Staff & Board

Megan Peterson

Executive Director

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Bio

Executive Director

Megan J. Peterson is the Executive Director of Gender Justice and Gender Justice Action and a seasoned leader in the gender equity and reproductive freedom movements. She was brought into Gender Justice by its founders in 2016 and in 2022 started the 501c4 sister organization, Gender Justice Action, to engage in political work. Under her leadership, Gender Justice has experienced significant growth and increased state, regional, and national impact. Previously, Megan was Deputy Director for the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) where she expanded its network of grassroots abortion funds, led coalition campaigns to repeal the Hyde Amendment, and significantly increased its donor and foundation funding.

Prior to her nine years with NNAF, Megan served as Director of Development and Communications for Pro-Choice Resources (now called Our Justice) in Minneapolis and as a patient advocate at Planned Parenthood in St. Paul. In college she worked with the National Organization for Women in Washington, DC, and the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now called Legal Momentum). Megan lives in the St. Paul part of Minneapolis (Longfellow) with her pre-teen son and two dogs.

Tana Hargest

Deputy Director

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Bio

Deputy Director

As Deputy Director at Gender Justice, Tana provides critical leadership management, shapes organizational culture, and guides work management processes.

From high-profile museums to start-up cooperatives, Tana has extensive experience in non-profit leadership, strategic planning, and project development. She has co-created a wide range of projects for creative and learning communities in New York, Boston, and Providence. After years working on the East Coast, Tana is back in her hometown of Minneapolis, creating art and action through public art-based policy engagement, and through the development of a network of artist-led worker cooperatives.

Tana is a collaborator in multiple Black-led and BIPOC-led movements. She is a member of the Black Liberation and Abolition Cohort, a group called together in the immediate aftermath of the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department. Tana is a member of the Subversive Sirens, a Minnesota-based synchronized swimming team committed to Black liberation, equity in swimming and the aquatic arts, radical body acceptance in athleticism, and queer visibility. She is a cohort member of Don’t You Feel It Too?, a public art action and form of movement meditation that transforms the self while taking action in the world.

Monica Meyer

Political Director

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Bio

Political Director

Monica Meyer has been leading organizing, activism, fundraising and policy advocacy on behalf of issues of equity and justice since 1992. Monica’s most recent job was working for LGBTQ liberation as the Executive Director of OutFront Minnesota. During Monica’s twenty years at OutFront Minnesota, she loved getting to work with thousands of justice-loving people fighting to make Minnesota more loving and equitable.

During this time, OutFront was involved in securing some key victories advancing LGBTQ equity including helping to form and lead Minnesotans United for All Families, the campaign to defeat a constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from the right to marry and secure marriage equality through the Minnesota legislature. They also worked to pass one of the country’s strongest anti-bullying laws, a policy to secure trans inclusion in sports, and elect pro-equality candidates up and down the ballot.

Some of Monica’s recognition includes the Humphrey Institute’s Public Leadership Award, the Lynx’s Inspiring Women Award, HRC’s Brian Coyle Award, the Charlotte Striebel Award from MN NOW and the MN School Social Work Association’s Friend of Social Work Award.

Monica received her master’s degree in public policy from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota, and her undergraduate degree from Hamline University. She lives in NE Minneapolis with her family and loves being close to so much great art and food.

Paola López-Cortés

Legal and Executive Assistant

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Bio

Legal and Executive Assistant

Paola was born and raised in Mexico City until the age of ten when she and her family moved to Grand Rapids, MN.  Following graduation, Paola moved to Los Angeles and specialized in Treasury Management, working for some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Nearly a decade later and back in Minnesota, Paola found her passion for advocacy work, and gained years of experience in Family and Criminal law.

Prior to working at Gender Justice, Paola served as the Vice Chair for the Grand Rapids Human Rights Commission and is well-known for her community engagement regarding social issues. Paola has collaborated with countless organizations including Global Rights for Women, Planned Parenthood, VEMA (Voices for Ethnic & Multicultural Awareness), and other organizations focused on combatting discrimination. In 2019, she was featured in the documentary “Colored Lines” where she shared her personal experience regarding racism and lack of diversity in northern Minnesota.

Michelle Hesterberg

Development Director

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Bio

Development Director

Michelle has extensive experience in non-profit leadership, fundraising, political organizing, and social change advocacy. She has run record-setting fundraising campaigns and raised millions of dollars for LGBTQ+ equity, social justice, and environmental protection. She has previously worked for OutFront Minnesota, Save the Boundary Waters, Environment Minnesota, and a 2020 Congressional campaign.

Michelle first joined the movement for reproductive justice as a student at Carleton College. She currently serves on the Sierra Club Council of Club Leaders and the Sierra Club North Star Chapter Executive Committee and Political Committee.

