Board Members

Promoting strong, viable communities for all Minnesotans

Minnesota NAHRO is thankful for the leadership and dedication of our volunteer board members.  Their support and commitment to Minnesota NAHRO make it possible for our small organizations to achieve so much.

 

Minnesota NAHRO Board of Directors

President

Jill Keppers head shot MN NAHROJill A. Keppers, MPH

Executive Director, Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Duluth

 Years with current agency: 8

 Years in housing industry: Eight years in housing and redevelopment, but previously over 20 years in home and community based services as well as extensive experience in state association service and advocacy.

Agency Responsibilities:I am responsible for the management and administration of a politically independent Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) in the city of Duluth, MN with 1,110 units of owned housing (public housing, multi-family project based rental assistance housing, mixed income unsubsidized housing, tax credit, market, and project based voucher units) and over 1,700 rent subsidy vouchers through federal, state, and local programs. I also oversee new housing development initiatives including a 70-unit senior housing infrastructure bond project that just broke ground in August and an 18-unit mixed income cottage development that will start leasing in September. I have a robust rehabilitation and real estate department that works with me to apply for funding for new multi-family housing developments and also manages on-going single family and small multi-family redevelopment initiatives.

I manage a budget of approximately $20 Million per year with sources from HUD, MN Housing, CDBG, HOME, Conduit Bond Fees, TIF and other sources, and I propose a property tax levy that is approved by the city council for the purpose of supporting HRA activities. I have led the Duluth HRA through a successful RAD and Section 18 conversion, and we have three more RAD transactions in the works. In addition to the required financial and policy responsibilities for a Housing Authority, I work with community stakeholders on affordable housing initiatives, funding priorities, and legislative issues; educate policy makers and stakeholders on the role and function of the HRA in the city; and work with the state and national association of housing and redevelopment officials on legislative advocacy.

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

Peter Drucker says that over every boardroom there should be an inscription in big letters that says, “Membership on this board is not power; it is responsibility.”  I believe being on a state association board means just that.  It means responsibility not only to the board itself, but also to the mission of our association, and most importantly responsibility to its members.

Since starting at the Duluth HRA, I have been involved with the legislative committee at MN NAHRO.  I have attended the Day at the Capital each year (meeting with our local delegation) as well as the National NAHRO Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. where we met with our Senators and Representatives (or their aides).  I have brought forward ideas about increased participation in our state lobbying activities, and I hope to move the board to more accountability with regard to being present at these important events.

I believe that as a board member it is important to remember that you are not there representing your individual organization.  You are there to move housing and redevelopment issues forward in the manner that serves the greater good.  Sometimes the votes you cast won’t necessarily benefit the agency you work for; but that is what board service is all about – what is good for the industry.  That is why after four years as an “At-Large” Director I am running for the Senior Vice-President position on the Board – to help lead an industry.  I hope to be a strong voice for housing and redevelopment, an example of integrity and transparency, and an advocate not only on HRA/PHA issues, but also on Homes For All and state and national legislative priority setting.

Peter Drucker says that over every boardroom there should be an inscription in big letters that says, “Membership on this board is not power; it is r esponsibility.” I believe being on a state association board means just that. It means responsibility not only to the board itself, but also to the mission of our association, and most importantly responsibility to its members. Since starting at the Duluth HRA, I have been involved with the legislative committee at MN NAHRO. I have attended the Day at the Capital each year (meeting with our local delegation) as well as the National NAHRO Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. where we met with our Senators and Representatives (or their aides). I have brought forward ideas about increased participation in our state lobbying activities, and I hope to move the board to more accountability with regard to being present at these important events.

I believe that as a board member it is important to remember that you are not there representing your individual organization. You are there to move housing and redevelopment issues forward in the manner that serves the greater good. Sometimes the votes you cast won’t necessarily benefit the agency you work for; but that is what board service is all about – what is good for the industry. That is why after four years as an “At-Large” Director and two years as your Senior Vice President I am running for the President position on the Board – to help lead an industry. I hope to be a strong voice for housing and redevelopment, an example of integrity and transparency, and an advocate not only on HRA/PHA issues, but also on state and national legislative priority setting.

Previous Board Experience:
MN-NAHRO Board of Directors, 2017-present Senior Vice President, 2021-present At-Large Director, 2017-2021
Scholarship Committee Chair, 2018-2021
Nomination Committee Chair, 2019

UW-Superior Alumni Association Board of Directors, 2011-2017
Minnesota Home Care Association (MHCA), 2000-2015 Board of Directors – Representing Greater Minnesota, 2012-2015 Legislative Team, 2010-2015; Chairperson, 2013-2015  MA/Managed Care Team, 2010-2015; Chairperson, 2011-2013 Education Team, 2013-2014; Secretary, 2013-2014 PCA Work Group, 2012; Chairperson, 2012 MHCA Rep. to Minnesota Department of Human Services CFSS Implementation Council, 2012-2015

Other Association Experience:
MN-NAHRO, 2015-present
Legislative Committee, 2015-present
Northeast Regional Directors Association, 2015-present
HRA Facilities Engineering Degree Workgroup, 2017
National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), 2015-present, LegNet, 2015-present
North Dakota Public Health Association, 1997-1999
Wisconsin Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 1994-1996, Chair of Research, 1995

Senior Vice President

20210803 104622Allison Streich

Deputy Director, Carver County CDA

 

Years with current agency:  16.5

Years in housing industry: 22

 

Agency Responsibilities: I oversee our housing area and rental assistance programs. Working on development of new housing and partnerships within our community.

