Staff

Meet our team!

A.J. Dordel Vice President of Finance & Administration

Contact AJ About:

  • Audits and other financial information about Beacon
  • Insurance certificates

(651) 789-6260 ext. 209

Pronouns: he/him/his

AJ oversees the financial, administrative, human resources & IT functions – he and his staff provide a backbone of support for the organization. He puts special value in being able to use his financial forecasting and risk assessment skills to help Beacon plan for future strategic growth while maintaining financial stability.

AJ brings 20 years of financial leadership from the for-profit sector to Beacon where he has helped Beacon grow its mission for 10 years. He and his wife Kathy have been married for 30+ years and have two adult children. A.J. also coaches youth wheelchair softball and basketball teams as a volunteer.

Al Campbell Accountant

(651) 789-6260 ext. 222

Anistasia Plekkenpol FMF SW Program Center Sunday Assistant

(952) 452-8682

Ben Helvick Anderson Director of Public Policy

Contact Ben About:

  • Beacon’s Public Policy Agenda

(651) 789-6260 ext. 221

In his role as Director of Public Policy, Ben helps develop and execute Beacon’s public policy agenda, shape Beacon’s legislative campaigns, and represent Beacon around housing policy and advocacy in the community. Ben is passionate about the power that everyday people have to transform our public policy so that all people may have a home.

Ben brings years of local, regional, and federal policy and community organizing experience to Beacon through his work on issues around family farmers, immigration, land conservation, and affordable housing. Ben holds a master’s degree in Social Philosophy from Loyola University Chicago. As a Minnesota native, Ben loves getting outside in all of Minnesota’s seasons with his wife and two step-daughters, doing many activities including biking, sailing, gardening, and cross country skiing.

Chris Dettling Director of Housing Development

Contact Chris About:

  • Projects currently under development

(651) 789-6260 ext. 206

Pronouns: he/him/his

Chris helps Beacon achieve its vision that “All People Have a Home” by managing multifamily development projects from conception through construction completion and delivering affordable homes—often with robust supportive services—to families, individuals and youth. Chris is passionate about ending homelessness in our community by providing a stable platform for our residents to achieve their goals.

Chris has over 20 years experience in housing and community development in both the public and nonprofit sectors and holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in History and American Indian Studies also from the UofM. Chris and his wife Liz can be found appreciating Minneapolis’ wonderful parks and lakes year-round and traveling to new places with their two teenage daughters.

Chris Smith Congregational Organizer

Contact Chris About:

  • Training volunteers and leaders
  • Educating and engaging your congregation
  • Connecting faith with action
  • Advancing equity through policy and organizing

(651) 789-6260 ext. 215

Pronouns: he/him/his

In his role as Congregational Organizer, Chris is responsible for building a faith and value-based collaboration of congregations in the East Metro area. Chris is passionate about social justice and has more than a decade of experience working on both political and issue campaigns.

Chris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and is currently pursuing a Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership at Metropolitan State University. In his free time, Chris enjoys bike rides, jazz concerts, art crawls, St. Paul Saints games, and singing in the choir at his home congregation, Park Avenue Church.

Clara Lind Donor Experience Manager

Contact Clara About:

  • Your gift to Beacon
  • Our annual Ending Homelessness Together Luncheon
  • Learning more about Beacon’s work and how you can help

(651) 789-6260 ext. 232

Pronouns: she/her/hers

As Donor Experience Manager, Clara works on various donor engagement projects, such as writing appeals, managing the Ending Homelessness Together luncheon, and making sure our donors know that each gift to Beacon is valued. Connecting donors to engagement opportunities is at the center of Clara’s work.

Before Beacon, Clara worked in development for various Twin Cities nonprofit organizations, and received her B.A. from Luther College. In addition to her work at Beacon, she is also pursuing her master’s degree through American University and enjoys running and kayaking around the lakes, going to local shows, and trying new recipes.

Craig Freeman Community Connections Manager

Contact Craig About:

  • Building tours
  • Speaking opportunities

(651) 789-6260 ext. 229

Pronouns: he/him/his

As Community Connections Manager, Craig shares Beacon’s vision that all people have a home, no exceptions, with both future and current Beacon leaders and supporters. By leading informational tours, presenting to congregations, civic organizations, or businesses, and representing Beacon in public, he works to increase the organization’s capacity to provide homes. Craig left a decade long career as a litigator in order to do this work because home is too important not to support with everything he’s got.

