We're eager to get to know you, support your climate work, and build an interfaith climate movement for a truly just and sustainable world! Read on to learn about our staff and board members.
Claire Baglien, Office Manager and Gandhi Mahal Interfaith Garden Coordinator
Claire focuses on building our sustaining membership base, outreach, and managing the office. She is also managing the Gandhi Mahal Interfaith Garden, a new collaborative project to address food, faith, and climate change. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Food Justice and Sustainability from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Claire also works at Gandhi Mahal as the restaurant's Sustainability Coordinator. Her background includes working on organic farms, serving at sustainable restaurants, and volunteering as a domestic and sexual assault advocate for Alexandra House. Claire’s passions lie in cultivating genuine relationships and finding ways to mobilize people based on what truly matters to them. You can reach Claire at email@example.com.
Brett Benson, Operations Director
Brett helps MNIPL translate vision and strategy into effective and sustainable operational practices, ensuring maximum organizational impact from limited resources. He focuses on MNIPL’s Just Solar and Movement Builder programs. He also relies on experience in marketing and communication to shape MNIPL’s tactics in those areas. Outside of MNIPL, he provides coaching to servant leaders, creatives and spiritual travelers on increasing their influence and effectiveness by deepening their connection to joy, expanding their authentic presence, and embracing discipline as an ally. Brett has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism and has worked in leadership roles in journalism, graphic design, marketing, and customer service. He also has been a longtime volunteer with the ManKind Project, an international organization devoted to helping men develop emotional literacy and find deep purpose in their lives. He’s a member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claire Curran, Communications & Outreach Manager
Claire Curran leads MNIPL's policy advocacy, communications, and storytelling work as our Communications Manager. Claire completed her Bachelor's degree in Religion and Peace Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College. Claire has a strong background in organizing, having coordinated the Lutheran Advocacy MN's Clean Energy Campaign and directing Environment California's campaign office in Los Angeles. Claire brings a sincere belief in the power of faith communities to create positive social change. She is passionate about intersectionality, storytelling, and creating spaces for people to join their deep gladness with the world's deepest needs. Her mission is to build authentic relationships with congregations and empower them to take meaningful action on climate change. You can reach Claire at email@example.com.
Muhammad Jiwa, Outreach Coordinator
Muhammad works with MNIPL as an organizer in the Muslim community. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with his Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife, Whole System Healing, and Sustainability Studies. Muhammad is active in his community working to end discrimination against Muslims all over the world. When not at MNIPL, Muhammad works for Greater Midwest Realty as an Eco-Real Estate Agent. He hopes to continue his work helping mosques in Minnesota become some of the greenest in the nation. You can reach Muhammad at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trevor Leuzinger, Database Manager
After a year working at MNIPL through Lutheran Volunteer Corps, a year-long service program, Trevor remains with MNIPL to work for the solar and energy efficiency teams to engage faith communities and help them to achieve their goals for environmental justice. He graduated with a degree in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis, where he first began to organize for the environmental movement. He has a passion for fighting intersectional and systemic issues and helping people become changemakers because concerned individuals working together is the only way to solve these issues. You can reach Trevor at email@example.com.
Julia Frost Nerbonne, Executive Director & Board Member
Julia brings her skills as an organizer and academic to build a vibrant movement for climate justice in over 400 Minnesota congregations. She has an undergraduate degree in Religion and her Ph.D. in Conservation Biology. She also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Conservation Biology Graduate Program at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on how to create powerful social movements. Between 2011 and 2014, she was the founding Director of MN350. She has also spent over 18 years teaching ethics and sustainability studies to college students at the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs and at the University of Minnesota. She is a member of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in St. Paul. When she is not working, Julia enjoys playing the fiddle and reading about history. She doesn't always enjoy large crowds, but when there is a message to deliver, you'll probably find her out on the streets with her kids in tow. You can reach Julia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bret Pence, Arrowhead Network Regional Coordinator
Bret's work focuses on supporting the lively volunteer network in MNIPL's Arrowhead Region, of which he has been a member since it's inception in 2014. He is a resource for energy efficiency and solar project consultation, as also works for the nonprofit Ecolibrium3 in the field of community energy. Bret obtained a Master of Art in Management (MAM), with a focus on sustainability and organizational development, from the College of St. Scholastica in 2010, and a BA from Colorado State University before there was a public internet (it's true!). In between, he was a guide in the Rocky Mountain West and worked for REI. When he not tinkering with solar panels and trying to figure out how to pinch another watt or two, he tries to get outside as much as possible, and has been compared to Sasquatch a few times in his life, hopefully only because of his love of the outdoors. Bret lives in beautiful neighborhood in Duluth with his wife, Laura, two sons Colin and Davey, and a rather largish cat named Goliath that is sometimes mistaken for a woodchuck.
