Minnesota Young American Leaders Program

The Minnesota Young American Leaders Program

Since 2015, the Itasca Project has sent cohorts of ten rising leaders to Harvard Business School for the Young American Leaders Program. In 2019, the Itasca Project partnered with the Center for Integrative Leadership at the University of Minnesota to create the Minnesota Young American Leaders Program, which is inspired by the HBS Program. The two programs share themes, content, and some speakers. Both focus on the US and regional competitiveness, shared prosperity, and cross-sector collaborations; both programs seek to create relationships among civically focused rising leaders in our region.

MYALP will be held May 22-24, 2023 at the University of Minnesota. There is no cost to participants to attend this program – lodging and travel expenses are also covered.

Additional information on the program can be found on the Center for Integrative Leadership’s MYALP  website and the Itasca Project’s website for additional information. Thank you for taking the time to nominate a rising leader for this program.

Eight Greater Mankato residents have been chosen for the 2023 cohort of the Minnesota Young American Leaders Program. Hosted by the Center for Integrative Leadership at the University of Minnesota alongside Harvard Business School and the Itasca Project, this program will teach young leaders about how to work across sectors to help their communities prosper inclusively.

2023 – Mankato Cohort Participants
  • Chris Dalton, City of New Ulm
  • Ashley Eimer, Mankato Area Foundation
  • Laura Koch, Profinium
  • Courtney Kramlinger, City of Mankato
  • Ayan Omar, St. Peter Econ. Dev. Auth./Region Nine Development Commission
  • Claire Richie, Taylor Corporation
  • Colin Scharf, Gold Mine Studios Audio/Visual and Event Production Studio
  • Christi Wilking, Mayo Clinic Health System

Click image to download pdf

2022 Program Overview

The 2019 cohort from Saint Cloud made the following video describing their experience:


Nominations have closed for the 2023 cohort, but you may consider who you might nominate for the 2023 cohort via this advice.

Once nominated, Itasca Project staff will reach out to the nominees to confirm their interest and provide them with more information about the Program. Nominees will then complete a short application. The selection committee for each region will work to select a balanced cohort that represents the rich and particular diversity of our region. We plan to have cohorts identified by early February 2023.

 As you think about nominations, keep in mind that we are seeking individuals who:

  •  Have a track record of civic engagement in their city, ideally in cross-sector collaborations. Mere interest or potential is not enough
  • Typically have a minimum of 7-10 years of professional work experience; and have a “runway” for involvement in future cross-sector collaborations
  • Are open to new ideas and relationships, are able to bring expertise to bear, and are willing to debate tough issues civilly
    Have demonstrated experience working across differences such as race, ideology and sector.


Past attendees held a variety of positions ranging from C-Suite Executives to Mid-Level Managers and small business owners.

Please note that the project will not accept candidates who are actively running for elective office but will consider current office-holders. In addition to looking for participants with both a track record and a potential trajectory in their professional and civic engagement, the project seeks individuals who have demonstrated their openness to new ideas and relationships, their willingness to debate and consider different perspectives on tough issues and their aptitude for working across potential boundaries such as race, ideology, sector, age or profession. 

The following individuals represented Greater Mankato at the 2022 MYALP program:

  • Alejandra Bejarano – Economic Recovery Planner – Region 9 Development Commission
  • Dr. Cuong Huynh – Owner – Discover Chiropractic
  • Benya Kaus – Founder & Executive Director – Lead for Minnesota
  • Mark Konz – Associate Director – Planning and Development Services – City of Mankato
  • Nate Olsen – Vice President/Business Banker – United Prairie Bank
  • Ryan Vesey – Economic Development & Research Manager – Greater Mankato Growth
  • Kelcey Woods-Nord – Director of Strategic Partnerships & Employer Engagement – South Central College


The following individuals represented Greater Mankato at the 2020 MYALP program:

  • Jennifer Bromeland – City Administrator – City of Eagle Lake
  • Laura Drager – Marketing Manager – ISG
  • Matt DuRose – Assistant Director Mankato Public Safety – City of Mankato
  • Edell Fiedler – Communications and Engagement Director – City of Mankato and Mankato Area Public Schools
  • Julie Fredrickson – Owner – J. Fre Consulting
  • Nicole Griensewic – Executive Director – Region 9 Development Commission
  • Kate Hansen – Owner – Blue Sun Designs & Cabin No. 4
  • Tonya Hobbie – Director of Talent Management – Bolton & Menk
  • Mohamed Ibrahim – Community Health Specialist – Mayo Clinic Health System
  • Diana Rojo-Garcia – Associate Editor, Reporter – Mankato Free Press
  • Katie Smentek – Pediatrician and Board Member – Mankato Clinic
  • Amanda Weister – Assistant Director, Career Development Center – Minnesota State University, Mankato