Institute Staff – Takoda

Meet Our Staff

  • Steph Nick
    Steph Nick
    Registrar

    With the desire to serve others, American Indian OIC/Takoda Institute has been a perfect fit for me. Currently enrolled at Metropolitan State University, I am pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Ethnic Studies and Community Development. It is my desire to always work with a diverse population, so I hope to continue to be blessed with this opportunity in the future as well.

    “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept”

    -Angela Davis

  • Jennifer McDowell
    Jennifer McDowell
    Curriculum and Instruction Manager

    Jennifer McDowell was the kid who organized the neighborhood dodgeball games, the natural planner who loved making lists. She was also the kid who loved painting, drawing, and getting things done early. (Well, most things.)

    These passions have taken her into various professional roles in the higher education industry, including: instructor at various academic Bachelor’s, Associate’s and certificate programs, Director of academic program assessment, Coordinator at faculty development and new faculty orientation, Project manager in institutional accreditation (academic scope)
    and Director of academic programs.

    Jennifer has also held various roles with the Air Force Association and the Minnesota Air National Guard. She holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota.

    She gets kudos from students and colleagues for her focus and managerial skills, but it’s a hard-fought and life-long battle. She still feels the tug of life’s many “shiny distractions” and believes that inspiring others through creativity is work worth doing.

  • Jessica Feist
    Jessica Feist
    Instructor and Academic Advisor

    Just an old Southsider turning regular folks into Patient Services Ninjas.

    Whole lotta experience, working in major hospitals, even a stint in the county jail….as a medical administrator in Jail Health Services. Meh.

    Terrabal spellr with a sometimes foul mouth, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Head Shrinking, plus some sorta certificate that qualifies me as a Patient Services Ninja Master.

    Always high on sugar.

  • Frank Runyon
    Frank Runyon
    Instructor and Academic Advisor

    Frank is an alumni of the Takoda CSS program and graduated with honors. Spent many years in music, recording and touring, loves cheese, and video games.

    Why does Frank even have a Bio? Frank doesn’t like talking about himself, so instead he’s referring to himself in 3rd person. Frank, is always in his own little world, but he is very comfortable with it because everybody knows him there. Some people call him the “Computer Wizard” because his superpower is the ability to fix things just by touching them.

    Frank is a 20+ year veteran of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. Performing in a variety of musical groups playing anything from Irish traditional to Rock and Reel (That’s rock music with Irish Jigs thrown in when the entertainment director shows up to the performance). He also has his own CD, and if you ask, he might even give you a digital copy!

    “A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to!” -Gandalf

  • Lloyd Wittstock
    Lloyd Wittstock
    Instructor

    Lloyd holds a master’s degree in English and history from the University of Wisconsin and began working for the AIOIC in the 1983, at first writing proposals. Soon his responsibilities shifted to the educational side of the agency. Lloyd has also taught a wide range of classes. He favors Business Communication and Introduction to MicroSoft Office because of the diverse skill sets among the beginning students. People of different ages and abilities take these classes, so it is vital to take time to meet the students at their skill level and help them move upward. His earliest experiences with computers involved written programs and punch cards, so he had some catching up to do, starting with BASIC programming on a TRS-80 computer and learning software applications on a Wang computer and later with the WordStar and VisiCalc programs—all good learning experiences. The first time he used a mouse, he held it upside-down and wondered how anyone could master it.

    He has five step children, five grandchildren, and one great-grandson. Some of Lloyd’s hobbies include: gardening, biking, tennis, and movies. His wife Laura is very active in the community.

  • Kimberly Ben-Haim
    Kimberly Ben-Haim
    Director of Takoda Institute

    Kimberly starting working at American Indian OIC in June of 2017 as the Director of Takoda Institute. She has worked in higher education for over 11 years and loves the challenges and opportunities that AIOIC presents. She is proud to help students achieve their goal of a post-secondary degree and is always keeping tabs on her own perennial education. She originally thought that littles were who she would be teaching, getting a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Masters in Education but after a group of Kindergartens shook her to her core, Kimberly moved on to adults. Kimberly never wants to stop trying new things and in the past has been a member of the Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show team, worked as a firefighter with the Fridley Fire Department, jumped out of a plane, traveled solo around the UK and moms her two children. She currently volunteers as a doula with the Twin Cities Doula Project and believes that every women has the right to a supported, informed birth accomplished through pre and postnatal education and services.

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