Our Staff

Though we are small, we are mighty!

Interested in working with us? 

826 MSP is not currently hiring, but we do offer part-time internships, which can be for college credit. Learn more here. 


SAMANTHA SENCER-MURA, Executive Director


Samantha grew up in Minneapolis. During her time as a student in Minneapolis Public Schools, she recognized the deep inequities inherent in the school system and decided to commit herself to creating transformative educational experiences for underserved students. Prior to her tenure at 826 MSP, she worked as an educator and program director in New York City and the Bay Area. She received her B.A. from Occidental College and her M. Ed in School Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is also a board member for New Leaders Council Twin Cities. Samantha loves singing karaoke, particularly anything by Usher.

Favorite Book: On Beauty by Zadie Smith


ELLEN FEE, Program & Volunteer Coordinator


Ellen grew up in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2016, where she studied English and wrote an undergraduate thesis on literacy development and children's poetry. Before she climbed on board at 826 MSP, Ellen worked for the U’s College of Education and Human Development, the Minnesota Daily, and America Reads. She is also a board member with the Minnesota Tool Library and teaches in the Loft Literary Center’s summer youth program. Ellen lives in St. Paul’s Union Park neighborhood and has an apple tree in her backyard.

Favorite Book: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf


CRISTETA BOARINI, Program Director


As a child, Cristeta Boarini wanted to be a marine biologist when she grew up. Now as program director for 826 MSP, she thinks that this is the next best thing. Cristeta is a journalist and storyteller based in South Minneapolis. Originally from the Chicagoland area, Cristeta graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 2011. Her work has been featured in local media outlets such as the Twin Cities Daily Planet, Radio K, The Growler Magazine, MinnPost and KFAI. Cristeta currently serves on the boards of the Radio K Alumni Association and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. When she’s not searching for that next great story, Cristeta can be found walking her dog around Powderhorn or knitting.

Favorite Book: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Board of Directors

Interested in becoming a board member for 826 MSP? Email boardchair@826msp.org for more information.


KATHY THOMFORDE served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota and as a tenured full professor at St. Olaf College where she taught courses in marketing and management for over 20 years. She was elected to the board in 2016 and currently serves as board chair.


MATT MITHUN owns Mithun Enterprises, a Real Estate and Entertainment company, and runs Somerset Amphitheater, an outdoor concert venue in Somerset, Wisconsin. He chairs the governance committee and serves as vice chair of the board. Matt joined the board in 2017.


JEFF SHI has a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology, currently serving as an Education Program Specialist in the Center for Educational Innovation at the University of Minnesota. Jeff joined the board in May 2019 and serves on the development committee.


MARY BURNTON is the managing director at Newmark Knight Frank Real Estate Incorporated in Minneapolis. Mary serves on the governance committee and joined the board in December 2016.


JENNIFER THAO is the Executive Services Director at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in St. Paul. She joined the board in 2016 and currently serves as a member of the governance committee.  


CAMERON SEYMORE is a director at Incenter LLC, a leading provider of trading advisory, and fulfillment services for lenders and specialty finance companies. Cameron is a member of the finance committee and joined the board in May 2019.


AL ONKKA is a principal consultant at Aurora Consulting in Minneapolis, specializing in thoughtful evaluation, strategic planning, and organizational leadership development. Al is a member of the finance committee and joined the board in 2019.


TOM RACCIATTI is a director at the Minneapolis office of West Monroe Partners, a multinational management and technology consulting firm headquartered in Chicago. He serves as board treasurer and chair of the finance committee. Tom joined the board in 2018.


AIMEE LAGOS is the co-owner of Hygge and West, a custom wallpaper and fabric company. She is a member of the development committee and was elected to the board in May 2019.

RILEY KANE is a creative director/writer at the ad agency, Mono, in Minneapolis. Riley has been an active volunteer at MOI since 2014 and currently chairs the development committee. He joined the board in 2018.


MAX DELGADO is the Upper School principal at the Saint Paul Academy and Summit School. Max serves on the governance committee and joined the board in May 2019.


QORSHO HASSAN is a reading intervention and enrichment specialist for ISD 191 (Burnsville-Eagan-Rosemount). She is also the artist behind the exhibit and book “Urur Dhex-Dhexaad Ah: Community In-Between,” which presents color portraits, first-person video stories, and written narratives detailing Somali immigrants from Columbus, Ohio. She joined the board in 2018.


EMILY VALENTINE-GRIMM is an attorney at Mason & Helmers in St. Paul, specializing in estate and trust litigation. Emily is a member of the development committee and joined the board in 2019.


PAUL VON DRASEK is a retired sales executive from the publishing industry, most recently at Capstone Publishing. Paul joined the board in 2014 and is an active volunteer in 826 MSP programs.


Literary Board