Our Team

Mai-Anh Kapanke – Executive Director

Mai-Anh Kapanke leads the strategic direction for MENTOR Minnesota and develops partnerships with key stakeholders. Kapanke provides financial oversight for the organization, manages statewide and national marketing initiatives for mentoring, and is a lobbyist for positive youth development funding priorities. Kapanke is a former Humphrey Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota. In 2011, she completed the Institute for Executive Director Leadership program through the University of St. Thomas. Before joining MENTOR Minnesota, Kapanke co-directed the YMCA Mentor Duluth program where she managed public relations and marketing efforts. She graduated from Michigan State University with a journalism degree. Prior to her work in the mentoring arena, she was a television news reporter and weather anchor for six years. Kapanke has served as a mentor with both Mentor Duluth and Kids ‘n Kinship. She serves on the Eagan Wave Soccer Club Board and spends much of her time cheering on her daughters’ soccer teams.


Caroline Scherer, MSW – Director of Program Services

As Director of Program Services, Carolyn Scherer is the point of contact for all mentoring program consultation and technical assistance requests, helping to ensure that Minnesota youth mentoring programs have the resources they need to provide high quality, long-lasting and effective mentoring experiences for youth and volunteers. Carolyn has 15 years of experience in the youth development field, including 7 years at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities where her roles included directing the Community-based Enrollment and Matching Teams and coordinating School-based mentoring programs in Minneapolis schools. Carolyn holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Direct Practice with Children and Families from the University of Minnesota.



Nicki Patnaude, MSW – Manager of Community Partnerships

Nicki Patnaude manages the creation and coordination of resource development for MENTOR Minnesota. She also provides support for the NQMS® process on the state level but focuses her support on piloting the NQMS® in other states as part of a national research study. Nicki also assists with special initiatives and projects for the organization, including fundraising, public policy, and training support. Prior to working with MENTOR Minnesota, she spent over 10 years working in the youth development field, specifically with youth in foster care. Nicki holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a focus on Community Organizing and Advocacy from the University of Minnesota and has served with MENTOR Minnesota as both a Graduate Public Policy Intern and an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow prior to her current role.


MENTOR Minnesota Consultants

Bree Axelrod – Marketing and Communications Consultant
Bree is a marketing and communications consultant working with MENTOR Minnesota to effectively and efficiently complete strategic initiatives. She loves project management and organization and has a passion for editing. Prior to consulting, Bree was the Director of Marketing for a prominent Twin Cities law firm. She earned her Communications and Spanish degree from the College of St. Benedict and spends her time serving on the Eagan Wave Soccer Club Board and driving her three children to their activities.

Colleen Crockford, MSW, LICSW – Technical Assistance Consultant
Colleen has spent over 15 years working in small and large nonprofits across the Twin Cities. Fusing big picture ideas with the day to day work is her specialty. Colleen thrives at building programs that can effectively reach their goals and motivate others to join in their cause.

Jenni Geiser – Graphic Design & Branding Consultant
Jenni is a freelance Graphic Designer with 20+ years in the design field. She started her own business, jennigdesign, in 2014. Prior to that, she was the Creative Manager at Archiver’s, a retail scrapbooking store for 15 years. Her areas of expertise are branding, direct mail, newsletters, print collateral, signage, and logo design. She also works on children’s books layouts, packaging, email design, and websites. Jenni is located in the Twin Cities and has a wonderful family that inspires her more and more every day.

Lea M. Johnson – Strategic Development Consultant
Lea is a strategic development consultant for MENTOR Minnesota. She brings seven years of experience as a former family foundation administrator and program officer, along with a twenty-year proven track-record of raising major gifts, grants and sponsorships for Twin Cities nonprofits. Combining her expertise in these roles, she provides guidance in fundraising, strategic program and partnership development, and organizational growth management. Lea earned her B.A. from the College of Saint Catherine in Communications and English.

Maria Paschke – Quality & Training Consultant
Maria serves as a Quality & Training Consultant with MENTOR Minnesota. She brings over three years of experience working with the National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS®) and training in quality practices to mentoring program staff. Maria is currently a student at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, seeking a Master’s Degree in Public Policy.