To be expert navigators, transforming ideas into accomplishments.
President & CEO
Elissa Hansen leads Northspan with more than 20 years of experience in business, community, organizational, and economic development across Minnesota and Wisconsin. She invests her time creatively advancing others’ capabilities. In Elissa’s role at Northspan, she engages with and elevates every client by facilitating tough conversations and moving organizations forward with action-oriented strategic methods. She works to create a setting for meaningful communications that respects diverse perspectives, creates joint resolve, and inspires individual and group action.
A Typical Week
President & CEO
Elissa Hansen invests her time creatively advancing others' capabilities. She pilots Northspan's facilitation of strategic planning processes for public, private, and nonprofit organizations in the Upper Midwest. She also spearheaded the creation of the northeast Minnesota Welcoming Community programming and has worked to expand and enhance Northspan’s programs. She leads Northspan with over 20 years of experience in business and economic development across Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Bob Palmquist has over 30 years of experience at Northspan providing technical and financial assistance to large and small businesses, financial institutions, local units of government, and development organizations. He also provides professional services for succession planning facilitation and valuations to businesses in northern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. He spent 17 years in commercial lending prior to joining Northspan in 1991.
Research Director & Senior Consultant
Karl Schuettler helps to guide Northspan strategic planning processes and conducts research and analysis on economic and demographic trends. His work includes using data to tell stories for communities and organizations, community development project management, and support for Northspan’s programs. He joined Northspan in 2016 and holds a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a master's degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Minnesota.
CONSULTANT & NORTHLAND CONNECTION PROGRAM MANAGER
Miriam Kero joined Northspan in 2022 and provides community and organizational development services. Miriam manages the Northland Connection program and provides support to Northspan’s partners through demographic data, economic analysis, and information on commercial real estate. Miriam brings over 25 years of experience in industry, government, non-profit, and education. With a specialty in communication, Miriam is practiced in engaging people, communities, and organizations in strategic development work.
ALI BILDEN CAMPS
CONSULTANT & NORTHFORCE PROGRAM MANAGER
Ali Bilden Camps joined Northspan in 2022 as a consultant and provides community and organizational development services. She manages the NORTHFORCE program by connecting career-minded individuals with professional advancement opportunities and supporting our regional employers’ current and future workforce needs. Ali brings over 15 years of nonprofit management and community development experience including working with organizations and individuals across all sectors. She has roots in northern Wisconsin and has called northeast Minnesota home for almost 20 years.
Zack Filipovich joined Northspan in 2022 and provides community, organizational, and business development services such as facilitating conversations, conducting business valuations, packaging Small Business Administration (SBA) loan applications, and designing loan fund services. Zack brings over 9 years of in-depth accounting and financial experience and 8 years of public service experience including reviewing and approving budgets. Zack holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and is currently pursuing his master’s of business administration from the University of Minnesota Duluth.
CONSULTANT & OPERATIONS MANAGER
Amanda Vuicich oversees Northspan operations, supports community banks by providing SBA 7a loan packaging services, and assists with business, organizational, and community
development clients as led by other Northspan staff. Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree from
the University of Minnesota Duluth, with a major in International Studies. She joined Northspan in 2018 and has previous operations experience in the accounting and hospitality sectors.
Ashley Luna assists in administrative operations for the Northspan team and provides logistical support for regional partnerships. She also works on Northspan powered programs such as Northland Connection, NORTHFORCE, and the Minnesota Opportunity Collaborative. Ashley previously worked for a non-profit organization providing advocacy and case management services to at-risk youth in the Duluth area. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Minnesota Duluth.
WELCOMING COMMUNITY PROGRAM COORDINATOR | LEAD FOR MINNESOTA FELLOW SERVING NORTHSPAN
Amber Lewis coordinates the Welcoming Community program focused on finding ways to bring community solutions to challenges while bringing people together across differences. Her work involves fostering a more welcoming community in northeast MN and supporting talent retention and community engagement in the region through facilitating community conversations, learning opportunities, and community projects centered on belonging and inclusivity. She joined Northspan in 2021 on a two-year fellowship with Lead for America and has a master's degree in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration announced in a June 21 press release that the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe will receive $3.1 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support entrepreneurship with the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy Business Incubator (TEBI). The grant application process spanned across two years and involved a wide range of…
Age often presents a barrier to participating and enjoying community activities and resources to the fullest extent. Disparities exist in health care, employment, housing, community engagement, transportation access, and more. Initiatives to address age barriers are often focused on elders in our communities, but addressing age discrimination helps to support the full participation of…
What happens when a community isn’t welcoming? Employees quit. That new family that moved in only stays a year. Population declines, along with economic vitality. A broad range of efforts and events are underway in the Northland right now to foster a more welcoming culture in Northeastern Minnesota. Here are three you might not have…