Meet Our Staff
Donna Dunn, Executive Director
Donna Dunn joined the staff of the Minnesota Coaliton Against Sexual Assault in 2000 as the program manager of the Sexual Violence Justice Institute, the criminal justice arm of the coalition. She became the Executive Director of MNCASA in July, 2006. An activist in the movement to end violence against women, Ms. Dunn has over 30 years of experience in community based private non-profits. She was the assistant director of Women’s Shelter, Inc in Rochester, director of Victim Services of Dodge/Fillmore/Olmsted Community Corrections and served as the Sexual Assault Program Director for the State of Minnesota. Ms. Dunn works from the belief that collaborative models bring together the diverse forces that need to be working in tandem to ensure victim-centered interventions and ultimately prevent the harm before it happens. She is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and Vanderbilt University.
Email Donna Dunn Phone: 651.209.9993 Ext. 7441
Yvonne Cournoyer, Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator
Yvonne Cournoyer has over 25 years of experience in planning, designing, developing, managing and evaluating programs and projects serving children, families and underserved communities. Prior to joining the MNCASA staff, she was Program Director for Stop It Now!, where she developed and presented trainings including Creating Circles of Safety: How to Speak Up to Keep Children Safe, Creating Safe Environments through Policy and Practice, and How Understanding and Responding to Sexual Behaviors in Children can Prevent Child Sexual Abuse. From 2002-2008, she was the Program Director for Stop It Now! Minnesota where she developed the first ad campaign targeting adults concerned about their own sexualized thoughts and behaviors. She has written articles and tip sheets for parents on a variety of topics including Sexual Safety: How to Talk with Coaches who Show Inappropriate Interest in Children. Her writing has been featured in Road Runner magazine and in USA Gymnastics' Technique magazine. She is also a trained Stewards of Children facilitator and teaches on-line classes for child care providers.
Email Yvonne Cournoyer. Phone: 651.209.9993 Ext. 7444
Melia Garza, SVJI Collaboration Specialist/Special Project Coordinator
Melia Garza began her work with Sexual Violence Justice Institute (SVJI) at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) in February 2008. In her role as Collaboration Specialist, Melia provides leadership and in-depth support to local and national multi-disciplinary teams on issues ranging from team formation and sustainability, conducting community needs assessments, developing protocol, forensic compliance issues, and case conversations. Additionally, she coordinates the Sexual Assault Audit and Technology Integration Project which is a partnership with a local law enforcement agency and focuses on improving how cases are documented as a way to improve case outcomes. Melia's past work with SVJI includes coordinating the Expert Testimony Resources Project which was geared toward prosecutors, healthcare professionals and sexual assault advocates, providing training as part of SVJI's Law Enforcement and Medical Project, and working with correctional facilities related to requirements set forth in the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Melia is a current member of the CornerHouse Cultural Advisory Board. Prior to joining the staff at SVJI, Melia was the Sexual Assault Program Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator at a community based sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy organization, served as a member of a local Sex Offender Task Force and SMART team, and worked at a residential treatment center for juvenile sex offenders. Melia is a graduate of Carleton College and has a Master's of Science in Criminal Justice from Metropolitan State University.
Email Melia Garza. Phone: 651.209.9993 Ext. 7446
Lindsay Gullingsrud, Membership and Advocacy Services Coordinator
Lindsay Gullingsrud joined the staff of MNCASA it July, 2007. Prior to this, Ms. Gullingsrud worked as the Sexual Violence Education Coordinator in the Women's Center at Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU-M). During her time at MSU-M, Ms. Gullingsrud established the Sexual Violence Education Program, the first point of care for students in crisis, as well as designed and implemented preventive programs addressing sexual violence on campus. Before starting her employment with MSU-M, Ms. Gullingsrud worked within Nicollet and Sibley Counties as the Sexual Assault Program Coordinator for Crime Victim Services, Inc. Ms. Gullingsrud has worked closely at the community and university levels with regards to education, outreach, and creating a coordinated systematic approach to addressing sexual violence within our communities. Lindsay is a graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Email Lindsay Gullingsrud. Phone: 651.209.9993 Ext. 7443
Leah Lutz, SVJI Collaboration Specialist/Evaluation and Research Coordinator
Leah Lutz joined MNCASA in April, 2008. Leah has over twelve years' experience in sexual/domestic violence-related work. From 2003-2008, Leah was Executive Director of HOPE Center in Rice County, MN. In this position, she lead a community-based advocacy organization that offers support to victim/survivors of sexual/domestic violence, provides educational support to the entire community, and collaborative support to other organizations that serve victims/survivors. Leah has been a frequent presenter at statewide and regional training/educational events. In 2004, Leah helped form the Rice County SMART Team and co-chaired the team for four years. Leah is happy to be working at MNCASA and hopes to use the lessons learned from the Rice County process to help other communities build a coordinated victim-centered response for victim/survivors of sexual violence.
