Staff and Board

Staff Directory


Bill Vanderwall
Capacity Building Manager
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Cherre Palenius
Housing Development Manager
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Chip Halbach
Executive Director

Cynthia Paulson
Housing Programs Officer
Crisis Housing Coordinator
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Jen Shadowens 

Federal Policy & Communications Associate
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Josh Northey
Grants Manager
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Karin Todd
Housing Capacity & Communications Assistant
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Leigh Rosenberg
Director of Research & Outreach

Luke Avery
Development Officer

Matthew Reuland
Operations & Communications Assistant
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Rosemary Fagrelius
Housing Development Director

Sarah Bellefuil
Housing Programs Officer
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Sunny Bjorklund Schultz 
Director of Finance & Contracting
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ThaoMee Xiong
Policy Director
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Staff Bios

Bill Vanderwall - Capacity Building Manager

Bill assists many affordable housing organizations with strategic planning and organizational development efforts.  He also is responsible for getting new MHP initiatives up and running.  With over 20 years of experience in leadership, nonprofit management, partnerships & collaboration, and community engagement, he also works to build community development strategies that lead to economic sustainability. Bill believes in community involvement, and lives that ethic out as Board Chair of the Conflict Resolution Center and many other volunteer activities.  Trained in professional facilitation and community mediation techniques, Bill's favorite thing is to create the hidden opportunity in each and every challenge! 

Cherre' Palenius - Housing Development Manager

Cherre' has over three decades of experience working in the housing industry. As a certified HOME Program Specialist and Housing Development Finance Professional, Cherre' specializes in providing HUD-related technical assistance to promote single family and rental housing development and rehab. At her prior position working with the City of Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development Department (CPED) Cherre' provided technical assistance to promote the design of homebuyer programs, homeownership rehabilitation, and rental housing development. Cherre' enjoys working with diverse groups of individuals/organizations creating and implementing affordable housing programs for their communities.  In her spare time, she enjoys most outdoor activities: gardening, camping, hiking, fishing and spending time with family and friends. 

Chip Halbach - Executive Director

Chip is responsible for overall coordination of MHP. Chip also specializes in state and federal housing policy. Chip's work in affordable housing spans several decades (and two centuries!). He has been occupied as a housing developer, tenant and policy advocate, researcher, organizational developer and program administrator. He takes most pride in his efforts to improve public perception and support for activities that improve the living conditions of lower income people and create communities which are inclusive. While three kids, two cats, a dog and spouse claim some of his time he does not venture far from the world of affordable housing.

Cynthia Paulson - Housing Programs Officer

Cynthia brings 25+ years of experience in the areas of community development. She specializes in lending programs, CDBG funding, affordable housing, economic development, and is HOME certified. She has worked with all levels of government in securing funding and administering programs. Examples include Federal Home Loan Bank loan programs, refugee business development, foreclosure prevention programs, and single family development to name a few. She has raised and spent millions of dollars supporting these activities and is passionate about administering public dollars in the best possible manner. When not at work she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading and most recently has begun recruiting host families for foreign exchange students.

Jen Shadowens – Federal Policy & Communications Associate

Jen supports MHP's federal policy and communications work. She is responsible for the Minnesota roll-out of the United for Homes campaign to fund the National Housing Trust Fund. Jen has ten years of advertising agency experience working with local and national clients and is currently a graduate student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs with a focus in affordable housing. A resident of Northeast Minneapolis for over a decade, she has worked on neighborhood revitalization efforts there including the NRP program, the Eastside Food Co-op, the Northeast Investment Co-op, plus house rehabilitations. She is a board member of Yinghua Academy, the Chinese immersion charter school that her two children attend.  Jen enjoys biking, hiking, and skiing with her family.

Joshua Northey - Grant Manager

Josh does much of the behind-the-scenes paper pushing and number crunching involved with administering MHP's work on large federal contracts. Josh has five years of experience working in federal compliance. His day-to-day work focuses on tracking and reporting staff time and expenditures on a variety of projects. He is also partially responsible for maintaining MHP's IT infrastructure. When not at work Josh can be found spending time with his wife watching movies and playing games, biking, or at the hockey rink.

Karin Todd - Housing Capacity & Communications Assistant

Karin is responsible for ensuring that MHP's communications engage and educate stakeholders about affordable housing issues. She also provides administrative support for MHP's Loan & Grant Funds and Federal Technical Assistance Contracts. Additionally, she plans and develops curriculum for MHP's Housing Institute.  Outside of work, Karin is a member of the Board of Directors at HOME Line, an organization that focuses on renters' rights. She enjoys Pilates, biking, running, and baking sweet treats.

Leigh Rosenberg - Research & Outreach Manager

Leigh does much of the behind-the-scenes research and writing at MHP. Leigh has fifteen years of experience in research, evaluation, and data analysis in university, government, and non-profit settings in the US and abroad, mostly for social justice projects. She writes most of MHP's research reports such as the 2x4 Report, the County Profiles, and Housing Trends. She takes special pride in making wonky data and information accessible and understandable. She is also responsible for a mélange of communications work, as well as MHP's internship program. When not hanging out with data, words, and people, she can often be found meditating gratefully and marveling at the squash growing in her back yard.

