Meet Our VISTAs!
Ecolibrium3 places AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers at local organizations to advance anti-poverty, community resiliency, sustainability, and equity initiatives. Meet our 2021-22 volunteers!
Ecolibrium3 hosts nine AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers
Gregory Abdur-Rasheed, VISTA Team Leader
Serving his fourth term with Americorps VISTA and his third as a VISTA Leader, Greg Rasheed has always been a proponent of volunteerism. His belief is that volunteering is a way of bringing a healthy environment to the community served and to the community within one’s soul. Greg brings to Ecolibrium3 over 30 years of serving as director of nonprofits in Washington, DC, and Denver, as well as being a cable television and radio host for over 20 years. He has retired to Bangkok, Thailand. He is a member and researcher with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Professional Football Researchers Association, and the Society for Baseball Research.
Lin James, VISTA Team Leader
Lin James has served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for two previous terms and is now serving as one of the Ecolibrium3 VISTA Leaders. Lin
graduated as an older than average student with a B.S. in Health Education
and an M.S. in Environmental Studies, both from Bemidji State. She is passionate about prevention both in health and in sustainability of the Earth’s resources, and connecting people to nature. Lin loves to travel and see new places and meet new people, especially when it involves exploring nature by hiking, biking and paddling. Lin is also a certified yoga instructor. She is in awe of the commitment and work of younger generations in helping to support communities and the environment.
Torri Tuttle, VISTA Team Leader
Torri Tuttle is serving as one of the Ecolibrium3 VISTA Team Leaders. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the spring of 2020, Torri joined the National Civilian Community Corps program, AmeriCorps NCCC, to help in early efforts through direct service against COVID-19 and hurricane destruction. Torri wanted to continue work in building community resiliency through equitable and sustainable business practices and community support programs, so she joined the team here at Ecolibrium3. Torri graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2019 with a degree in communications, emphasis in health promotion and international relations. Torri enjoys spending her time on the trails, exploring the local shops, adding to her plant collection, researching new places to travel, and volunteering at community events. She is excited to join the work in Lincoln Park, get to know the community here in Duluth, and advance anti-poverty, sustainability, and equity initiatives.
Audrey Aouga, Family Freedom Communication & Youth Resource VISTA
Audrey Aouga is a Ecolibrium3 VISTA member placed at the Family Freedom Center, an unapologetically Black, youth organization in West Duluth. They joined the AmeriCorps VISTA program in order to understand the processes of non-profit organizations, learn how to create programs for Black youth, understand how to find valuable resources for Black families, and combat poverty in low-income communities of color. Audrey graduated from the School of Art and Letters at the College of St. Scholastica in May 2022 with a degree in Peace and Justice Studies and minor in ASL and Deaf Studies. They enjoy spending their free time in sunny weather with friends—preferably at the beach or near water—cooking, and writing poetry. They are so excited to be involved in the VISTA program and even more excited to connect with families of color in Duluth.
Caitlin Donnelly, Lincoln Park Innovation Zone Developer VISTA
Caitlin Donnelly is serving as a Lincoln Park Innovation Zone Developer at Ecolibrium3. Originally from Syracuse, New York, Caitlin studied at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where she graduated in 2018 with a degree in architecture and a minor in theater. This is her first time living this far west, but she is excited for the change. She has been active in service and environmental conservation from a young age, volunteering at the Syracuse Rosamond Gifford Zoo in middle and high school and later as a Garden Educator with Grow Pittsburgh in college. Recently she has become interested in urban planning, especially at the intersection of design, sustainability, and poverty alleviation, and is looking forward to working with the Lincoln Park community to further develop these skills. In her free time she enjoys hiking, kayaking, drawing, and trying new foods, and is excited to explore all Minnesota has to offer!
