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Board of directors

The Alumni Association Board of Directors represents all alumni who are degree or certificate graduates of Metropolitan State University programs. Your Board now represents more than 55,000 graduates. We welcome your suggestions for improving and enhancing our service and communications with you. 

Matt Christenson ‘12, who joined the Airport Police Department (APD) as an entry-level community service officer in 1991, was named chief of the APD in September 2020 following an extensive national search. He became a police officer for the APD in 1993, was promoted to sergeant in 1999 and lieutenant in 2002. Christenson achieved the rank of commander in 2005 before being appointed deputy chief in 2013.

Christenson led the APD’s investigative division for almost 20 years, launched its explosives-detecting canine program in 2003, and helped develop the Airport Watch community policing program in 2008.

Christenson holds a master’s degree in public and nonprofit administration from Metro State University, a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Bethel University and an associates’ degree in law enforcement from North Hennepin Community College. He is a graduate of the 217th session of the FBI National Academy and is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and the FBI National Academy Association.

Christenson also served as a youth mentor for Hope 4 Youth at its Anoka Drop-In Center and has served on the church council at the church he attends.

Deidra Isaac ’16 holds a bachelor’s degree in cross cultural and global communications, human development, art and design, and a minor in organizational development. She is the founder, owner and chief executive officer of Ashes 2 Beauty Salon & Beauty Supply, LLC., and a mother of three.

Isaac is a long-time advocate and activist for diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is passionate about advocating for lifelong-learning and driving initiatives that help create a new generation of industry leaders in a facet of personal and professional disciplines.

Isaac is undeniably a catalyst for creating change and safe spaces for those she comes in touch with and is an avid activist in her community, building relationships and empowering communities and individuals.

Thulani Jwacu ’05 received his BA from Metropolitan State in 2005. Jwacu subsequently held multiple roles at Minneapolis Community and Technical College over a period of 11 years, before joining Greater Twin Cities United Way as a program manager for education and career pathway grants. In partnership with two colleagues, he recently founded Vuyo Community Partners, a consulting group focused on enhancing workforce readiness for BIPOC youth and young adults in the Twin Cities and Minnesota. 

Munira Maalimisaq ’19 received a master of science in nursing from Metro State and was chosen as an outstanding student in the 1,308-graduating class. She graduated with family nurse practitioner at Winona State University in May 2022.

Maalimisaq is an active member of her community and successfully created a support group for Somali Americans struggling with alcoholism in Minneapolis. She conducts extensive community outreach in underserved communities, educates residents about the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out to reduce vaccine hesitancy, and organizes pop-up vaccine campaigns at Mosques and community centers.

Bryan Newman ’15 received his bachelor’s degree from Metro State and currently works as an HR manager at Walmart. He has also worked as a store manager, an environment committee chair, a Toastmasters area director, and a banker. Newman has also authored the Knowledge Center book series. He enjoys spending time with his daughter and helping others be successful.

Matt Moe ’13 is an accomplished and versatile care delivery, finance, operations, and strategy leader with a proven track record of strong performance in the healthcare industry, having spent more than 10 years working as an executive for fortune 500 companies, most notably UnitedHealth Group and Anthem Inc. In his current role as president of the East Region for Anthem’s Care Delivery organization, Moe leads the $1.5 billon dollar region overseeing a staff of 800 clinicians and operational staff. Moe also holds an MBA from Capella University.

Lyna Nyamwaya (Lee-Na Nyum-Why-Ah) ’09 believes “If your presence does not create an impact, your absence will not make a difference.” (attribution unknown) Throughout her 20+ years as a registered nurse, author, tireless mentor, community educator, and highly sought-after keynote speaker, Nyamwaya delivers impactfully engaging presentations, and applies cultural humility to serve, educate, and empower others. Formerly an administrative manager in a level one trauma hospital and an adjunct professor in a university, Nyamwaya is the president and founder of The African Nurses Network Inc., and CEO for Bold Impact Group.

She holds a master’s degree of education leadership from Concordia University, a bachelor’s of science in nursing from Metropolitan State University, and an associate of science in nursing from North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park.

As a lifelong learner and doer, Nyamwaya believes sharing acquired knowledge is an effortless way to change lives. She serves on several committees, boards, and has organized many public health forums. For her work, Nyamwaya has been recognized with several awards both locally and nationally and is the author of Leading with Cultural Humility. For more details visit

Nyamwaya was born and raised in Kenya. She loves reading, teaching, listening to music, and event planning. She currently lives in New Hope, with her family.

Fidelis Odozi ’16 received his bachelor of science in marketing from Metropolitan State University. He is a seasoned marketer at Bain and Company whose work helps clients to spend their marketing budget in the most effective and efficient manner. In 2012, he created, marketed and managed a collaborative arts project called “New Age Art Salon” (hereafter, NaAs) that helped promote extraordinary artists (musicians, painters, dancers, etc.) in the Twin Cities and also helped established organizations like The Schubert Club in Saint Paul build awareness among younger audiences. One of the programs Odozi put together under NaAs was presented at Metro State during the opening of the New Main building in Saint Paul to help showcase one of the ways in which the space can be utilized.

