heights, MN. I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of North Dakota. This past January I decided to move back to the Twin Cities to be closer to my family.

What brings you to Way to Grow?

I was drawn to Way to Grow because of the approach they take with families. I have always had a strong passion for children’s education and have seen how family life can impact a child’s learning. As I learned more about Way to Grow, I saw how they looked at each family as a whole to provide education to support the child’s development, while putting a focus on the parent being a child’s first teacher. It was very inspiring to me.

Where did you work before Way to Grow?

I worked for an agency in Grand Forks that provided a multitude of services related to different forms of violence. My role specifically was on the prevention side of things: doing outreach, training to adults and youth, social media, etc. The training and outreach I did with adults focused on what they could do if they were to see violence happening in the community. When working with the youth it was a larger focus on what healthy relationships look like in both friendships and dating relationships.

What excites you most about working at Way to Grow?

I am excited to work with each family and give them the tools they need so that their child can grow up with the education and confidence they need to become whatever it is they want to be in life.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I enjoy going camping and hiking, especially if I get to bring my 70lb mutt, Gunnar, with me. I like to spend a lot of my time outside, whether it be for a run, out on the lake, playing with my dog, or just sitting outside with family and friends, so I definitely try to take advantage of the few months that I actually can. I also enjoy reading. I mostly read mysteries, any book I can learn something from, or ones about travel. 

Welcome, Courtney!

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