Staff

Sue Gunderson, Executive Director

Sue Gunderson is a leading visionary in the field of empowering families to make their housing safe for children. In order to powerfully implement her vision, she joined the CLEARCorps/USA team in 2005 as the Executive Director. In this capacity, she provides expertise, guidance, and leadership to a wide audience. She provides consultation to many city, state and federal healthy homes legislative initiatives. In addition, she tirelessly collaborates on pioneering programs around the United States that serve to demonstrate the effectiveness of working at the level of the family and community to make housing safe from lead, from asthma triggers, and from other toxins that compromise childhood wellness.

Prior to taking on her role at CLEARCorps/USA, Sue was the Executive Director of Sustainable Resources Center (SRC) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was during her twenty years at SRC that Sue honed her skills in successfully managing multiple projects with multi million dollar budgets with deliverable deadlines. Sue gained invaluable experience and expertise in overall leadership of a non-profit environmental organization: fundraising, budget development, and program management.

It was during her years at SRC that Sue became evangelical about the effectiveness, importance and power of collaborating with families and communities to eliminate the housing dangers to the health of children. This belief, which is daily put into practice, is based on years of experience, and is a signature of CLEARCorps/USA and of Sue.

Early in her career, Sue was the Director for Outdoor Recreation Grant Units for the State of Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development.  As a Senior Planning Grants Analyst before that, she provided technical assistance and determined project eligibility to communities in their grant applications. Sue also wrote grant manuals and conducted workshops, administered over 100 active grants and ensured compliance with state and federal regulations.

As Energy Program Manager for the District 7 Planning Council in St. Paul, Minnesota, Sue served as a Programs Development and Marketing Specialist. She assisted clients with housing improvement loans and served as the liaison to the St. Paul Neighborhood Energy Consortium. In addition, Sue was a Planner for Peoria Park District in Illinois, for the nationally recognized Energy Management Plan. She conducted employee and community energy education programs, provided a comprehensive city energy conservation program and developed policy and procedures for use in state and local governmental units.

More recently, Sue served in a volunteer capacity at her daughter’s school. She brought a state of the art natural playground to the school, and she served as the president of the Parent Teacher Organization. Sue received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois. She currently resides with her family in St. Paul, Minnesota.

To engage with Sue about national lead issues, please email her at: sue [at] clearcorps [dot] org.

Megan Curran de Nieto, Director of Community Health Programs

Megan Curran de Nieto is the Director of Community Health Programs for CLEARCorps. Megan has spent over fourteen years organizing the community around lead poisoning prevention issues and has coordinated and facilitated many educational activities and programs within the community, including bilingual, Spanish/English, workshops for both parents and children.

Megan is a sought after presenter and has made over 100 presentations to community members, activists, legislators, political groups, neighborhood associations, local non-profit, member forums with local HMO’s and for-profit organizations. She has worked with national organizations to develop blood lead testing programs and incorporate the use of filter paper into their daily activities. Megan has managed two HUD Lead Outreach Grants, which both met and exceeded all goals and benchmarks.

Before coming to CLEARCorps/USA, Megan designed and facilitated a Mobile Lead Screening Program in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The program focused on reaching hard-to-reach children and underserved populations, and tested them for lead in places that are familiar to them such as day care centers or local community centers. The program tested more than 3000 at-risk children and pregnant women and identified more than 25 children with elevated blood lead levels greater than 10 µg/dL.

Megan has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences and a minor in Spanish from St. Cloud State University, in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Megan is bilingual in Spanish and English and spent four years living abroad in Costa Rica. She lives in St. Paul and enjoys gardening, traveling and spending time in the outdoors with her husband and Chihuahua mix, Chulo.

To engage with Megan about lead issues in Minnesota, please email her at: megan [at] clearcorps [dot] org.

Jennifer Beckenbach, Lead Outreach Coordinator

Jennifer Beckenbach is the Outreach Coordinator for the CLEARCorps Minnesota program. Jennifer began her career in lead poisoning prevention over ten years ago when she joined the CLEARCorps AmeriCorps program. During her time as an AmeriCorps member, Jenny quickly established a rapport with the community and families dealing with lead poisoning. In this role, Jenny’s communication and organizational skills led to CLEARCorps hiring her as a full time staff member when her AmeriCorps service ended.

Consultants

Mari Ruddy, Education, Social Media & Website Development

Mari Ruddy helped start more than 15 high schools using the Big Picture Learning design. She was the principal of one of these innovative, internship based high schools. Mari has been an education consultant all over the United States. In addition, she ran an internet based company that trained people with diabetes to be endurance athletes. You can learn more about Mari here.

Alexis Acker-Halbur, Writer & Research

Alexis Acker-Halbur, author, speaker, medical nightmare and miracle, is a two-time cancer survivor and patient wellness advocate. Her published non-fiction book, Never Give Up: Break the Connection Between Stress and Illness, is receiving rave reviews from individuals and groups for her honesty and insight.

Alex received her master’s degree in writing/communication at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. Her 30+ year marketing career includes working at the American Diabetes Association, Hazelden Foundation and Publishing, Deluxe Corporation, and HealthPartners. She was also a contract writer at the Institute of Clinical Systems Improvement. You can learn more about Alex here.