Our staff

Staff Team Bios

Mysti Babineau, Climate Justice Organizer

Mysti Babineau serves as MN350’s Climate Justice Organizer, leading the Climate Majority Project and coordinating the work of the Policy Action Team. As an enrolled member of the Red Lake Nation, Mysti was inspired by the events at Standing Rock and has since volunteered her time to support indigenous-led resistance to the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. She is eager to help MN350 build its political power and build an inclusive climate movement with the leadership of people of color, immigrants and indigenous people.

Contact: mysti@MN350.org

Nancy Beaulieu, Northern Minnesota Organizer

Nancy Beaulieu decided to set aside her LPN licensing and dedicate herself fully to the environment after visiting Standing Rock. Her experience working in retail & sales management, metalsmithing, and carpentry make Nancy a good fit as a community organizer in Northern Minnesota. Nancy’s an enrolled member of the Leech Lake reservation who lives just east of Bemidji. In her spare time, Nancy enjoys living simply, gardening, ice-fishing, crafting and spending time with her family.

 Contact: nancy@MN350.org

Brett Benson, Communications Director

Brett’s commitment to justice is rooted in his childhood in North Dakota, where he grew up partly in Fargo and partly on a farm near the tiny town of Nome. He is the son of a nurse and a farmer and teacher who led union negotiations and ran for the state Legislature. Responding to a call to advocate for the marginalized and vulnerable, he started his career as a journalist, earning a B.A. from the University of North Dakota and an M.A. from the University of Missouri. He worked as a reporter, designer and editor at newspapers in Grand Forks, N.D., and Rochester, Minn., and was a pioneer in online journalism at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He transitioned to digital marketing, working for Best Buy and running an in-house agency for Medtronic. He also has experience in IT and leading a 100-person contact center.

Brett left the corporate arena in 2015 determined to return to a career of service and advocacy. Before joining MN350 in March 2018, he worked as a long-term consultant for CaringBridge, a nonprofit website, and was Operations Director for Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light. He has been a longtime volunteer with the ManKind Project, an organization devoted to helping men develop emotional literacy and find purpose. He also serves as the Manager of the Minnesota State Climate Table, a coalition of 30-plus environmental groups.

Brett lives in St. Paul with his family, which includes two children, two stepchildren and two dogs.

Contact: brett@MN350.org

Nicole Ektnitphong, Deep Canvass Director

Nicole Ektnitphong is a facilitator, trainer, and community organizer rooted in building out liberation and dignity within ourselves and our communities. Raised in Southwest Minnesota with roots in Thailand and Laos, Nicole comes to MN350 with training, mentoring, and organizing experiences in organizations and community groups including: Divestment Student Network, Tamales y Bicicletas, 350.org, Asians for Black Lives, Voices for Racial Justice, and Training for Change. Nicole graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College, where she organized for fossil fuel divestment and studied Political Science and Peace Studies.

As the first Deep Canvass Director at MN350, Nicole is eager to support more people to find their story and voice in the struggles and possibilities ahead of us. Outside of the work, Nicole enjoys rock climbing, pursuing creative endeavors, and learning all of her mama’s recipes.

Contact: nicole@MN350.org

Kate Jacobson, Program Director

Kate has been an advocate for sustainable agriculture, social justice, and resilient communities for the past 15 years. Her love for dirt, sunshine, all living species, and serving community has only strengthened as she joins her six-year-old daughter in discovering the world around us. Kate has a B.A. in Environmental Studies, operated an organic market farm in northeastern Iowa and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa. In addition to being a full-time mama, she is Program Director for MN350 and is fortunate to be working together with Minnesotans committed to urgent climate action that is building a movement for a just and sustainable world.

“Similar to many of the most important things in our lives; relationships, careers, school – addressing climate change by transforming the way we live and interact with ourselves, each other and the world around us takes commitment of healing energy, resources and courage.  We can be the change. We must be the change, together.”

Contact: kate@MN350.org

Madi Johnson, Office Manager

Growing up in rural Minnesota, Madi never met a frog she didn’t pick up. While living in the country but going to school in the city, she became interested in how communities differ in their approach to environmental stewardship. After graduating college she became an  AmeriCorps VISTA to help fight systemic issues of poverty and build self-reliant communities here in the Twin Cities.

