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’s bylaws establish the process for nominating and electing our board of directors.  Our elections process occurs every two years with a full slate of candidates on the ballot.

 

2021 Nominees for Minnesota NAHRO Board of Directors

The Minnesota NAHRO Nominating Committee, chaired by Immediate Past President Diane Larson, announces  the following nominees for the 2021-2023 Board of Directors.  Please review each candidate listed below and select your choice on the ballot that was mailed to you. 

Please return ballots to:

Minnesota NAHRO

555 Wabasha St. N

Suite 245

St Paul, MN 55102

President

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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

Senior Vice President

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 Jill A. Keppers

 Exectuive Director, Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Duluth, MN

 

 Years with current agency: 6

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

Agency Responsibilities: Manage and administer a politically independent Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) in the city of Duluth, MN with 1,152 units of public housing and 1,515 rental subsidy vouchers; direction of a robust rehabilitation and real estate department; apply for funding for new multi-family housing developments and manage on-going single family development initiatives; manage a budget of approximately $20 Million per year and includes sources from HUD, MN Housing, GMHF, CDBG, HOME, Lead, Conduit Bond Fees, TIF and other sources; propose a property tax levy that is approved by the city council for the purpose of supporting HRA activities; plan and organize long range physical maintenance, financial operations, and strategic goal setting of the HRA; prepare, review, revise, and approve or recommend to the board of commissioners all policies, procedures, and plans for the HRA; lead the HRA through both a Section 18 and RAD conversion; 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.

 

Treasurer/Secretary

Terri Smith

Director, Metropolitan Council Housing and Redevelopment Authority

 

Years with current agency: 22

Years in Housing Industry: 30

Agency Responsibilities: I direct and manage the policy, programs, operations and resources of the Metropolitan Council Housing and Redevelopment Authority. I develop and implement goals and strategies and evaluate success for effective program operation with an annual budget of $75 million. The Metro HRA is the largest administrator of the Housing Choice Voucher program in the state of Minnesota and the administrator of nine other programs that assist low income families in the region.

 

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

I could not do my job without the leadership and membership of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. NAHRO’s advocacy and policy work is instrumental in the success of programs serving low income families across the country. I am ready to give back to this impactful organization.

 

 

Immediate Past President (Not Elected)

Bryan Hartman

Program Manager, City of Bloomington

 

Vice President For Housing

 

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 20-25 employees (depending on the time of year) to operate over 440 public housing and market rate units.  In addition, our agency administers over 500 rental assistance vouchers through Section 8, Bridges and HUD Continuum of Care.

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.

 

 

Vice President for Community Revitalization and Development

 

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Allison Streich

Deputy Director, Carver County CDA

 

Years with current agency:  14.5

Years in housing industry: 20

 

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. I am also interested in expanding the definition of what is included in CR&D.

 

 

Vice President for Professional Development

 

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Lisa Hohenstein

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

 

Years with current agency: 21

Years in housing industry: 21

 

 

Agency Responsibilities:   Administration of over 3,000 tenant-based rental assistance vouchers in Dakota County funded at the federal, state, and local level.

 

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

I have been a member of the Professional Development Committee for 6 years, serving as the Chair for the last two.  Since much of my tenure as Chair was during the pandemic, I am looking forward to resuming in-person events.  My goal is to implement new and innovative ways to offer conferences and trainings that support NAHRO members by being educational, informative and offer networking opportunities

 

Vice President for Commissioners

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Jennifer Cook

Program Management Coordinator, Red Wing HRA

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 Manager Assistant.  Through the following 9 years, I have been the Property Manager, Program Management Assistant and now the Program Management Coordinator.

Years in housing industry: 12.5

 

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.  The Vice President of Commissioners interests me because I get to work with the commissioners that govern the PHA’s and ensure they are receiving the training and resources to help them govern.

 

 

Board Members At Large

Buffy Beranek

Executive Director, Southeastern Minnesota Multi-County Housing & Redevelopment Authority (SEMMCHRA)

Buffy Beranek is the Executive Director providing planning, direction, and legislative input for SEMMCHRA.  For the past 15 years, she has served the housing industry at SEMMCHRA and serves as the legislative co-chair for MN NAHRO and is also an executive member of the Minnesota Housing Partnership Board.  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 28 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 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.