Email Leah Lutz. Phone: 651.209.9993 Ext. 7447
Megan McKinnon, Office and Systems Manager
Megan McKinnon joined the staff of MNCASA in 2007. Prior to that, she worked as the East African language coordinator for an interpreting agency, and as an executive and editorial assistant at the St. Paul-based National Youth Leadership Council. Ms. McKinnon also worked for the Minnesota Senate and as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Minnesota Literacy Council. She is a graduate of the College of St. Catherine.
Email Megan McKinnon. Phone: 651.209.9993 Ext. 7440
M. Kathleen Murphy, Communications Coordinator
M. Kathleen Murphy has over 20 years of communications experience ranging from advocacy on a variety of women’s issues, to marketing, development, visual communications and media relations for nonprofits, political candidates and small businesses. As Communications Coordinator, she will be responsible for the communication and development needs throughout our agency, including the work of the SVJI, our prevention program, public policy and membership services.
Prior to joining the MNCASA staff, she was the Director of Public Policy Advocacy at Midwest Health Center for Women, where she lobbied on behalf of reproductive rights and women’s health for 8 years. She also served as the marketing specialist for Children’s Home Society for 2 years and has had a successful communications consulting practice for over 12 years. She is a graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art & Design with extensive coursework in economics, political science and women’s studies at the University of Minnesota.
Email Kathleen Murphy. Phone: 651.209.9993 Ext. 7452
Kari Ogrodowski, Sexual Violence Justice Institute Collaboration Specialist/Medical Forensic Exam Access Project Coordinator
Kari Ogrodowski joined the Sexual Violence Justice Institute at MNCASA in October 2013. As a Collaboration Specialist, Kari provides training and technical assistance for multidisciplinary sexual assault response teams in order to promote a victim-centered response to sexual violence. Kari also coordinates the Medical Forensic Exam Access (MFEA) Project which aims to improve consistency regarding medical forensic exam access, quality, and payment processes for sexual assault victims across the state of Minnesota. Kari has previously worked as a Case Manager, hospital advocate, and Rape Crisis Center Volunteer Program Coordinator in Washington, DC. She has experience working with DC’s Sexual Assault Response Team and also conducted many trainings and presentations regarding sexual assault response. More specifically, Kari assisted in the creation and implementation of Washington, DC’s current hospital advocacy program. She was also one of the first advocates to provide services to an incarcerated survivor in DC under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Kari’s passion for social justice and women’s empowerment first began with a college volunteer opportunity as a Healthy Relationships Class Facilitator at a local Juvenile Detention Center.
Kari originally comes from Knoxville, TN, and is a graduate of Grinnell College. She is currently working towards a master of arts in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development with a program track in higher education at the University of Minnesota.
Email Kari Ogrodowski. Phone: 651.209.9993 Ext. 7450
Caroline Palmer, Law and Policy Manager
Caroline Palmer joined MNCASA in 2008. As law and policy manager she works to develop MNCASA's policy agenda, provide technical assistance to member programs, organize trainings for criminal justice and social services professionals, and develop educational resources. Prior to her duties at MNCASA she was the Pro Bono Development Director at the Minnesota State Bar Association and a staff attorney at the Minnesota AIDS Project. Ms. Palmer is a graduate of Barnard College and Hamline University School of Law (where she is currently an adjunct professor). She also completed the Policy Fellows Program at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
Email Caroline Palmer. Phone: 651.209.9993 Ext. 7445
Emily Tofte Nestaval, Financial Manager
Emily joined the MNCASA staff as the Financial Manager in July 2014. She has over 13 years experience in the anti-violence field. She began working in the field and as a hotline volunteer on a domestic violence hotline. After attending graduate school, Emily was able to meld her passion for serving survivors of violence and non-profit management when she became the Executive Director of the Network Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse (now H.A.V.E.N.) in Bozeman, Montana. In 2008, she moved to Colorado where she was the Assistant Director of Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) and later the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center. She also had the privilege to serve as the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) between 2009-2013 when her term ended. Emily is a graduate of Indiana University – Bloomington and holds a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Michigan.
Email Emily Tofte Nestaval. Phone:651.209.9993 Ext. 7449
Laura Williams, Sexual Violence Justice Institute Program Manager
Laura Williams leads the staff at SVJI in providing analysis, training, and technical assistance on the multidisciplinary collaborative response to sexual violence. She joined the staff at MNCASA in 2006. Ms. Williams has 20 years of experience working to improve response to sexual assault victim/survivors. She has answered hotlines, accompanied victim/survivors to hospitals, law enforcement centers, courtrooms, and policy hearings, and trained volunteers and professionals to improve their response. For five years, Laura served as a founding co-director of the Minnesota Model Protocol Project, the forerunner to the Sexual Violence Justice Institute. Laura has an MPA in public and nonprofit leadership and management from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs and BA from Carleton College. Laura is an Associate in Human Systems Dynamics which provides methods and models to see, understand and influence complex human systems.
Email Laura Williams. Phone: 651.209.9993 Ext. 7448