We know that in order to do the kind of work we do, we need a team who brings a diverse set of lived experiences, knowledge, skills, and passion to work alongside you. Meet our core team:


Sook Jin Ong

Sook Jin leads the Future Services Institute, a new initiative of the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center. In this role, she brings her interest and practice in blending human-centered design and participatory leadership principles to be of service to those in human services. Prior to this, she managed the partnership between the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Minnesota Department of Human Services on improving service delivery in the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). Previously, she spent several years in the corporate sector as a consultant. Sook Jin earned her bachelor’s degree in management and economics from the University of Sydney, Australia and graduated with a master's degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. 

Sook Jin comes from the multicultural cosmopolitan city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She posits that you can take her out of Malaysia, but not the Malaysian out of her - that spirit lives in how she hosts spaces and graphically records the world around her.


Jodi Sandfort
Academic Director

Dr. Jodi Sandfort is a Professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.  Her research and teaching focus on improving the design and implementation of social policy, particularly those serving low-income children and their families.  She is the Founder and Academic Director of the Future Services Institute, an applied research and training center focused on public service redesign that partners with state agencies, county governments, nonprofit service providers, and private foundations.  In that regard, she supervises a diverse team of ten professional staff working on citizen engagement, program evaluation, and human-centered design projects to support innovation and implementation in publicly-funded human services.

Jodi is a Fellow in the National Academy of Public Administration, and will be a Fulbright Fellow in 2020 in Denmark exploring public sector (re)design.  She is the author of a book Cultivating Effective Implementation (Jossey Bass, 2015) with Stephanie Moulton, many scholarly articles, professional reports, and multi-media products.  She also is the Founder of the Hubert Project, a national collection of multi-media teaching materials for public affair.  Dr. Sandfort received a Ph.D. in political science and social work in 1997 from the University of Michigan. She also holds a master's degree in social work from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from Vassar College (magna cum laude). She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Originally from Menomonie, Wisconsin, Sandfort lives with her husband and sons in St. Paul Minnesota.  For more information and access to publications, please see:  http://www.jodisandfort.org


Henriët Hendriks
Research and Evaluation Director

Henriët is the Research and Evaluation Director of the Future Services In­­stitute (FSI). She is committed to bringing together academic research and real-world challenges in human services delivery, and to strive for meaningful and mutually beneficial collaboration between universities and state and local government.

Henriët has extensive experience working in state government and academia. Prior to joining FSI, she was a management consultant with Minnesota Management and Budget and worked with a variety of state agencies on program evaluations, administrative assessments, and stakeholder engagement. Before that, she served as non-partisan fiscal staff at the Minnesota House of Representatives. Henriët also taught at St. Olaf College and Susquehanna University, including courses on campaigns and elections, media and politics, and political psychology.

Henriët holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in American Studies from the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In her free time, she enjoys cooking elaborate dinners with friends, hiking and biking with her husband and two dogs, and listening to—and occasionally making—blue grass music.


Rosalva Mujwid Hernandez
Innovation Manager

Rosalva is one of our Innovation Managers. She is passionate about outreach and engagement, addressing disparities, and social justice. She earned her undergraduate degree with Metropolitan State University for coursework in ethnic studies and community organizing and is currently enrolled in the Human Services Leadership Certificate program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Rosalva brings with her a lifetime of public service experience in the judicial, public school, higher education, health care, and most recently Minnesota Department of Human Services in the Child Support system. Rosalva’s parents immigrated from Mexico in the 1960’s, settled in Southwest Texas and migrated every summer to rural Minnesota for farm labor work to sustain their family. Rosalva and her husband parent three teenage sons who enrich their learning and challenge their perspectives. In her free time, she enjoys movies, reading, spending time with her extended family, and gardening.


Katie Boone
Innovation Manager

Katie is one of our Innovation Managers. Her roots come from her experiences in co-designing innovative breakthrough systems that enhance the access, equity and vitality of families, organizations and communities. She has a unique and integrated skill set, weaving together the practices within the Art of Hosting and Harvest Conversations that Matter and Narrative Coaching. She's a life-long learner who brings a social-entrepreneurial mindset to her work and has a passion for discovering collective impact through collaborative, multi-sector strategies. She has an M.S. in Experiential Education and B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies, Women's Studies and Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Katie enjoys spending quality time with her family and dogs, exploring new hiking trails and rivers and co-creating new music with friends.


Liz Kaufman
Innovation Manager

Liz is one of our Innovation Managers. She holds a BA in Sociology, with minors in History and Political Science from Barnard College, Columbia University, and an MA in English (Language Education) from Hamline University. In her Master's thesis, she designed a language-modified, trauma-informed Know Your Rights training for recent refugees and other vulnerable populations. Liz has worked at national legal and environmental organizations, nonprofits, grassroots community and wrap-around social service organizations, and broadly in education. She is energized by being in local, national, and international learning spaces, and loves building networks of connection and solidarity.

