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.


Carolyn 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.