 

 

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Charity Brault

Executive Director, Northwestern Minnesota Multi-County HRA

Years with current agency: 3

Years in housing industry: 3

Agency Responsibilities: Developing, coordinating and administration of all HRA programs with a 6 county area as our legal area of operation and in addition provide services in 2 counties that include almost 60 communities in total.

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

Give insight from the aspect of rural Greater Minnesota, over 9,000 square miles with less than 200,000 residents.   We provide services in almost 60 communities total.  Expand network & learn from the best in housing.

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Brandon Crow

Assistant Director of HCV, Minneapolis Public Housing Authority

 

Years with current agency: 4

Years in housing industry: 18

 

 

Agency Responsibilities: Daily, I oversee all HCV program operations that includes 50 staff members that process applicants and participants, complete inspections, administer special programs, and manage relationships with community stakeholders and property owners. We have introduced key performance indicators and task tracking tools to better monitor where we are strongest and where we can get stronger. We have developed new advancement positions to better support program functions and offer opportunities for high-performing staff to advance and for MPHA to keep good talent. We have also created a Fun Committee to coordinate stress relieving and morale boosting activities for the team and developed more employee recognition opportunities, including the HCV Impact Award, for a standout team member that has embodied our values in their work and relationships with others.

 

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

It would be an honor to continue serving on the Minnesota NAHRO board to directly support the mission ‘to be the leading housing and community development organization in Minnesota by promoting strong, viable communities for all Minnesotans, particularly those with low and moderate incomes.’ I am committed to sharing the great lessons I have learned from others to support the organization’s goal ‘to enhance the knowledge and effectiveness of our members through professional development, education and advocacy.’ I am also fun!

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Teresa L. Smude

Executive Director, Aitkin County HRA

 

Years with current agency: 2.5

Years in housing industry: 20 years; prior to my current position, I was employed with the Brainerd HRA from 2001-2019

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 full operations of the Agency and the oversight of all federal programs we administer.  

I prepare our Agency annual operating budgets. Reviews all monthly financial, program activity, audit reports and management reviews conducted and direct necessary corrective actions.  Authorize and approve all expenditures of the Agency in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. 

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

I believe that my over 20 years of experience in affordable housing makes me an excellent candidate for 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.

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Melissa Taphorn

Executive Director, Washington County CDA

 

Years with current agency: 10

Years in housing industry: 26

Agency Responsibilities: My responsibilities include oversight of the CDA’s Housing Choice Voucher program (237 vouchers plus 350 port-ins), asset management of our rental portfolio (1,107 units and 49 Public Housing units), economic development programs, HUD-certified homeownership services, housing finance programs (tax credit sub-allocator and levy-funded gap funds), and $26 million budget.

Why are you running for this position on the Board?

I am running for an at-large position because I have gained so much from my membership and participation in Minnesota NAHRO over my career and am finally in a position to give back.

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Jill Bengston

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

Years with current agency: 18

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.

NOTICE 

Annual Meeting will be held Thursday, September 9, 2021 

at the Duluth Entertainment & Conference Center

 

2019-2021 Minnesota NAHRO Board Members

President
Bryan Hartman, Program Manager, Bloomington HRA

Senior Vice President
Dara Lee, Executive Director, Clay County HRA

Treasurer/Secretary
Terri Smith, Director, Metropolitan Council HRA

Immediate Past President (not elected)
Diane Larson, Executive Director, Itasca County HRA

Vice President for Housing
Dana Hiltunen, Executive Director, Virginia HRA

Vice President for Community Revitalization and Development
Louise Reis, Executive Director, St. Cloud HRA

Vice President for Professional Development
Lisa Hohenstein, Director of Housing Assistance, Dakota County CDA

Vice President for Commissioners
Marlee Larson, Commissioner, Brainerd HRA

Board Members at Large (total of five)

  • Jennifer Cook, Program Management Coordinator, Red Wing HRA
  • Brandon Crow, Assistant Director HCV, Minneapolis PHA
  • Reed Erickson, Executive Director, Cook HRA
  • Jill Keppers, Executive Director, Duluth HRA
  • Allison Streich, Deputy Director, Carver County CDA

Executive Director
Shannon Guernsey

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