Board and Committees

The Board of Directors helps steer CCHE to advance our mission and works towards a sustainable future. The CCHE Board is comprised of 11 members and may have no less than 7, meets the 3rd Monday of the month from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM, and each director sits on one or more committees or task forces.

Consider joining our board! If you are interested in becoming a Cook County Higher Education Board Member, please email, Executive Director, Karen Blackburn, or call 218-387-3411, or contact any current board member.

The committees and task force groups support the board’s efforts to guide CCHE. Members include both board members and members of the public, and we invite you to join a group that matches your talents and interest. Meetings are scheduled by the members.

CCHE was a conduit for me to finish my bachelor’s degree while supporting my family and working full time. It allowed me to stay employed and in my home while fulfilling my goal of higher education. It is an amazing resource for Cook County!

Clair NaleznyClair Nalezny, Board Member

I want to give back to an organization that did so much to help me.

Donna PaineDonna Paine, Board Member

I am excited to help Cook County residents experience the transformative power of education; and to provide opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Karen Halbersleben, Board Member

Education is the key to success in life. Helping students achieve their goals through the efforts of CCHE benefits the entire community. As a board member, I hope to be a part of that success.

Mark MorganMark Morgen, Board Member

CCHE helps the residents of Cook County by transforming and enriching lives through education. I’m proud to be a part of the organization.

Janice LatzJanice Latz, Board Member

Watching the transformation in CCHE students makes me proud and excited. I am inspired by their courage, growth, commitment and passion.

Sue HakesSue Hakes, Board Member

Current Board Members

Dr. William Youmans, M.D.

William Youmans, M.D.

Experience that Contributes to My Role as a Board Member
I practiced Family Medicine in Minneapolis for 36 years and spent time leading our group of up to 25 providers.  I was a clinical professor at the University of MN teaching medical students and medical residents for 25 years. My previous board positions included Minneapolis North Memorial Medical Center Chief of Staff, CareVan/Medisys Corporation, and MMIC/Constellation Mutual Insurance Company. 

B.S. Wildlife Biology, Michigan State University
Medical Degree, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

I am committed to the conservation of our beautiful Arrowhead region with an interest in sailing, canoeing, arts, and the history of Cook County.

David Coleman

David Coleman
Vice President

Experience that Contributes to My Role as a Board Member
I spent nearly 40 years as a Professor and Administrator; mentor to many Ph.D. Candidate and advisor to countless undergraduate students; an author and editor; and officer of national and international scientific societies. Because of these, I have a passion for working with and encouraging students who come from diverse educational and cultural backgrounds, and utilization of the best technological tools to foster good education and communication.

B.S. Chemistry, Southern Illinois University; and Ph.D. Analytical Chemistry, University of Wisconsin

My wife and I live nearly full-time on Clearwater Lake adjacent to the BWCA. We have a reverence for its intrinsic beauty and for the need to steadfastly protect the region environmentally. I especially enjoy playing jazz and classical trombone in local ensembles.

Karen Halbersleben

Karen Halbersleben

B.A., M.A., Ph.D. in European History from SUNY-Buffalo; retired college professor and administrator

Experience that Contributes to My Role as a Board Member
My career in higher ed helps me to understand the many components of running a higher ed center, as well as the challenges facing individual students.

I was President of Northland College in Ashland, WI from 2002-2009; held academic positions at SUNY-Oswego, the U. of Richmond, and Buena Vista U. I currently serve on the Board of the Cook County Community Foundation. My husband Jack Miller and I volunteer with Meals on Wheels deliveries.

Donna Paine

Donna Paine

I received my BS in Business Administration at UW Platteville with the help of CCHE.

Experience that Contributes to My Role as a Board Member
I want to give back to an organization that did so much to help me.

I am currently employed at the Grand Marais State Bank as Assistant Vice-President and am the Treasurer of the Cook County Salvation Army Service Unit.

Janice Latz

Janice Latz
Board Member

Bachelors of Chemical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology

Experience that Contributes to My Role as Board Member
My career as a technical and executive manager in a large corporation gives me experience in business planning, strategy, collaboration and project execution. All attributes help me to help CCHE deliver its mission.

Retired in 2014 from Huntsman Corporation, The Woodlands, Texas. I held positions in engineering, technical service, business management, and most recently as a senior executive responsible for Operations in the Performance Products division. Served on the Board of Directors for the American Cleaning Institute.

Mark Morgan

Mark Morgen
Board Member

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Colorado State University. MS in Software Engineering from the University of Minnesota

Experience that Contributes to My Role as a Board Member
I have volunteered for several organizations: Boy Scouts of America, at the troop, district, and council level; Feed My Starving Children; Ruby’s Pantry; and the school board finance committee. I have experience in technical skills and data analysis.


