Meet the Leadership at YWCA Minneapolis
Luz María Frías
President and CEO
Luz María Frías is the President and Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Minneapolis, responsible for leading the strategy and operations of the organization’s five areas of commitment to the community: Health and Wellness, Early Childhood Education, Girls and Youth, Racial Justice and Public Policy. Established in 1891, YWCA Minneapolis serves 30,000+ people annually with a budget of $23 million through a dedicated staff of over 500 full and part-time employees.
Luz María joined YWCA Minneapolis in December 2016. She has a deep history of leadership in the community including: government, non-profits and philanthropy. She holds Master’s and Juris Doctor Degrees from the University of Iowa. Prior to coming to YWCA Minneapolis Luz María was at The Minneapolis Foundation, where she has served as the Vice President for Community Impact since 2012.
A noted public policy strategist and thought leader on race equity for more than 20 years, Luz María served as Mayor Chris Coleman’s External Affairs Director before being appointed by him to serve as the inaugural Director of the Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Department where she redesigned the city’s procurement system resulting in substantial growth in contracting opportunities for minority-owned businesses from $1 million per year to $13 million per year. Prior positions include: Family Court Magistrate for the State of Minnesota, Hearing Examiner for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Chief Executive Officer & Chief Legal Officer of Centro Legal and public policy work for the Minnesota House of Representatives. While working at the Minnesota House of Representatives, she played a lead role in drafting the Sexual Harassment Policy and Handbook for the Minnesota Legislature. Among various leadership roles, Luz María is actively involved with the Minnesota Women Lawyers Association as an Advisory Council member, and has also served as past-president. She has designed numerous nationally award winning initiatives including the EMS Academy for Saint Paul and Minneapolis which both serve as pipelines for fire departments across the region - the academy provides EMT training and certification to youth from communities of color who live in low income households.
Luz María is an experienced mediator and frequent lecturer on the issues of implicit bias and immigration public policy. She can be heard regularly on Counter Stories, a Minnesota Public Radio Podcast that discusses race, identity, social justice and culture in a region grappling with demographic changes.
Chief Financial Officer
Ramya Rauf joined YWCA Minneapolis in September 2015. She oversees finance and accounting and is responsible for Information Technology and Risk Management.
Ramya has over 25 years of experience in corporate and non-profit sectors leading finance, accounting, risk management and treasury management teams.
She began her career in public accounting and after 5 years moved to Ernst and Young as a Tax Manager. Her Corporate experience began as Controller of Eveready Battery Company Colombo, Sri Lanka location of Energizer Co. USA. She was promoted to the position of Treasurer and CFO and held this position for 7 years before she moved to Minnesota in 1999. She continued her career with US Trust Company in Minneapolis.
Ramya began the transition to the non-profit sector through management consulting work in feasibility studies for hospitals and as Finance Manager most recently for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.
Ramya is a CPA and a Chartered Accountant from Sri Lanka. She resides in St Paul and has been a member of the MN Society of Certified Public Accountants since 2002.
Chief Operating Officer
Colleen Wigg is the Chief Operating Officer at YWCA Minneapolis, responsible for the operations of the organization’s five areas of commitment to the community: Health and Wellness, Early Childhood Education, Girls and Youth, Racial Justice and Public Policy, along with Human Resources and Marketing. Established in 1891, YWCA Minneapolis serves 30,000+ people annually with a budget of $23 million through a dedicated staff of over 500 full and part-time employees.
Colleen Wigg joined YWCA Minneapolis in January 2011 as its Vice President of Health and Wellness. She led the operation of three full service Health and Fitness Centers with 24,000+ members and YWCA Minneapolis owned physical plants.
Colleen has an extensive background in the operations, health, wellness and human resources industry, most recently serving as the Vice President of Operations for Lakeshore Medical Fitness. During her 11 years there, she was responsible for overseeing the management of the medical- and park district-based health and fitness centers, including all aspects of member service, strategic planning, budgeting, human resources, facilities and operations. Previous to that role, she was with Health Fitness Corporation in Minneapolis for 17 years in various health and wellness operations and human resources executive positions.
In addition to her professional achievements, Colleen has been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society since 1997, a service project coordinator for Avenues for Homeless Youth, and has supported the Eden Prairie Foundation through various fundraising leadership roles.
