The WeMN Board of Directors is comprised of eight members who each serve a two-year term. WeMN board members are volunteers and contribute to the organization in their area of expertise. Members are nominated to serve by other board members or members of the organization. WeMN board members are voted in by the current WeMN Board of Directors.
Anita Nelson - President and CEO
Anita formed IN Food Marketing & Design (formerly Vavricka Juntti & Company) in 1995 after spending several years working on accounts such as Pillsbury Foodservice, 3M and the Minnesota Vikings for a Minneapolis-based ad agency. In addition to account management, Anita's background includes extensive experience in editorial planning, copywriting and editing. She is a 1991 graduate of the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism.
Anita is passionate about supporting and mentoring other women. Her work with the Salvation Army’s Project Breakthrough program earned her a Volunteer of the Year award in 2001, and in 2017 she received the Enterprising Woman of the Year Award, which recognizes women that have fast-growth businesses, mentor or actively support other women and girls involved in entrepreneurship, and stand out as leaders in their communities.
Anita was drawn to WeMN based on their mission to support women entrepreneurs and she is looking forward to contributing to the organization. When not working, you can find Anita on the golf course with her husband, Ken, or curled up with the latest bestseller.
Ria Maharaj - Treasurer and CFO
Ria spent the past 20 years working in the banking and financial services sector. In addition to being a Risk Manager at Ameriprise, Ria serves as a board member for Yinghua academy where her two young boys are students. She is a graduate of Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Enterprise Risk Management.
Ria is an avid reader who enjoys cooking and traveling to her country of origin Trinidad. She is passionate about helping others and volunteers with various organization where the mission is based around feeding the hungry.
Ria became interested in WeMN after hearing Amalia speak at a diversity event at the Federal Reserve Bank. She is inspired by the core value of the group that supports other women in achieving goals and dreams.
Kelly Wittman - Marketing Director
Kelly is a multi-passionate entrepreneur who runs two small businesses. The first is a branding and visual design agency for creative entrepreneurs and makers. She loves collaborating with organizations who bring positive impact into their space and want to build connection and community.
She also runs a home and lifestyle blog with her husband. The blog began as a way to keep family and friends in the loop during their home renovation but has since expanded to include mindful living, simple recipes and easy home decor ideas.
When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and two black labs, working out or getting lost in a good book.
Kianna Notermann - Director of Social Media
Kianna Notermann is a social media specialist and photographer. She is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in Business Marketing and Communication Studies. After discovering her entrepreneurial spirit in her junior year of college, Kianna is now working towards a freelance career in social media strategy, advertising, and coaching working with B2B and B2C clients in a variety of industries.
Outside of work, Kianna is passionate about social justice issues after volunteering for her university’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity and Feed My Starving Children. Kianna also loves music - having attended over 100 concerts. She spent 3 years booking concerts for local and regional artists. Kianna is excited to be part of an organization full of like-minded, inspiring women. In fact, it was women business owners who gave her the courage to start her own business.
Astrid Benedetto - Director of Program and Hospitality
Astrid is the founder and CEO of Picabash LLC, an online site dedicated to expedite the discovery phase of small businesses in the community that provide service/venue/goods for event. She also works as Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager at U.S. Bank. She is passionate about inclusion and equity for people of color. Astrid is a steering committee member of MSP HELLO, a project of Make It. MSP., the Greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul region's movement to attract, welcome, and retain the workforce of the future.
Astrid obtained her Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. She is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas with a Master’s degree in International Management and is a Certified Professional Project Manager.
Astrid was drawn to WeMN for the opportunity to network and meet other women entrepreneurs to take her business to the next level and continue to evolve it. When not working or volunteering, Astrid enjoys spending quality time or traveling with her husband and two kids.
Desiree Jacobson - Director of Business Development
Desiree Jacobson has over 12 years in the business consulting world and believes people are important. She is never bored, full of life, a wife and a mother of two small children. She is passionate about helping women succeed and be the best that they can be. She works for female owned IT consulting company that has been in business 31 years in downtown Minneapolis, The Macro Group, Inc. The Macro Group, Inc. focuses on staff augmentation and government/private sector contract-based IT consulting within the Microsoft world. Within a world of fast paced business, she strives to bring an old school way of business into the world by connecting others in a passionate way. Connect to others, connect to people, help those in need and work hard every day is what drives her.
Stephanie Nemchik - Director of Membership
Stephanie is the General Manager for The Riveter. The Riveter is a coworking space and community built by women, for everyone. The Riveter was founded by Amy Nelson in 2017 and designed with women and how women work in mind and now has seven spaces open around the nation (3 in Seattle, Austin, Dallas and 2 in LA – Minneapolis (opening June 2019), Denver & Portland, coming soon!) with the goal of opening another 100 locations by 2022! The Riveter welcomes members of all genders, races and backgrounds and cultivates thought leadership with events including mission leaders like Jane Fonda, Howard Schultz, Maria Shriver, Ijeoma Oluo and more.
Stephanie believes in the importance of creating an environment where companies of all sizes can benefit from lasting connections, inspire creativity and offer a setting where the workplace can enhance entrepreneurial and innovative spirit. She has spent many years independently studying how community and work culture impacts individuals in their personal and professional growth. Stephanie comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and knows that the heart of business lies in the connection between people.
Stephanie is currently an aspiring entrepreneur working to start her own business and hopes that the involvement of such an impactful community, like Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota, will help give her the tools and connections to make her business a reality.
General Manager – The Riveter, Minneapolis
Sam Heyne - Systems/Process Director
Committed to process improvement and organizational health, Sam is thrilled to join the WeMN board as Systems/Process Director. She has her MA in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a background in organizational development and training. By day, Sam works in Consumer Insights at Polaris, where she builds consumer-facing surveys and conducts research on off-road vehicle consumer demographics. By night, she is an avid reader, yogi, and equestrian.
Sam has been lucky enough to have inspiring women mentors and friends to lean on throughout her career and was drawn to WeMN as a space to foster that same shared support among women business owners. She believes that when women come together to support one another, there’s nothing they can’t do.