Cassidy Laib, Pandemic Recovery Coordinator VISTA
Cassidy Laib is serving as a Pandemic Recovery Coordinator at Ecolibrium3. Originally from Minneapolis, MN, Cassidy moved to Duluth in 2015. Cassidy studied at Lake Superior College in Duluth where she learned about sustainable small business practices and local agriculture before transferring to the Sustainable Management business program at the University of Wisconsin. Cassidy frequently visited the North Shore growing up and started conservation work at a young age by assisting associations along the Gunflint Trail in regulating environmentally harmful infrastructure. At Lake Superior College, Cassidy worked as a Living Lab assistant for the on-site organic farm and directed the on-campus produce market. After interning with the City of Duluth’s Sustainability Office, she has become interested in finding ways to build community resiliency through equitable and sustainable business practices and community support programs. Cassidy believes that community resiliency is built through investment in human capital, and is eager to assist in the pandemic recovery while learning skills to build capacity in economically fragile areas. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, foraging, creating ceramics, and relaxing on the shores of Lake Superior.
Cristin Curwick, Impact Builder VISTA
Cristin Curwick, originally from Osseo, MN, works as Ecolibrium3’s Impact Builder. She recently graduated from the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in English. Cristin hopes to benefit the Lincoln Park community through her year of service as one of Ecolibrium3’s VISTAs. Cristin enjoys reading, cross-country skiing, and yoga in her free time.
Jaeger Moser, Energy and Volunteer Management VISTA
Jaeger Moser will be serving as the Energy Program and Volunteer Coordinator with Ecolibrium3. Originally from Mankato, MN, Jaeger moved to Duluth in 2016 to attend the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He graduated in 2021 with a degree in Environment and Sustainability with a focus in Energy Engineering and Environmental Science. During his time at UMD, Jaeger worked as the Energy Intern for the UMD Office of Sustainability along with serving as the president of the UMD SUN Delegation, a group of students dedicated to increasing solar capacity on campus. As a VISTA he’s excited to continue his work in the energy field. When he’s not working, Jaeger loves to explore the North Shore of Lake Superior collecting rocks, hammocking, and hiking.
Luke Viscusi, Main Street Lincoln Park Innovation Zone Developer VISTA
Originally from Long Island, NY, Luke Viscusi is a meeting aficionado, spreadsheet strategist, and architectural designer with a passion to pursue community-centric design initiatives. Luke firmly believes that architecture isn’t about the thing you build – it’s about the community you empower around the thing you build. He strives to help community members identify opportunities and address issues holistically so they can live in a place they feel they belong. As Ecolibrium3’s Main Street LNPK Innovation Zone Developer VISTA, his work will focus on the health, safety, and economic vitality of Lincoln Park. Luke previously served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in New Cuyama, CA, where he helped create a community action plan with implementation strategies for seven different community development priorities.
Stephanie Nielsen, Impact and Communications VISTA
Stephanie Nielsen is serving as an Impact and Communications VISTA at Ecolibrium3. Originally from Stillwater, MN, Stephanie moved to Duluth in 2016 to attend the University of Minnesota Duluth, and earned her degree in Environment and Sustainability in 2020. She recently finished serving as a Minnesota GreenCorps member with MN Sea Grant in Duluth, before joining the VISTA team at Ecolibrium3 this fall. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys learning new things on YouTube, and caring for her many plants and exotic animals. Most often, she can be found aquascaping her aquariums while listening to an audiobook, and spending time with her cockatiel Daisy.
Meet the other amazing VISTA volunteers we have placed in the community
Aly Brewer, Ecological Justice VISTA
Aly Brewer is an Ecological Justice VISTA with Community Action Duluth. She recently graduated from Valparaiso University where she studied French, International Economics, and Global Service. During her time at Valparaiso University she also studied abroad in Namibia and South Africa where she developed a passion for environmental economics and justice. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, binge watching Masterchef, and spending time with friends. She is looking forward to exploring Duluth as well as learning and growing throughout her VISTA service.
Anna Clough, Public Health Opioid VISTA
Anna Clough is serving at St. Louis County Public Health as the Opioid Vista. Anna will work to support harm reduction and prevention methods throughout St. Louis County, specifically serving in the Virgina, MN, office. Originally from the Milwaukee area, Anna attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, with degrees in Global Studies, Spanish Studies, and a minor in Public Health. Anna eventually plans to pursue a Master’s of Public Health, as she is very passionate about expanding public health infrastructure in the US. She graduated in the spring of 2020 and is looking forward to getting to know the Duluth area. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, camping, reading, and spending time with friends.
