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:

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Sook Jin Ong
Director

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.

 
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Jodi Sandfort
Academic Director

Jodi Sandfort is the Academic Director of the Future Services Institute. She is also a Professor at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and chairs the Management and Leadership Area. Jodi's research, teaching, and practice all focus on improving the implementation of social policy, particularly those policies designed to support low-income children and their families. She received a Ph.D. in political science and social work (1997) and a Master's in Social Work (MSW; 1994) from the University of Michigan.

Jodi has spent her career moving back and forth between professional practice and academic posts. She was a Senior Fellow at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and directed the Human Service Program at the McKnight Foundation where she managed a portfolio of $20 million in annual giving directed to the human service system in Minnesota.

Jodi is currently a Scholar with the national Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Consortium. Originally from Menomonie, Wisconsin, Sandfort lives with her husband, Steve Marchese, and two sons in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she likes to cross-country ski and garden. Jodi's work can be found at www.jodisandfort.org.  

 
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Stephanie Jacobs
Public & Nonprofit Leadership Center Director

Stephanie Jacobs is director of the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center (PNLC), a community that creates and nurtures excellence in public affairs management and leadership. Prior to joining the PNLC, Stephanie was Program Director at the Nonprofits Assistance Fund. Previously, she was director of member services at the Minnesota Council on Foundations and consulting associate with Fieldstone Alliance.

Stephanie is a graduate of St. Olaf College and holds a master's degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Stephanie participated in the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Leadership Institute and is an active volunteer in the Minnesota nonprofit community.

When not at the Humphrey School, you'll find Stephanie on her bike, catching some live music at a concert, or hiking or camping in one of Minnesota's state or regional parks.

 
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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.

 
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Jen Mein
Innovation Manager

Jen is one of our Innovation Managers. She is highly successful in cultivating authentic engagement that invites diversity of perspectives into critical conversations, fosters creativity and innovation, and energizes motivated individuals and groups to experiment with new ways of working, learning, and leading. She is recognized as someone who contributes to the field and honors the integrity of practices within the Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations That Matter local and global community. Prior to joining the Future Services Institute team, she served as an internal consultant to University of Minnesota leaders in areas of leadership development, engagement, and campus climate. She has an M.Ed. in Human Resource Development and B.A. in Sociology from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Playing various board and card games with her family, enjoying a nature walk with friends, practicing graphic recording are just some of the ways Jen spends her free time. 

 
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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.

 
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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. 

 
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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. 

 
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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. 

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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Omar Leal
Graduate Research Assistant

Omar is a Masters of Public Policy student originally from San Jose, CA. As a transplant, Omar has engaged in community engagement work with various nonprofits throughout the Twin Cities. After some time as a youth worker with Latinx teens in South Minneapolis, he decided to join Humphrey to be better equipped to support underrepresented and marginalized communities in creating inclusive, systemic change.

Omar received his Bachelors of Arts from Macalester College, where he double majored in Anthropology and International Studies. In his moments of free time, Omar enjoys exploring the Twin Cities, cooking and camping (weather permitting).