Impact Studio Coaches

Want to know more about the coaches for the Impact Studios?

Justin Baker - Ph.D. Candidate

Justin has created ad campaigns for Fortune 500 companies and founded a start-up with two people. He has convinced masses to buy products they don’t need, and trained educators and other professionals to manage their emotions and lead others in ways very much needed. Today, Justin is working toward his Ph.D., studying psychology, design, behavioral science, meditation, and whatever else will help him design the schools needed to inspire the next generation and move the world forward. He leads workshops on mindful leadership, speaks to parents about learning, development and helicopter parenting, and will have coffee with anyone who wants to change the world and has an idea.

Samantha Brown - Project Manager at Alight

Samantha currently works at Alight (formerly the American Refugee Committee) as a Project Manager, with a focus on implementing small-scale and high-impact projects with refugee communities. Samantha developed a particular interest in the forcibly displaced during graduate school and uses skills developed there to think creatively about solutions in Alight’s programs now. In the past year, Samantha has led projects in Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Somalia, and Uganda, across a number of fields such as food security, agriculture, livelihoods, education and staff support. In addition to this, she has a particular interest in forced displacement, food, identity and Scandinavia.

Neal Cuthbert - Consultant

Since his retirement from The McKnight Foundation Neal has been consulting with various nonprofits and businesses and recently served as the Interim Co-Executive Director of the Cedar Cultural Center. While at the Cedar Neal helped stabilize the staff and operations and managed the hiring of a new executive director. During his last decade at McKnight Neal was the Vice-President of Program, and helped create a workplace that received Great Place to Work awards, national recognition for a highly regarded approach to philanthropy, and led the creation and oversaw the management of several of McKnight’s intermediaries such as Youthprise. 

He also oversaw the expansion of McKnight’s artist fellowship programs, established the Distinguished Artist Award, and co-developed the artist website, He was formerly the director/publisher of the monthly art and culture journal, Artpaper, and a planner at the Metropolitan Council in the arts program and housing program. Neal was born and raised in Detroit and in addition to his consulting work exhibits artwork and curates exhibitions and programs at Homewood Studios on the northside of Minneapolis.

Andrea Davila - Independent Consultant

Andrea is an independent consultant specializing in supporting social venture funds and social enterprises. She was previously the Deputy Director at Echoing Green, the pioneering social venture capital fund based in New York, NY. Over the past 10 years, she has supported entrepreneurs, government leaders, and philanthropists to build organizations with a focus on social and economic mobility. She has worked across the sector – in local and federal government, in direct service and philanthropy – at the City of New York, The Blue Ridge Foundation, the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, and Let’s Get Ready as an experienced problem solver and capacity builder for early stage social enterprise. She is passionate about social enterprise and serves on the advisory committee for the Program for Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University, as well as the Board of Director of the Impact Hub MSP. She holds a BA in Philosophy from Barnard College, and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Tom Fisher - Professor in the School of Architecture, Director of the Minnesota Design Center

Tom Fisher is a professor in the School of Architecture and the director of the Minnesota Design Center at the College of Design. The former dean of the college, he was recognized in 2005 as the fifth most published writer about architecture in the United States, and was named a top-25 design educator four times by Design Intelligence. He has written extensively about design thinking, in books like Designing our Way to a Better World (Minnesota, 2016) and about ethics, in books like The Architecture of Ethics (Routledge, 2019).

Rob Gradoville - Portfolio Manager, Designer, Engineer

Rob is coming off of four years with as Senior Portfolio Manager for the Amplify program. Built upon the creativity & experimentation that made the IDEO design consultancy famous, design-inspired incubator for social sector ideas; a laboratory for new ideas and new takes on old ideas. The Amplify portfolio of innovations have reached millions of people and sprouted new businesses in areas that large potential for positive impact. He spent his last year with living in Nairobi helping to get their first international design studio launched.

Before Rob focused on the international water & sanitation field for nearly a decade – as a Peace Corps volunteer, with Engineers Without Borders, as the founder of a nonprofit organization, as a Fulbrighter, and through varied positions at He served in roles with international oversight at through scale-up of the “WaterCredit” lending methodology, which has now reached over 20 million people with clean water. His three years spent living in the Dominican Republic and Peru with the Peace Corps and Fulbright taught him a lot about the challenges of the poor and gave him a passion for truly purposeful work.”

