2017 Candidate Information

(Alphabetical by last name)

Karl Batalden

City of Woodbury; Housing and Economic Development Coordinator

Years with current agency: 9       Years in housing industry: 12

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency?

  • Management of CDBG and HOME programs
  • Coordination of municipal HRA and EDA and their four housing loan programs
  • Liaison to business community, member of Woodbury Area Chamber board

Why are you running for a position on the Board?

            As the trade organization for housing and redevelopment professionals, I believe that NAHRO has untapped potential to better coordinate and work with sister organizations and other unengaged practitioners to promote more community development-related work. I would like to build off of the redevelopment seminars at the Spring conference and help the Minnesota Chapter of NAHRO become more relevant to those housing practitioners that are not as focused on public housing and HRA/PHA/CDA operations. I look forward to exploring how NAHRO can become a better resource for groups and organizations that are looking to better emphasize the role of housing in their community or to their stakeholders.


Buffy Berenek

Deputy Director, Southeast Minnesota Multi-County HRA (SEMMCHRA)

Years with current agency:  12 years   Years in housing industry:  12 years

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency? 

As Deputy Director, I am responsible for overseeing the planning, direction and implementation of all programs and policies of SEMMCHRA. I ensure the efficient and effective administration and assist in the execution of all Authority business and supervise all department directors and the finance department. We have over 470 units of housing with a variety of funders – USDA, GMHF, MHFA, DEED, HUD, and local banks – in four counties. Our Section 8 Rental Assistance Program administers approximately 387 vouchers in six counties. Our Public Housing Program has 110 units including 25 scattered sites. We have three active housing TIF districts providing options for single and multi-family housing. Our community development department has three active Small Cities Development Program grants, serves as regional administrator for the RRDL program and works in partnership with other HRAs in administering housing rehabilitation programs. My passion is negotiating unique business solutions and directing process efficiencies to free up capacity to better utilize resources.

Why are you running for a position on the Board?

My career and personal experiences have fought for access and funding for basic social needs – health, education and now housing. My focus and purpose for running for a board position is to bring new ideas forward, work collaboratively across the State and fight to reduce unnecessary regulations while promoting locally-driven initiatives.


Reed Erickson

Executive Director, Cook Housing & Redevlopment Authority

Years with current agency:  3years   Years in housing industry:  30 years

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency? 

I have been the Executive Director at the Cook Housing Authority for the past three (3) years. Previous to that, for six years, I was Director of Community Development Programs at the MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) overseeing administration of both the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Small Cities Program and the Business Development Public Infrastructure Program (BDPI). Prior to that, I was with Minnesota Housing for twenty years, working with the Single Family Rehabilitation Program and the Community Revitalization Program.

I have been working in the housing & economic development field for more than thirty years. First starting out as the Housing Director for Koochiching Itasca Community Action, then working at the Duluth Neighborhood Housing Service for two years after that, then moving onto MN Housing and DEED. I have years of experience in both housing and economic development issues, at both the local and state level which has provided me a great perspective of the needs through-out the state of MN.

As Director of the Cook Housing Authority, we administer sixty (60) units of public housing. The HRA has been actively involved in pursuing other financial resources for both commercial and housing needs within the community.

Why are you running for a position on the Board?

Due to my background at the local and state government level, I have a diverse perspective on housing and economic development issues, which would be beneficial to NAHRO and our partners. I'm also not hesitant to take a stance and/or voice an opinion on difficult housing/econcomic development issues. I look forward to the opportunity to work with members of NAHRO while serving on the board of directors. It's an honor to be in such great company with the other individuals who are also running for board positions.


Bryan Hartman

Program Manager, Bloomington HRA

Years with current agency:  19 years Years in housing industry:  25 years

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency?   

I have experience in many areas of our industry, including Section 8 Rent Assistance, CDBG, Public Housing/Property Management and Redevelopment. This work provides a great base of knowledge to effectively represent you on the Board. I have been employed at the City of Bloomington HRA for over 19 years. I am presently a supervisor for the HRA and manage several programs, including a 551 unit Section 8
Program, 41 units of rental property units, single-family rehabilitation programs and CDBG. I have also worked on development efforts including affordable single and multi-family developments. I began my career with the Dakota County CDA and ever since have enjoyed rewarding working relationships with many housing professionals within our industry.

Why are you running for a position on the Board? 

I am running for Senior Vice President on the Board to continue the great work that NAHRO is doing in serving the needs of our members.  I believe my knowledge and experience will bring value to the organization and our members. 

Minnesota NAHRO is recognized as one of the best state chapters in the nation and I will work hard to ensure the continued success of the organization.  The importance of offering quality conferences, trainings, and networking opportunities to our members is key to NAHRO’s mission.