Scott Pilgram ’10 received his BS degree in business administration. He has been an accounting manager with CBRE for 12 of his 15 years, and currently volunteers for CBRE Cares philanthropy committee to help with various fundraisers each year such as Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, and Ronald McDonald House among many others. He is also currently volunteering on the Metro State Alumni Board and as member of the Membership Committee.

Pilgram has been recognized for various achievements during his time with CBRE, such as Five-, Ten- and Fifteen-Year Service Awards, Excellence in Team Audit achievement, and various customer service awards in working with our clients. He is dedicated to providing leadership to his team while ensuring quality and delivering unmatched services to his clients.

Ryan Ringwelski ’21

Eric Rios ’15 received his bachelor’s degree from Metro State, started his career in inside sales, and has since grown to business development manager. He has spent most of his professional career working in health care in several varied roles. He has mentored, taught, and done considerable amounts of public speaking since he has started his career. Rios recently also started working more in depth with Metro State on the Membership committee.

Betsy Salvatore ’17 works as a Learning and Development assistant program manager at the University of Minnesota. In her role, she creates the vision, strategy, and roadmap for the online safety training program. She graduated from Metro State summa cum laude with a BA in technical communication and was named one of the Outstanding Students in the 2017 graduating class. In addition, Salvatore earned a MEd in curriculum and instruction from the University of Minnesota. Salvatore has held positions in higher education that supported faculty teaching and student learning strategies.

Shahbaz Shah ’15 is a communicator, connector, and people cultivator. He listens for the unsaid and takes a stand for what makes a difference. He lives Metro State University’s core values of excellence, engagement, inclusion, and integrity by creating spaces for open, respectful conversations, whether they arise in business, at school, or in his personal life.

In his pursuit of building relationships and empowering people, Shah serves as growth concierge at Media Garcia, a Saint Paul, Minnesota, growth agency. He helps business owners around the world harness the skills needed for lead generation, customer acquisition, and customer engagement, as well as cultivate their competitive advantage to fuel business growth. He also co-founded the web development and hosting company Alien Cyborg to break down the affordability barrier to developing great websites. As a Landmark Introduction leader, he supports and empowers people to redefine what’s possible in their lives through self-discovery.

Shah earned his bachelor of arts degree in organizational communication in 2015. During his time at Metro State, he served as the vice president of the Twin Cities Technical Communication Technical Community (TC 3) and was active in Project SHINE.

A resident of Saint Paul’s Old Rondo neighborhood (Summit-University), Shah enjoys watching movies and playing video games with his wife Valerie and son Kobi. He looks forward to building relationships and empowering alumni and future alumni of Metro State University.

Shanasha Whitson ’00 founded CPC 2.0 in 2017 after more than 15 years of committed service to the community. Whitson is every bit of home grown, being born and raised in Minnesota. She comes from a large family, grew up in South Minneapolis and attended high school in Brooklyn Center (Go Centaurs).

Whitson attended MCTC where she received her two-year degree, after which time she transferred to Metropolitan State University to receive a bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in criminal justice. After dedicating most of her time to community service, she decided to go back to school and receive her master’s degree in organizational management and communications from Concordia University in Saint Paul. Ms. Whitson also attended St. Thomas University to receive a Mini MBA because she wanted to help her community explore economic development opportunities. Most recently Ms. Whitson attended Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota to receive her LADC and LPCC.

Whitson has worked in the community, more specifically North Minneapolis, since 2000. She has worked with a lot of Minnesota’s organizations such as People Incorporated, The Minnesota Department of Health, Hennepin County, RS EDEN, DHS, HUD, Model Cities, Northside Funders Group, Harvest Preparatory, City of Minneapolis, City of Brooklyn Park, NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center, University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Duluth, Brakins Psychological and Consulting Services LLC., African Women & Youth Resource Center and The Minneapolis Urban League, just to name a few.

Amanda (Clark) Wong ’17 graduated from Metro State University Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor of arts degree in professional communication. Wong has worked in the construction industry since 2007, most recently as senior marketing/pursuit coordinator at McGough Construction where her primary focuses are proposal strategy and execution and public relations. In her spare time, Wong enjoys providing career coaching and mentorship to Metro State students and women in career transition. Since graduating, Wong has obtained professional development certificates in graphic design and reputation management.

Darrell Young ’20, received his BA from Metropolitan State in individualized studies with focus in youth, leadership, and program management. He has been the youth enrichment programs manager at St. Louis Park Community Education for seven years. Young is a husband and father of two children, and he is an advocate to end gun violence and social justice. Young is an avid basketball and football fan, and he currently is a high school football coach for Academy of Holy Angels. Young also earned a master of science degree and Director of Community Education license at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Kristine Hansen '07, director of alumni relations