Luke Avery - Development Officer

Luke is responsible for communicating MHP's program goals and accomplishments to current and potential funders.  He has been with MHP since 2002, first as an AmeriCorps*VISTA member, and then as part of MHP's staff.  Along with preparing funding requests and reports for corporate and private foundations, he leads the application process for MHP's collaborative technical assistance contracts with HUD and USDA Rural Development. These national, multi-year requests bring together partners from throughout the Upper Midwest and across the country. He also participates in the management of MHP's technology resources, and helps people remember what that random report from five years ago said, and figure out where it might be living after all these years.  When he's not at MHP, he can be found enjoying the seasons in Como Park.

Matthew Reuland - Operations & Communications Assistant

Matt is a jack-of-all trades who functions as administrative support for several staff teams to strengthen the performance of MHP and its mission. His responsibilities include general office administration, fund development and communications, and general technology support. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Matt's diverse job history ranges from independent filmmaking to trail work to volunteer management. Most recently, he completed a year of service as an AmeriCorps member working for an organization that specializes in affordable housing - an invaluable experience that has led to his current passion and position at MHP. Outside of the office, Matt enjoys rock climbing, biking and frolfing, and is pursuing an additional degree in Computer Graphics and Animation.

Rosemary Fagrelius - Housing Development Director

Rosemary has 35+ years of experience in the affordable housing field. She has designed and implemented housing programs at the federal, state, and community level, and has raised over $20 million dollars through public and private funding proposals. Rosemary has participated in the development or rehabilitation of over 2,000 affordable housing units through technical assistance and capacity building work with organizations developing multi-family ownership, rental, and supportive housing projects.  Her TA expertise includes accessing and complying with HOME, CHDO, CDBG, SHP (ESG), CoC (S+C), and NSP funding, conducting feasibility analysis, and coordinating public and private funding sources. She is a Certified HOME Program Specialist—Regulations. Rosemary lives in St. Paul with her husband and has three adult sons.  In her spare time she loves to downhill ski, bike and stay physically active and is the co-founder and Board Vice-Chair of the Highland Friendship Club, a nonprofit organization serving individuals with disabilities by providing a range of opportunities to develop lifelong skills, friendships and connections within their community.

Sarah Bellefuil - Housing Programs Officer

Sarah provides direct technical assistance and capacity building under the CHDO, HOME, McKinney-Vento, and rural development programs.  She holds two HOME Program certifications: HOME Specialist—Regulations and HOME Specialist—Rental Housing Compliance. Previously, Sarah worked as a Planner responsible for housing development and redevelopment activities.  When not at work, Sarah enjoys all the sights and sounds Minnesota has to offer.

Sunny Bjorklund Schultz - Director of Finance & Contracting

Sunny oversees MHP's finances and collaborates with others to ensure accurate tracking and timely reporting of MHP contracts. She brings over 20 years of executive and finance/accounting experience to MHP. Sunny began her career in the finance department of an international nonprofit followed by work  in the private and public sectors, including four years with the Scott County Housing & Redevelopment Authority (now CDA). When not at work (and the weather cooperates), Sunny loves to sit at the beach and read. Sunny believes her two greatest successes in life are her two children.

ThaoMee Xiong - Policy Director

ThaoMee (pronounced Tao-May) works on federal, state, and local housing policy issues.  She has professional legal advocacy and public policy experience on issues related to poverty, immigration, refugee resettlement, domestic violence, housing, and civic engagement. She is committed to developing meaningful and effective public policy through community engagement and grassroots organizing.  She believes that the communities most impacted by the policy proposal should have an opportunity to be involved in the decision-making process. ThaoMee's passion for public policy comes from her refugee parents' commitment to the democratic process and community building. ThaoMee is the mother of two young children, Kynnedi and Maxim. She is an aspiring gardener and is on a quest to visit every bakery in the Twin Cities.


Kristin Beckmann
Vice President, Programs & Services
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity

Skip Duchesneau
DW Jones Management Inc

Donna Fairbanks
Sole Proprietor
Indian Housing Consultant
White Earth Ojibwe Nation

Paul Fate
President and CEO
CommonBond Communities
St. Paul

Jay Jensen
The Waters Senior Living

Arlen Kangas
Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation
Detroit Lakes

Jeffrey Koerselman
Winthrop & Weinstine PA

Marv Kotek
Frerichs Construction Company
St. Paul

Kyle Makarios
Political Director
North Central State Regional Council of Carpenters
Saint Paul

Carol Schultz
Special Projects Administrator
Duluth Housing & Redevelopment Authority

Martin Shimko
Assistant Vice President
Community Affairs Manager
US Bank

Paul Sween
Dominium Development & Acquistion LLC

Jamie Thelen
Sand Companies Inc
Waite Park

Mark Ulfers
Executive Director
Dakota County Community Development Agency

Joe Weis
Chairman Emeritus
Weis Builders

Carilee Witta Warner
Development Manager
NeighborWorks America
Inver Grove Heights

Bill Ziegler
Little Earth of United Tribes Housing Corp