Here are At-Large and School Board candidate Interest Statements for serving on the MREA 2021 Board of Directors, representing the North Central Zone. Find your zone.

At-Large Candidates

Lance Bagstad, Superintendent, Park Rapids Schools

I have proudly served as a rural educator for 27 years and am excited about the education transformation that will positively impact our schools and communities. MREA membership is a valuable voice in our rural way of life, with advocacy at state and national levels promoting policy and funding initiatives and placing students and schools at the forefront of its mission. As a candidate for re-election to the MREA Board, I bring experience and commitment to the education of our rural students and schools.

Vern Capelle, Superintendent, Upsala

In my 36th year as a rural Minnesota educator, I have experienced firsthand the accomplishments and challenges of our rural school districts and have worked with region colleagues and consultants to advocate for equitable funding and opportunities. The future of education in our state will bring new and innovative programming and policies which will re-shape education as we know it. I am excited to participate in the re-imaging of rural education in Minnesota and would appreciate the opportunity to continue this collaborative work as a member of the MREA Board.

Mark Diehl, Director of Information and Technology, Little Falls

Education is changing slowly, yet the world is changing rapidly from exponential technology advances. As a member of the Futures Institute, a national think tank of educational leaders, I can  bring a unique voice to MREA to help members understand and position our educational system for these advances. I am also helping develop an understanding of Artificial Intelligence to positively impact personalized learning for all students. I have served as the Technology representative on the MASA Board, lobbying and testifying at the Capitol, and I look forward to representing the North Central Zone on the MREA Board.

Mike McNulty, Superintendent, Barnum

I am in my 11th year overall as a public school administrator. I value the education of all people in our district – the students, the staff and the community – and see a need to collaborate to provide the best possible learning for our students. Our collaboration needs to extend to businesses and groups so investments are available to all students. I want to utilize my experiences as a math teacher, tech director, trio program coordinator, coach, sports referee and civic participant to help MREA make a positive difference.

Scott Vedbraaten, Superintendent, Browerville

I have been in education for 27 years in north and central Minnesota and I represented rural districts on both MREA’s Legislative Action Committee for 6 years and MREA’s Board for 8 years, serving as president in 2013 during the transition of our last executive director. I have and wish to continue serving rural education in the North Central Region. My experiences developing platform issues through the unique structure of MREA’s board will allow me to assist with legislative efforts to bring our concerns forward. I ask for your support. Remember, Students First.

School Board Candidates

Kimberly Antonsen, Frazee-Vergas Schools

I am a first-term member of the Frazee-Vergas School Board where I represent MREA and the Becker County Children’s Initiative. I have always been interested in education policy and practice —  to speak up and do everything in one’s power to make a change. I have been an early childhood (EC) teacher for 20 years and teach in the Waubun/Ogema/White Earth school district, where I am Co-President of the Waubun Education Association. I have been involved in Lobby Days, EPIC projects, ECFE/ABE task force, and the Professional Advocacy Committee so Early Childhood has a strong voice.

Aaron Berg, Cambridge-Isanti

As a parent, educator, coach, and school board member I am excited to work collaboratively advocating for rural Minnesota education. After earning a B.A. Degree in Business, Career, and Technical Education in 2007 I have provided education at all levels, K – 12 as well as higher education, as an adjunct junior college professor. My background, education, and experience will enhance the representation for 225,000 learners and 230 school districts across Minnesota. By strengthening cooperation we can provide the best outcomes for future learners.

Lisa Braun, Sauk Rapids

For the last 34 years I have directed a senior volunteer program and understand and appreciate the value of civic engagement and service. As I approach retirement, my networking skills, community organizing, radio and television experience and disaster management training can benefit MREA in a multitude of ways.  I have served on the Sauk Rapids-Rice School Board for the last 14 years, 5 as Board Chair. I desire to increase my involvement with more broad education-related issues and would be honored to represent MREA.

Abby Geotz, Crosby-Ironton

I am in my eighth year and was just successfully re-elected to my third term. I am committed to serving the needs of the students and school districts of rural Minnesota. I have worked with rural at-risk youth in many capacities and am very passionate about finding ways to advocate at the local, state, and national levels. I have been very active in my MREA membership as a school board member and look forward to an opportunity to serve this organization and North Central Minnesota as a member of the Board of Directors.

Deb Ulm, Princeton

I have served on the Princeton School Board for about 23 years. I have held every officer position including Board Chair for 5 years. I believe in the power of a good public education and I am passionate about doing my part to make sure that happens for years to come.