Skip to Main navigation Skip to Left navigation Skip to Main content Skip to Footer

University of Minnesota Extension

Extension is almost done building a new website! Please take a sneak peek or read about our redesign process.

Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Southwest > Board of Directors

Print Icon Email Icon Share Icon

Board of Directors

David Benson

David Benson
26461 320th St
Bigelow, MN 56117
507-370-2196 (cell)

David was a Nobles County Commissioner for 20 years, serving on local and regional Extension Committees. He was a member of the Association of MN Counties (AMC) Extension Committee where he received the President's Award in 2012. David was recognized by the MN Department of Health's State Community Health Services Advisory Committee as a Friend of Public Health in 2010. David and spouse have managed a beef cattle and sheep operation for over 20 years, for past 14 years they produced food grade soybeans and small grains.

Bob Bonawitz

Bob Bonawitz
2525 7th Ave SE
Willmar, MN 56201
320-444-0634 (cell)

Bob, originally from Moorhead, moved from the Twin Cities to Willmar so that he and his wife Donna could retire near her relatives. Since moving, Bob has devoted his time to teaching, counseling as a member of SCORE, consulting, and volunteering. He served as president of the Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission and a member of the Safe Avenues Board of Directors. Bob serves on the SWP board because he believes in the scope and mission of the organization. Bob also enjoys serving as a SWP board member because it requires active participation by all members of the board.

DeeAnn Gieseke DeeAnn Gieseke
421 1st Ave North
Sleepy Eye, MN 56085
507-227-7733 (cell)

DeeAnn's roots are in Brown County, through living in Springfield and Sleepy Eye. Her recent work experience is in Watonwan County serving as Coordinator for the Family Service Collaborative with a focus on early intervention and prevention for area youth. She has served on a variety of local, regional and state committees: County Community Education, Welcome Baby, Family Literacy and Youth Development, the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) serving on the local and regional Community Leadership Teams that includes Cottonwood, Jackson, Faribault, Martin and Watonwan Counties. DeeAnn is a Life Style Coach, Spring Forest Qigong l and Master Healer and presents for local, regional and state conferences on the topic of Mindfulness. Her past involvements include Building Alliances, Intercultural Communities Uniting (ICU), Horizons -reducing rural poverty, InCommons - Art of Hosting and U of MN Extension U-Lead Academy.

Kathryn Kelly Kathryn K. Kelly
302 South 4th Street
Olivia, MN 56277-1428

Kathryn K. Kelly has a long-standing interest in agriculture and conservation. Having been raised on a Century Farm in Sibley County, she recalls working alongside her family to improve the land. Through the years her parents were involved in leadership roles in the Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation (MASWCD). The love of the land and a strong work ethic was instilled in Kathryn by her parents. Coming full circle, she also is a past president of MASWCD and was appointed by Governor Dayton to the Board of Water and Soil Resources.

A retired professional educator, Kathryn earned her Bachelor and Master's degrees in education at St. Cloud State University (SCSU). She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. Kathryn served on the faculty of the College of Education at SCSU and retired from an administrative position in 2007. Currently Kathryn serves in leadership roles on many boards in the region striving to maintain a rich quality of life in Southwestern Minnesota. She maintains a thoughtful, positive, energetic attitude, encouraging others through her interactions.

Linda Meschke Linda Meschke
3824 Cedar Creek Court
Fairmont, MN 56031
507-236-0989 (cell)

Linda is the President and founder of a Minnesota nonprofit based in Fairmont called Rural Advantage.  With her partners, she started Rural Advantage in 2003 to identify, develop and apply solutions that are comprehensive, rather than single issue, resulting in more effective change. Linda works at the intersection of sustainable agriculture, environment and rural communities including water quality issues relative to agriculture, local foods, and community development. Growing up on a beef farm in north central Minnesota, she developed a fondness for agriculture and being outdoors. She has experience as a vocational agriculture instructor, a farm partner, working with local government on water planning and environmental programs, and as agricultural inspector and director of the Blue Earth River Basin initiative. She is a change agent who enjoys developing forward thinking concepts that lead to a better society in the long term.

Toby Spanier Toby Spanier
1424 E College Drive, Suite 100
Marshall, MN 56258
507-562-1888 (work)
507-220-1812 (cell)

Toby Spanier is an Associate Extension Professor and Educator at the Center for Community Vitality with the University of Minnesota Extension in Marshall, MN. He has spent the last 20 years working to make improvements in communities through educational experiences. Toby began his educational career in the non-profit sector and the U.S. Peace Corps. Toby has worked internationally as an educational development specialist in Central and South America. He also worked in the Maryland and Minnesota public school systems, before beginning work with the University of Minnesota Extension. Within Extension, Toby has worked in the Community Youth Development Area and Leadership and Civic Engagement Area of Expertise using his skills and knowledge to build leadership capacity, communication, facilitation and a common vision for organizations, agencies and community groups. He brings extensive experience in program design, curriculum development, teacher professional development and evaluation. Toby is a trained administrator in several assessment instruments, e.g. Intercultural Development Inventory and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Toby  holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Towson State University in Maryland.

Sean (Xiong) Xang
City of Walnut Grove, City Council
651 Clark Street
Walnut Grove, MN 56108
612-581-8194 (cell)

Sean was born in Laos and brought to the United States in 1989. Sean grew up in central California, approximately an hour south of Fresno. With the majority of his immediate families including aunts, uncles, grandparents and extended families living in the Twin Cities area, his family relocated to join them. After college, Schwans offer Sean's first career job in the IT department and has been there since 2004. Sean strongly believes that rural and greater areas provides essential and adequate resources for a young family to thrive and succeed at their most comfort level and pace even if it means driving 100 to 150 miles to the nearest mega-store shopping center. Sean has been involved in community events, civic engagements and organization bridge building since day one of him relocating to southwest Minnesota. Not only Sean enjoys working with all communities and organizations, he and his families loves to explore southwest Minnesota and see what resources it has to offer and what can it offer.

  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy