Candidates for North Zone Vacancies



Kristi Berlin, St. Louis County/Mountain Iron-Buhl
I have been in education for 25 years as a business and ESL teacher, assistant principal, principal, and now Director of Teaching and Learning, with the last 13 years spent in northeastern Minnesota. On the Iron Range I have learned the power of collaboration when districts work together to accomplish more as a whole because I work daily in a collaborative environment with 2 districts. I am a champion for small school districts trying to do more with less and would like to bring this experience to the MREA Board so the smallest districts in the state have options others have for their students and staff.

Jeffrey Lund, Marshall County Central
I am Superintendent for MCC and have been a regular MREA conference attendee since 2013. I value MREA because it works to proactively help solve problems. I am an accomplished school leader in Northern Minnesota winning the Minnesota Elementary Principal Association Leadership Achievement Award and the Minnesota Association of School Administrators Region 8 Administrator of Excellence Award. I currently serve on the Northwest Links Board and the Northwest Service Cooperative Superintendent Advisory Council. Past service includes Minnesota Elementary Principal Northern Division President, Northland College in the High School Advisory Board, and Infinity Online Executive Council.

Chris Mills, Stephen-Argyle Central
I have served as Superintendent for SAC for the past 22 years. I demonstrated my passion and commitment to Greater Minnesota by serving on multiple advocacy roles representing our states rural schools. I served on the MREA Legislative Action committee and the Board of Directors for 18 years and served as Board President in 2015. I have worked diligently with state and federal legislators serving on the Minnesota Association of School Administrators Board for the past 6 years and as a member of the Legislative Advocacy committee for the past 12 years. These roles and additional leadership activities provide my qualifications to serve on the MREA Board of Directors.


Mary Kay Jacobson, Greenway
I am a new school board member for Greenway. However, I have been a part of public education all my life. My father was a superintendent, my mother a French teacher, and my brother a college professor. I have a degree in speech therapy and have also taught kindergarten, junior high speech, English, and geography, and community college business math. I was a dean at a community college in Dallas, Executive Director of the Northern Minnesota Citizens’ League, and a grant writer with over $12,000,000 dollars awarded over 10 years, mostly to educational institutions. Although my school board experience is limited, my desire to serve my community and rural education is not.

Carol L. Johnson, Bemidji
I am in my fifth term as a Bemidji school board member and have held the positions of Clerk, Vice-Chair and Chair several times and will be Chair again in 2022. My committee commitments include Curriculum, Facilities, and Personnel. I believe my 17 years of school board experience would make me a qualified candidate for this position. I have a passion for education and I am a supportive voice in these challenging times. I am up for re-election next year and plan to run for another term.

Ryan Walseth, Thief River Falls
Having just returned from the MREA conference, I feel especially excited to join your Board of Directors. I am often guilty of sharing my pride in my school district, city, and state. I have been trusted with leadership positions on many levels of my community involvement and as a small business owner – Chair and board member of our Chamber of Commerce, co-founder and Chair of our Downtown Development Association, member of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and many others. I am on the Travel Leaders Advisory Board at the largest travel consortium in North America. In 2018, I was elected to a Director position on the TRF School Board and have decided to run for election again in 2022.


Sonia Wadena, Bemidji
I have spent 20 years in rural education with Bemidji Area schools as a general ed and special ed teacher and currently as Indian Education Coordinator. I earned my B.S. in Elementary Education at Bemidji State University and completed my graduate work in special education with a tribal emphasis at Augsburg College. I have a passion for supporting all students and seeking out resources to meet the needs of learners without judgement. I understand the rural challenges of inadequate funding, physical distancing, socio-economic disparities, lack of infrastructure, etc. and would be honored to advocate for rural educational needs across the state.