Levi Libra
Board Member

Pat Pawlowski
Board Member

Paula Marie Powell, 2020 - 2024
Sue Hakes, 2019-2024
Marylou Fellows, 2017 - 2020
Bob Morrison, 2017 – 2019
Dr. Robert Pranis, 2014 – 2018
Patricia Campanaro, 2014 – 2015
Carol Mork, 2013 – 2016
Andy Rysdahl, 2013 – 2015
Adam Nelson, 2013 – 2015
Clair Nalezny, 2013 - 2024
Maggie Barnard, 2011 – 2013
Roger Opp, 2011 - 2021
Beth Rogers Kennedy, 2010 – 2014
Doug Bruce, 2009 – 2019
Rena Rogers, 2008 – 2015
Janet Ditmanson, 2007 – 2016
Bob Pratt, 2006 – 2014
Terry Collins, 2006 - 2011
Thelma Hedstrom, 2006 - 2007
Peter Barsness, 2005 - 2008
Bill Hansen, 2004 - 2011
Danna MacKenzie, 2003 - 2008
Jean Cochrane, 2003 - 2008
Jim McGinnis, 2003 - 2005
Barbara Nagle, 2002 - 2005
Ralph Latham, 2002 - 2005
Mike Carlson, 1999 – 2006
Gwen Carman, 1998 – 2003 and 2006 – 2013
Julie Brandt, 1998 – 2004
Rita Plourde, 1996 – 2006
Wes Hedstrom, 1996 – 2003
Diane Booth, 1996 – 1999 and 2003 – 2005
Carolyn Steel, 1996 – 2002
Mary Junnila, 1996 – 2001
Jay Anderson, 1996 – 2000
Rosie Novitsky, 1996 – 1999
Karen Blackburn, 1996 – 2001
Bob Fenwick, 2008

High School Student Board Members
CeCe Olson, 2010 – 2012
Will Brandenberg, 2010 – 2011
Carly Puch, 2008 – 2010
Marie Nordahl, 2008 – 2009


Interested in volunteering on a less regular basis? Consider sharing your time and talents on the Development, Anti-Racism or Technology Committee, or on a Subcommittee or a Task Force. The Governance and Finance Committees are comprised of board members only.

Governance Committee

Ensures high-level functioning of the board, the Executive Director, and the organization.

Bill Youmans, David Coleman, Karen Halbersleben, Donna Paine

  • Board Governance
  • Personnel (Executive Director Review)
  • Board Member Nominations
  • Annual Nomination of slate of officers
  • Legislative Issues

Finance Committee

Financial Oversight for the non-profit organization. 

Bill Youmans, David Coleman, Karen Halbersleben, Donna Paine

  • Budget
  • Monthly Financial Review

Technology Committee

Review and recommend technology resources and develop social media strategies to improve CCHE mission delivery.

Chair David Coleman, Bob Pranis

Task Forces


Works with CCHE staff to develop standards for measuring impact on Cook County community and its residents.
Mark Morgen, Karen Blackburn, Lenna Stever, Adrea Beres

Facility Needs

Evaluate and prioritize building accessibility and energy efficiency.
David Coleman

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Committee (DEIA)

Cook County Higher Education (CCHE) has prioritized the work necessary to create a learning environment where every student can succeed in learning and earning the education they desire. We intend to counteract discriminatory policies that prevent people from equally accessing the benefits of education. This committee currently meets twice a month.

David Coleman, Levi Libra, Kelsey Kennedy, Karen Blackburn, Lenna Sobanja-Stever, Adrea Beres


DEIA Vendors
Building Accessibility
Training & Education

Development Committee

Diversify the financial base of CCHE and strengthen the presence of CCHE in the community.

Karen Halbersleben, Donna Paine, Bill Youmans, Karen Blackburn, Kelsey Rogers Kennedy


Guest Lecture

Develop a list of potential guest lecture topics and presenters for the Guest Lecture Series which occurs on the third Thursday of the month from May through October. Guest Lecturers are not paid, therefore, this subcommittee relies heavily on existing relationships with individuals in the community and/or the region to bring interesting and timely topics to Cook County residents and visitors.
Kelsey Rogers Kennedy, Karen Blackburn


Meeting twice a year, the Scholarship Subcommittee reviews tuition scholarship applications submitted by local residents enrolled in long-distance education programs. Meeting in November and July, the subcommittee makes recommendations for funding applications from all available scholarship funds. The subcommittee usually allocates around $20,000 each semester.
Donna Paine, Mike Carlson, Mark Morgen, Karen Blackburn, Lenna Stever


Brainstorms and plans all of the fun events hosted by CCHE. Examples of functions include The Afternoon Tea fundraiser hosted at Naniboujou Lodge, The Cindy Nelson fundraiser at Lutsen Mountains Summit Chalet, the annual membership event, open houses, and celebrations.
Donna Paine, Janice Latz, Karen Halberslben, Karen Blackburn, Kelsey Rogers Kennedy

Legacy Society

Supports board members and volunteers in their efforts to create events for the purpose of introducing CCHE’s Legacy Program to potential donors.
Karen Blackburn