Sarah Schlicht, Board President
Sarah’s talents include lifting others up through mentoring and caring capable leadership. Bringing strategic problem-solving skills, follow-through, and resourcefulness to develop and maximize individual and collective talent. Sarah Schlicht has an MBA in Project Management and is a 15-year Air Force Veteran. She began working in healthcare, and later healthcare IT. Sarah currently works for the American Legion Dept. of MN helping veterans with their benefits. After high school, Sarah joined the Air Force as a medical tech and enjoyed caring for elderly patients in the hospital quickly realizing that aiding others was her life purpose. Wanting to serve others in her community, Sarah joined Basic Needs Inc. in 2018.
Sarah is an aspiring minimalist, loves live music, and adores the family’s two cats. She is married, lives in Cottage Grove, and has two young adult sons.
Traci Leffner, Vice President
Traci Leffner is the President at Sovran, Inc., which is committed to delivering the best IT experience possible. Traci attributes their success to strong technical expertise, hard work, integrity, and exceptional communication. Having grown up with southern values in Texas, Traci radiates a positive, giving perspective on life and work. Sovran, a values-based company, shows respect and appreciation for customers and employees. And as a team, they give back to the community and the nonprofits they serve.
Married to her high school sweetheart, Traci lives in Cottage Grove with her husband, their pit bull, Coco, and two new kittens. She especially loves the small-town feel with all the metro opportunities close by. They enjoy movies, dinners with their adult daughters, and worldwide travel. Of all her travels, Traci especially relishes reminiscing about her family trip to Africa.
Vickie Snyder, Executive Director
Vickie is a healthcare technology leader with over 31 years of Healthcare Technology Management experience. She has supervised management staff, administrative staff, and union/non-union staff with responsibilities that included budgeting, human resources, staff training, regulatory compliance, database management, life cycle management, project management, construction, service contract management, vendor negotiations, and been an independent consultant. Vickie was the Board President for Basic Needs Inc, of South Washington County from 2016 until June of 2021 when she became the Executive Director. In that role Vickie is responsible for the operations of the organization including the management of Basic Needs Thrift Shop in Cottage Grove, MN.
Brigit Fields, Board of Director
Briget Fields is a Relationship Manager in the banking industry. With more than 14 years of financial services experience, Briget has held several roles ranging from Branch Manager, Small Business Specialist to Senior Program Manager and Relationship Manager throughout the Twin Cities and Great Lakes regions. Briget’s clients appreciate her 1:1 connection, passion and customized approach to help local companies thrive with their business goals, no matter how simple or how complex.
To help strengthen and build the community we serve, Briget currently serves as board Treasurer for Girl Scouts of River Valleys Pine Tree Ridge. She has a passion for volunteering, financial literacy and giving back to our local communities as she have been a longtime volunteer with Basic Needs and her church community.
Briget earned her bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University and loves to travel to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (The U.P!) Ask me about it sometime. Briget resides in Cottage Grove, MN with her husband, Wayne and 2 college bound children, Skylar and Dalton and her loyal dog, Goldy. (Go Gophers!) She enjoys hosting camping, photography and waterfalls.
Genya Akselrod, Board of Director
Genya Akselrod is an IT professional and is currently overseeing a global practice of consulting professionals in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) space. He has experience in the Thrift Store/Retail space as a former owner and operator of a thrift store, Thriftees, which was located on the University of Minnesota Campus in Minneapolis. He graduated the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Development and a Bachelor of Science in Business and Marketing Ed. Genya likes to go out and hike in state and national parks, play board games and chase his one year old toddler around the house.
Mary Maruska, Board of Director
Mary Maruska is a Sr Operations Analyst for the Information Security division of Delta Air Lines, Inc. After 20 years with Stillwater School’s Community Education, including five years on the Minnesota Community Education Association Board of Directors, Mary began working as a contractor in Information Technology within the healthcare, wealth management, and software development fields, before joining Delta Air Lines, Inc. in 2016. Mary and her family have lived in Cottage Grove since 2008. Her husband runs their Maruska Maintenance business.
When she’s not working, Mary enjoys traveling, spending time with her family of six and their cat, getting into adventures with friends, visiting small towns/walking somewhere new, attending jazz events, sharing helpful hints with her neighborhood coffee clutch, volunteering for the local elementary and high schools of Cottage Grove and watching Netflix to wind down from the day.
Meenu Howland, Board of Director
Meenu is an experienced data executive leader with over 15 years of experience. Currently she is the Head of Enterprise Data Governance for Genesys Software Company (known better as Genesys Cloud CX). Previously she has worked at several other large corporations in the Twin Cities, including Travelers Insurance and Xcel Energy, both in leadership and in consultative roles. She has experience in fundraising, staffing and training, compliance processes, regulatory strategy, GRC operations, budgeting, multiyear road mapping and strategic planning, and has extensive experience in internship programs both creations and operations at scale.
Meenu has previously served as the Communications Co-Chair Board Member for the Nuevas Fronteras Parent Teacher Student Organization. She is also the owner of a small boutique business in Cottage Grove which supports other woman and minority owned small businesses.
When not working, Meenu spends time quality time with her husband and 2 children, enjoying her love of animals, and finding ways to support her community as a resident of Cottage Grove for the last 17 years and a lifetime Washington County resident.
Whitney Harvey, Board of Director
Whitney Harvey is a Minnesota native with a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Gustavus Adolphus College and a Master of Health Care Administration. Whitney currently serves as the Senior Director of Workforce Diversity and Inclusion at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce where she leads an initiative to assist and support Minnesota businesses (Chamber member companies) in cultivating and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and strategies statewide. Whitney is a collaborative and passionate leader who values variety and innovation. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling with her husband and two daughters (Riley, 10 and Mila, 4), live music, sporting events and exploring local restaurants.