Colleen holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota, a mini-MBA from the University of St. Thomas, and has completed the Human Resources Executive Program at the Carlson School.
Jacqueline Lloyd Cunningham
Vice President, Marketing
Jacqueline Lloyd Cunningham is the Vice President of Marketing at YWCA Minneapolis. In this role, Jacqui oversees the development and implementation of a cohesive marketing direction that supports revenue and growth objectives for the organization’s five divisions: Health and Wellness, Early Childhood Education, Girls and Youth, Racial Justice and Public Policy.
Jacqui has 20 years’ experience as a strategic marketing leader. She has a passion for understanding what drives behavior and uses that insight to develop integrated marketing plans that drive brand relevancy and business results.
Before joining YWCA Minneapolis in 2014, Jacqueline was Marketing Manager, General Public Engagement at Be The Match®; led the Sales Promotion Marketing team at Target; and held various marketing positions at 3M, including product, business development and channel marketing activities for leading consumer brands Scotch® and Scotch-Brite®.
Jacqueline is an active member of the Women’s Health Leadership Trust, serving on the External Relations Committee. She has a BS degree in Marketing from Marymount College, Tarrytown, NY; an MBA degree from Fordham University in New York; and completed Continuing Education courses at the University of Minnesota Carlson School Management, including Healthcare Delivery Innovations. Jacqui is married, has two children and enjoys spending time at the lake.
Annie Porbeni, Ph.D.
Vice President, Human Resources
Dr. Annie A. Porbeni is the Vice President of Human Resources at YWCA Minneapolis, responsible for leading strategic Human Resources plans and operations and directing all of the people functions of the organization in accordance with the policies and practices of YWCA, Minneapolis. Dr. Porbeni joined YWCA Minneapolis in April, 2017. She has an extensive background in the human resources industry, most recently serving as the Director, Human Resources at Open Cities Health Center, St. Paul Minnesota. During her 4 plus years there, she was responsible for overseeing broad human resources and organizational effectiveness processes. Previous to that role, she was briefly with Valspar Corporation, Minneapolis, and provided Human Resources consulting for small to mid-level businesses locally and globally for 12 years. She was also the Executive Director for the Center for Community and Economic Development in Nigeria for 10 years before relocating to Canada for a graduate degree in International Development Studies.
Dr. Porbeni holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics and Extension from Rivers State University of Science and Technology Portharcourt, Nigeria. Subsequently, a professional Diploma in Community Based Development where she specialized in Participatory Learning and Action from St. Francis Xavier University/Coady International Institute Antigonish, Nova Scotia Canada, a Masters of Arts in International Development Studies from Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada and a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership Policy Development from the University of Minnesota with a specialization in Human Resources Development.
Dr. Porbeni is a strong advocate for social and economic justice, a cause that has taken her around the world.
Dr. Porbeni has three children. Presently, residing with her spouse (Dr. Francis Porbeni) and her three children in Woodbury, Minnesota. In her free time, she enjoys coaching her children in a variety of sports that include basketball, soccer and table tennis. She enjoys playing volleyball, badminton and handball. Other areas of interests are travelling, drawing, gardening, interior decoration and attending theaters.
Dr. Arnoldo Curiel
Vice President, Racial Justice and Public Policy
Prior to joining YWCA Minneapolis, Dr. Curiel worked in higher education for almost 10 years, most recently at the College of St. Scholastica, where he was an assistant professor and continues to adjunct for the Graduate Teaching Licensure program. Prior to his work for the College of St. Scholastica, he served as the diversity training coordinator for the Minnesota Youth Work Institute, and managed the Weed and Seed program in St. Paul’s Frogtown Neighborhood, where he founded Shop with Cops, an annual innovative youth development project designed to foster positive relationships between youth and police officers.
Dr. Curiel has provided countless multicultural trainings for organizations as varied as the Minnesota US Attorney’s Office, the Dunwoody Institute, St. Paul YWCA, the Overcoming Racism Conference, and the Higher Learning Commission conference. His publications include “Doing the Right Thing: Ethical Development Across Diverse Environments,” published by Wiley Periodicals.
Dr. Curiel is the recipient of several awards, including the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Award, Saint Paul Police Department Chief’s Award, Eleven Who Care, and the Excellence Award for Service to the Community from the College of St. Scholastica. He is a graduate of Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota and an Educational Doctorate from Hamline University.
Dr. Curiel has three children and lives with his family in Oakdale. In his free time, he enjoys watching and coaching his children in a variety of sports that include basketball, hockey, football, lacrosse and soccer. He also enjoys playing basketball, camping and running with his spouse.
Vice President, Girls and Youth Programs
Chris Ganzlin joined the YWCA in 2011 to oversee youth-serving programs that reach over 1,350 young people annually. She has over 20 years of experience in the youth development field and as a public advocate for youth, focusing on non-formal learning and out-of-school-time. Chris previously held the Howland Endowed Chair in Youth Development at the U of MN and comes to the YWCA from over two decades at The McKnight Foundation, where she created and shaped the foundation’s commitment to youth development.
Today Chris is active with the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board Afterschool Network that has developed a citywide quality framework, online afterschool program finder, and a shared database system to collect citywide afterschool data. She is also on the Better Together Hennepin Advisory Task Force working to reduce teen pregnancy across Hennepin County, serves on the Minnesota Pediatric Obesity Care and Coverage Task Force and Steering Committee whose role is to reduce health disparities in children of color in Minnesota, and chairs the board of YouthCARE. Chris holds a BA in Political Science and a Masters of Public Policy and Administration.
Vice President, Health and Wellness
Nicole Hessels is the Vice President of Health and Wellness at YWCA Minneapolis, responsible for leading the operation of three full service Health and Fitness Centers with 25,000 members annually.
Nicole Hessels joined YWCA Uptown in July 2012 as its General Manager, responsible for managing and overseeing all aspects of staff and facilities at the Uptown location. She supervised nine coordinators and managers who oversaw 100 - 120 staff, and sustained an annual site budget of more than $4.5 million. She successfully led the development of PATH, Physician Aligned Tracks for Health Program, in partnership with Allina Health System. Additionally in this role, she managed multiple million dollar renovations, and strategically managed an increase in membership retention and overall growth of the membership base.
Nicole has a vast background in the operations, health and management industries, most recently serving as the Community Impact Director for YWCA Minneapolis. She was responsible for planning, developing and implementing community health and wellness strategies and programs. These programs consisted of: TCM 5k, YWCA Women’s Triathlon, health fairs and corporate wellness partnerships. She effectively collaborated with her peers to exceed sales goals by 110% in the first month. Nicole delivered training of Effective Coaching and Documentation to all YWCA supervisors.
Previous to her roles at YWCA, Nicole was with various health and fitness centers in numerous management positions. These roles encompassed a distinct combination of business and accounting, with a strong emphasis in human resources and facility operations.
In addition to her professional accomplishments, Nicole is a current board member for Westminster Presbyterian Town Hall Forum. She contributes to the Forum’s success through her expertise in areas such as: policy development, community partnerships and sponsorships, promotion, fundraising and programming.
Nicole holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois in Sports Medicine.
Vice President, Early Childhood
Stephanie Thomas is the Vice President of Early Childhood at YWCA Minneapolis and responsible for leadership and strategy of all early childhood education sites, curriculum and workforce development program.
Ms. Thomas joined YWCA Minneapolis in August 2017. She has 23 years of nonprofit experience as a senior leader, demonstrated capabilities in program development, team leadership, relationship development and strategic management. Ms. Thomas obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls.
Stephanie is an expert in early childhood education and school-age care and has been an advocate for early childhood and school-age care on a state and national level. She is a certified trainer for working with 0-5 year olds, 5-12 year olds, school-age child care and administration of early childhood and afterschool programs. In her previous position, Ms. Thomas was responsible for leading and developing one of the largest non-profit departments of early childhood and school-age care programs in the state, positively impacting thousands of youth and families each year. She has provided leadership for research, development and implementation of new childcare programs, practices and resources.
Stephanie is a past board member of MnAEYC-MnSACA and is a member of the MnAEYC-MnSACA Policy and Advocacy Advisory Group, as well as the Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council Early Childhood Network. Stephanie, and her spouse Tim, enjoy spending time supporting their two children in a variety of academics, sports and other activities. They reside in Maple Grove.