Northspan Team Updates: August 2023

Duluth-based nonprofit consulting firm Northspan Group, Inc., is announcing several recent staffing updates:   

Amber Lewis, Consultant and Welcoming Community Program Manager

Amber Lewis initially joined the Northspan team in July 2021 for a two-year fellowship through Lead for America/Americorps. With the conclusion of the fellowship program, Amber is a Northspan consultant and Welcoming Community program manager as of August 1. In this capacity, Amber will continue local and regional efforts such as the Inclusion Learning Cohort initiative and organizing the Annual Equity Summit.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to continue to build on the work of the last two years of bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds and helping build mutual intercultural understanding,” said Amber.

Bailey Olson, Consultant 

Bailey Olson started as a consultant at Northspan in March 2023. With a focus on business development, she provides loan assistance, assists with business valuations, and coordinates efforts to share non-traditional lending information around the area. Bailey brings a diverse range of experience in helping businesses grow and succeed. She holds an associate of arts degree from Lake Superior College and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from The College of St. Scholastica.

“From providing SBA 7(a) and Express loan assistance, assisting in business valuation projects, and sharing non-traditional lending information around the region, it has been extremely rewarding and fun!” said Bailey. “I appreciate how many different communities Northspan works with and I’ve had a great time learning about them all.”

Caitlin Vander Wal, Operations Specialist 

Caitlin Vander Wal joined the team in February 2023 as Northspan’s operations specialist. In her role, Caitlin provides administrative support for day-to-day operations, including maintenance for the Northland Connection, NORTHFORCE, and Welcoming Community programs.

“I have enjoyed listening to focus groups for strategic planning and seeing the different viewpoints that make an organization succeed,” Caitlin shared in a recent Q&A. “The community has such knowledgeable people and it is fun to see them come together for discussion.”

Shaun Hainey, Consultant and Northland Connection Program Manager 

Shaun Hainey joined the Northspan team in July 2023 as a consultant and Northland Connection program manager. He provides support to Northspan partners through strategic planning, economic analysis, demographic data, information on area real estate, and more resources.

Shaun brings a varied background that ranges from lobbying for broadband and education, to policy work, nonprofit management, real estate law, and property valuation. “Focusing on our shared values to build relationships and find common interest opens the door for collaboration with unlikely allies and stakeholders that might otherwise be missed opportunities,” said Shaun. “I’m excited about this position and the chance to work with you building strong communities with a bright and prosperous future across our region.”

Stefanie Sjelin, Associate Consultant 

Stefanie Sjelin joined Northspan in July 2023. As an associate consultant, she assists with community, organizational, and business development, and supports Northspan programs by conducting research, making strategic recommendations, and engaging in community and workforce outreach. Stefanie brings a background in Technology of Participation facilitation methods, data interpretation and presentation, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, among other disciplines.

“The new additions to our team bring core competencies across funding, real estate, welcoming work, and other areas that we see as critical in addressing the top issues facing the Northland right now,” said President & CEO of Northspan Elissa Hansen. “We’re thrilled to be joined by such accomplished individuals whose skills reinforce our multifaceted approach to regional economic development.”

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For more information, please contact Elissa Hansen, President & CEO of Northspan, at 


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