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

To help support fellow NAHRO members and member organizations and broaden my knowledge of what other agencies are doing across MN.

 

Treasurer/Secretary

DSC 0150Jennifer Cook

Housing Director, Red Wing HIRA

Years with current agency: 
I started at the Red Wing HRA in 2009 as a contract employee in the Social Service
department. After working in this position for 3 ½ years, I applied to work in the HRA
office as the Property Manger Assistant. Through the following 11 years, I have been the Property Manager, Program Management Assistant and now the Housing Director.

Years in housing industry: 14.5 years total

Agency Responsibilities

Procurement for capital improvements and services, policy updates, HUD and MHFA reporting requirements for all programs, oversee housing/voucher/maintenance staff, Capital Fund Program, EIV
Coordinator, 504 Coordinator, secure other funding sources, etc.

Why are you running for this position on the Board?
MN NAHRO has been a great source of education and networking for me in my career. I look forward to continuing this experience for all members and continue to connect with other agencies in Minnesota.

VP of Professional Development

CDA PicLisa Hohenstein

Director of Housing Assistance, Dakota County Community Development Agency (CDA)

Years with current agency: 24

Years in housing industry: 24

Agency Responsibilities:  I organize, lead, and provide administrative direction and oversight of programs and functions of the Housing Assistance Department including the administration of the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

MN NAHRO is instrumental in providing education and advocacy for the affordable housing industry. I have had the opportunity to serve as a member of the professional development committee for 8 years, serving 5 as committee chair. I am passionate about advocating for the needs of its membership and work diligently to provide quality training in a variety of
formats to meet the needs of the diverse membership.

 

VP of Housing

Dana Pic 2023 Dana Hiltunen

Executive Director, Virginia & Eveleth HRAs

Years with current agency: 9

Years in housing industry: 24

Agency Responsibilities

I am the Executive Director of the Virginia HRA. The Virginia HRA is located in northern St. Louis County, a rural area facing many obstacles to quality affordable housing. I oversee the operations and
management of the agency. I work with a great group of 30-35 employees (depending on the time of year) to operate 476 public
housing and market rate units. In addition, our agency administers over 500 Section 8 vouchers.

The Eveleth HRA contracts with the Virginia HRA to provide management and oversight to their public housing program.
Through this contract I also act as the Executive Director for the Eveleth HRA.

Why are you running for this position on the Board?
I have found that associations such as MN NAHRO are important to the success of our agencies. I believe in the services our agencies are providing for those facing barriers and know that MN NAHRO has been and can continue to be a great resource for agencies across Minnesota. I have years of experience advocating for social service and housing programs, including as the co-chair of Homes For All. I am asking for your support to allow me to represent you on the MN NAHRO board where I will continue to advocate for those we serve and work to provide services to strengthen our agencies and statewide collaboration.

 

VP of Community Revitalization & Development

Buffy Beranek, Executive Director
Southeastern Minnesota Multi-County Housing & Redevelopment Authority-SEMMCHRA

Wabasha, Minnesota
Buffy Beranek is the Executive Director  providing planning, direction, and legislative input for SEMMCHRA. For the past 17 years, she has served the housing industry at SEMMCHRA and served on MN NAHRO board and as the legislative co-chair. She is also an executive member of
the Minnesota Housing Partnership Board and serves as treasurer.

Her former experiences include Senior Operational Analyst in Planning Services for Mayo Clinic Foundation. She was
Contract Operations Administrator for Mayo Foundation Managed Care Contracting in Rochester, Minnesota where she successfully led and  managed daily operations of a $600 million contract
portfolio at one of the nation’s premier healthcare organizations. Early in her career she worked for ConAgra, a Fortune 500 company, in Michigan.

During Beranek’s career and personal experiences she has fought for access and funding for basic social needs – health, education and now housing. Her focus and purpose for serving on boards is to bring new ideas forward, work collaboratively across the State of Minnesota and fight to
reduce unnecessary regulations while promoting locally driven housing  initiatives.

Beranek ​has over 30 years of senior administrative experience with expertise in strategic planning, complex problem solving, negotiating, and change  management in health care and government. She also holds a national financing certification for housing development. Beranek earned her Bachelor’s in accounting from Michigan State University, her Minnesota CPA license, and her master’s in business administration from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee.

 

Immediate Past President (not elected)

WIN 20201026 14 23 45 Pro 3

Dara Lee

Executive Director, Clay County HRA

Dara A. Lee has over 25 years of experience working with individuals and families living in poverty and experiencing homelessness. Since 2005 she has been the Executive Director of the Clay County Housing & Redevelopment Authority. Under her leadership, the agency has expanded to provide services to approximately 500 households per month who have exited or are exiting homelessness.