In addition to my work experience noted above, I have served effectively on several boards, including Project for Pride in Living’s CHDO board.  I am currently President of the Board of Affordable Housing Connections, Inc. (AHC).  AHC partners with funders and owners of affordable housing to provide a variety of services and resources to the local affordable housing industry, including training, compliance monitoring and consulting.   These positions have helped me to develop key cooperative leadership skills that are important to the success of a board such as NAHRO.

Thank you for your support.  I will bring a passion for affordable housing and building strong communities to the Board of Directors in a time of change in our many areas of our work and within our communities.


Dana Hiltunen

Executive Director, Virginia HRA 

Years with current agency: 5     Years in housing industry: 20 

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency?

I am the Executive Director of the Virginia HRA.  The Virginia HRA is located in northern St. Louis County, a rural area facing many obstacles to quality affordable housing.  I oversee the operations and management of the agency.  I work with a great group of 20-25 employees (depending on the time of year) to operate over 440 public housing and market rate units.  Our agency also administers over 500 rental assistance vouchers through Section 8, Bridges and HUD Continuum of Care. 

The Eveleth HRA also contracts with the Virginia HRA to provide management and oversight to their public housing program.  Through this contract I also act as the Executive Director for the Eveleth HRA.


Why are you running for a position on the Board? 

I have found that associations such as MN NAHRO are important to the success of our agencies.  I believe in the services our agencies are providing for those facing barriers and know that MN NAHRO has been and can continue to be a great resource for agencies across Minnesota.  I have years of experience advocating for social service and housing programs, most recently as the co-chair of Homes For All.  I am asking for your support to allow me to represent you on the MN NAHRO board where I can continue to advocate for those we serve and work to provide services to strengthen our agencies and statewide collaboration. 


Jill A. Keppers, MPH

Executive Director, Duluth HRA 

Years with current agency: 2     Years in housing industry: 2 years in housing and redevelopment, but over 20 years in home and community based services as well as extensive experience in state association service and advocacy

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency? 

Manage and administer a politically independent Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) in the city of Duluth, MN with 1,154 units of public housing and 1,477 rental subsidy vouchers; direction of a robust rehabilitation and real estate department and development department; manage a budget of approximately $20 Million per year and includes sources from HUD, MN Housing, GMHF, CDBG, HOME, Lead, Conduit Bond Fees, TIF and other sources; propose a property tax levy that is approved by the city council for the purpose of supporting HRA activities; plan and organize long range physical maintenance, financial operations, and strategic planning of the HRA; prepare, review, revise, and approve or recommend to the board of commissioners all policies, procedures, and plans for the HRA; work with community stakeholders on affordable housing initiatives, funding priorities, and legislative issues; educate policy makers and stakeholders on the role and function of the HRA in the city; and work with the state and national association of housing and redevelopment officials on legislative advocacy.

Why are you running for a position on the Board? 

Peter Drucker says that over every boardroom there should be an inscription in big letters that says, "Membership on this board in not power; it is responsibility." I believe being on a state association board means just that. It means responsibility not only to the board itself, but also to the mission of our association, and most importantly responsibility to its members. Since starting at the Duluth HRA, I have been involved with the legislative committee at MN NAHRO. I have attended the Day at the Capital each year (meeting with our local delegation) as well as the National NAHRO Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. where we met with our Senators and Representatives (or their aides). I have brought forward ideas about increased participation in our state lobbying activities, and I hope to move the board to more accountability with regard to being present at these important events (certainly state advocacy events). I believe that as a board member it is important to remember that you are not there representing your individual organization. You are there to move housing and redevelopment issues forward in the manner that serves the greater good. Sometimes the votes you cast won't necessarily benefit the agency you work for; but that is what board service is all about - what is good for the industry. That is why I am running for a position on the board of directors - to help lead an industry. I hope to be a strong voice for housing and redevelopment, an example of integrity and transparency, and an advocate not only on HRA/PHA issues, but also on Homes For All and state legislative priority setting.

Previous Board Experience: UW-Superior Alumni Association Board of Directors, 2011-2017 Minnesota Home Care Association (MHCA), 2000-2015 Board of Directors – Representing Greater Minnesota 2012-2015 Legislative Team 2010-2015; Chairperson 2013-2015 MA/Managed Care Team 2010-2015; Chairperson 2011- 2013 Education Team 2013 – 2014; Secretary 2013-2014 PCA Work Group – 2012; Chairperson 2012 MHCA Rep. to Minnesota Department of Human Services CFSS Implementation Council, 2012-2015 Other association experience: Minnesota - National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials 2015-present Legislative Committee 2015-present Northeast Regional Director's Association 2015-present HRA Facilities Engineering Degree Workgroup 2017 National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) 2015-present LegNet 2015-present North Dakota Public Health Association, 1997-1999 Wisconsin Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 1994-1996 Chair of Research - 1995


Diane Larson

Executive Director, Itaska County HRA

Years with current agency: 29              Years in housing industry: 29

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency? 

