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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    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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    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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    Leah Petricka
    Community Development Director
    See Biography
    507-389-8886
    lpetricka@rndc.org

    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 B.S.in 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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    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

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    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.