Bethany Whitehead

Senior Manager of Institutional Giving

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Bio

Senior Manager of Institutional Giving

Bethany Whitehead has had a varied career in nonprofits over the past 2 decades, serving as the Executive Director of Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, as Membership Director at the Walker Art Center, as the Board President for FilmNorth, Program & Communications Director at the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and as the General Manager of Open Book in Minneapolis, among other adventures. She currently serves on the board of the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop and volunteers with the Women’s Prison Book Project. In her free time she loves swimming, Pilates, travel, being an aunt, attending art events, reading contemporary novels, and doing puzzles. Bethany has an undergraduate degree from Kalamazoo College and a master’s degree from Saint Mary’s University.

Reika Yokooka Lucente

Development Coordinator

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Bio

Development Coordinator

Reika brings years of experience in nonprofit database management, grassroots fundraising, and event planning. In her previous roles, she contributed her skills to advance housing equity, racial justice, and grassroots movements at Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative and Headwaters Foundation for Justice.

As a first-generation immigrant, she calls both Minnesota and Saitama, Japan her home. She lives in West Saint Paul with her cat, Odie.

Gabbi Pierce

Communications Manager

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Bio

Communications Manager

Gabbi Pierce brings an extensive background of movement, non-profit, and community based work to her role as Communications Manager for Gender Justice. As a queer trans woman, she strives toward uplifting gender oppressed voices and struggles, and believes firmly that collective action has the power to motivate substantial change. In 2022, she served as the first trans member of the Minnesota AFL-CIO General Board where she fought for and represented trans and queer workers in the state. Prior to her work on trans labor issues, Gabbi was part of the national staff team of Sunrise Movement, where she ran internal communications for the movement’s thousands of grassroots climate organizers. Additionally, Gabbi spent a year deeply engaged in public service in Los Angeles while serving in her role as a Director at Large on her neighborhood council’s board, where she represented 65,000 community members and received certificates of congressional and municipal recognition. Across all of her work over the years, she has found that powerful and truthful human narratives can change hearts and minds, and drive social transformation. She hopes to use her work to help make that change real.

Stacey Burns

Information Specialist

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Bio

Information Specialist

Stacey Burns comes to Gender Justice from a communications and public health background, and has been active in Minnesota’s reproductive health, rights, and justice movements for many years. Prior to joining us as Information Specialist in 2023, she has played several roles with the organization since 2019, previously as digital organizer and communications manager on the UnRestrict Minnesota campaign and later contracting on special projects with the Gender Justice communications team.

In addition to her work with UnRestrict Minnesota, Stacey has created, directed, and implemented social media campaigns with the National Network of Abortion Funds, Rewire News Group, and the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. She also oversaw Minnesota’s Abortion Provider Expansion Project with Pro-Choice Minnesota and Pro-Choice Resources (now Our Justice), helped launch Nurses for Sexual & Reproductive Health, and organized collections at the public health library of the Minnesota Department of Health.

Grace Reardon

Advocacy and Engagement Manager

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Bio

Advocacy and Engagement Manager

While studying Political Science at Macalester College, Grace joined Gender Justice as an intern. She is now a Project Manager for the UnRestrict MN Campaign where she is excited to be a part of expanding abortion access in the state.

Before Gender Justice, Grace did on-campus voter engagement work and worked as a Research Assistant in Macalester’s Assessment Office. Her research focused on programming for first-generation students and student attitudes about the liberal arts.

Heidi Nybroten

Senior Manager of Operations

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Bio

Senior Manager of Operations

Heidi Nybroten joined Gender Justice in December 2022 and, as Senior Manager of Operations, works to support the infrastructure of the organization. They bring operations, finance, and many years of legal assistant experience from non-profits as well as public defense firms. Heidi studied Law, Diversity, and Justice as well as Spanish at Western Washington University.

Heidi grew up in the Columbia River Gorge in Washington State and currently lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with their partner, puppy, three cats, and four chickens. They like to spend time outside hiking, camping, and paddling as well as training industrial climbing skills for direct action.

Atzín Rayas Fernández

Operations Manager

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Bio

Operations Manager

Atzín brings a wide-scoped background including everything from childcare, teaching art, youth STEM programs, food service, business management, and mutual aid organizing. They studied studio art and psychology at Kalamazoo College and are currently in school for a master’s in advocacy & political leadership. Their recent years of work in internal operations management, finance, and HR led them to work with Gender Justice as the operations manager. After years of celebrating Gender Justice’s work from afar, they are thrilled to now be part of the team!

Atzín is a co-founder of a queer housing cooperative in St. Paul where they currently live with several other people and pets, including the elderly baby dog they co-parent alongside their fiancé. On the rare occasions when they have free time, they enjoy doodling and drawing, drinking tea regardless of the weather, and cooking a giant batch of food for the house.

Jay Belsito

Organizer

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Bio

Organizer

Jay Belsito has been a community organizer for over a decade. They are a proud Northsider, youth mentor, educator, and graduate student pursuing a Master of Clinical Social Work. Parent of two cute kids, one pup, and backyard chickens. Jay is excited to bring their passion for gender equity to the team at Gender Justice to expand abortion access this legislative session.

