Mile in My Shoes Board of Directors

Board opening! We are currently seeking a Development Chairperson. Learn more and apply here

Jana Huffman – Board Chair

Jana began running with the team late summer 2014, and became part of transitioning the team from a group to a non-profit at Mike and Mishka’s invitation that winter. Her professional experience ranges from volunteer management in her time at a small non-profit to health education while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She knows the power running had in transforming her own life and health, and feels that getting to work to pair that power with her passion to come alongside people experiencing homelessness might be even more wonderful than coffee.

Benj Vardigan – Communications and Marketing Chairperson

Benj brings a range of writing and running experience to MiMS. As communications director at the Oakland Public Education Fund, he wrote stories and grants that celebrated and supported Oakland public schools. While there, he coached Urban Promise Academy's middle-school track team and volunteered with Running for a Better Oakland. Thanks to the kids he ran with on the school's tiny track and around Lake Merritt, Benj discovered the power of running to bring communities together, and he feels lucky to have found this again through Mile in My Shoes. 

Jennifer Broman – Board Member

For Jenny, Mile in My Shoes reflects an intersection of her passion and vocation. She has a passion for being active in any shape and form – running, hiking, yoga, and more. Plus, her vocation centers on intentionally listening, learning and collaborating to strengthen community. She enjoys time outside in the Minnesota summers, particularly with a cup of coffee or sweet treat.

Matt Hourigan – Treasurer

A life-long athlete and now a coach, Matt knows firsthand the incredible power of a team. He is inspired by the opportunity that each MiMS team offers its resident and mentor runners alike. Matt brings a diverse set of experiences to his work with MiMS, having served in various nonprofit finance and education roles throughout the Twin Cities over the past 10 years. Financial planner by day, high school lacrosse coach by night, and a dad to two young boys always, Matt has no problem staying (happily) busy!

Margaret Guelzow - Board Member

When needing something to ground her in healthier living after having two kids and a stressful career, Margaret turned toward running and has been putting in the miles ever since! She believes, through firsthand experience, that having a community of people with a focus on creating a healthy life is essential to success and being happy. When Margaret heard about Mile in My Shoes, it presented an opportunity to combine her professional experience with a passion for community and running to create this same opportunity for people that may not otherwise find it.  

Monica Nilsson - Board Member

Monica's interest in joining the Board of Mile in My Shoes came from her desire to support meaningful, not charitable, connection between people who have experienced homelessness and those who haven't. Having operated shelters and street outreach programs serving homeless youth and single adults for over 20 years, Monica hopes to partner with the homeless community in educating run mentors and building the MIMs program. She sees the value of relationship for people who have been isolated and, having completed 2 marathons, the value of setting and reaching a goal.

Chris Wellner - Board Member

Chris, a physical therapist, frequently educates others about the importance of exercise in improving and maintaining health throughout one's life. She is also interested in how being part of a community encourages and reinforces healthy behaviors. Chris started running on a regular basis during college, and values all of the benefits running provides, including the "runner's high" and the feeling of accomplishment when achieving a new goal.

Michael Jurasits – Co-founder

Mike became involved with an organization called Back on My Feet when he decided he wanted his running to be about more than his own personal achievements, and served there in various capacities. After arriving in Minnesota, Mike, with his partner Mishka, decided they wanted to continue to run with people from all walks of life! Mike brings running knowledge and ability to the team, and is known for his wicked dance moves and tremendous support of his runners and volunteers.


Mishka Vertin, Co-founder, Executive Director

When Mishka first proposed starting a little running group to the staff of Higher Ground Minneapolis in 2014, she had no idea that so many runners of ALL types would want to be a part of it - or that it would grow to include hundreds of runners across the Twin Cities in just a few years. A licensed social worker, Mishka brings over a decade of nonprofit experience to Mile in My Shoes and has thoroughly enjoyed learning all that it takes to run a successful startup nonprofit. While her focus is now primarily on the growth of Mile in My Shoes - strategic planning, development and community partnerships - she still gains her motivation from the team runs, where those first miles, fierce hugs, and incredible bonds continue to inspire every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning.

Dina Carpenter, Program Director

Dina has a passion for running, for community, and for the power that emerges when the two come together. Her professional background is an equal mix of marketing and fundraising. She particularly enjoys helping small businesses and non-profit organizations build visibility and support through a fine-tuned mission, a well-told story, and a strategic communications plan. In addition to running, Dina is often found with her nose in a book, at a local dog park, or at “the lake” with her family.

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