Anna Stauber, Capacity Builder VISTA
Anna Stauber has a master’s degree in global psychology from Pace University in New York City, with an emphasis in older adult studies. Currently, she serves the new organization, Duluth Aging Support. In her position as project director at Duluth Aging Support, she focuses on supporting and educating older adults and their caregivers on available resources in an effort to enable healthy and supported aging. Right now Anna is working with other organizations in the Northern Minnesota/Arrowhead region to educate community members on ways to create a more age-inclusive community, both in small changes as well as in structural and organizational changes.
Ashley Newton-Deckrow, Northern Bedrock Capacity Builder VISTA
Ashley Newton-Deckrow is serving as the Northern Bedrock Capacity Builder Vista with Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps. She is originally from a small town outside of Traverse City, Michigan. Ashley did her undergraduate work in anthropology and archaeology and will be receiving her graduate degree in history in June. She moved here about a year ago to serve as an AmeriCorps crew member with Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps. She is excited to help Northern Bedrock grow and see how the administration side compares to the hands-on experience she gained last summer. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, and working on puzzles.
Athena Hatfield, Duluth Community Schools Development Coordinator VISTA
Athena Hatfield is serving at the Duluth Community School Collaborative, an organization dedicated to implementing Full-Service Community Schools in the Duluth Public Schools. Athena recently graduated from Luther College in Decorah, IA, where they studied sociology and linguistics. They grew up in Minnesota and are excited to stay in Minnesota while moving to a new community for their year of service. They are passionate about addressing barriers to education, which they believe is a foundation for positive social change. This requires supporting students in all aspects of their well-being, including access to basic needs, a supportive community, and programs designed to respond to their and their families’ stated needs.
Gabby Mirabito, Community Development Coordinator VISTA
Gabby Mirabito is serving as the community development coordinator at Zeitgeist, an arts and community development non-profit that works to grow a connected and healthy community who is empowered to create and thrive. She will be working to support and create current and future community development projects, as well as helping to further integrate the Zeitgeist mission into all facets of Zeitgeist. Gabby grew up in a small town called Norwich in upstate New York and graduated from Binghamton University in 2021 with a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Law. She was excited to work with Zeitgeist as it combines her love of community, artistic endeavors, and her passion for long term systemic change. Gabby grew up highly active in community-based events and continued this into college as an RA. She has also always loved playing and watching sports, as well as partaking in hobbies such as playing piano, oil painting and playing video games, as well as being an avid reader.
Gus Jaynes, Food Sovereignty VISTA
Gus Jaynes (he/him) works as a Food Sovereignty VISTA with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He recently graduated from Oberlin College with majors in Environmental Studies and Politics. Gus developed a strong interest in food system issues working on a small farm in his hometown of Plainfield, NH, and as an intern at The Land Institute in Salina, KS, developing perennial polyculture food production systems. He is excited to learn from the indigenous community at Fond du Lac and to leverage his experience in service of the Agricultural Division. In his free time, he enjoys gardening, trail running, hiking, and cooking. He also hopes to get involved in the local jazz scene and perform with small groups on drums.
Julia Forberg, Energy and Sustainability VISTA
Julia Forberg is serving as the Energy and Sustainability VISTA for the City of Duluth. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Julia recently graduated from Indiana University with majors in International Studies and Spanish. Her experience as an undergraduate researcher at the UN Climate Change Conference along with her internship at an environmental NGO in Santiago, Chile, helped her develop a passion for environmental issues, disaster resilience, and sustainability. In her free time, she enjoys running, hiking, and hanging out with her cat.
Julie Stoner, Indigenous Community Engagement VISTA
Originally from Taos, NM, Julie Stoner is a recent graduate from Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH, where she majored in Environmental Studies and minored in Geology. She is interested in the ways in which fostering avenues for mutual aid and creativity in a community can improve the conditions of community members’ lives and make the community more climate resilient. She is excited to be working with the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO), where she will be working on their affordable housing, food sovereignty, and cultural programs. In her free time, she enjoys backpacking, reading, tossing a frisbee, and writing.
