Board and Staff

Click to learn more about each of our board and staff members:

Interested in becoming a DSCI Board member? Download the application here and send it to the DSCI office at dsci@duluthmnsistercities.com


Wendy Ruhnke (President)

Wendy Ruhnke is currently the owner of a service provider, SoundVibration, which is cutting edge technology that provides deep relaxation and increases spiritual energy flow in reclined chairs. She recently left her position as the Community Engagement Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association in Duluth and previously worked for the YWCA and the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in program development, fundraising and as a trainer. Years ago, Wendy was the originator/trainer of the Violence Free School Project and served as President of that Board. She also served on the Playfair Discovery Center Board, Duluth Children’s Museum Board and was Treasurer of the Sami Cultural Center of North America.

In her spare time, she sometimes “clowns around” and went on a clowning mission to Russia with Patch Adams, sings in two choirs and traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan in March of 2013 on a Friendship Exchange with the Echoes of Peace Choir. That experience has had a profound impact on her life and brings her to join the DSCI Board in hopes of developing a formal Sister City Relationship of peace and understanding in that volatile region of the world.


Ed Crawford (President-elect)

Ed Crawford, retired assistant superintendent from Duluth Public Schools, spent 36 years in the district working as a social worker, guidance counselor, assistant principal and principal. His entire career has been with the Duluth schools, and he has called the city home since he was 13.

Born in Paris and educated for a time in French boarding schools, Crawford’s family moved to Duluth when his father was transferred here by the U.S. Air Force. Ed graduated from Duluth Central in 1974, and went on to earn degrees from the College of St. Scholastica, the University of Wisconsin-Superior and St. Cloud State University.

His early life, he said, “certainly solidified who I am as a person and how I deal with people. Kids who struggle in school — those are kids I have who I admire”. Ed has worked hard to develop programs to help kids stay in school. New programs include those for language immersion and for online study through the district, in line with his vision for helping at-risk students and helping them make better decisions.

Ed is currently employed by the University of Minnesota, Duluth as adjunct professor in the Department of Education. He serves on the St. Scholastica Board of Trustees, and is a member of the Duluth Area Family YMCA Heritage Foundation Board of Trustees.


Liz Taylor (Past President)

Liz grew up in Fort Frances, Ontario, and studied and worked in the Canadian cities of Winnipeg, London, and Thunder Bay, as well as International Falls, Minnesota, before moving to Duluth. She attributes being raised in a border community, by first-generation immigrant parents, to her awareness of the value relationships with citizens from other cultures plays in world peace, understanding, and life-habits.

Liz and her husband, Jim, have traveled extensively in Europe. Liz currently serves on the League of Women Voters Board of Directors, is an active member of First United Methodist Church, and an active community volunteer. When not engaged in the Duluth community, she can be found engaged in her grandchildren’s activities in California.


Bill Sozanski (Treasurer)

Bill is a retired library director for UMD library system.


Neil Glazman (Secretary)

Neil Glazman was born and raised in Duluth. After high school, he and a buddy spent the summer traveling via Eurail Passes through Europe and Israel. He also spent a summer while in high school on a kibbutz in Israel picking pears and cleaning chicken coops. He then attended UMD and graduated from the University of Nevada Las Vegas with a Bachelor in Science degree in Hotel Administration.

Several years later, he returned to Duluth to join his family business. In 1990 he was part of the Sister City delegation to Petrozvadsk. He has served on many boards and committees for local non-profits.

Neil and his wife Barbara Russ, have hosted two visitors from Petrozvadsk. They both enjoy traveling in the U.S. and internationally.

Neil is the current chair of the Thunder Bay Committee and looks forward to strengthening relations with our closest sister city.


Alison Aune

Alison Aune received her B.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1984, her M.A. from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1987, and Ph.D. from Ohio University Athens in 2000. She served as education coordinator at the Tweed Museum of Art from 1991 to 1999 before joining the UMD Department of Art and Design.