Craig received his B.A. and J.D. from the University of Iowa and has 15 years’ experience with public speaking. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and son and can often be found attending live music shows, Minnesota United matches, or cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Dan Gregory Strategic Communications Manager

Contact Dan About:

  • Media Relations
  • Congregation Communications
  • Brand Standards

(651) 789-6260 ext. 237

Pronouns: he/him/his

In his role as Strategic Communications Manager, Dan helps shape how the stories of Beacon are shared. Developing, executing, and evaluating our messaging strategies, he works across the organization to ensure that our vision and initiatives are told in a compelling way. Dan especially values the interfaith approach Beacon takes in creating a more just community that truly works for everyone.

Dan holds a Master of Arts in Religion, and has more than 10 years of experience professionally telling stories as a young adult minister, pastor, jurisdictional leader, and nonprofit community engagement and communications specialist. He serves as a volunteer pastor and with his husband enjoys the company of their dog, Cooper, traveling, and trying new restaurants.

Davis Parker Public Grant / Program Evaluation Coordinator

Contact Davis About:

  • Grant administration
  • Coordination with public entities
  • Program funding structure

(651) 789-6260 ext. 212

Pronouns: he/him/his

Davis coordinates public funding for services and operations in Beacon’s housing and shelter programs and also tracks the impact of our programs on the lives of residents and shelter guests. Davis came to work at Beacon after attending a congregation that is a host of the Families Moving Forward emergency shelter and, as a young person, having peers experience homelessness.

Prior to working at Beacon, Davis worked for almost 10 years with grants and program administration in the service-learning and youth development field. You may see Davis riding his bike around town.

Debra Rodgers Director of Congregational Organizing & Engagement

Contact Debra About:

  • Beacon Academy and leadership training
  • Joining the collaborative
  • Community organizing

(651) 789-6260 ext. 218

Pronouns: she/her/hers

As the Director of Congregational Organizing and Engagement, Debra strengthens the capacity of individuals and congregations to act on their faith and values to shelter families, develop homes and address policy issues related to affordable housing and homelessness. She’s guided by the oft-cited quote of theologian Karl Barth, “do theology with the Bible (or other holy book) in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” Debra’s community organizing experience extends over 20 years, and is augmented by a strong background in community development, race equity and racial justice.

A mother and grandmother, Debra is an aficionado of the blues. She and her husband Charles enjoy their well-deserved time together by traveling, trying out new (mostly ethnic) restaurants and of course, babysitting the grandkids.

El Horsfall Event Assistant

Contact El About:

  • Event registrations
  • Other event inquiries
  • Email subscriptions

(651) 789-6260 ext. 223

Pronouns: they/them/theirs

El is a jack-of-all-trades at Beacon, working as an event planner, database manager, graphic designer, and videographer. They focus their work on dismantling systemic injustice and views housing as a foundational need for individual and community growth. El worked with various nonprofits across the United States and plans to continue working toward a more equitable world.

Outside of Beacon, they are part of a local arts nonprofit where they run maker’s fairs and apply special effects makeup for its annual haunted attraction.

Elodie Lee Donor Engagement Officer

Contact Elodie About:

  • The impact of your gift
  • Investing in Beacon’s comprehensive campaign
  • Legacy giving through your will and estate

(651) 789-6260 ext. 200

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Elodie connects the passion and interests of supporters with the opportunity to give towards Beacon’s vision that all people have a home. She is driven to tackle systemic issues with hospitality and transformative relationships that inspire giving.

Elodie has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and 10+ years of experience creatively connecting resources with community needs as a relationship builder, fundraiser, and donor organizer. She lives in Seward, Minneapolis and enjoys everything about food; cooking it, eating it, growing it, sharing it, and talking about it.

Emily Goldthwaite Fries Senior Congregational Organizer

Contact Emily About:

  • Training volunteers and leaders
  • Educating and engaging your congregation
  • Connecting faith with action
  • Advancing equity through policy and organizing

(651) 789-6260 ext. 225

Pronouns: she/her/hers

As Senior Congregational Organizer, Emily works with leaders and clergy who engage their congregations in creating homes, hosting Families Moving Forward, and speaking out for just policies on housing and homelessness. She believes people of faith have a critical voice in communities striving toward the vision that all people have a home.

A minister ordained in the United Church of Christ, Emily has served in both local churches and nonprofit service agencies in the Midwest and Palestine and Israel. Originally from Eugene, Oregon, she has put down roots in Minneapolis with her husband and young daughter and loves our warm summers.