Currently a Frogtown resident, Liz grew up in North Minneapolis and has lived in New York City, London, and San Diego. She has organized around a variety of issues including Ethnic Studies, wrongful conviction, police violence, immigrant rights, youth leadership, and political prisoner campaigns. In her free time, she is developing an organization for transracial adoptees. Liz is interested in creative and intersectional expressions of racial, environmental, economic, and gender justice, and explorations of how we can be grounded in transformative and visionary personal and collective work, and practice freedom in our daily lives.


Trupti Sarode
Learning and Evaluation Manager

Trupti brings her expertise in program evaluation to the Future Services Institute. In addition to being our program evaluation guru, she is a current PhD student at the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota. As a Master of Development Practice graduate from the Humphrey School of Public affairs, she focused on early childhood development, global health, and human development.

Some of her work was with the Sustainable Healthy Cities, Sustainability Research Network funded by the National Science Foundation, Neighborhood House, Global Volunteers in St. Paul, and the Southside Community Health Services, Inc. Her experiences with large foundations such as the MasterCard Foundation (for its projects in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) and the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development (Egypt) provided her an international perspective to her work. Originally, from India, Trupti completed her undergraduate degree in dentistry from Mumbai, India. 


Ashley Bennett
Human-Centered Design Associate

Ashley is our Human-Centered Design Associate. Driven by her desire to design programs, services, and products with a human-centered approach, she supports innovation and design based research projects at FSI. Ashley attended the University of Minnesota for course work in African & African American Studies, and Urban Studies, and later studied User Experience Design at Prime Digital Academy. After attending the university, Ashley served as an AmeriCorps member, and spent a number of years working on economic development projects. She brings with her nearly a decade of community development experience. She is passionate about creative problem solving and the intersection of planning, technology, design, and community development.

In her free time she enjoys learning new things on YouTube, spending time with family, and exploring restaurants around the Twin Cities. 


Pachia Thao
Research & Evaluation Associate

Pachia is the Research and Evaluation Associate at Future Service Institute. Pachia has a B.A. in political science and Asian studies from Saint Olaf College. As she navigated college as a first generation college student, Pachia became passionate about breaking down barriers of inequalities through policy design and implementation. During her time at Saint Olaf, she was very active in the community. She served as co-chair to a multicultural student organization, tutored students in reading at the local elementary school and interned at Fresh Energy, a non-profit environmental organization located in St. Paul as a Capitol Pathways intern.

During Pachia’s free time, she enjoys playing video games, doing abstract art with oil and chalk pastel, and exploring new eateries.


Kamaria Woyee
Program & Project Specialist

Kamaria supports the work of the Future Services Institute in a variety of projects and our communications efforts. Kamaria operated in several positions within the financial industry over the last 10 years. During that time, she became involved with Social Assistance in Individual and Family Services for children with Autism, which fostered her awareness and interest in social policy.

During her free time, Kamaria enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the movies, and exploring the Cities kid-friendly spots with her daughter. 


Drake Lawrence
Program Specialist

Drake provides support for the Future Services Institute in several of its projects. Having previously worked in both the public and non-profit sectors, he brings a person-first approach to implementing operations and systems. Drake graduated from Saint John’s University of Minnesota with a degree in English, having also dedicated much of his time on social justice reform.

Outside of the Future Services Institute, Drake enjoys playing and writing music, attending live shows throughout the Twin Cities, cooking for his friends, and hosting a local house show.


Weston Merrick
Graduate Research Assistant

Weston joins FSI and the Humphrey School as a graduate research assistant and PhD candidate in public policy. He brings experience in policy analysis, performance measurement, research design, and using evidence to inform decision-making. Weston also leads Minnesota Management & Budget’s Results First Initiative, an effort to use high-quality evidence to estimate the extent to which publicly funded services generate positive, cost-effective outcomes for Minnesotans. Previously, he evaluated the effectiveness of business incentive and workforce development programs for the Department of Employment & Economic Development.
Weston holds a Master’s in Public Affairs from Indiana University and BSBA in Finance from the University of Missouri. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Weston met his wife and Minnesota native, Cassie, during undergrad. As a Minnesota transplant, he spends his summers on patios and winters indoors with his pup, Dewey.


Malaika Hankins
Graduate Research Assistant

Malaika is a dual Master of Public Policy and Social Work student focusing her graduate studies on juvenile justice policy reform. She has worked with various education and racial equity nonprofits directly and in operations roles to support youth and their families. Malaika graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Education.

When not working or studying, Malaika enjoys cuddling with her kitten, exploring new (to her) parts of the Twin Cities, and trying and failing to keep plants alive in her home.


David Ambuel
Graduate Research Assistant

David is a Graduate Research Assistant who is pursuing his Masters of Public Policy at the Humphrey School. He has a background in community health, public transportation and sustainable development. He supports various FSI projects by providing assistance to the research and evaluation team.

In his free time David enjoys spending time exploring the outdoors, playing any team sport, watching TV, reading a good book, or playing board games.