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USA Dance Board Candidate Profiles

Several candidates up for the USA Dance Minnesota Chapter #2011 board election in November approached Sheer Dance to get their platforms out to a wider audience. We're pleased to share with you how they'd like to serve the Minnesota ballroom community in their own words.

Cathy Dessert

I am running for the USA Dance Minnesota Chapter #2011 board because I want to support the mission of improving the quality and quantity of ballroom dancing. I have loved dancing all my life, and moving to music continues to be a joy-filled experience. However, loving dancing does not, as a single attribute, make a person qualified to serve on a board that aims to foster the art, or to plan and carry out sharing the experience with others. A board needs a shared vision and a plan to work toward that vision. I am a person who can do that, which has been demonstrated by my participation and performance up to this point. I understand what has worked well based on my extensive experience.

My USA Dance Minnesota board experience encompasses six years. Before I ran for the board, I felt it was necessary to volunteer for supportive tasks administered by the board. As such, I gained experience by attending and participating in board-sponsored events and later assisted with duties related to those events. Examples of this volunteerism include:

All that aside, the one thing I had in mind to do, ever since I began my involvement with the chapter some ten years ago, was to expose children and young adults to ballroom dancing. This is one of the key components to continuing the legacy of ballroom dancing, and it is why I am choosing to run again and hopefully serve another two years.

My dance experience includes being a social dancer and dancing and competing as a pro/am and an am/am dancer. I have also competed as a mixed-proficiency partner, both as the more proficient and less proficient. I am currently taking lessons but not competing.

Additionally, I have experience working in groups. I am a former member of the Family Voices of MN Board, I served as a volunteer and co-president of the Mixed Curling Club in St. Paul, and I also co-chaired a national curling event. I belonged to the parent groups in my children’s schools and have worked as a special education teacher. I chaired my low-incidence peer group for MN SPLISE and have negotiated the special education system both as a parent and a teacher.

I believe that, in any group, mutual ground can be negotiated, given the right tools and time. Empathy and the ability to understand every perspective may be the best tool for conflict resolution and ensuring a successful outcome, and I am uniquely skilled in these areas. Thank you for your consideration, and I hope you choose me to serve this community for another two years.

Michael Kasinkas

I first and foremost believe in developing the future of dance in the state of Minnesota, and the best vessel to develop dancing in this market is USA Dance Minnesota Chapter #2011. My volunteer experience has long been focused on providing new ballroom dancers a low-stress, fun competition environment at an affordable price, and I intend to continue this important work.

My work in this field started with my creation of Minnesota Ballroom Blast in fall of 2012. The purpose of Blast was to provide a low-cost opportunity to ramp up the competition team at the University of Minnesota. Through the succeeding years, we have expanded Blast to a wide variety of ballroom dance teams throughout the Midwest. October 25th, 2014, marked the third round of Minnesota Ballroom Blast, and the fourth iteration has already been scheduled for October 25th, 2015.

I have also gained experience helping with Star of the North DanceSport Classic and, most recently, Dance Fest. These events are genuine competitions, flush with all the complexity that comes with the territory, with Blast serving as a preparatory critique event. The ultimate purpose of these events has always been to introduce new people to ballroom dancing.

My goal going forward will be to further increase the participation and influence of these low-cost events. I hope that in providing a meaningful, enjoyable, and stress-free event, we can grow as a community of dancers and spread our love of dance.

I believe that being elected to the board of USA Dance Minnesota can further this goal at a much faster pace. I plan to help the chapter rediscover its roots by revisiting the mission and goals of the chapter in order to assist, grow, and strengthen our dancing community.

Theresa L. Kimler, PE, PMP

My vision for the future of USA Dance Chapter #2011 is to create a harmonized chapter with amazing growth so that we can provide more exciting services and events to the members and community. I envision a chapter that is served by people who are true to dance.

I have strongly supported the organization as a member for over twenty years. In that time, I was on the newsletter staff, on the Star of the North DanceSport Classic committee, and a patron sponsor.

I am honored by my successful competitive career representing USA Dance as an open-level champion in American rhythm for nine years, American smooth for seven years, and American nine-dance for four years. I understand dedication and hard work.

As a project management professional (PMP), professional engineer (PE), and business owner, I bring management, sales, and coordination skills that drive teams to achieve missions. I will leverage these skills to build a solid team of volunteers to make our chapter one of the best in the country. Of top priority is attracting new dancers with an outward-facing marketing plan, collaborating with like-minded organizations and events focused on the future of dance, and seeking grants, sponsorships, and fundraising to develop initiatives that support the mission of USA Dance. If I and my dance partner can help chapter #5031 raise over $10,000 for their national qualifying dancesport competition by using our name and doing a fundraising show, I am confident there are unexplored avenues within our membership base to take this even further.

Most importantly, when you see me dance, you might see a huge smile on my face. This is the true essence of why I dance—to have fun! I plan to bring that fun to the chapter.

Thank you for considering me to represent you on the USA Dance Chapter #2011 board for the next two years.

