Leadership and Staff

The IFO takes great pride in being a grassroots led organization. IFO leadership and staff support the union's efforts to implement strategies to protect  academic freedom, promote equity and inclusion initiatives, advocate on matters affecting your wages and retirement, and ensure that high-quality state university education continues to be accessible and affordable. 

Below, you will find details and contact information for the talented IFO leadership and staff. 

IFO President

Jim Grabowska

Jim has served as the President of the IFO since 2014. He is a professor in the World Languages and Cultures Department at Minnesota State University, Mankato. His term ends on June 30, 2018. 

Office: (651) 227-8442 ext. 19

Contract Enforcement, Legal, and Equity Staff

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Patrice arseneault

Legal/Labor & Equity Director

Patrice Arseneault has represented faculty since 1998. Pat is responsible for contract interpretation and oversees contract enforcement. She also staffs the Negotiations Team and is the staff liaison to the IFO Feminist Issues and Contingent Appointments Committees.

Her involvement in contract negotiations and enforcement has made Pat an expert in interpretation and enforcement of the IFO contract.

Pat graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in 1990. Before her employment with the IFO, Pat served as General Counsel for Graphic Communications International Union, Local 1B, where she processed hundreds of grievances and participated in grievance mediation and contract negotiations.

Office: (651) 227-8442 ext. 15

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KAthryn engdahl

Legal/Labor & Equity Director

Kathryn Engdahl joined the IFO in January 2014, working on grievance and equity matters, and system employment policies and procedures. At the IFO, Kathryn brings to bear her vast knowledge and experience in discrimination law in representing faculty on equity matters. Kathryn has represented workers and labor unions for over 30 years. Before the IFO, Kathryn was a partner at an employment and labor law firm, representing labor unions and individual employees in discrimination matters. 

Kathryn worked as a public school teacher before attending William Mitchell College of Law, graduating in 1985. She has been certified by the Minnesota State Bar Association as a Labor and Employment Law Specialist since 2011.

Kathryn’s areas of emphasis at the IFO are equity and discrimination issues and review of system-wide policies and procedures affecting faculty working conditions. Kathryn also is responsible for contract enforcement and serves as staff liaison to the LGBTQ+ Issues Committee and Disabilities Advocacy Committee. 

Office: (651) 227-8442 ext. 17

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Richard kaspari

Legal/Benefits & Equity Officer

Richard (“Dick”) Kaspari brings more than thirty years of legal experience representing unions, employees, and non-profit organizations to his work on behalf of the IFO and its members. In addition to other legal and strategic work, Dick serves as the IFO’s primary advocate and advisor on matters involving retirement benefits and salary equity. 

Dick received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his law degree from the University of Minnesota.  He and his spouse, Carla Kjellberg, live in Minneapolis, where they are active in several community organizations.

Office: (651) 227-8442 ext. 26

tiffany nelson

legal assistant

Tiffany Nelson started in her paralegal position with the IFO in 2005. As a valued member of the IFO’s legal team, Tiffany tracks and maintains grievance files and provides legal research and other support services, and works with the Negotiating Team.

Tiffany came to the IFO from US Bancorp where she worked as a paralegal/legal records coordinator.  She earned her B.A. summa cum laude, double-majoring in cultural anthropology and American Indian studies from the University of Minnesota and is a 2003 graduate of Hamline University School of Law. 

Tiffany assists campus grievance officers and provides support services for many IFO committees. Tiffany also supports the Negotiations Team and serves as staff liaison to the Multicultural Issues Committee.

Office: (651) 227-8442 ext. 13

Public Affairs Staff

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Jonathan Bohn

Director of Public affairs

Jonathan Bohn draws on more than ten years of experience in government and media relations to develop sound strategies to advocate for faculty. In the halls of the Capitol, Jonathan is regarded as a well-connected, smart strategist who has worked to raise public awareness of many issues, leading directly to legislative victories.

Before joining the IFO, Jonathan served as director of government and system relations for the Minnesota State University Student Association, now known as Students United. In addition to his role with the student association, Jonathan has worked as a public affairs consultant for nonprofits and trade associations.

Jonathan earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from Hamline University.  He and his wife, Madeleine, live in Saint Paul and spend much of their free time competing in various sports and camping with their dogs.

Office: (651) 227-8442 ext. 20

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Aaron lichtov

Admin, Communications, & Technology Coordinator

Aaron Lichtov has been providing support to nonprofit/education institutions since the late 20th century. His skills lie at the confluence of communications, technology, and administrative management. He has designed and produced everything from marketing collateral to four-day conferences. At the IFO, Aaron supports the Board and Executive Committee as well as the rest of the state office staff, with emphasis on communications/marketing and first-line technology support.

Aaron attended the University of Minnesota, where he majored in English literature and minored in Women’s Studies and linguistics (French, Spanish, Hebrew, ASL, and Geek). He lives in the beautiful Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis with his partner Molly, his daughter Ezi, two dogs, three cats, and an abundance of cookware and books. He is active in Twin Cities Jewish and GLBTQ communities. His secret superhero power is color-coding and his favorite oven temperature is 400º.

Office: (651) 227-8442 ext. 10

Organizing and Membership Staff

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Matt Smriga

Director of organizing

Matt Smriga joined the IFO in 2017 as the Director of Organizing. In this new role, Matt will work closely with faculty on campus to achieve the highest level of engagement in carrying out our mission, vision, and values. 

Matt is an experienced grassroots organizer who has worked to support a variety of progressive causes and campaigns throughout Minnesota during his nearly decade-long career. Matt's experience includes over five years of organizing on university campuses throughout Minnesota, and he remains an enthusiastic advocate for public higher education. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from the Hamline University School of Law. Matt currently resides in Eagan with his wife, Sarah, and two-year-old son, Luke.

Office: (651) 227-8442 ext. 11

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Donna blake

Controller & Membership Coordinator

Donna Blake has twenty plus years of accounting experience and has given the IFO outstanding audit reports for the past eleven years. She has also excelled at producing accurate budgets for the organization, implementing cost savings where applicable and maintaining an accurate membership database so that faculty get accurate and timely deductions taken from their paychecks. She is always vigilant in looking for ways to cut costs and lower expenses. 

Prior to joining the IFO, Donna served for over seven years as Controller for two different public companies and sharpened her accounting skills while producing outstanding audit reports.

Donna earned her first bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Minnesota. She also earned a second bachelor’s degree in accounting from Metropolitan State University. She lives in Ramsey and enjoys spending time with her four grandchildren and supporting her local women’s shelter in freedom from domestic violence and sexual abuse of women and children. 

Office: (651) 227-8442 ext. 12

Academic Affairs Staff

Cindy Kaus

Academic Affairs coordinator

Cindy Kaus has more than 20 years of experience in higher education as a faculty member with 16 of those years in the Minnesota State system at Metropolitan State University.  Her leadership as department chair and research in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning provide a broad understanding of current statewide and nationwide academic issues.

Previous to joining the math department at Metropolitan State University, Cindy was a faculty member in the mathematics department at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.  As grant author and Co-PI on the National Science Foundation grant, Engaging Mathematics, Cindy has led the project in developing civically engaged mathematics curriculum and creating a national community of practice among four- and two-year faculty.

Cindy earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering at Arizona State University and a Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Arizona.  She also has industry experience working as an electrical engineer at Honeywell Satellite Systems in Glendale Arizona.  Cindy and her husband, Chris, live in St. Paul with their daughter, Olivia.  They enjoy traveling, camping, and all things outdoors.

Lead Negotiator

Brent Jeffers

Brent Jeffers is Co-Chair/Associate Professor-Wellness and Human Performance Department at Southwest Minnesota State University.