Nerita Hughes, Chair
Division Manager, Ramsey County Workforce Innovation & Opportunity
Nerita has a variety of expertise from sales management to public and private sector work. She is a skilled leader, organizational development champion, experienced at implementing and identifying training needs, and skilled succession planner. She is knowledgeable in training and staff development, leadership development and other multi-faceted activities in the business realm. She has a special interest in "Strengths-based development and Entrepreneurship", where she assists individuals with leveraging and maximizing their innate talents in order to develop their strengths.
Lynn Farmer, Vice-Chair
Principal, Farmer Consulting
Lynn is a multi-disciplinary leader with an entrepreneurial spirit. Her experience spans strategy, marketing, merchandise planning, merchandising, which she has leveraged to launch new concepts, product lines and programs. After leading multimillion dollar businesses at Target Corporation and Neiman Marcus, Lynn now works as an independent Strategy and Marketing Consultant. Lynn's forte is applying consumer insights to bring new concepts and visions to life.
Trent Bowman, Treasurer
Assistant Vice President - CRA–Residential Lending Officer, Associated Bank
Trent is responsible for the improvement of the CRA rating for Associated Bank. He provides residential lending within the community of emerging markets and helps with lending in areas of need. Trent works with first-time home buyers and assists them with loan qualification and partners with agencies to help them take the appropriate steps to qualify for the best programs for them.
Beth Gallagher Dumke, Secretary
Vice President - Product Development & Innovation, U.S. Bank
Beth has been with U.S. bank for more than ten years and is currently the Vice President of Innovation. In her role as VP, she designs, builds and tests new products and services that are in the pipeline for full commercial viability in three to five years. Her focus is on research and develop where she is on the front end of innovation.
Arthur Gardner Jr, Member
Project Manager, Thor Construction
Arthur's goal is to not only build and manage projects for his customers safely, on time and within their budget but build positive business relationships as well as. As a construction professional Arthurs has learned very early on that bricks, cement, wood and tools are important but the people who use them and the people who occupy the spaces we build are even more important. Hard work and team approach go along way in the construction industry and that is something he lives by! Arhtur has a saying that "interactions must be organic and relationships are only true and productive if they are based on authenticity." Bringing this approach to life both at home and at work has yielded more positive results and has also allowed Arthur to experience more satisfaction and joy in what he does.
Dennis Werneke, Member
President / CEO at American Chemical, Inc.
Dennis is the President and CEO of American Chemical, Inc. (a distributor and mfg of industrial adhesive). He also operates the North Minneapolis Business Center a business incubator located in North Minneapolis. He is also actively involved with the North Washington Jobs Park Committee, North-side Marketing Group, Hawthorne Business Council, and West Broadway Business and Area Coalition. Dennis is a former chemical engineer with Honeywell Defense, Hopkins MN. and former sales marketing distribution manager with H B Fuller Company, St Paul MN and holds a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry with a minor in Marketing.
Marcus Owens, President
Marcus joined NEON in Sept. 2014. As President, Marcus’ primary responsibilities include general management and fiscal leadership, strategic plan implementation, partnership development, agency promotion, board and staff development, and implementation of some direct training and technical assistance activities.
Marcus has 15+ years of managerial experience and expertise in the areas of financial management, human resource management, diversity and inclusion, sales and marketing. Prior to joining NEON, Marcus served in several roles at Target Corporation, TCF National Bank as well as his own entrepreneurial endeavors. He obtained a degree in Business Administration from Metropolitan State University and has a MBA from the University of St. Thomas.
Anisha Murphy, Program Director
Anisha Murphy, a Twin Cities native devoted to serving the needs of Minnesota’s low-income communities, has become the Program Director at NEON. Prior to joining NEON, Anisha worked on policy issues, ranging from Education to Health and Human Services, at Hylden Advocacy and Law.
Anisha’s background includes a law degree and a master’s degree in public administration from Hamline University and study at Queen Mary University of London, England. In her free time Anisha likes to tutor/ mentor young children, and spend time with her nieces and nephews.
Stephen Obayuwana, Business Advisor
Stephen started with NEON in June 2014. He serves as the primary point of contact for small businesses and micro-enterprises. He conducts assessments, develops customized technical assistance support packages and conducts trainings and seminars for aspiring and existing business owners.
He brings more than 35 years of business experience to NEON. He has served as International Business Consultant;
Founder and President of Optimum Mortgage, Inc.; and Branch Manager at TCF Bank. Stephen has a degree in Business Administration from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN.
Ashley Bennett, Business and Community Relations Coordinator
Ashley started her career at NEON in 2011. She is responsible for coordinating the outreach and application processes for NEON’s technical assistance and training programs, executing client events and is the point person for the Client Track data management system used to track client services and outcomes.
Prior to NEON, Ashley worked as a Public Ally AmeriCorps staff member and served as a Program Coordinator at the YMCA. Ashley attended the University of Minnesota where she studied African and African American studies and took courses in Urban Studies and Applied Economics.
Sheltonn Johnson, Social Enterprise Manager
Sheltonn started with NEON as a contract Program Manager in April 2016. He serves as manager of NEON’s first social enterprise business, NEON Property Maintenance LLC. His role includes acquiring and managing new clients, hiring, training and managing employees and contractors, and asset acquisition.
Sheltonn brings over 5+ years of administrative and managerial experience to NEON. He has served a general business administrative consultant to small businesses from restaurants to daycares within North Minneapolis. He has also served as the executive business manager within his local church. At present, Sheltonn is attending Minneapolis Community & Technical College to acquire additional education in Business Administration.