The Future Services Institute's mission is to advance human services into the 21st century. In our work, we are committed to:

  • Attack institutional racism and other systemic inequality that prevents the current human services system helping all Minnesotans live respectful lives
  • Work across organizations – public and nonprofit – with people who bring their minds and hearts to the work of transforming human services
  • Alleviate the burden, stress, and fatigue in these systems
  • Integrate services across systems, institutions, and agencies, and
  • Act as an incubator, innovator, and influencer to advance Minnesota’s human services sector, with a focus on appropriate and effective service delivery to people in need.

 

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Our logo reflects our bold ambition via the abstract depiction of a ray of light and as a series of stepping stones towards a stronger future. 

Our tagline ‘Bolstering Innovation and Effective Implementation in Human Services’ captures the heart of the work we do.

 

We partner with state agencies, counties, tribal nations, community organizations, non-profits, and foundations, among others, because we believe that the work we do will require all hands on deck. To learn more about the various endeavors we are involved in, check out our What We Do section. 

We bring the brightest minds together to work with you and your organization. Our ever-expanding team now includes:

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Sook Jin Ong
Director

Sook Jin leads the Future Services Institute, a new initiative of the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center. In this role, she brings her interest and practice in blending human-centered design and participatory leadership principles to be of service to those in human services. Prior to this, she managed the partnership between the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Minnesota Department of Human Services on improving service delivery in the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP). Previously, she spent several years in the corporate sector as a consultant.

Sook Jin earned her bachelor’s degree in management and economics from the University of Sydney, Australia and graduated with a master's degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. 

Sook Jin comes from the multicultural cosmopolitan city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She posits that you can take her out of Malaysia, but not the Malaysian out of her - that spirit lives in how she hosts spaces and graphically records the world around her.

 
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Jodi Sandfort
Academic Director

Jodi Sandfort is the Academic Director of the Future Services Institute. She is also a Professor at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and chairs the Management and Leadership Area. Jodi's research, teaching, and practice all focus on improving the implementation of social policy, particularly those policies designed to support low-income children and their families. She received a Ph.D. in political science and social work (1997) and a Master's in Social Work (MSW; 1994) from the University of Michigan.

Jodi has spent her career moving back and forth between professional practice and academic posts. She was a Senior Fellow at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and directed the Human Service Program at the McKnight Foundation where she managed a portfolio of $20 million in annual giving directed to the human service system in Minnesota.

Jodi is currently a Scholar with the national Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Consortium. Originally from Menomonie, Wisconsin, Sandfort lives with her husband, Steve Marchese, and two sons in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she likes to cross-country ski and garden. Jodi's work can be found at www.jodisandfort.org.  

 
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Stephanie Jacobs
Public & Nonprofit Leadership Center Director

Stephanie Jacobs is director of the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center (PNLC), a community that creates and nurtures excellence in public affairs management and leadership. Prior to joining the PNLC, Stephanie was Program Director at the Nonprofits Assistance Fund. Previously, she was director of member services at the Minnesota Council on Foundations and consulting associate with Fieldstone Alliance.

Stephanie is a graduate of St. Olaf College and holds a master's degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Stephanie participated in the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Leadership Institute and is an active volunteer in the Minnesota nonprofit community.

When not at the Humphrey School, you'll find Stephanie on her bike, catching some live music at a concert, or hiking or camping in one of Minnesota's state or regional parks.

 
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Robin Phinney
Research Director

Robin joins FSI as our Research Director. She received her Ph.D. in Public Policy and Political Science from the University of Michigan. Her research and teaching focus on American politics and social policy, with an emphasis on interest group advocacy, the policymaking process, and the well-being of low-income families. Robin brings an interdisciplinary perspective to her research, which has been published in leading journals of political science, public policy, and social work. Her book on collaborative lobbying and social policymaking is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. Prior to joining FSI, Robin taught courses in American politics, public policy, and research methods at Brown University and the University of Minnesota. 

In her spare time, Robin would love to be camping in the Pacific Northwest, but is usually at home in Minneapolis (happily) corralling her two young sons. 

 
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Jen Mein
Innovation Manager

Jen Mein is one of our Innovation Managers. She is highly successful in cultivating authentic engagement that invites diversity of perspectives into critical conversations, fosters creativity and innovation, and energizes motivated individuals and groups to experiment with new ways of working, learning, and leading. She is recognized as someone who contributes to the field and honors the integrity of practices within the Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations That Matter local and global community. Prior to joining the Future Services Institute team, she served as an internal consultant to University of Minnesota leaders in areas of leadership development, engagement, and campus climate. She has an M.Ed. in Human Resource Development and B.A. in Sociology from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Playing various board and card games with her family, enjoying a nature walk with friends, practicing graphic recording are just some of the ways Jen spends her free time. 

 
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Isadora Collins Tabue
Innovation Manager

Isadora is one of our Innovation Managers. Isadora has served in a variety of professional roles within public and nonprofit workforce development. In these roles, Isadora served as an advocate in support of eliminating barriers that hinder education and professional advancement of individuals from communities of color. Isadora received her Bachelors of Arts in Professional Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations from Metropolitan State University. She completed her Masters of Public Affairs at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

In her free time, Isadora enjoys capturing moments in time, traveling, good eats and hosting family and friends in her home.

