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

RNDC office closed to the public until further notice.

Our office is closed to the public as a precaution to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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!

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Employment

RNDC Internship

Staff Directory

For directions to Region Nine’s offices click here.

Administration

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Nicole Griensewic
Executive Director
See Biography
507-387-5643
nicole@rndc.org

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 an executive committee member for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies, where she serves as chair of the Governance Committee. Griensewic also serves as secretary of Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota’s Governing Board of Directors and as chair of their Governance Committee and serves as an advisory board member for South Central College’s Center for Agriculture. Lastly, she serves on the executive committee for the MACS Board, Minnesotans for the American Community Survey Board of Directors.

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
See Biography

507-389-8864
heather@rndc.org

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 Stamschror
Communications Specialist
See Biography

507-389-8885
corree@rndc.org

Corree Stamschror

Corree 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.

Finance

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Lu Vanderwerf
Finance Director/Revolving Loan Fund Coordinator
See Biography
507-389-8878
luann@rndc.org

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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Linda Wallace
Senior Financial Accountant/ Revolving Loan Fund Assistant
See Biography
507-389-8889
ljwall@rndc.org

Linda Wallace

Linda Wallace is the Senior Financial Accountant/RLF Assistant at Region Nine. Wallace graduated from Minnesota State University Mankato, Mankato, with a Bachelor of Science in accounting and business administration along with a minor in business law. Wallace works to maintain the financial stability of the organization, prepares many financial reports for grant programs, and completes the organization’s annual audit.

Community & Economic Development

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Kristian Braekkan
Senior Regional Planner
See Biography
507-389-8862
kristian@rndc.org

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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Sam Smith
Economic Resiliency Specialist
See Biography
507-387-5643
ssmith@rndc.org

Sam Smith

Sam Smith joined Region Nine in August 2020 as an Economic Resiliency Specialist. Previously, Smith joined Region Nine as a part-time employee in March 2018. Smith has worked in rural business development and nonprofit leadership throughout southern Minnesota since 2010 after a five-year career as an award-winning newspaper reporter. He has supported growth at organizations as large as Mayo Clinic and as small as a corner grocery store. Throughout, his interests have focused on the intersection of entrepreneurship and sustainable development. He holds a B.A. in English, pre-medicine from University of Illinois and an M.S. in journalism from the same.
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Marjorie Zoe Negrón Muñoz
Rural Equity Specialist
See Biography
507-387-5643
marjoriezoe@rndc.org

Marjorie Zoe Negrón Muñoz

Marjorie joined Region Nine in August 2020 as our first ever Rural Equity Specialist. She collaborates with community leaders and organizations to increase equity and inclusion among the region’s diverse and at-risk individuals.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Marjorie is a native Spanish and English speaker; she also can communicate in Italian, Portuguese and French. She holds two bachelor’s degrees from in communications and theater arts, and she has an associate’s degree in Romance languages. Marjorie brings more than a decade of media, arts and events experience to Region Nine—expertise she leverages to organize impactful community forums and facilitate productive conversations; as well as her personal experiences and her passion for travel, learning and documenting other cultures.

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Shawn Schloesser
Community and Business Development Specialist
See Biography
507-389-8886
shawn@rndc.org

Shawn Schloesser

Shawn Schloesser joined Region Nine in February 2019.  He works in community, economic, and workforce development as well as regional and local transportation.

Shawn, a native of Le Center, is a graduate of Austin Peay State University (BS) and Murray State University (MPA).  He joined Region Nine after serving nine years on congressional staff for Congressman Tim Walz.  There he provided outreach and engagement with veterans, service members, and their families; legislative policy development and implementation oversight with the House Veterans Affairs Committee; and community engagement for rural vitality and disaster support across the 21-county region.  Prior to that role, Shawn retired from the Army after 23 years as a Chief Warrant Officer 4.  He served in a variety of positions from radio repairman to Blackhawk helicopter pilot in the southern United States , South Korea, Germany, and Belgium.  Shawn is an alumnus Policy Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, an alumnus of the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership program at Southwest Minnesota State University, and the past Board President of the Arts Center of Saint Peter.

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Joel Hanif
Community Development Planner
See Biography
507-389-8870
joel@rndc.org

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.

Fellows

Alejandra Web

Alejandra Bejarano
See Biography
alejandra@rndc.org

Alejandra Bejarano

Alejandra Bejarano joined Region Nine this August as part of her Lead for Minnesota fellowship program. Alejandra was already working with Region Nine as an intern on various economic development projects. 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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Monali Bhakta

Monali Bhakta joined Region Nine this August to serve as a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Community Catalyst, for her Lead for Minnesota fellowship program.
She recently graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College double majoring in Political Science and English. As a student, she always found a way to be civically engaged. She is grateful to have testified in front of the Minnesota Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee, advocating for increased funding toward the MN State Grant Program. Another highlight of her campus involvement was serving as the Co-President of the Student Senate during her Senior year where she promoted diversity, equity, and inclusion as a main part of her platform. She is also a former Congressional Intern for the Office of U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar, where she has had experience working in constituent services, and working with federal agencies on immigration and social security casework. After the Lead for Minnesota Fellowship, she plans to attend law school to study public interest law. She is looking forward to working with Region Nine for the next 2 years on the expansion of the Welcoming Communities Project across Southern Minnesota.