Our Leaders


  • Chandra Kilgriff – Director, Dorsey & Whitney
  • Kelly Miller – Chairperson, JPMorgan
  • Chris Rohrer – Director, Jones Lang LaSalle
  • Scott Schroepfer – Director, PMA Financial Network
  • Fred Vescio – Director, Houlihan Lokey
  • Scott Wade – Director, Breck School


Kelly Miller, Executive Director 

Day job: JPMorgan

Education: University of Kansas

Something interesting/personal about you:

I have a two-and-a-half year old and 10-month old.

"I’ve been involved in Minds Matter since 2003 and can’t recall the exact reason why I got involved. The amazing students, dedicated volunteers and incredible results keep me coming back every year!"


John LaBree, Deputy Director

Day job: Attorney

Education: University of Minnesota BA/University of St. Thomas JD

Something interesting/Personal about you:

I can often be found eating burritos, listening to music, and watching NBA League Pass.

"Minds Matter is an opportunity to work towards something I am passionate about: helping to ensure access to a quality education for all people."


Paul Mellick, Co-Director of Senior Program

Day job: Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at the University of St. Thomas

Education: PhD from UNC-Greensboro, undergraduate and master’s degrees from the college of St. Scholastica

Something interesting/personal about you:  I’m a huge basketball fan, and in North Carolina, I got to play a few pickup games with Chris Paul.  I’m also a big hip hop head and love to work out, ride my bike, and play with my

I’m a huge basketball fan, and in North Carolina, I got to play a few pickup games with Chris Paul.  I’m also a big hip hop head and love to work out, ride my bike, and play with my dog, Bandit.

"I’ve always had a huge passion for higher education.  I come from a single-parent household and was a first generation college student myself.  I also am passionate about volunteering and have spent the last year volunteering with the department of corrections.  I honestly didn’t know much about minds matter prior to joining, but I am very excited for my first year!"


Brittany Nelson-Cheeseman, Co-Director of Senior Program 

Day Job: Engineering Professor at the University of St. Thomas (Teaching classes, conducting research with students, continually working on projects to enhance the experience for our students in new and exciting ways.)

Education: Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering from UW-Madison; Masters of Science & PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from UC-Berkeley; Post-doctoral researcher at Argonne National Laboratory.

Something interesting/personal about you:

When I was 22, just out of college, I got on a ship that circumnavigated the globe in 100 days, visited 11 different countries in Asia, Africa, North and South America, and took classes about the countries, cultures, religions, and histories we were about to be encountering at each stop. Semester at Sea (sas.org) was a profoundly life-changing experience for me and has helped shape me into who I am today.

"Having spent the past 15 years of my life at various colleges, I’ve seen the socioeconomic disparities in college students again and again. While I can work at the college-level to help remedy this, I also want to help prepare promising students further up the pipeline to realize their potential by getting into and succeeding at college."


Christine Barringer, Co-Director of Junior Program

Day job: Senior Demand Planning Analyst at Best Buy

Education: St. Olaf College Grad, Majored in Math, and Psychology with a concentration in Statistics

Something interesting/personal about you: I am originally from Colorado and love to hike and snowboard!

"As a junior in high school, I was the student who had a Fiske Guide to Colleges covered in Post-it notes for what I liked and disliked about different colleges all around the country. I ended up having an amazing college experience and it shaped so much of who I am today, largely because the college was a great fit for me. Since most high school students don't read a 900-page book for fun, I wanted to get involved with a program to help students find the perfect college for them. As I became involved with Minds Matter I loved how much the program not only helped students think about the college search but also prepared them for the daunting application process starting their sophomore year of high school. Having the experience of applying and confidence from getting into programs in the past makes the application process just a little less intimidating!"


Ryan Thimjon, Co-Director of Junior Program

Day Job: Senior Research Analyst at Feltl and Company

Education: University of South Dakota

"To provide the most deserving local high school students with the opportunity to reach their full potential."


Casi Roethler, Co-Director of Sophomore Program

Day Job: Clinic Manager with Allina Health

Education: BA in Public Relations from the University of Northern Iowa, MHA (Masters of Health Administration) and MBA from the University of Iowa

Something interesting: I'm the first person in my family to get a master’s degree... but my brother followed 2 years later!

"As a young person and first generation college student, my parents encouraged me to educate myself but did not always have advice or guidance to get me where I needed to be. I was very lucky to have teachers, mentors, and school counselors enter my life at the exact right time to encourage me and help me along my journey through high school, college, grad school and now my early career. I want to be that person for our students and give them the confidence that others helped me find! (you can cut this as you need, I know it is long)."


Emir Beganovic, Co-Director of Sophomore Program :

Day Job: Investment product management, marketing and development at Thrivent Mutual Funds

Education:  Macalester College; Economics and German Studies major

Something interesting/personal about you:

I was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina and immigrated to the US when I was nine.  One of the best experiences of my life was attending a summer program in Boston.