She is the current Senior Vice President for the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Authority Officials (NAHRO); former board chair of Churches United for the Homeless; current board member and former chair of the West Central Minnesota Continuum of Care; founding member of CARES (cross-border Coordinated Entry System for NW MN and entire state of ND); current member and former Treasurer of the Fargo-Moorhead Coalition to End Homelessness.

She has been recognized as the YWCA Woman of the Year – Advocate for Equality; the F-M Coalition to End Homelessness – Vision & Dedication in Ending Homelessness recipient; the MN NAHRO- Outstanding Achievement recipient; and the Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota- Partner in Justice recipient.

Prior to working at the HRA, she was a staff and supervising attorney in the Alexandria, Bemidji, and Moorhead offices of Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota (LSNM).  She received her Bachelor’s in Business Administration degree from the University of North Dakota with majors in economics and accounting; and her JD from Yale Law School. She continues to be a licensed attorney in both Minnesota and North Dakota 

 

Jill Bengston - Member at Large

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Executive Director, Kandiyohi County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, McLeod County Housing and Redevelopment Authority

 

Years with current agency: 20

Years in housing industry: 30

Agency Responsibilities:

  • Provide information, policies, new proposed activities/programs and annual budgets to the HRA Boards and carry out their decisions.
  • Oversee the implementation of all programs, developments and services.
  • Write grants and seek new funding sources.
  • Oversee all human resource functions.
  • Develop networks within and outside our service area to improve housing services for our residents.

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

MN NAHRO has been instrumental to me during my career and I have seen how important this agency is to the training, organizational development and legislative needs of housing authorities.  I would like to give back to our membership by listening to their needs and continue to help MN NAHRO develop tools and advocacy that addresses those needs to ultimately sustain and improve housing services statewide and keep Minnesota a housing leader in the nation.

 

Charity Brault - Member at Large

Charity pic 1Executive Director, NW MN Multi-County HRA

Years with current agency: 5

Years in housing industry: 5

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency?

Overseeing development, coordination, leadership and administration of all HRA programs and staff.

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

I am running for this position on the Board because I believe in the potential of rural Greater Minnesota. With over 9,000 square miles and less than 200,000 residents, our communities have unique challenges and opportunities. MN NAHRO has been an invaluable catalyst for my professional growth, providing me with opportunities for learning, networking, and staying abreast of the ever-evolving landscape of housing authorities. I have witnessed firsthand the role MN NAHRO plays in fostering training, organizational development, and addressing legislative imperatives. By expanding my network and learning from the best in housing, I can ensure that our services reach all 60 communities and make a positive impact on the lives of our residents. 

 

Taggert Medgaarden - Member at Large

Taggert 2023Executive Director, Austin HRA

Years with current agency: Started my 5th year in June.

Years in housing industry: 22 years and a landlord for over 17 years

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency? 

It’s my honor/pleasure to lead an organization of 20 employees that currently operates over 520 public housing and market rate units,  administers 195 Section 8 vouchers, transitional housing, operates a CHIP (Community Home Improvement Project) revolving loan fund for homeowner improvements.  In addition, our organization is extremely active in redevelopment within community.

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

This is an easy question for me, I like to be involved! My skillset starts with coming from a greater Minnesota community, but one that has a Fortune 300 Companies World Headquarters located in it.  One with a diverse population in culture and economics but yet with some of the same challenges we all face.

Being new to the HRA world a few years ago, MN NAHRO and everything associated with it was my education into this field.  While I’m confident my learning will never stop, I do feel that my insight, passion, willingness to collaborate and general enthusiasm towards housing will be a positive addition to the MN NAHRO

 

Teresa Smude - Member at Large

SmudeExecutive Director, Aitkin County HRA

Years with current agency: 4.5

Years in housing industry: 22

Agency Responsibilities: 

I am responsible for the successful leadership and management of the Aitkin County HRA according to the direction set by the Board of commissioners. I work with the  Board of Commissioners on the development of all policies affecting the Aitkin County HRA and am responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Agency and the oversight of all the federal programs we administer.

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

I believe that my experience in affordable housing makes me an excellent candidate to continue in an At-Large position on the Minnesota NAHRO Board. I believe that rural Minnesota needs to continue to be represented on the Board as there are unique needs and challenges presented to housing authorities in non-metro areas
of Minnesota.

Melissa Taphorn - Member at Large

Melissa T 2023Executive Director, Washington County CDA

Years with current agency: 12

Years in housing industry: 28

Agency Responsibilities: 

I am responsible for implementing the strategic vision of our seven-member board of commissioners to provide extraordinary service to the communities in Washington County. I oversee the daily operations of
over 30 programs with 35 employees and a $35 million budget. Our programming includes the operation of 1,147 apartments, tenant-based rental assistance, housing finance, housing tax credit suballocation, CDBG and HOME administration, home improvement loans, housing counseling, and economic development.

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

Two years ago, I ran for the first time for a position on the Minnesota NAHRO to give back to the organization. I think I have just begun to repay all the benefits I gained in the prior years. I am running now in
the hope of continuing to lead our advocacy work at the state and federal levels.

Executive Director
Shannon Guernsey

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