Aune’s scholarly interests include museum-based teacher training, women artists in history, and Nordic art education. She and her students have developed curriculum and intergenerational learning experiences using Scandinavian, Portuguese, Turkish, Finnish and American Indian art. Aune has received numerous grants and awards including the Art Educators of Minnesota Higher Educator of the Year award for 2015-2016, a Minnesota Artist Initiative grant, a Fulbright Scholar and Teaching award to Sweden, Grant in Aid grants to conduct a Cross-Cultural Study of the Socio-Aesthetic Goals of Art Education in Scandinavia, the UMD Outstanding Adviser Award, the UMD Albert Tezla Scholar/Teacher Award, the Art Educator’s of Minnesota Museum Educator of the Year award, and a Jerome Foundation International Artist Travel Grant.

Aune has published chapters, articles, and on-line instructional resources on art education and museum-based learning for children and youth. The publication of her book, The Art of Cora Sandel: A Norwegian Painter and Writer, is forthcoming. She has exhibited her artwork in over 70 solo and group exhibitions in the U.S, Sweden, Norway and Denmark and she regularly presents guest lectures and workshops internationally, nationally, and regionally. She is currently co-chair of the Växjö committee with Therese Tomanek.


Daniel Nolan

Dan Nolan is an Assistant Professor of Russian Area Studies and German Studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He has lived and worked in Germany, Russia, France and Finland. In his current work as the Chair of the Petrozavodsk Committee, he is attempting to expand opportunities for learning about the benefits of international exchange. For more see: www.newstepsinternational.org.


Gale Kerns

Gale and his wife Jeri were born and raised in eastern Montana, coming to Duluth in 1983 to work after graduate schools in St Lois, MO, Portland, Or, and Lexington, KY, and a tour of duty in interior Alaska while a member of the USAF.

They have been fortunate to have been able to travel fairly frequently since 1973. They were part of the first citizens delegation trip to Ohara in 1991, and Gale returned to Japan for an international SisterCities convention in 1995. Both of the Kerns children took part in the Ohara student exchange, and this resulted in one of the Ohara students returning as an exchange student 1999-2000. Both families have subsequently visited as well.

They have also hosted students from Germany, and from France. Gale was on the Ohara committee and the commission in the 1990’s, and now returns to both.The entire Kerns family believes strongly in the benefit of people to people interaction in fostering world understanding, and thus in the goals of Duluth’s Sister City program. Gale is chair of the Ohara Isumi-City Committee.


Kathy Peterson

Kathy Peterson was raised in a military family living in various southern states and in Germany. During her primary and junior-high school years, Kathy and her younger brothers often attended up to three schools in one year, depending on which fixed/rotary-winged aviation schools their father was attending or teaching. She graduated from high school in Ozark, Alabama and attended a small southern college before moving to Atlanta. She settled in Duluth in 1974.

After years of volunteering in church and school activities, Kathy earned degrees in psychology and elementary education. She taught English in Ohara, Japan during the 1997-98 school year. After teaching for 25 years, she retired in 2011. Since retiring, she has been keeping busy volunteering, particularly in areas related to politics and the environment, with special emphasis on Lake Superior. The St. Louis River Quest program has been a major focus for her. River Quest is a yearly spring event sponsored by ISD 709 and 16 other local organizations providing learning stations for area sixth-graders on the Vista Fleet and at Pioneer Hall in the DECC.

Kathy is the mother of two daughters, three grandchildren, and one great-grandson, with the second great-grandson due in May 2017.


Terese Tomanek

Terese Tomanek is employed as a chaplain at Essentia Health and Woodland Hills Juvenile Residential Treatment Center. Prior to that, she had a career in health care, working at Superior Health Medical Center for 10 years and in her own practice, Hermantown Chiropractic Clinic, for 16 years.

Terese graduated from UMD with a B.A. in psychology and sociology. She then graduated from Northwestern Health Sciences University with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Terese was the first female chiropractor to hold the position of President of the Minnesota Chiropractic Association and she served on the Board of Trustees of Northwestern Health Sciences University for 10 years.

Terese graduated from St. John’s Seminary in March of 2014 and was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ in 2015.