Erik Jacobson Donor Engagement Officer

Contact Erik About:

  • The impact of your gift
  • Investing in Beacon’s comprehensive campaign
  • Legacy giving through your will and estate

(651) 789-6260 ext. 201

Pronouns: he/him/his

In his role as a Donor Engagement Officer, Erik works with donors to connect their values to Beacon’s work. Erik works to ensure that supporters know how their giving and leadership is moving us closer to our vision of all people having a home. Erik sees housing as a right and believes that a collaborative approach that involves the community is best way to everyone having a home.

Additionally, Erik is a professionally certified coach specializing in Energy Leadership and Designing your Life. He enjoys spending time with friends and family, working out and going to movies.

Joan Bennett Housing Operations & Asset Manager

Contact Joan About:

  • The operations of current Beacon properties

(651) 789-6260 ext. 231

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Joan works with Beacon’s property management and supportive services partners to oversee the physical and financial health of Beacon housing. Joan values being a part of the team charged with ensuring Beacon properties are positioned to provide high quality affordable housing for the long-term and remain places where residents are proud to live.

Joan’s previous experience includes affordable housing and commercial real estate development, neighborhood organizing and youth work. She holds master’s degrees in Urban Planning and Social Work. Her main hobbies include outdoor urban sports, cooking and following celebrity cats on Instagram. She lives with her wife and pets in South Minneapolis.

Kat Vann Congregational Organizer

Contact Kat About:

  • Training volunteers and leaders
  • Educating and engaging your congregation
  • Connecting faith with action
  • Advancing equity through policy and organizing

(651) 789-6260 ext. 214

Pronouns: she/her/hers

As a congregational organizer, Kat works with suburban Hennepin County congregations to develop affordable housing, offer radical hospitality, and build their power to create equitable policies and funding to end homelessness. Kat was a long-time Beacon volunteer leader prior to joining the staff, and learned first-hand that faith-filled voices can have a significant impact in the public arena. Her professional background is in both the corporate and nonprofit worlds, and includes communications strategy and practice, public relations and fundraising.

Outside of Beacon, Kat leads children’s drumming in her home congregation, Lake Nokomis Lutheran in South Minneapolis. She loves spending time with her amazing grandkids and circle of friends and family.

Kevin Walker Vice President of Housing and Shelter

Contact Kevin About:

  • Interest in investing or offering financing for Beacon projects
  • Architectural / design services
  • Property-related due diligence services
  • Site opportunities

(651) 789-6260 ext. 220

Pronouns: he/him/his

In his role as Vice President of Housing and Shelter, Kevin oversees all aspects of Beacon’s housing development-related activity and cultivates and nurtures new service partnerships for Beacon supportive housing developments. Kevin appreciates the ways in which Beacon’s congregations’ involvement in our shelter work, housing development work, and policy work build a broader constituency for the day that ‘all people have a home’.

Kevin has a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning and nearly twenty years’ experience in nonprofit and cooperative community development models, primarily in Minnesota. He and his wife, Rachel, enjoy long-distance running, hiking, and travel with their two teenagers.

Kiara Owens Interim Case Manager

(612) 529-2185 ext. 16

Kirk Moorhead Housing Development Project Manager

Contact Kirk About:

  • His deals

(651) 789-6260 ext. 207

Pronouns: he/him/his

As a Housing Development Project Manager, Kirk is involved with all aspects of housing development, from inception to construction completion, including, but not limited to, site acquisition, design, regulatory approvals, raising money, closing on financing, and construction oversight.   Kirk especially enjoys seeing the results of his deals, whether they be from their impact on residents’ lives, or how the developments positively affect the built environment of the surrounding community.

Kirk has worked in affordable housing development for over 22 years, creating or preserving over 1100 units of housing in Minneapolis and Saint Paul; and prior to that, he worked as a community organizer and completed undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Anthropology and a graduate degree in English Education.  Kirk is an avid cave explorer, scuba diver, and rock climber (more often than not, combining two or more of these activities at once).

Kristin Gilbert Congregational Organizer

Contact Kristin About:

  • Training volunteers and leaders
  • Educating and engaging your congregation
  • Connecting faith with action
  • Advancing equity through policy and organizing

(651) 789-6260 ext. 205

Pronouns: she/her/hers

In her role as congregational organizer, Kristin connects congregations with opportunities to live out their mission and values and impact homelessness through education, leadership development & training, and action. Kristin is passionate about social justice and believes that communities of faith have great power to have a lasting impact in our world, and it is an honor to connect them with the skills and opportunities to do just that through Beacon.

Kristin holds a bachelor degree in religion, with an emphasis in psychology and women’s studies from Concordia College in Moorhead, and has over 15 years of experience in congregations, connecting values to action. When she isn’t at Beacon you can find Kristin spending quality time with family and friends, in the great outdoors canoeing, hiking or relaxing in a hammock overlooking a lake, or reading a good book.