"I have been involved with Minds Matter in the Twin Cities since 2012.  I mentored a student for three years prior to joining the EC as a sophomore program co-director in 2015.  The mission of Minds Matter resonates strongly with me and I joined because, as a recent college graduate, my time and effort supporting the students of Minds Matter could have a bigger impact than anywhere else.  Joining Minds Matter was also a way to honor the tremendous amount of support from my community of friends and family (including mentors) who helped me navigate the college experience and beyond.  I find it very rewarding to work with our students, mentors, and other volunteers on building a supportive community focused on the success of our students."


Jessica Farah, Co-Director of Math Matters

Day Job: Financial Analyst at Deluxe Corp

Education: Bachelor of Science in Finance and MBA from Minnesota State University, Mankato

Something interesting/personal about you:

I'm trilingual, fluent in Arabic, French and English.

"I loved the commitment that our students show! If they are willing to come and learn on a Saturday so am I."


David Janssen, Co-Director of Math Matters

Day Job: Senior Portfolio Analyst at Columbia Threadneedle Investments with a focus on Global Rates and Currency portfolios.

Education: Received a Bachelors degree from the University of South Dakota with Majors in Finance and Economics and a Minor in Math.  Currently pursuing a Master's in Financial Mathematics at the University of Minnesota and have passed all three levels of the CFA Examination.

Something interesting/personal about you:

In my spare time, I like to play sports, mainly basketball, tennis, golf, and powerlifting.

"I am involved with Minds Matter because of how exciting it is to help students achieve their potential."


Michelle Margoles, Co-Director of Writing & Critical Thinking 

Day job: Attorney at Margoles & Margoles, P.A., practicing criminal and juvenile defense.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Anthropology from Carleton College in 2009, and obtained a J.D. from the University of Minnesota in 2012.

Something interesting/Personal about you:

When not working or volunteering with Minds Matter, I love to run triathlons, paint, and travel when I can.

"I joined Minds Matter in 2013 because I saw the effects of the achievement gap every day in the courtroom. I want to make sure all kids have a chance at the future they want, starting with a degree. I love getting to know high school students from around the Twin Cities and watching them achieve their dreams."


Jack McCormich, Co-Director of Writing & Critical Thinking

Day job: Interactive Writer

Education: Bachelors in English/Philosophy at Loyola Chicago

Something interesting/personal about you: I design book covers!

"I love writing; and helping people find their voice is a passion of mine."


Aarti Anand, Co-Director of Summer Programs

Day job: Engineer at General Mills

Education: Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota (TC)

Something interesting/personal about you:

Other than English, I am most comfortable speaking Hindi, which I learned exclusively from watching Bollywood movies growing up

"Making educational opportunities more accessible to young people is really important to me, as my educational opportunities are primarily responsible for my career today."


Erika Stewart, Co-Director of Summer Programs

Day job: Sourcing Manager at Red Wing Shoe Company

Education: Washington University in St. Louis- majors International Studies; Spanish

Something interesting/personal about you: I swam competitively in college, but now enjoy running instead.  I recently finished my SCUBA certification, so I am excited to get back in the water.

I swam competitively in college, but now enjoy running instead.  I recently finished my SCUBA certification, so I am excited to get back in the water.

"I am starting my 5th year with Minds Matter, spending three years mentoring a student and then transitioning to work on Summer Programs.  During the time I have spent with the organization, it has been amazing to watch students develop, both academically and personally over the course of their high school experience.  My favorite part of Minds Matter is seeing the students after they have returned from their summer programs.  Through these programs, they gain visibility to entirely new opportunities and motivate themselves to achieve even higher goals."


Drew Bartholomew, Co-Director of Volunteers

Day Job: Portfolio Manager

Education: University of St. Thomas

Something interesting/personal about you:

I used to pick sweet corn and sell it at the Farmer's Market on Nicollet Mall.

"The Minds Matter community built amongst students and volunteers is really exciting. I've met a number of truly great people inside and outside the organization that are committed to narrowing the achievement gap."


Peter Kolar, Co-Director of Volunteers


Marie Becker, Co-Director of Marketing & Metrics

Day Job: SVP, Strategic Insights Leader at Wells Fargo

Education: I received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Graduate degree from the University of Minnesota - Carlson School of Management

Something interesting: According to my family I have super human senses - I can hear and smell things most people can't!

"One of the most influential experiences of my life was the four years I spent at the University of Wisconsin. It introduced me to ideas and people I'd not have met otherwise. It is where I fell in love with marketing and communications, where I met my husband and where I made lifelong friendships. My role on the Executive Committee is one way I can "pay it forward" and help our students achieve the same life-changing experience by providing a support system that allows them to realize their full potential. I believe in the mission of Minds Matter and continue to be impressed with the volunteers and students. I am incredibly proud to be associated with Minds Matter."


Laura Rother, Co-Director of Marketing & Public Relations

Day Job: Communications Specialist at Best Buy

Education: I received a Bachelor's Degree in Public Relations from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

"I had the privilege of attending a four-year University and am thrilled to contribute to an organization that gives high school students the same opportunity."


David Elliott, Co-Director of Test Prep


Jose Caballero Ciciolli, Co-Director of Test Prep