We live, work, and serve in rural communities…on purpose. We are proud of who we are and who we serve. Our vision is that all rural Minnesota students will receive exemplary educational experiences resulting in thriving schools and communities.

Who makes up MREA?

MREA brings together teachers, administrators and school board members from across Greater Minnesota and partners with education cooperatives, higher education, nonprofits, businesses and community members.

How did MREA get started?

A grassroots organization, MREA was founded in 1985 by a group of school board members and administrators who believed non-metro school districts needed a focused voice in St. Paul to represent every student around the state.

How Does MREA Serve Schools?

MREA serves school districts by advocating for the issues that matter to them, communicating changes and the impact they’ll have and providing high-quality professional development and networking.

Meet Your Leadership Team

Bob Indihar

Bob Indihar

Executive Director

Diane Vosen

Diane Vosen

Operations Director

Sam Walseth

Sam Walseth

Advocacy Director

Kayla Schoenberg

Kayla Schoenberg

Communications Director

Julie Melville (not pictured)

Julie Melville (not pictured)

Membership Assistant

Meet Your Board of Directors

MREA’s Board of Directors is comprised of 22 members – 16 representative directors elected by the membership (4 per zone) and 6 statewide directors (higher education, agencies, education districts, and special) appointed by the Board. Elections are held in the fall for a January 1 term start. View qualifications.


MREA Board of Directors  |  February 2024

Photo taken at February MREA Board of Directors meeting at Lower Sioux Indian Community Government Center in Morton, Minnesota.

Member-Elected Positions

Jim Ferden

Immediate Past President

At-Large (Win-E-Mac)
Term expires 2026

Jeffrey Lund

Administrator (Marshall County Central)
Term expires 2025

Sonia Wadena

Teacher (Bemidji)
Term expires 2025

Ryan Walseth

School Board (Thief River Falls)
Term expires 2027

Lance Bagstad

At-Large (Park Rapids)
Term expires 2024

Sarah Bauck

Teacher (Waubun-Ogema-White Earth)
Term expires 2026

Jeff Drake


Administrator (Fergus Falls)
Term expires 2027

Judith (Judy) Moeller

School Board (Parkers Prairie)
Term expires 2025

Karla Beck 

Executive Committee At-Large

Administrator (Redwood Area)
Term expires 2024

Jennifer Maras

At-Large (Morris)
Term expires 2027

Becky Paluch

School Board (Ivanhoe)
Term expires 2026

Tammy Roth

Teacher (Morris)
Term expires 2025

Craig Brenden

Teacher (Waseca)
Term expires 2026

Nels Onstad

Administrator (Wabasha-Kellogg)
Term expires 2027

Matt Schultz

At-Large (Lanesboro)
Term expires 2025

Jake Thompson

School Board (Plainview-Elgin-Millville)
Term expires 2024

The Board meets 5-6 times in a calendar year, including the Annual Conference. Meetings may be held throughout Greater Minnesota or online.

2024 Board Meetings

  • February 6-7, Morton
  • May 7, Online
  • July 30-31, TBD North
  • October 1, Online
  • November 17, Brainerd

Board-Appointed Positions

North, Agency

Mark Schmitz

Resource Training & Solutions, Sartell
Term expires 2024

North, Higher Ed

Dr. Boyd Bradbury


Minnesota State University, Moorhead
Term expires 2024

Minnesota Education District Assn.

Doug Hazen

River Bend Education District, New Ulm
Term expires 2026

South, Agency

Cliff Carmody

Southwest-West Central Service Cooperative, Marshall
Term expires 2025

South, Higher Ed

Dr. Danielle Schock

Winona State University
Term expires 2027

Special Appointment

Michelle Rinke Koch


Menahga School District
Term expires 2025

View Past MREA Presidents

2023 James (Jim) Ferden
2022 Matt Schultz
2021 Karen Jacobson
2020 Lance Bagstad
2019 Lee Carlson
2018 Todd Holthaus
2017 Rick Frederickson
2016 Jeremy Kovash
2015 Chris Mills
2014 Mike Vasek
2013 Scott Vedbraaten
2012 Rhonda Bonnstetter
2011 Loy Woelber
2010 Dawn Koennicke
2009 Luther Heller
2008 Curt Tryggestad
2007 Tim Berg
2006 Irv Peterson
2005 Deb Andries
2004 Lloyd Styrwroll
2003 Dan Zimansky
2001-02 Lee Warne
2000-01 Dennis Drummond
1999-2000 Corny Smit
1998-99 Art Brandli
1997-98 Gerald Ness
1996-97 Jan Mussak
1995-96 Marcia Jones
1994-95 Herb Benz
1993-94 Judy Nielsen
1992-93 Maxine Penas
1991-92 Linda Krabbenhoft
1990-91 Jack Wysong
Change from Chair of Board to President of MREA
1989-90 Olav Thormodson
1988-89 JulAnn Meech
1987-88 Harold Remme
1986-87 Bruce Kasden
First Chair
Pat Mohn

Our Values


We advocate for impactful change and focus on results.


Our voice is stronger when we lead together.


We are lifelong learners who believe vibrant schools create vibrant communities.

Rural Pride

We live, work, and serve in rural communities…on purpose. We are proud
of who we are and who we serve.

Keys To Our Continued Effectiveness


Together with members, MREA identifies key issues impacting schools and works with legislative leaders to bring about positive change for students.


MREA works to keep leaders informed on legislative changes, show the impact and how they can use their voice to make a difference.


MREA partners with a variety of organizations and individuals to address issues and provide better opportunities for students.


MREA elevates and celebrates the accomplishments of Greater Minnesota educators and districts. We share best practices and recognize excellence through our awards for teachers and innovative school programs.