Laura Vitelli Vice President of Advancement & Congregational Engagement

Contact Laura About:

  • Giving
  • Your congregation’s engagement

(651) 789-6260 ext. 210

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Laura is a member of Beacon’s senior leadership team and leads Beacon’s team of fundraisers, organizers and communicators. She values the opportunity to work with Beacon’s exceptional, values-driven staff and congregational leaders to create a community that makes homes for all people a priority.

Laura has more than 25 years of experience in strategic leadership of community-based organizations. She and her husband are blessed to be cheering on their two young-adult children who are preparing for and starting homes of their own.

Lauren Daumueller Institutional Relationship Manager

Contact Lauren About:

  • Grant opportunities
  • Sponsorship benefits
  • Congregational giving

(651) 789-6260 ext. 203

Pronouns: she/her/hers

As the Institutional Relationship Manager, Lauren works with donors from foundations, corporations, and congregations to find where their giving priorities align with Beacon’s mission to create homes and advance equitable housing. Through grants and sponsorships, her work supports Beacon’s efforts to create homes and provide shelter, to build the power of our collaborative, and to effect policy and systems change. Lauren sees equitable housing as the foundation of a socially just world and appreciates the opportunity to organize resources in service to this vision.

Lauren holds an undergraduate degree from Macalester College and a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington, and she has more than 10 years of experience working to advance economic and racial equity in the context of housing. She is a parent of two wondrous children, a Minneapolis gardener, and a singer in the Twin Cities Women’s Choir.

Lee Blons CEO/President

(651) 789-6260 ext. 204

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Lee Blons, as CEO/President, works with the Board of Directors to provide strategic leadership to advance our mission to create more homes and advance equitable housing. Lee focuses her energy on garnering the public and private resources and collaborating with staff to ensure we deliver the greatest impact possible. After 16 years, Lee is still excited to come to work each day because the homes that we create become a stable platform for so many to launch their dreams.

Inspired by her professor Paul Wellstone to become a community organizer, Lee has engaged in fighting for social change for over 30 years in three different states. Lee replenishes her energy through yoga, tennis, reading murder mysteries and spending time with her husband and 19 year old son.

Mary Wheeler Interim Director of Housing & Shelter Operations

(651) 789-6260 ext. 216

Matt Soucek Senior Project Manager

Contact Matt About:

  • Projects currently under development

(651) 789-6260 ext. 239

Pronouns: he/him/his

In his role as Senior Project Manager, Matt manages all aspects involved in implementing Beacon’s new multifamily development projects.  Matt has over 20 years of experience with the development and construction of affordable housing, including  project finance and budgeting, site planning and acquisition, architectural design, community representation, and construction management.  Matt previously worked for Project for Pride in Living (PPL) in Minneapolis as a Senior Project Manager, and prior to that at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity as Land Development Project Manager.  A strong desire to see an end to homelessness in our communities drives Matt’s commitment to his work.

Matt also serves on the Land Use Committee of the Minnesota Parks and Trails Council and is an avid mountain biker.  In his free time Matt enjoys cycling, camping and playing guitar.  Matt lives in South Minneapolis.

Melanie Wilbur Accounting & Office Assistant

Contact Melanie About:

  • Office administration
  • Accounts payable
  • Housing support

(651) 789-6260 ext. 202

Pronouns: she/her/hers

In her role as Accounting and Office Assistant, Melanie is responsible for detail accounting processing, asset management assistance and a variety of office, systems and administrative support. Melanie knows and understands the barriers that many face when trying to obtain stable, affordable housing and embraces Beacon’s belief that everyone deserves a home.

Melanie has more than 15 years of experience working for local nonprofits that serve our most vulnerable populations, focusing on the financial and administrative needs of each organization. She is also a graphic designer who enjoys working with individual entrepreneurs helping them create and develop their brand identities.

Paul Vliem Donor Engagement Officer

Contact Paul About:

  • The impact of your gift
  • Investing in Beacon’s comprehensive campaign
  • Legacy giving through your will and estate

(651) 789-6260 ext. 238

Pronouns: he/him/his

In his role as Donor Engagement Officer, Paul connects and builds deeper relationships between donors and Beacon’s work in order to create more homes and advance equitable housing throughout the Twin Cities metro area. He sees Beacon’s work as critically important given how much of our lives depend on a stable home – education, job stability, mental health, strong community – and so many people have been deprived of this critical foundation for a healthy life.