Erin Pratt, Program Director
Erin Pratt, LPC is the program director at MNIPL where she designs, coordinates, and facilitates programming for MNIPL and individual faith communities. She is also a facilitator and trainer for MN350, a Minnesota-based climate justice organization, and for 350.org, an international climate organization. Erin's training is as a therapist working with children, youth, and families in crisis. In both academic and clinical settings, Erin has conducted evaluations and research on family health and the efficacy of clinical practices. Erin was a psychology fellow at the Healthy Youth Development Prevention Research Center at the University of Minnesota where she practiced advocacy, offered leadership training, and conducted research on the gap between treatment need and receipt for Minnesota's youth. Over the last 14 years, Erin has also applied her advocacy skills in service of human rights, U.S. policy change, and environmental conservation here in the U.S. as well as abroad. Erin is a member of St. Luke Presbyterian Church in Wayzata, MN. You can reach Erin at email@example.com.
Abigail Hindson, Communications Intern
Abigail is originally from La Crosse, Wisconsin. After graduating from Lawrence University in June 2016, she moved to Minneapolis to experience living in a vibrant and politically active community. Since her arrival she has enjoyed running around the lakes, growing vegetables in a community garden, and making new roots through First Universalist Church and the Contact Improvisation dance community. A newbie to direct action and community organizing, she looks forward to learning as much as she can to build this movement together. She’s excited to be a Communications Intern for Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light and to be a volunteer member of the organizing committee for the 2nd People’s Climate March in Washington D.C.
Arnetta Phillips, Just Community Solar
Arnetta is the Community Outreach Director at Shiloh Temple International Ministries where she coordinates social services for youth and adults in the neighborhood. She serves as the North Minneapolis team lead, integrating Integrating the Shiloh Just Community Solar Garden with the Northside residency and business.
Mary Kay Olson, Just Community Solar
Mary Kay is the subscription manager for the Just Community Solar Coalition, answering questions and signing people up to the community solar gardens. She also works as the church administrator at Hamline Church. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Megan O'Hara, Just Community Solar
Megan has enjoyed a long career in nonprofit and public policy arenas. She has led public/private partnerships to advance community health agendas, working closely with public agencies, nonprofits, and grassroots community advocates to create authentic dialogue and community impact. She has worked on a broad range of issues: healthcare, sustainable agriculture, local food policy, transportation, children and nature, youth development and employment. For Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light she is doing outreach in the Edina area for the Just Community Solar Coalition. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Donna Olsen, Energy Equity
Donna Olsen is clergy on staff with All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church in Minneapolis. She graduated from United Theological Seminary, in New Brighton, MN, in May of 2012, with a Master of Divinity degree, and with a concentration in Peace and Justice Studies. Since joining with Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light, Donna has joined the Solar Team and the Energy Efficiency Team. She also represents MNIPL on the Just Community Solar Coalition and Energy Equity Coalition, both of which are coalitions of faith communities and other local interfaith and community organizations, working together toward an energy future that is clean and equitable for all people. Donna is also co-leading the effort to establish a just community solar garden in south Minneapolis. Donna is joining the MNIPL staff with her passion in this work to ensure that all people have access to clean energy resources, regardless of income or credit score. She will be managing our energy equity work, as well as continuing her involvement with the above-mentioned teams and coalitions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AJ Pratt, All in the Circle Camp
All in the Circle sprang forth from AJ’s vast experience as an educator and program director over the last 30 years. She holds a deep interest in exploring what elements are critical in nurturing the developmental growth of children. How do children benefit from play and exploration in nature? What passions do children naturally have that feed their growth as a healthy member of the earth community? How do the arts and music speak to the hearts of children? What is needed to assist children in experiencing their spiritual selves? How can the children be helped to understand that they belong and are an important part of the whole earth community? She put all of these questions into one pot. Mixed in talented professionals and children and out came All in the Circle!
Keith Dent, Just-B-Solar Camp
Keith is the founder of Just-B-Solar, a North Minneapolis business providing solar education for youth in Minnesota. Keith works as a solar installer himself, and is working with MNIPL to launch the first Solar “Photovoltaic” summer program in partnership with the Just Community Solar Coalition. This camp will build confidence and self-sufficiency for Middle School youth from North Minneapolis. When he is not building solar projects he loves to spend time adventuring out with his 3 children.