Staff

We are an equal opportunity employer, with over 150 staff in youth services, program management and administrative roles. The Link values diversity and provides a welcoming and supportive environment inclusive to people from all backgrounds. We value professional and lived experience within the areas of homelessness, juvenile justice and sexual exploitation.

BETH HOLGER
Executive Director

Beth has over 15 years of experience in the field of youth homelessness and sex trafficking. Prior to joining The Link, she was the Homeless Youth Services Coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and has worked in street outreach, emergency shelter and transitional living programs with runaway, homeless and trafficked youth in Minneapolis. Beth holds a B.A. degree in Political Science and Anthropology, a Public Affairs certificate, and a M.A. degree in Nonprofit Management and Administration—all from Hamline University.

Beth has earned numerous awards serving as an active community volunteer. She has been awarded the Virginia McKnight Binger Award in Human Service, the Ain Dah Yung Center’s Native Ally of the Year Award and has been a Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow through 2016.

612-767-4467
bholger@thelinkmn.org

JENNIFER BECKER
Development Director

Jen contributes years of experience in development as well as a strong background in juvenile justice and youth program funding. Jen is avidly committed to making a difference in the lives of the youth in our community and has the drive and passion for doing so. Jen attended William Mitchell College of Law where she received her J.D. degree and St. Cloud State University where she graduated with a B.S. degree in Communications and Graphic Design.

612-767-4479
jbecker@thelinkmn.org

LOIS CLARK
Finance Director

Lois utilizes her 20 years of experience in nonprofit financial management to manage all the financial operations and oversee the accounting and finance staff for The Link. Lois has worked with us since 2009 and looks forward to helping the organization continue to grow.

612-767-4468
lclark@thelinkmn.org

DENISE SMIEJA
Contracts and Evaluation Director

Denise brings over fifteen years of program management experience. Her work in youth development has focused on being a positive caring adult for young people in the juvenile justice system and with youth experiencing homelessness. Her experience includes program development, grant writing, grant management, and evaluation. Denise is passionate about social justice and walking along side young people as they work toward their goals. Denise has a BA in Sociology from the University of St. Thomas and a Masters of Public and Nonprofit Administration from Metropolitan State University.

612-767-4476
dsmieja@thelinkmn.org

SHELLY CHAMBERLAIN
Human Resources Director

Shelly has over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, most recently serving as Director of Operations and Human Resources at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, a nonprofit membership association with a mission to inform, promote, connect and strengthen individual nonprofits and the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining MCN, Shelly led fundraising campaigns for several environmental and citizen initiatives.  Shelly has also worked as a dance educator and dance artist in the Twin Cities performing arts community and has served on the boards of several local nonprofit arts organizations. She has a B.A. in Political Science and Russian Area Studies from the University of Minnesota and an M.A. in Nonprofit Management from Hamline University.

612-767-4475

CEMARR PETERSON
Safe Harbor Division Director

CeMarr joined The Link in 2016 as the Project Live Out Loud (PLOL) Program Manager and was instrumental in the successful development and launch of the PLOL Program serving LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.  Prior to The Link, CeMarr provided advocacy, education, and services to youth and adults who have experienced sex trafficking through her roles at Breaking Free and The Family Partnership PRIDE Program, and the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center.   CeMarr also has extensive experience working with community stakeholders on large-scale initiatives within the anti-trafficking and homelessness fields.

612-232-8385
cpeterson@thelinkmn.org

BLAINE TURNBULL
Juvenile Justice Division Director

Blaine has over 10 years of experience in the juvenile justice and youth development field.  Joining The Link in 2010, Blaine led the Juvenile Supervision Center as Program Manager for 8 years before transitioning to his current role as Juvenile Justice Division Director.  Blaine earned his B.A. degree in Psychology from Central Methodist University.  He is committed to serving the youth and families of the greater Twin Cities area, and breaking down barriers while carrying out the mission of The Link.

612-767-4471
bturnbull@thelinkmn.org

JAMES LEWIS
Housing and Homeless Services Division Director

James has worked with runaway and homeless youth through crisis centers, homeless families in subsidized housing programs, and homeless single adults in the shelter system. Over the past 17 years, James has held positions such as youth counselor, case manager, program supervisor, and program manager. James earned his B.A. degree in Sociology from the University of St. Thomas. His passion is working with young people in crisis and meeting them where they are at while helping them to unlock their potential for growth, learning and stability.