Lisa Gulya

Research and Advocacy Specialist

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Bio

Research and Advocacy Specialist

Lisa Gulya joins Gender Justice through the ACLS Leading Edge Fellowship to apply her skills as a social scientist to advancing gender equity, reproductive justice, and LGBTQ youth well-being.

Lisa previously taught sociology and public affairs at Macalester College and the University of Minnesota, including courses on childhood, sexuality, and qualitative research methods. In addition to teaching, her experience includes applied research with the Minnesota Justice Research Center and the American Academy of Neurology.

Lisa has a PhD in sociology from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in English and Russian with a concentration in women’s studies from St. Olaf College. Before graduate school, Lisa worked as a reporter at the Grand Forks Herald covering education and the courts and spent a year in Russia on a Fulbright grant, researching women’s experiences as young mothers and their responses to federal pronatalist policy.

Board of Directors

Hetal Dalal

Board Chair

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Bio

Board Chair

Board Chair

Hetal Dalal is an assistant professor at Mitchell Hamline and has wide-ranging expertise in non-profit, tax, labor and employment, campaign finance, corporate governance, public interest law, as well as associated litigation and transactional skills. She has a longstanding interest in the link between rhetorical skills and the preservation of democratic values and a well-informed citizenry.

Hetal has served as in-house counsel for The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) and its predecessor organization, which she co-founded, from 2010-2020. This organization—which has 100 staff members, a $30 million budget, and affiliated community organizations with 600,000 members in 35 states—is one of the country’s leading organizations advocating for racial equality and economic justice. During her time at CPD, Hetal worked with founding organizers to help launch at least two dozen new community organizing endeavors.

Prior to 2010, Hetal worked in-house at ACORN, developed an independent immigration practice representing businesses and employees, and served as an Associate Attorney at Norton Rose Fulbright. Hetal graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School, where she was a board member of the Minnesota Justice Foundation and participated in the Immigration Law Clinic and the Criminal Defense Clinic, as well as the student-run Asylum Law Project. She clerked for the Honorable Kathleen A. Blatz, then Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Before law school Hetal worked as a community organizer with the National Organizers Alliance and a union organizer (short-term) with UNITE-HERE.

Arianna Genis

Board Vice Chair & Secretary

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Bio

Board Vice Chair & Secretary

Board Vice Chair & Secretary

Arianna Genis has a decade of experience in movement work with a track record of delivering expectation-defying wins locally and nationally that advance equity and systemic change at organizations like Mijente, re:power, and TakeAction Minnesota. Her leadership has been centered on building the political power of marginalized communities via grassroots organizing, political campaigns and training; creating and implementing compelling narrative strategies that make change in politics and government imaginable and inviting; and complimenting said strategies with digital engagement to mobilize communities.

In 2015, she helped win paid sick time for thousands of workers in Minneapolis, while also convincing the statewide coalition of advocacy organizations and unions to center race and gender in our narrative, a change that has since shifted campaign communications across the state. Between 2016-2018, she led within three candidate campaigns and succeeded in getting all three young, progressive leaders of color elected into local office. In 2020, Arianna joined Mijente where she led North Carolina’s largest Latino voter mobilization effort. As the Director of Local Partnerships, she launched a nationwide fellowship for Latino local elected officials while advising the political programs of candidates and organizational partners in GA, NC, TX, AZ, and PA. Currently, she is a political consultant supporting the efforts of advocacy and labor organizations across the country.

Elizabeth Glidden

Treasurer

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Bio

Treasurer

Treasurer

Elizabeth Glidden is a public policy professional, lawyer, and fierce advocate for progressive causes. Elizabeth is Director of Strategic Initiatives and Policy at the Minnesota Housing Partnership, leading public policy housing justice change at the federal, state and local levels for since 2018. Elizabeth served on the Minneapolis City Council for 12 years from 2005 to 2017; in that role she chief authored transformational legislation affecting thousands of residents, including Minneapolis’ paid sick time law, $15 minimum wage, and a expansion of anti-discrimination law to section 8 housing voucher holders. Prior to her service on the City Council, Elizabeth represented individuals as a worker’s rights and civil rights lawyer for over a decade, including many gender rights cases.

Erica Mauter

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Bio

Erica Mauter was born and raised in Detroit, MI, where she attended her first protest as a toddler, accompanying her mom on a picket line at their neighborhood elementary school—the same school where her parents took her along when they went to vote.

Erica was first politicized by Minnesota’s fight for marriage equality. Since then, she has been a candidate for Minneapolis City Council, chaired the Stonewall DFL Caucus, and has served on the board of directors for Project 515, the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, and TakeAction Minnesota, as well as the City of Minneapolis Capital Long-Range Improvement Committee where she advised on how the city spends money on infrastructure.

Erica is the Chief of Member Experience at MoveOn, a national progressive political advocacy organization. She has previously worked as an arts administrator, and an engineer in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Erica holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from St. Catherine University.