In my position, I oversee the administration and management for all agency operations including public housing, rental assistance programs (HCV, Bridges, Permanent Supportive Housing, an SRO project, and a HTF project)
and our SCDP rehabilitation program. In addition, Itasca County HRA is the General Partner in two Limited Partnerships as developer and owner; with the most recent being the development of a 48 units supportive housing project in the City of Grand Rapids. We have also been involved in the development of a 75-bed student housing facility that we own and lease to our local community college. I also act as liaison for ICHRA serving on several local and regional committees.

Why are you running for a position on the Board? 

As the Director of a small outstate HRA, I find that the work, advocacy, and training opportunities afforded by MN NAHRO are vital to our success. Through my experience in working with the Professional Development Committee, the Commissioners Committee, and the MN NAHRO Board, I learned how relevant MN NAHRO is and that MN NAHRO is a very well respected chapter. I am a candidate for President of MN NAHRO because I
want to ensure that we continue to provide opportunities for professional development, continue to partner with key stakeholders, continue to be relevant to our members, and provide a strong financial structure for the organization.

Dara A. Lee

Executive Director, Clay County HRA

Years with current agency: 12      Years in housing industry: 23

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency? 

As the executive director, I oversee our rental assistance, housing and rehabilitation departments. I focus on keeping up with local, state and federal laws and policies; grant writing; financial budgeting and planning; strategic planning; board development; new program and housing development; and inter-agency collaborations (including serving on numerous boards).

Why are you running for a position on the Board?

As a long-term member of Minnesota NAHRO, I know that our agency has benefitted greatly from the trainings, opportunities and advocacy actions that Minnesota NAHRO has provided. Since Minnesota NAHRO has provided so much to us, I believe that it is important to contribute to the organization.

Our agency works closely with numerous housing authorities in Northwest and West Central Minnesota. In cooperation with our partner agencies, we operate programs for the homeless across a 10-county region and operate a rental rehabilitation program across both Northwest and West Central Minnesota. As the only candidate from this area of the state, I would listen to, then bring the needs and concerns of this area’s members to Minnesota NAHRO.


Dominic Mitchell

St. Paul PHA Section 8 Programs Manager

Years with current agency: 7              Years in housing industry: 9

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency? 

Manages all aspects of the Section 8 program, including voucher utilization, admissions and denials, terminations, reasonable accommodation requests, and as an attorney is the first in line to answer all legal inquiries.  The St. Paul PHA’s Section 8 Program serves a variety of populations with Project-Based-Vouchers, VASH vouchers, FUP vouchers, and Mod-Rehab SRO units.

Why are you running for a position on the Board? 

I have found NAHRO to be a welcome place for all of those who wish to learn and network within the housing industry—from agencies big and small, from inner and greater Minnesota.  NAHRO also has the opportunity to act as the voice of these great agencies in the state legislature.  I would be honored to help lead this great organization in connecting agencies with each other, and in advocating for great things in the legislature.


Louise Reis

St. Cloud HRA, Executive Director

Years with current agency: 17 years              Years in housing industry: 36

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency?

Oversee the operations of the agency, provide successful leadership to agency, participate in developing strategic plan, identify and evaluate risks to the agency, review all financial activity, etc.

Why are you running for a position on the Board?

The Housing Industry is constantly changing and the need to training for new and seasoned professionals is always in demand. Serving in this position allows me to give back to the organization and other individuals for the numerous times over the years that others provided mentoring to me when I was in need.


Terri Smith

Director, Metropolitan Council HRA

Years with current agency: 17 years              Years in housing industry: 26

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency?

I direct and manage the policy, programs, operations and resources of the Metropolitan Council Housing and Redevelopment Authority. I develop and implement goals and strategies and evaluate success for effective program operation with an annual budget of $62 million. The Metro HRA is the largest administrator of the Housing Choice Voucher program in the state of Minnesota and the administrator of nine other programs that assist low income families in the region.

Why are you running for a position on the Board?

I could not do my job without the leadership and membership of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. NAHRO’s advocacy and policy work is instrumental in the success of programs serving low income families across the country. I am ready to give back to this impactful organization.


Randy Thompson

Worthington HRA, Executive Director

Years with current agency: 5 years                Years in housing industry: 5 years

What are some of your responsibilities at your agency?

To oversee the operations of the agency, and to provide program direction and staff supervision, and also prepare the operate budgets for the agency and monitor the agency’s financial performance.

Why are you running for a position on the Board?

To Serve an Organization that supports the housing industry. To increase my knowledge of the Housing Industry, and to meet other Housing Professionals.