612-287-1642
jlewis@thelinkmn.org

CINCERE BURNS
Young Families Program Manager

Cincere joined The Link in 2016 with 18 years of experience as an Advocate, Case Manager and Family Housing Department Manager providing support and services to battered women and their children and families experiencing homelessness. Cincere attended the University of St. Thomas in order to obtain certificates in their Essential Leadership Skills Series course, including: Essential Supervisory Skills, Interpersonal Communication, Conflict Resolution,  Handling Difficult People, and Public Speaking and Presentations.

612-287-1643
cburns@thelinkmn.org

CORA BURNS
Safe Harbor Supportive Services Manager

Cora joins The Link with 12+ years of experience working with youth in both direct service and leadership capacities. Cora’s commitment to racial equality and social justice has allowed her to gain unique experience within the non-profit sector. Coupled with her professional experience, she also holds a degree in Human Service Administration. For 10 years, she worked in direct service via the charter school setting; gaining experience in both educational curriculum delivery, as well as, case management, all while serving youth and their families. Her experience crosses the United States, working at both Face2Face Academy in St. Paul, MN for 7 years and Houston CAN Academy in Houston, TX for another 2 years. Upon her return to Minnesota, Cora’s direct service experience translated into leadership, taking on a Coordinator role at Safe Zone Drop-in Center; a facility directly aimed at working with youth experiencing homelessness.

 

952-288-2688
creevesburns@thelinkmn.org

JOSHUA CASEY
Marshall Reed Youth Centers Program Manager

Joshua has been committed to youth for nearly 20 years, serving as a coach, mentor, counselor and supervisor. He studied Psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and earned his M.S. degree in Experiential Education at Minnesota State University–Mankato. Joshua believes that youth desire structure and guidance, and he feels privileged to have the opportunity to offer these to them. Through experiential learning, he is constantly trying to challenge youth to explore their own identities to determine which values they want to be known for. Joshua began serving youth with The Link in January of 2011.

763-550-7396
jcasey@thelinkmn.org

JAKE SKOTTMYHRE
Housing First Program Manager

Jake comes to The Link with a long history of working in human services. He started working with youth experiencing homelessness in 2005 as a youth housing advocate and transitioned into case management, with a concentration on housing, mental health and LGBTQ services. Jake has also focused on HIV services, working in counseling, testing, chemical health and needle exchange.  After working in HIV services for six years and gaining supervisory experience, Jake is excited to continue his work with youth experiencing homelessness as the Housing First Program Manager at The Link.

612-226-0578
jskottmyhre@thelinkmn.org

JENNIFER HORTON
Suburban Housing Program Manager

Jennifer joined The Link in 2016, and has 6 years of experience working with young people, in housing and shelter settings, who have been impacted by homelessness. To her, the best part of her work is being involved in the everyday lives of resilient youth. Jennifer has also had the privilege of working along side of young people to open The Link’s Suburban Rapid Rehousing program, a first of its kind scattered site program serving the 5 county suburban metro area.  Jennifer’s response to the growing number of youth impacted by homelessness is that she will fight what you are fighting and continue the community work of making housing accessible.

612-913-2753
jhorton@thelinkmn.org

 

 

RHONDA MCCONNELL
Office Manager

Rhonda has been with The Link since 2015. She has been an office manager for over 8 years, working both in the private sector and with non-profits. She Has a BA in English from the University of Minnesota, and she continues to build her capacity in the IT field. She is highly organized, detail oriented and an effective communicator. She is committed to an excellent work standard and focused on the quality of work needed to keep The Link’s staff equipped with the tools they need for such important work in the community.

612-767-4470
rmcconnell@thelinkmn.org

LYNNDSY EATON
Rapid Rehousing Program Manager

Lynndsy has been a dedicated youth worker since she was a young person herself. Throughout her 16 years at Twin Cities’ nonprofits and social service organizations, she has consistently worked in partnership with youth and adults to achieve their collective goals. She applies her creativity towards youth programming in order to address emergent issues. Lynndsy joined The Link in 2014 to further support young people in exiting the cycle of homelessness because she believes that everyone deserves safe, affordable housing. She works diplomatically with local and federal assistance programs to ensure that positive change is realized for the families and communities with whom she works.

