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.
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 & FINANCE MANAGER
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.
ALI BILDEN CAMPS
CONSULTANT & NORTHFORCE PROGRAM MANAGER
Ali Bilden Camps joined Northspan in 2022 as a consultant and provides community, business, 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.
CONSULTANT & NORTHLAND CONNECTION PROGRAM MANAGER
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.
Stefanie Sjelin joined Northspan in 2023 as an Associate Consultant in a generalist role, utilizing a varied skillset and strategic mindset to assist with community, organizational, and business development and support the NORTHFORCE, Welcoming Community, and Northland Connection programs.
CAITLIN VANDER WAL
As a field, economic development has long recognized the benefits of businesses in clusters working together to support one another. How strange, then, that we often fail to fully implement the insights that underlie these theories in our own work. Now more than ever, regional cooperation is the most fundamental building block for successful economic…
ARROWHEAD ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY AGENCY (AEOA) STRATEGIC PLAN | 2022-2023 Challenge: The Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA), a Community Action Program designated to serve St. Louis, Lake, and Cook Counties in northeast Minnesota and providing additional service in nine neighboring counties, sought to complete a 2023-2025 strategic plan. AEOA is mandated to complete regular strategic plans…
Championing business ownership equity is more than just a phrase; it’s a mission that can deeply enrich our communities and the people living within them. August, which is National Black Business Month, serves as a reminder of the importance of equitable, diverse business ownership throughout the Northland region. While we honor Black businesses this month,…