As Office Manager of MN350, Madi supports staff and volunteers by coordinating administrative and data-related work.

Contact: madi@MN350.org

Ulla Nilsen, Engagement Director

Ulla has dedicated much of her life to the idea that a better world is possible. She grew up in MN, and returned in 2011, after spending 20 years living in California, Brazil, and Mexico. Since she became a mother and learned of climate change, Ulla has worked passionately to help solve the climate puzzle and uncover the connections between racial, economic, and climate justice. She has worked extensively with immigrant communities as a medical interpreter, documentary filmmaker, and union steward. As a volunteer with MN350 since 2012, Ulla coordinated the Corporate Accountability team and  helped build ties with the Minnesotans for a Fair Economy coalition. As MN350’s first Engagement Director, Ulla looks forward to helping MN350’s continued efforts to grow, reach new communities, and effectively welcome the many people who are inspired to create a better, healthier world together.

Contact: ulla@MN350.org

Andy Pearson, Midwest Tar Sands Coordinator

Andy Pearson is a lifelong Minnesotan who has loved the climate and environmental movement for as long as he can remember. After graduating from the University of Minnesota with an individualized degree in environmental communication (and publishing a thesis on building a climate movement along with Julia Nerbonne), he worked with Clean Water Action, MPIRG, Fresh Energy, and Minnesota Waste Wise before coming to MN350.

He is currently MN350’s Midwest Tar Sands Coordinator, helping to support the growing movement against extreme energy extraction and transportation in the region. When he’s not organizing, you might find him playing guitar, cooking food with friends, or daydreaming about public transportation in Madrid.

Contact: andy@MN350.org

Noa Shavit-Lonstein, Just Transition Organizer

Noa is a policy analyst and political wonk with a focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation. As MN350’s Just Transition Coordinator, Noa is responsible for MN350’s work promoting a de-carbonized transportation sector, as well as overseeing the volunteer Solutions Team and Corporate Accountability team.

Noa earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the Humphrey school of Public Affairs in 2018, after completing a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Minnesota. She joins staff after several years involvement with MN350’s volunteer teams, with organizing experience on several Minneapolis political campaigns.

Noa is a strong believer in the need for deep economic and social transitions to limit climate change and remain resilient in the face of its consequences, as reflected in her academic and political work.

Contact: noa@MN350.org

Grant Stevenson, Climate Justice Organizer

Grant has been a Lutheran Pastor for 26 years and has lived and worked in Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, Wisconsin, and his native Minnesota.  He has organized for almost two decades with the ISAIAH organization and serves as Finance chair on the board of  Take Action Minnesota.   “There are so many critical issues we are facing today but none are more important than addressing climate change. This is our home and everything and everyone we love is here.”

Contact: grant@MN350.org

Danielle Trajano, Climate Justice Organizer

Danielle is excited to share her passion for environmental justice and hope for a sustainable future in her role as Climate Justice Organizer. Her connection to the climate justice movement is rooted in her love and appreciation for nature, deep values of respect and responsibility, and travel experiences where she witnessed the devastating impact climate change is already having on the global south. She also lived in Uppsala, Sweden for six months where she saw sustainable systems in place, like comprehensive public transportation and winterized bike paths, which inspired her about changes we can make in Minnesota.

Danielle graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College where she studied political science and studio art along with leading her campus’s environmental awareness organization.  Her senior thesis focused on how artists in Minneapolis see their work as a form of resistance – she is inspired by art/creativity and their power in shaping and sustaining movements.  When she’s not working you can find her cross country skiing, making earrings, and spending time with friends and family.

Contact: danielle@MN350.org

Kevin Whelan, Executive Director

For more than 20 years Kevin has organized and led professional communications efforts for groups pursuing racial and economic justice.  He sees the climate crisis as an urgent call to build a winning, inclusive movement for more sustainable and just society.

Kevin has worked with organizations including Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). From 2012 – 2014 he served as National Campaign Director of the Home Defenders League.

Kevin earned an M.A. focusing on Cultural Studies at the City University of New York and a B.A. from the University of Redlands. He and his family, including two great, spirited daughters, live in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Contact: kevin@MN350.org