612-743-7054
leaton@thelinkmn.org

JAZZ SHARIF
Project Live Out Loud Program Manager

Jazz joined the Link in 2016 as Project Live Out Loud’s first case manager where he has been instrumental in developing the design of case management’s role in the program. Jazz has 14 years of experience working with youth and families in various capacities throughout Chicago and the Twin Cities. Prior to coming to the Link, he worked  4.5 years as the Educational Programs Coordinator for the Minneapolis Public Schools at a Contract Alternative Program School with Project for Pride in Living and has worked in college and career readiness, adult and youth emergency shelter, a transitional living program, and residential group homes for youth exiting treatment. In addition to his career, Jazz studies Social Work at the College of Saint Scholastica and is a well-known pillar of the LGBTQ and Ballroom communities for his advocacy, outreach, and education. Jazz’s passion to help restore communities drives his work in the social services field.

612-287-1644
jsharif@thelinkmn.org

STEPHANIE PLASTER
C.O.R.E. Drop-In Center and Street Outreach Program Manager

Steph joined The Link in 2016 to assist with implementing Dakota County’s response to youth experiencing homelessness. She has been providing services to homeless youth for four years as a Case Manager to youth in both shelter and Permanent Supportive Housing. She also has experience in working with victim/survivors of sexual assault, poverty policy, community organizing and those with developmental disabilities. Steph is passionate about large scale community and organizational change regarding young people experiencing homelessness as well as how our responses to the issue vary depending on urban, suburban and rural landscapes. Steph has a dual Bachelors degree in Social Work and Woman’s Studies from St. Cloud State University and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Minnesota.

612-205-7944
splaster@thelinkmn.org

 

CAALYNN SCHIRO
School Matters Program Manager

Caalynn joined The Link in 2012. She has a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota and many years of non-profit experience working with adults with barriers to employment and assisting families with childcare assistance. Caalynn is looking forward to learning and growing with The Link and our School Matters program.

612-677-2522
cschiro@thelinkmn.org

 

FAITH SORENSON
Lindquist Program Manager

In 2014, Faith joined The Link at Lindquist Apartments as a part time, weekend Front Desk Support Staff member. Inspired by The Link’s vision and dedication to serving the homeless and underserved youth population, she accepted a full time Case Manager position and shortly after, was promoted to Program Manager. She and her team strive to provide advocacy, programming and experiences for their residents that will allow them to maintain stable housing and gain crucial independent living skills. Faith has worked with homeless families, singles and youth for over 9 years in both emergency and domestic violence shelters, housing crisis response and homelessness diversion programs. Faith’s education includes a degree in Criminal Justice with additional coursework in communications and professional writing. 

612-287-1672
fsorenson@thelinkmn.org

EMILY TERRELL
POWER Program Manager

Emily Terrell joined The Link in 2016 as the Program Manager for The POWER (Positive Opportunities for Women of Every Race) Program, a gender-specific program for justice-involved girls. Emily’s experience in youth work spans across crisis intervention with youth and families, school-based and clinic mental health, community programming and groups for justice-involved girls, high school athletics, and mentoring. Emily earned her B.A. in Psychology and her M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). Simply put, Emily’s life’s work is to build relationships with youth as they make meaning from their stories, use their voices, and build power in their communities.

 

612-205-2278
eterrell@thelinkmn.org


Juvenile Supervision Center Program Manager

 

612-673-5995

STACEY THU
Passageways Program Manager

Stacey’s passion for victim advocacy led her to the completion of her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology, eight years of volunteering as a sexual assault outreach advocate, and a combined 10 years working within the criminal justice system and with at-risk youth.  She has years of experience working with the unique needs of a 24/7 operation with several years of program oversight, supervision, and management.  She is proud to be a member of The Link team and looks forward to being a part of our efforts.

952-885-4452
sthu@thelinkmn.org

KARLA GALLIEN
Marketing & Development Manager

Karla graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in criminal justice and a passion for juvenile justice reform.  She joined The Link in 2010, expanding her youth work experience by supporting and advocating with youth through the Juvenile Supervision Center.  Karla transitioned to the Development Team in 2017, committed to helping strengthen The Link and ensuring that all young people in our community have the opportunity to thrive.

612-767-4474
kgallien@thelinkmn.org