Tony Loyd - Leadership Development Expert

Tony is a leadership development expert. He helps purpose-driven business leaders to thrive in life so that they can connect with others and contribute to the world. He is a former Fortune 500 executive with companies such as John Deere, Medtronic, and Buffalo Wild Wings. He has extensive experience in strategic planning, talent management, and leadership development. Tony is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, business coach, and podcast host. He is the Executive Producer of the podcast Social Entrepreneur where he shares positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions. Social Entrepreneur is downloaded more than half a million times in over 180 countries. Tony also hosts Thrive. Connect. Contribute. where he tells positive stories of people who thrive in life, connect with others, and contribute to the world in the face of adversity. His latest project is Antiracist Voter where he shares stories about criminal justice, economic justice, environmental justice, education, housing, health, immigration, and voting rights. He is a TEDx speaker and the best-selling author of Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs.

Michelle Maryns - Founder and CEO of We Sparkle CO.

Michelle is the Founder and CEO of We Sparkle Co., a public benefit corporation that helps entrepreneurs build their businesses with balance via our suite of AI-powered software tools that saves them time, increases their sales, and optimizes their productivity in a sustainable way. Prior to We Sparkle, Michelle was the Chief of Strategic Initiatives at Meda, a community development financial institution named by the U.S. Department of Commerce as the top minority business development center in the country for four years in a row. Before Meda, she was the Associate Director of Digital Strategy and Innovation at the American Academy of Neurology, Strategy Consultant at Rêve Consulting, Community Relations Specialist at the U.S. Department of Justice, and a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State. In her free time, she helps business owners as a volunteer at WomenVenture and Entrepreneur in Residence at Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest. She earned a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Bachelor of Arts in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Kansas.

Mónica Nadal - Art and Talent Director at Pollen Midwest

Born & raised in Puerto Rico, Mónica is a designer with an innovative approach to experiential design and screen printing.  Mónica has years of experience working in Corporate America and in the Start-Up world but her passion lies in design and firmly believes that through design and storytelling we can help change our collective story for the better. Mónica currently works at Pollen Midwest as their Art and Talent Director and holds a B.A. in Mass Communications from La Universidad del Sagrado Corazón and M.A. in Graphic Design & Web Dev from MCAD.

Cheryl Robertson - Chair, Population Health and Systems Cooperative Unit, School of Nursing

Cheryl is a Public Health Nurse, Professor, and Chair, Population Health and Systems Cooperative Unit at the School of Nursing University of Minnesota. Cheryl’s program of scholarship and research relates to conflict, displacement, trauma and recovery. In recent years, she has developed several interdisciplinary research partnerships to study eco-system health and climate driven conflict and displacement in Africa. She uses strengths based approach to investigate and understand refugee displaced persons’ health, trauma, and coping. Based on the findings of her early work, she and her interdisciplinary research team have designed, developed, implemented and evaluated the effectiveness of community-based interventions that support healthy coping and healing. Cheryl is currently leading a multidisciplinary team of university scientists and young African scholars to study climate-driven conflict, displacement, and health at the human-animal-environment intersection in the Horn of Africa Arid Lands. This research builds on her scholarship and supports the Grand Challenges priority research agenda of the University of Minnesota.

Fred Rose - Graduate Faculty at the Science Technology and Environmental Policy Program

Fred is IonE Impact Goal Manager, Graduate Faculty at the Science Technology and Environmental Policy program at the Humphrey School and the lead instructor for all Acara courses. He provided entrepreneurial training for students at ten Universities in central and eastern sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia as part of a USAID funded One Health Workforce Initiative that is aimed at developing interdisciplinary teams of professionals to handle pandemic threats.

Fred has 40 years of experience in a wide range of technology research and development, emerging markets and global development teams, including as Director of Technology Strategy, Honeywell where he was responsible for strategy and development programs in India, US and China. He was also the co-founder of the non-profit, High Tech Kids.

Megan Voorhees - Acara Director, Affiliate Faculty at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Megan’s career has primarily focused on leading interdisciplinary campus-community higher education partnerships that provide engaged scholarship and leadership opportunities for students and faculty seeking to address complex social and environmental issues. She was the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Public Service Center at the University of California, Berkeley and the Community Service Coordinator for Lewis & Clark College. She also has led youth development and youth employment programs in the non-profit sector. She is now the Acara Director. Megan has a BA in Sociology/Anthropology from Lewis & Clark College, and a Masters in Theological Studies from the Graduate Theological Union. She completed a New Leaders Fellowship with the National Youth Employment Coalition and is currently working on completing her Coaching Certificate from the Coaches Training Institute. Megan is also Affiliate Faculty at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and teaches courses in the Grand Challenge curriculum, the Leadership Minor and for the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.