Maria Groth, Duluth Community Construction VISTA
Maria Groth is serving as the Duluth Community Construction VISTA with Community Action Duluth. She recently graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Maria is extremely passionate about sustainability and has completed several research projects on various topics surrounding the subject, some of which include in-depth econometric analysis. She is very excited to use her skills and knowledge to aid Community Action Duluth and Duluth Community Construction with their initiatives and help the community prosper.
Morgan Bliss, Rain Ready Housing Development Specialist VISTA
Morgan Bliss is serving as the Rain Ready Housing Specialist with Great Lakes One Water. They graduated with honors from McDaniel College with a degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in policy and management, and a minor in Arabic. They are from Maryland and this is their first time in Minnesota! They’re looking forward to getting to know the community and developing resiliency through nature-based solutions and green infrastructure in Duluth.
Nicole Berneche, Disaster Resilience VISTA
Nicole Berneche is serving as a Disaster Resilience VISTA for the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation (DSACF). From a suburb of Chicago, Nicole studied Public Health at Valparaiso University in Indiana as an undergrad and minored in French. She also received her master’s degree in Public Health from the same school last year. Nicole is excited about working with communities, justice issues including environmental justice, and environmental sustainability. She enjoyed an environmental justice internship she had once with a campaign to hold a power company responsible for cleaning up a toxic site in a neighborhood. Nicole is excited to explore her interests more as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the DSACF. Nicole likes visiting new places, running and other outdoor activities, and is excited to learn to ski this winter.
Liz Axberg, Community Outreach Coordinator VISTA
Liz Axberg is currently serving as the Community Outreach Coordinator VISTA for the Duluth Art Institute. She graduated from St. Catherine University in 2020 with a double major in Economics and Public Policy and a minor in Statistics. This position excited Liz because of her passion for using art as a tool for community empowerment and uprooting false neighborhood narratives, setting the seeds for grassroots movements, and ultimately alleviating poverty. She is not only looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with the Duluth community but also to enjoy the vast options for camping, mountain biking, trail running, and nordic skiing.
Madison Nareski, Outreach and Policy Coordinator VISTA
Madison Nareski is an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative. Madison is from Hagerstown, MD, and graduated from Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA, with a degree in International Politics and minors in Economics and Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys reading, swimming, hiking, and cooking. It is her first time in Minnesota, and she is excited to work in the Lincoln Park neighborhood and explore Duluth.
Ryan Babcock, Resilient Housing Systems VISTA
Ryan Babcock is currently serving as the Resilient Housing Systems VISTA with the Northeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Originally from Williamsburg, VA, he graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Marketing Management and a minor in Communications. His passion for sustainability and climate action stemmed from thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. There he witnessed the impacts of environmental tourism and contemplated how others could sustainably enjoy mother earth. Ryan considers himself lucky for having the opportunity to explore and create positive change. Ryan eventually plans to pursue a master’s degree in Environment and Sustainability, with a concentration in Environmental Security, through Monash University. When he is not working or frolicking in the woods, you will most likely find him reading, writing short stories and essays, attempting to cook, or running absurdly long distances.
Sonia Fields, Communication Development VISTA
Sonia Fields (she/her) is serving as the Communication Development VISTA for Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps. She is originally from Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin and found her way north to study visual arts at UW-Superior. She applied for two research grants through her school and brought awareness to historic architecture through a proposed illustrated children’s book and a collection of hand-printed postcards.
During the summer of 2021, Sonia joined the Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps. During her service in the field, she worked on restoring and preserving Minnesota’s historic structures. She gained hands-on knowledge in masonry, roofing, window restoration, and much more. She loved the role and is excited to return as an ambassador to assist others to experience the transformational learning that she so enjoyed. When Sonia is not working on her various art projects, she can be found tattooing her friends for fun or hiking the trails around Duluth. You can also find Sonia spending her free time meandering the shores of Lake Superior searching for rocks and
agates, foraging for wild foods, and preserving insects that she finds on the side of the road.