 

 
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Trupti Sarode
Program Evaluation Associate

Trupti brings her expertise in program evaluation to the Future Services Institute. As a Master of Development Practice graduate from the Humphrey School of Public affairs, she focused on early childhood development, global health, and human development. Some of her work was with the Sustainable Healthy Cities, Sustainability Research Network funded by the National Science Foundation, Neighborhood House, Global Volunteers in St. Paul, and the Southside Community Health Services, Inc. Her experiences with large foundations such as the MasterCard Foundation (for its projects in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) and the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development (Egypt) provided her an international perspective to her work.

Originally, from India, Trupti completed her undergraduate degree in dentistry from Mumbai, India. She is now pursuing her PhD with the University of Minnesota.

 
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Diana Beck
Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center, Administrative Director

Diana Beck is the Administrative Director of the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center and works on a number of public sector redesign projects with the Future Services Institute. Diana comes to Minneapolis from New York City, where she spent more than 13 years working and teaching at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.  Diana began her public sector career as a Research Associate at the Center for Health and Public Service Research, where she worked on multiple projects focused on improving the systems that serve vulnerable populations. She is thrilled to return to this focus through her work with FSI.  Diana holds a Master of Public Administration from NYU and has taught coursework in microeconomics, statistics, public speaking, and the politics and economics of hunger and food security. 

Diana looks forward to exploring her new home and is most excited about her Minnesota State Park Permit. So far, Diana enjoys Sociable Cider Werks and the Midtown Greenway (not necessarily together). She does not miss the New York subway. 

 
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Keisha Blackman
Executive Office and Administrative Specialist

Keisha supports the work of the Future Services Institute in a variety of projects and act as a liaison in the work with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and local human service offices and tribes across Minnesota. Previously, she held a position in the University of Minnesota's Office of Equity & Diversity as the Assistant to the Director and Office Manager of The Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (MCAE). Keisha served a similar role at Hedgeman Center, Hamline University. Prior to working in the higher education sector, she spent almost twenty years in the nonprofit sector advocating for youth and families throughout the Twin Cities.

Originally from Chicago, IL, Keisha grew up in South Minneapolis. She currently lives in Richfield, MN. She enjoys food, family and anything that involves her amazing boys!

 
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Kamaria Woyee
Principal Office and Administrative Specialist

Kamaria supports the work of the Future Services Institute in a variety of workforce development projects and our communications efforts. Kamaria operated in several positions within the financial industry over the last 10 years. During that time, she became involved with Social Assistance in Individual and Family Services for children with Autism, which fostered her awareness and interest in social policy.

She is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography from Argosy University Twin Cities. During her free time, Kamaria enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the movies, and exploring the Cities kid-friendly spots with her daughter. 

 
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Cate McKay
Graduate Research Assistant

Cate brings her experience in policy, research, program evaluation, and frontline direct services to the Future Services Institute. She is currently involved in an integrative supported housing program evaluation and research on human service policy implementation and institutions in Minnesota. Prior to FSI, she served in many capacities on behavioral health, child welfare, and community corrections research and programs in Colorado and Arizona. Cate is a doctoral student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She received her Master of Social Work and her Master of Public Administration from Arizona State University, and prior to that her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado – Boulder. Her research focuses on social policy implementation, cross-sector collaboration and relationships, and evaluation. 

Cate grew up in the Twin Cities and currently lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her husband and dog. Outside of her work, she enjoys spending as much time enjoying the rich arts and music scene in the Cities, and the outdoors with fishing, camping, and hiking throughout Minnesota. 

 
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Weston Merrick
Graduate Research Assistant

Weston joins FSI and the Humphrey School as a graduate research assistant and PhD candidate in public policy. He brings experience in policy analysis, performance measurement, research design, and using evidence to inform decision-making. Weston also leads Minnesota Management & Budget’s Results First Initiative, an effort to use high-quality evidence to estimate the extent to which publicly funded services generate positive, cost-effective outcomes for Minnesotans. Previously, he evaluated the effectiveness of business incentive and workforce development programs for the Department of Employment & Economic Development.
 
Weston holds a Master’s in Public Affairs from Indiana University and BSBA in Finance from the University of Missouri. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Weston met his wife and Minnesota native, Cassie, during undergrad. As a Minnesota transplant, he spends his summers on patios and winters indoors with his pup, Dewey.

 
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Rachel Kutcher
Graduate Research Assistant

Rachel is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Policy degree at the Humphrey School. Her interests include nonprofit management, social policy, human services, racial equity, and cross-sector/domain collaborations. Prior to arriving at Humphrey, Rachel worked with several nonprofit organizations, primarily in resource development and grant writing. She spent several years as the Resource Development Director of a nonprofit community health center in southwest New Mexico, where she also managed a racial health equity program in partnership with 10 Latino communities.

Rachel received her Bachelors of Science in Human Development from Cornell University. When not at FSI or studying, you'll find her biking, swimming, wandering around a farmer's market, or wistfully daydreaming about hiking mountains in the southwest.