Terese serves on the board of the Lake Superior Foundation as its Secretary and is also the co-chair of the Växjö Committee. Terese recently completed a term on the Duluth News Tribune’s editorial board and has served on numerous other boards including the Duluth Library Board, Marshall School Board, The Duluth Human Rights Commission and the YWCA board.


Tom Morgan

Dr. Thomas Morgan teaches Russian language and culture at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. He’s particularly interested in cross-cultural issues and has explored in a variety of ways the experience of American Finns in Soviet Russia. He also co-authored an advanced grammar of English (in Russian) that was published in Russia in a second edition in 2001. (The first edition was published in 1997.)

Dr. Morgan founded and directed (with Russian colleagues) a series of summer language camps for college students. The camps are held in Russia for American students and at St. Scholastica for Russians in alternating years. The program marked its 23rd year in 2012 and is now directed by Dr. Karen Rosenflanz. Dr. Morgan has a particular interest in the international aspects of peace and justice issues. He was involved in the development of the Duluth International Peace Center, a citizens’ group that functioned for many years in the 1990s to foster international cooperation and peacemaking at the grass roots level. And he was a charter member of the Duluth City Cities Commission.

Courses that he regularly teaches include Russian language and literature classes, honors courses with a peace and justice theme, contemporary Russian and European culture, philosophy and a course on peaceful resolution of international conflict.

Dr. Morgan is the director of the Alworth Center for the Study of Peace & Justice, which regularly brings nationally known speakers to campus. Topics that the Center has addressed in the past few years include issues connected with food, energy, the environment, wealth & poverty, war & peace, democracy and the media.

Favorite free-time activities include biking, tennis and dog walking.


Tom Zelman

Tom Zelman is a Professor of English at the College of St. Scholastica, where he has worked since 1988. As an undergraduate, he spent a year studying in France, a very powerful experience that has led him to seek opportunities to get to know people from other countries, in the US and abroad. In his work he has helped to lead college study programs to Russia (Petrozavodsk), Ireland, and China. He has also directed the China Summer Programs at St. Scholastica. His family has hosted visitors from Russia, Uruguay, and Spain.

At St. Scholastica, Tom teaches several courses in the novel and a variety of writing courses. He is a member of the Honors Faculty and a former member of the Dignitas Faculty. He has served as Benedictine Chair of General Education and chair of the English Department. Most of his publications have been in the field of modern Irish poetry.

Tom is married to Patricia Hagen and together they have one adult son (Andy) who spent a year working in Zhuhai, China.


Helen Smith Stone (Development Consultant)

Helen is DSCI’s Development Consultant. Originally from Windom, a small town in southwestern Minnesota, she moved to Duluth in late 1974. Academically, she holds an Associate of Arts in Business Administration from St. Cloud State University, a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and a Master of Education from the College of St. Scholastica, Duluth.

Helen has over 20 years of experience as a Development Director (Marshall School, UMD, and PBS-eight/WDSE-TV), has been a teacher for Duluth Public Schools, a Program Manager/Conference Planner for UMD, and is a small business owner. She is passionate about her art form (quiltmaking), her large family and many friends, our precious Lake Superior, and the Duluth community. Inspired by DSCI’s history and accomplishments, Helen is looking forward to playing a role in the organization’s future growth and development


Katherine LaFleur (Office Administrator)

Katherine is a Duluth native who first heard of DSCI through the anecdotes of friends and family who had gone on delegations to Ohara, Petrozavodsk, and Vaxjo. Passionate about travel and searching for connections with people from all across the globe, Katherine completed her Bachelor of Arts at the College of St. Scholastica, graduating from the Global, Culture & Language program with minors in Spanish Language and Management.

While only having checked Thunder Bay off the list of sister cities visited, she has traveled to Haiti, Italy, France, Morocco, Sweden and Norway on her own and spent time studying in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain during her undergrad. It was after her time studying in Barcelona that she was offered the opportunity to intern in the DSCI office.

Now, after having spent the summer of 2015 working in the DSCI office with the board and staff, she gleefully returns to the office as the Administrator and looks forward to further work with this excellent organization.