Stephanie Bramwell, Sustainability Associate VISTA
Stephanie Bramwell is serving the City of Northfield as the Sustainability Associate VISTA. She will assist the city in developing transportation systems that are environmentally sustainable and effectively meet the needs of the community. Originally from Castle Rock, CO, Stephanie earned her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Sustainability from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. She is excited to contribute to the creation of long-lasting transportation systems that will improve the quality of life of Northfield’s residents. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys hiking, jogging, reading, and spending time with animals- both respectfully observing wildlife and meeting people’s pets.
Thang Nguyen, Development Associate VISTA
Thang Nguyen is serving as the Development Associate VISTA for Healthy Alliances Matter for All. He is from Minneapolis, MN, and attended the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a degree in Biology, society, and environment, along with minors in Public Health and Pharmacology. Thang will work to improve health inequity for communities within Duluth. He has plans to continue his education and career within the public health field. Thang is excited to get to know the communities and people that he will be working with. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, photography, and finding new places to eat
Zachary Klokstad, Minogitoon Collective Community Liason VISTA
Zachary Klokstad is serving his first year as the Minogitoon Collective Community Liaison for the Oldenburg Arts and Cultural Community, doing community outreach with the many creatives of Carlton County and the Fond Du Lac reservation. New to Minnesota, Zach confirmed that the vibrancy of the area really grabbed hold of his heartstrings and he is honored to learn from the many talented friends of the community. Zach’s interests have been varied; he graduated from the University of North Dakota with a B.A. in General Studies. The years following graduation Zach worked as a direct support professional for adults with developmental disabilities, a paraprofessional in a special education classroom, and an administrative assistant for a psychological healthcare clinic. Zach likes to spend his free time lamenting that books can’t be read as fast as they can be bought on impulse.
Meet the Incredible Summer VISTA Volunteers!
Bailey Soma, Ecolibrium3 Summer VISTA
Bailey Soma is a Summer VISTA at Ecolibrium3. Bailey studied Public Health at the University of Minnesota Duluth where she became familiar with Eco3 during an internship this winter. As a VISTA she’s excited to continue working on the LNPK 156 health accelerator project and putting her public health background to use in the community. In her spare time, Bailey enjoys reading and traveling.
Devyn Ullyott, Yes Network Summer VISTA
Devyn Ullyott is currently enrolled in her senior year at Minnesota State University Moorhead pursuing an English Education degree. Born and raised in Detroit Lakes, MN, Devyn is following her father’s footsteps by becoming an educator and hopes to teach somewhere around the area. This is Devyn’s first year with VISTA and she hopes to learn from her experiences with the team. Devyn loves being a dog mom to her chihuahua Gabby, dancing, eating Mexican food, playing with her 9-month-old niece Ivory, and watching her father coach Laker wrestling.
Megan Wilke, Yes Network Summer VISTA
Megan Wilke graduated this spring from Moorhead High School and will be attending University of Mary in the fall to study Special Education. She will be working as a Summer VISTA with YES Network as a Youth Mentor at White Earth leading outdoor activities, crafts, games, and free play. In her free time, Megan loves to be outdoors kayaking, hammocking, going for walks, or reading. She also enjoys listening to music, trying new foods, traveling and spending lots of time with family and friends.
Rebecca Leier, Yes Network Summer VISTA
Rebecca Leier is currently attending Minnesota State University Moorhead for a degree in Elementary Inclusive Education and has one year left before she graduates. She has always known she wanted to assist with youth programs in communities and is excited to apply all that she learned about the learning process and child development to the Summer VISTA program. Rebecca enjoys spending time reading, being on a lake, trying to learn to cook, and taking part in sports or other physical activities.
Sami Awwad, Ecolibrium3 Summer VISTA
Sami Awwad is as a Summer VISTA in Duluth, MN, for the Ecolibrium3 Big Water Resilience Corps. He will be assisting the Eco3 Urban Farm in providing fresh and organic produce to the local community through fostering gardens and aiding in further development of the farm for future programs. He is originally from Hugo, MN, and currently attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth pursuing a degree in Biology and a minor in Environment, Sustainability, and Geography. Sami is excited to help set up food production programs that aid in providing food security to lower-income residents of Duluth, and even more thrilled to be doing so through direct interaction with the gardens. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, hiking, reading, and writing.