Office Hours

Open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday

Closed at 3:30 p.m. on Fridays, Memorial Day through Labor Day

The RNDC office is closed most major holidays. Please got to the Calendar for more information.

RNDC staff request that visitors call ahead or schedule a meeting to ensure COVID-19 precautions are being met.

3 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 310
Mankato, MN 56001

Phone Number: (507) 387-5643
Toll-Free: (800) 450-5643

Let us contact you, please fill out the form below and we will get back to you!

Contact Us

    Staff Directory

    For directions to Region Nine’s offices click here.


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    Nicole Griensewic
    Executive Director
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    Nicole Griensewic

    Nicole Griensewic’s passion for public service is reflected in Region Nine’s accomplishments, including national innovation awards for transportation projects, communications and marketing, climate change, medical device manufacturing, and flood mitigation. As executive director, Griensewic has made it a priority to foster collaboration and engagement by sharing Region Nine’s story both regionally and globally. At the third Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship tour, Griensewic was asked to present to leaders from 28 countries, highlighting efforts and best practices from Region Nine. In 2018, Griensewic was asked to be an ambassador for the Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, a two-year appointment, as well as selected to participate in the Transatlantic Cluster Initiative program.

    Griensewic is an active board and committee member for multiple organizations throughout Minnesota. Griensewic is the immediate past President of the Greater Minnesota Partnership, and is the chair of the Executive Committee, former executive committee member and chair of the Governance Committee for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies. Griensewic also served as secretary of Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota’s Governing Board of Directors and as chair of their Governance Committee. Lastly, she serves on the executive committee for the MACS Board, Minnesotans for the American Community Survey Board of Directors, and an advisory board member for South Central College’s Center for Agriculture.

    Griensewic is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Elizabeth Kearney Woman’s Leadership Institute.  She received the 2017 Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Her professional background includes extensive private sector and non-profit leadership experience.

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    Heather Bartelt
    Executive Assistant
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    Heather Bartelt

    Heather Bartelt joined Region Nine in November of 2019 as an executive assistant. Over the course of her 12-year career and several years’ experience supporting a successful sales team, she has developed a passion for working with individuals from various backgrounds. Heather completed her Bachelor of Science in Sociology at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

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    Corree Johnson
    Communications Specialist
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    Corree Johnson Stamschror

    Corree Johnson Stamschror joined Region Nine in August of 2018 as a communications specialist. With her expertise in marketing, social media, and communications, she will work to further increase Region Nine’s brand presence and impact throughout the region.

    Originally from rural Southeast Minnesota, Corree is passionate about educating rural communities and entrepreneurs on marketing and communication strategies. Corree completed her Bachelor of Science in Marketing Communications at Bemidji State University, and holds multiple certifications relating to social marketing.


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    Lu Vanderwerf
    Finance Director/Revolving Loan Fund Coordinator
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    Lu Vanderwerf

    For the past fifteen years, Lu Vanderwerf has worked for Region Nine as the organization’s finance director. She has administrated the Region Nine’s Revolving Loan Funds for the last 12 years and serves as a member of the Board of the 504 Corporation.

    Lu enjoys seeing the new ideas that come through the loan funds and watching them take shape and become businesses. She appreciates being a part of an organization that helps communities grow through new businesses, added jobs, and needed services.

    Lu was raised in the New Ulm area and attended St. Cloud State University and Mankato State University, where she earned a degree in accounting and business administration with a minor in business law. Since starting her position at RNDC, she has also completed the mediation and conflict management program at CDR Associates in Colorado.

    Prior to Region Nine, Lu worked in the private sector for the Scheutzle, Carlson, LLC CPA firm, MCG and Parker Hannifin in New Ulm. She also served as the corporate credit manager for Norwood in Sleepy Eye. She currently lives in New Ulm with her husband of 40 years. They raised three daughters and have five grandchildren.

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    Ky Battern
    Finance Director
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    Ky Battern

    Ky Battern joined Region Nine in December of 2021 as the organization’s Finance Director.  His work includes maintaining the accounting systems, financial reporting, and budget forecasting for Region Nine.

    Ky earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Accounting from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2010 and soon after earned is Certified Public Accounting (CPA) license in 2011.  His career started in public accounting while working as an auditor for CliftonLarsonAllen within the government and manufacturing industries.  Ky later went on to pursue a career in government/school finance and most recently served as the Business Manager for the Le Sueur-Henderson School District for four and a half years prior to joining Region Nine.

    Community & Economic Development

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    Kristian Braekkan
    Senior Regional Planner
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    Kristian Braekkan

    Kristian Braekkan joined Region Nine in February 2018. His work relates to resource development, economic development, and industrial projects.

    Kristian completed his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in 2010. His research on industrial relations spans a wide variety of contexts, such as steel, coal, health care, manufacturing, and service industries. He has presented and published his research domestically and internationally.

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    Leah Petricka
    Community Development Director
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    Leah Petricka

    Leah Petricka joined Region Nine in February 2021 as a Community Development Director. Her work includes community and economic development planning.

    Leah was raised in Montgomery, Minnesota and attended the University of Minnesota -Twin Cities, where she earned a degree Housing Studies focus on business and finance and a minor in economics. Prior to joining Region Nine, she has worked as a city planner, a community development specialist, and executive director for a housing and redevelopment authority. Leah holds a certificate in economic development from Hamline University, is a certified housing development finance professional and is working on becoming a certified economic developer.

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    Joel Hanif
    Community Development Planner with transportation emphasis
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    Joel Hanif

    Joel Hanif joined Region Nine in September 2019 as a community development planner. His work includes community and economic development planning.

    Joel is a native of Columbus, Georgia and a new transplant to Minnesota.  Prior to joining Region Nine, he worked as a regional planner and community developer for the River Valley Regional Commission in Americus, Georgia.  There, he worked on local and regional comprehensive plans, Community Development Block Grants, and other planning and grant projects.  He became an AICP certified planner in January 2019.  Joel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and a Master of Environmental Planning and Design from the University of Georgia.

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    Alejandra Bejarano
    Economic Recovery Planner
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    Alejandra Bejarano

    Alejandra Bejarano joined Region Nine in August of 2021 as an economic recovery planner. As a previous Region Nine intern and Fellow for the Lead for Minnesota fellowship program, she is enthusiastic about continuing to work with Region Nine in creating vibrant and resilient communities.

    Alejandra just graduated with an MPA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Alejandra hails from Colombia and moved to the United States at a young age to play college tennis. Having a deep interest in research, Alejandra did her capstone project on corruption and institutional trust. She has diverse background experience in both the private and public sectors and is passionate about exploring new cultures, as she speaks multiple languages.


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    Sabri Fair
    Sustainability Fellow
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    Sabri Fair

    Sabri Fair is a recent graduate of Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he majored in Environmental Studies and Geology. Sabri joined Region Nine as a Lead for Minnesota Sustainability Fellow in August 2021. In this role, he will be working to foster a more sustainable and equitable economy in South Central Minnesota. He is excited to work with community members on existing projects and to envision new developments that will make the region economically resilient. To do this, Sabri will draw on his life experiences growing up on a farm in Michigan, living in Zanzibar, and his internships with organizations like Land O’Lakes. He is excited to learn from everyone he meets along the way and serve communities as they create economies they are excited about! Sabri is also looking forward to exploring the natural beauty and food that the region has to offer.