Before coming to Beacon, Paul worked at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits as their lead fundraiser and fundraising trainer, using his background in community development, public policy, and social work to support nonprofits across the state. Paul serves on the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and can otherwise be found at his North Minneapolis home digging in his garden or biking, wrestling, reading and exploring nature with his three young kids.

Rebekah Schneider Families Moving Forward Program Manager

Contact Rebekah About:

(612) 529-2185 ext. 13

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Rebekah is the Program Manager for Beacon’s shelter program, Families Moving Forward. Her passion is to ensure our guests at Families Moving Forward are our priority and works with them to regain stability for their families. Rebekah has held several positions at Beacon including Shelter Case Manager at FMF Hennepin, Housing Case Manager working with families in supportive housing, and as case manager for our families at FMF Southwest. She also has experience teaching English as a second language, and working in employment services with families in the west suburban metro area.

Rebekah is originally from eastern Wisconsin, but was raised as a strong Viking fan! In her free time Rebekah enjoys going to the beach, hiking, and rock climbing.  She also loves reading and listening to podcasts – suggestions are welcome!

Sarah Mollet Staiger Director of Advancement

Contact Sarah About:

  • Who to talk to on the fundraising team and for what
  • Giving a donation to Beacon
  • Beacon’s Comprehensive Campaign
  • Interest in naming Beacon in a will or estate plan

(651) 789-6260 ext. 208

Pronouns: she/her/hers

In her role as Director of Advancement, Sarah leads Beacon’s fundraising staff team and develops strategy to meet the organization’s funding needs. Sarah holds a master’s degree in advocacy and political leadership from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She sees relational fundraising as a way to engage people in social change and especially values the organizing work happening within the Beacon collaborative.

Sarah, her husband, her two daughters and the dog spend most free time in the backyard garden, exploring state parks or at the neighborhood library.

Sheldon Ently FMF SW Program Center Assistant

Contact Sheldon About:

  • Weekday SW program center concerns

(952) 452-8682

Pronouns: he/him/his

Sheldon works as an assistant for the south-west program center supporting daily needs of participating families, opening and closing the program center, and coordinating with host congregations. He is excited to be a part of an organization dedicated to the development of a world where all people have a home!

Sheldon is a permaculture designer studying nature’s patterns and adaptation strategies for a dynamically changing people and planet.

Susan Dayton-Larkin Human Resources Associate

Contact Susan About:

  • Employment opportunities
  • Human Resources questions

(651) 789-6260 ext. 219

Pronouns: she/her/hers

In her role as Human Resources Associate, Susan administers Beacon’s HR policies, strategies, and procedures. Supportive to supervisors and staff, Susan is involved in staff onboarding and orientation, staff training and events, maintaining current and relevant HR policies, as well as the administration of staff benefits and payroll.  She is committed to ensuring that Beacon remains a welcoming and supportive employer of choice, and finds great reward in providing the consistent HR framework that in turn helps Beacon staff execute the broader vision in our community that “All people have a home”.

With over Susan 20 years of experience in non-profit work, she has a BA in philosophy and urban studies, and is also a certified HR professional (SHRM CP). Susan enjoys spending time with her family, reading poetry, vegetarian cooking, and taking long walks.

Theresa Brakefield Interim Program Center Assistant

(612) 529-2185 ext 12

Vang Yang FMF HN Shelter & Housing Case Manager

Contact Vang About:

  • Housing shelter
  • Community resources
  • Families Moving Forward

(612) 529-2185 ext. 11

Pronouns: she/her/hers

As a case manager at Families Moving Forward, Vang works with the families to reach their goals in obtaining stability in housing and employment. She works alongside with community partners to provide family the needed resources to move forward successfully.  Vang believes and values Beacon’s vision that all people have a home and as a team, all of beacon will work together to build homes and shelter families.  Vang holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and has over 3 years of experience working with families.

During her free time, she volunteers her time in the Hmong community helping families obtain community resources as needed. Vang enjoys singing and playing the guitar along with traveling and spending time with her family when she can.

Vicky Wendt Donor Database Coordinator

Contact Vicky About:

  • Updating credit cards
  • Changing your mailing options
  • Payment issues

(651) 789-6260 ext. 235

Pronouns: she/her/hers

As the Donor Database Coordinator, Vicky works with and trains staff in the Beacon database system. Vicky believes in the mission of Beacon and enjoys the idea that everyone deserves a second chance and the chance to have a home. She comes to Beacon with 15 years of experience in the non-profit sector, including database work in drug and alcohol addiction recovery programs, Minnesota Public Radio, and in an organization that pertains to veterinarians across Minnesota.

Vicky lives in Edina with her partner, John, and two cats. She enjoys reading, crocheting and fishing with John.