Board of Directors

Our experienced and engaged Board of Directors helps propel our partnerships and mission forward

Patty Wilder, Chair

Leadership Tactics

Patty Wilder is currently a Principal with Leadership Tactics, an Executive Management Transition firm supporting nonprofit organizations, family businesses, and government entities during transitions with interim leadership, recruitment and planning support. She has held executive leadership positions in a variety of organizations including Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the University of St. Thomas, Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council, and in the field of deafness. Patty has 35 years of experience primarily in nonprofit and public organizations inter-facing with all sectors toward solutions for community issues. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

Gregg Larson, Vice Chair


Before retirement, Gregg Larson was responsible for the administrative and financial operations of a large infectious disease research network based at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.  The network conducted clinical trials at more than 200 locations in 35 countries, primarily focused on the treatment of HIV, Influenza and, more recently, Ebola.  Prior to his work at the University, Gregg was Executive Director of an interstate compact commission and held environmental positions in Minnesota and North Dakota state governments and a private consulting firm.  He has been a national officer in professional organizations, was a City Councilmember for nine years in Arden Hills, and has served on a variety of public and non-profit boards.  He and his partner are long-time supporters of the Council, and Gregg was a member of the Council’s Development Committee for many years.

Robert Pickering, Treasurer

Community Involvement Programs

Robert joined Community Involvement Programs in 2016 and has over 20 years of experience working with nonprofits  including the American Red Cross and federally funded programs such as Head Start and Weatherization. Robert received his accounting degree from the University of Idaho, his Master of Business Administration degree from Metropolitan State University his Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Minnesota. Robert’s board service includes Community Dental Care and the Nonprofit Insurance Trust.

Tony Helmer, Secretary

Crowley, White & Helmer

Tony Helmer has been working with nonprofits in the Twin Cities area for 13 years, the last 10 as a development consultant with Crowley, White & Helmer focused on major campaigns for human services agencies. Tony started his work in the nonprofit world as the Campaign Coordinator for the $7 million People Serving People (PSP) Capital Campaign in downtown Minneapolis to create a new home for Minnesota’s largest homeless shelter for families. In recent years, Tony has developed strategies to guide nonprofits as they consider their facility options for the future.  In addition to his work at Crowley, White & Helmer, Inc., Tony serves on the boards of The Link and The Mac Carkhuff Foundation. He also coaches youth basketball in the winter, and youth softball and baseball in the summer.

Brenda Starr, Past Chair

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota

Brenda Starr currently serves as the Senior HR Manager of Organizational Development & Learning for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.  Prior to joining LSS of Minnesota, Brenda served as Vice President of Human Resources for U.S.Bancorp Piper Jaffray and as a Sr. HR Manager focused on Training and Development for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation.  She is a seasoned professional with 20 years of strategic HR and management experience, and a creative team leader with demonstrated strengths in building relationships and partnering with management to meet business goals.  Brenda has expertise in the areas of OD, Employee Relations, Strategic Planning, Change Management, Workforce Reduction, and Succession Planning. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Metropolitan State University with an emphasis on Human Resource Management and Training and Design. Brenda is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Leadership degree at Augsburg College.

Anu Jain


Anu Jain is Target Corporation’s Director of Data Engineering. She has over twenty years of experience in architecture, strategic consulting and IT program delivery and has provided direction across Target for the development of Strategic Enterprise Business Intelligence (BI) Capabilities, and Data and Technology Roadmaps. She earned her Engineering degree in Computer Science from India. Anu is active in community and volunteers in science fairs and has served on variety of public and non-profit boards. She lives with her husband and two kids in Eden Prairie.

Chamath Perera

Chamath is fundraiser, organizer, filmmaker and coach. Over the past 15 years he has successfully raised funds for rebuilding communities affected by the great Asian Tsunami of 2004, community radio, public television, the arts, social and racial justice. He has also advocated for and organized artists, neighborhoods and communities for social and racial justice. Chamath has coached a variety of leaders. In recent years he has focused on coaching leaders in social and racial justice arenas and is developing a coaching model based on emotional intelligence and mindfulness practices.

Chamath’s award winning films have been broadcast on SPNN and on the web and his photographs at an online exhibit of the Smithsonian. He has a film on the creative process in progress, one on citizenship in development and researching a third on cultural and scientific perspectives of the Mississippi. He was recently a consultant on the Smithsonian Water Ways project.
Chamath has previously served on the Boards of Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater, Capitol River Council, KFAI Community Radio, St. Paul Almanac, the St. Paul Foundation as well as the operating support grant review panel of the Minnesota State Arts Board and several other grant review panels.

Chamath studied Physics and Anthropology at the University of Minnesota and has been a Fellow at the Shannon Leadership Institute, the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute and a Community Policy Fellow at the Roy Wilkins Center.

Courtney Poja


Courtney Poja is the Director of Advancement at Cornerstone, a nonprofit serving families and individuals affected by domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking.  She received a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. In addition to her current service on the Council’s Board and Advancement Committee, Courtney volunteers with the Twin Cities Chapter of Social Enterprise Alliance and assists with fundraising for LegalCORPS’s Inventor Assistance Program, the first pro bono patent program in the country.

Emily Robertson

Robertson Law Office, LLC

Emily Robertson is a solo practitioner through the Minnesota Professional Firm of Robertson Law Office, LLC.  Her practice consists solely of advising nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations on tax and corporate law issues arising anywhere in the organization’s life cycle— from start-up to merger or dissolution.  Outside of her practice, she serves as a member of several boards of directors and organizational committees.  This past fall, she joined the faculty of Hamline University in the Masters in Nonprofit Management program.  Emily received her J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law in 2011.  Prior to starting her own firm, she spent five years working as both a legal assistant and law clerk to two boutique firms serving the nonprofit sector.Mary

Mary Jo Schifsky

Why Stop Working

Mary Jo has held several for- and non-profit positions, most recently as executive director of Store To Door and including leadership roles at Target, Hazelden and Pickle Product. She likes to build, lead and manage successful businesses. After ten years as a non-profit leader, Mary Jo left her role at Store To Door to explore another aspect of aging:  Workforce development for mature workers. Mary Jo holds an MBA from the Carlson School of Management and a BA from the University of Minnesota, as well as an Advocacy Leadership for Vital Aging Certificate from the University of Minnesota.

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