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Seven New Directors Join YWCA Minneapolis Board

By YWCA Minneapolis
July 13, 2015
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YWCA Minneapolis announces seven new members joining the Board of Directors in July 2015. Ani Backa, Darlynn Benjamin, Cecilia Cervantes, Debbie L. Galka, Lisa Huey, Gwen McFadden-Vincent, and Stacy O’Reilly join the Board of Directors, each bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to the governing role.

New directors are appointed to serve a single, three-year term as members on the Board. The Board of Directors works to implement the organizational strategic plan and advance the YWCA of Minneapolis mission to eliminate racism, empower women and girls and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Joining the Board of Directors in July 2015:

Ani Backa – Manager of Government Affairs, Community Relations and Economic Development, Xcel Energy

Ani is the liaison for Xcel Energy working closely with the Minneapolis Mayor’s office, City Council, Hennepin County Commissioners and every level of local government, community and neighborhood organizations, and economic development projects in the city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County.Prior to joining Xcel Energy in her current position, Ani was an attorney in private practice working for boutique and national law firms representing companies in the areas of corporate transactions, business litigation, and renewable and energy efficiency start-ups.  Ani holds a Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul where she graduated with honors.  She completed her bachelor’s degree in political science from Duke University and the University of Minnesota.

Darlynn M. Benjamin – Vice President, Service Network Innovations and Collaboration, Metropolitan Alliance of Connected Communities (MACC Alliance)

Darlynn develops cross- sector partnerships and collaborations to deliver high-quality services and best practices that enhance the community impact of the 40 member organizations.  Darlynn has more than 20 years of leadership experience in both public and private sector organizations. She served a total of six years as both District Director and Deputy District Director for Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-05).  Prior to her work with Rep. Ellison, she was a managing principal of The McClung Consulting Group, a company she and her husband created to provide professional services in program development, administration and project management.  Darlynn holds a Master of Science degree in Public Management and Policy from Carnegie-Mellon University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Duquesne University.

Dr. Cecilia Cervantes- Former President of Hennepin Technical College

Dr. Cervantes served for 40 years in higher education and retired as president of Hennepin Technical College in June 2015. She came to Minnesota from northern California where she was President of the College of Alameda from 2002-2008. She is a member of the Presidents’ Academy for the American Association of Community Colleges and is an Advisory member of the National Community College Hispanic Council’s Leadership Fellows Program. A native of El Paso, TX, Cecilia received Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education degrees from the University of TX at El Paso. She also earned a Ph.D. degree from the University of CO at Boulder.

Debbie L. Galka – Chief Risk Officer, Wealth Management and Securities Services of U.S. Bancorp. 

Debbie has served in this position since November 2013, when she joined U.S. Bancorp.  Prior to joining U.S. Bancorp, she spent 24 years at Ameriprise Financial.  Positions held at Ameriprise included the Vice President, Enterprise Risk Management and Vice President, Head of Investment Risk.  She currently serves on the board of directors for Goodwill/Easter Seals of Minnesota, Investment Committee member for the Friends of Ngong Road, and Investment Committee member for the YWCA of Minneapolis.  She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from St. Cloud State University and a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in Finance from the University of St. Thomas.

Lisa Huey – Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch

Lisa began her career in the financial services industry in 1980 at Piper Jaffray, Inc. She became a vice president in the Public Finance Department in 1982. In 1986, she became Managing Director in the Public Finance Department specializing in Not-For-Profit and Health Care financings. Lisa was one of only three women awarded the Managing Director title when it was created. Lisa joined Merrill Lynch in 2011. Her focus is on developing strategies and recommendations for high-net-worth individuals and their families to help meet their short- and long-term financial goals. Lisa is a graduate of the University of Iowa, with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, a Master of Arts degree, and she also completed course work toward a doctorate in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and Management Systems.

Gwen McFadden-Vincent – President and Founder of Risk Management Consulting Services, LLC. 

Risk Management Consulting Services was formed in 1997 to fill the risk management void at emerging and mid-sized firms and to deliver value-added services to large and international organizations. Prior to forming RMCS, Gwen provided similar services to commercial clients as a vice president and National Accounts manager at Norwest Commercial Insurance Services for seven years, and vice-president and senior marketing specialist at Alexander & Alexander for nine years. Gwen received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota. She earned her master’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas, with a concentration in marketing.

Stacy O’Reilly – Owner and President of Plunkett’s Pest Control. 

Founded in 1915 in Minneapolis, Plunkett’s has grown to serve clients in 10 states in the Midwest.  Stacy’s company provides pest control services to all segments of clients from home owners and apartment managers to hospitals and food processing facilities.  Plunkett’s has been run by the O’Reilly family since 1923.  Ms. O’Reilly became the third generation to run the company when she assumed control in 2003. Prior to joining Plunkett’s, Ms. O’Reilly’s career focused on strategy and business development.  She served in that capacity for, PUR Drinking Water Filters and McKinsey & Company.  Ms. O’Reilly earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of St. Thomas and her master’s degree in business administration from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College.

Editor’s Note: Photos of Board of Directors are available upon request. Please contact Emily Jackson at 612-215-4164 or