Andy Nordberg

I love to dance—social or competitive, doesn’t matter. I think most of you know me and know this to be true. In addition to being a twenty-plus-year member of USA Dance Minnesota Chapter #2011 with extensive experience social dancing and performing dance demonstrations in the region, I am a seven-time USA Dance Open Nine-Dance Champion, fifteen-time Open Rhythm and Smooth Finalist, and current USA Dance Senior II Smooth Champion. I have been asked by USA Dance to participate on behalf of the US in the World Senior II Standard Championships this November. My experience also includes twenty years of volunteerism at Star of the North DanceSport Classic as well as Minnesota Ballroom Blast and Dance Fest.

I am a decades-long employee of United Airlines and, as such, have been extensively and repeatedly trained in interpersonal interaction. I come to run for a USA Dance Minnesota board position because never before in my decades with the chapter have I seen such a poor turn of events for the community, with the loss of and damage to nearly all longstanding chapter initiatives. I would like the old chapter back—a fun and very progressive advocate of the national mission.

To tell you the truth, I would rather be dancing, but I feel that my career training and the experience and resources that I can bring to bear to restore the chapter would be helpful at this juncture. I’m happy to give a little extra to get back the dance community and ambiance I love.

Thank you for your consideration.

Daniel O’Connell

For the chapter to flourish, the board of USA Dance Minnesota needs to be composed of individuals who understand how to run its programs and who have the time and willpower necessary to effect change. Over the last several years, I've devoted thousands of hours of my time to understanding and strengthening the many initiatives of USA Dance. I've assisted with recruiting individuals to social dances, worked the logistics and planning for Star of the North DanceSport Classic, and advocated for an outward-facing version of Project Dance designed to bring new dancers into the community. It is my hope that you'll elect me, and others like me, so we can help bring back attendance at social dances, unify the community, and develop the long-term initiatives needed to ensure the chapter continues to flourish.

Rosemary O'Connell

Through eight years as a member of USA Dance Minnesota, I've developed a solid understanding of the offerings of the local dance community. I have enjoyed participating in the monthly dances and the tea dance, and I've also enjoyed volunteering for Star of the North and Project Dance. Having served and continuing to serve on the boards of three different dance organizations in Minnesota over the last eight years, I've learned what it takes to successfully run social dances and competitions. I would like to be a board member for USA Dance because I feel that local USA Dance events are not living up to their potential, and I want to strengthen the local dance community by improving these critical events. My background as a volunteer, competitor, and social dancer at both collegiate and adult events across the country will allow me to bring a new perspective to the chapter.

Karen Maldonado

I would like to continue my work on the USA Dance Minnesota board by continuing to coordinate Project Dance, including developing the program by bringing more people on to the Project Dance team. My interest in dance spans from the activity itself to competitions to the community at large. I am a qualified candidate for the board due to my dependability. I have learned to do quality work on time. In my past work as a teacher's assistant and in the clinical setting, I have been a reliable and trusted team member. I will continue to serve the community well as a member of the USA Dance Minnesota Chapter #2011 board.

Taylor Wall

I am running for the USA Dance Minnesota Chapter #2011 board because I believe that I can bring knowledge and experience that would help the chapter reach new levels of efficacy in achieving the USA Dance mission of increasing the quantity and quality of ballroom dance in Minnesota and nationwide.

I began my engagement in ballroom dance as a social dancer and quickly developed into a competitive dancer, competing in both the collegiate and amateur circuits. In the past year, I earned both the University of Minnesota Sport Clubs Program Female Athlete of the Year Award and the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts Student Board Artistic Excellence Award, navigating the interesting position that ballroom dance occupies between the art and sport realms. From my personal experience as a social and competitive dancer, I have seen firsthand what can be most helpful for beginning dancers and the ins and outs of running a competition.

In addition to my experience as a dance participant, I also bring experience as a dance administrator that is hard to beat. I spent three years as an officer of the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club, including two years as the publically-elected president, where I led the fledgling club to rank as the fourth-place collegiate ballroom dance team in the country, behind teams three and four times our size. I've seen and personally developed what it takes to be a good leader, utilizing each player on a team to their greatest strengths. In this position, I've also had the opportunity to assist the University of Minnesota in allocating over $180,000 annually to twenty-six university-sponsored Sport Club groups, exhibiting that I have the capacity and evenhandedness required to impartially fund those programs that are most effective in achieving community goals. Finally, I've also had the opportunity to engage with a wide array of ballroom dance students, professionals, and coaches in the two years that I spent working as a dance studio coordinator. In this position, I was responsible for addressing the needs of both students and professional dancers to ensure that students' learning was being served and to provide opportunities for dancers from all walks of life to interact, participate in social dancing, and meet other dancers.

I believe that, in order to move forward together, it is our responsibility to elect those representatives who will best serve the needs of our community. To best accomplish the mission of USA Dance, I will use my understanding of the various needs of ballroom dance students of all ages and walks of life to develop an outward-facing marketing plan to attract new dancers to our community. I will use my experience working with other groups and within bureaucratic organizations to focus on the future of dance, and I will use my knowledge of nonprofit and grant-funded programs to seek sponsorship that will help develop initiatives advancing the mission of USA Dance. I hope that together we can focus on the future of ballroom dance to grow and develop our dance community.