Mental Health is Community Health

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There’s simply no better way to promote hope and independence for people with mental illnesses.

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Staff Testimonial

People Incorporated really is focused on People – clients as well as staff!

— Robert, Mental Health Professional

Board of Directors

Sr. Sue Ernster is Chair of the People Incorporated Board. Ernster serves as the President of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) in La Crosse, Wisconsin, a role she has held since November 2022. As President, Ernster oversees the community and leads the mission and vision of FSPA. Before being elected President, she served as Vice President and Treasurer of the FSPA and on other nonprofit boards. Before moving to La Crosse to serve the FSPA, she was the parish administrator in the Twin Cities for several years. Ernster has a BA in Accounting from Loras College and practiced in public accounting for several years, attaining her CPA. She has a Master’s in Pastoral Ministry from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota.

Heidi L Fisher

Heidi L. Fisher is Vice-Chair of the People Incorporated Board. She was elected to the board in 2020. Fisher has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 25 years with a focus on philanthropy. Fisher is currently serving as Director of Special Projects for Larson Companies. Fisher is a member of our board’s Finance and Development Committees. Having a passion for mental health and health equity, she became involved because she believes in People Incorporated’s integrated and outcome-driven work.

Fisher is an active member of St. Paul Rotary, currently serving as the Membership and Club Experience Team Chair. Fisher received her B.S. degree in Learning and Cognitive Disabilities from UW-Eau Claire in 1990. She also holds an M.A. in Nonprofit Management and a Certificate of Advanced Public Administration from Hamline University.

Trisha Stark

Trisha Stark joined the Board of Directors in 2021. She is a licensed psychologist and is active in advocacy at the state of Minnesota and national levels for quality mental health care. In addition to her doctorate in psychology, she has a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School and a Master’s of Jurisprudence in Health Law from the Loyola University of Chicago.

Ellen Sue Ewald is a member of the People Incorporated Board. Ewald is skilled in seeing an organization’s overall position and finding strategic ways to maximize opportunities. She is a co-owner and executive advisor at Tysvar LLC and mobileAxept. She became involved with People Incorporated because she believes that our work reduces the suffering of those living with mental illness by providing practical, integrative, and appropriate medical care, which gives hope and health to many in need. She is also committed to reducing the stigma often associated with mental illness and supports scientific research to help find better treatments and cures. As an experienced Mental Health First Aid trainer, she is committed to helping police officers, teachers, community leaders, politicians, people in service industries and non-profits, and others learn how to identify and assist people struggling with mental health issues. Her goal is to help people understand that a mental illness is like a physical illness and requires understanding and treatment.

Other Boards served to include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) Alumni Association, M.I.T. Club of Minnesota and Norway, Norway House MN, University of Minnesota Neuroscience Advisory Committee, Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, and Minnesota Federal Court Merit Selection Panel. She earned a B.A. summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in International Relations and Scandinavian Studies and an M.S. from M.I.T. in Political Science.


Jennifer B. Anderson joined the Board of Directors in 2020. Jennifer has held various leadership roles throughout her career in finance. She is currently the President and Chief Financial Officer at Community Reinvestment Fund, USA – a company committed ‘to empowering people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities through innovative financial solutions.’

Active in community service, Anderson serves on the Board of the Family Housing Fund as the Finance Committee Chair, a Board Member of the Twin Cities Land Bank, and a mentor at WomenVenture. Anderson earned her B.S. in economics with a mathematics emphasis from the University of Minnesota.

Bruce Bobbitt, Ph.D., LP, joined the Board of Directors in 2022 and is currently devoting his volunteer efforts to career path professional and business mentorship for people ranging from advanced graduate students in psychology and mid-career psychology professionals to senior career business executives. Dr. Bobbitt’s career has included direct clinical service psychology positions in various settings, including community mental health, hospital pediatric psychology, and private practice. He has also held leadership positions in direct service organizations in the public and private sectors. He held various positions, all in behavioral health at Optum, UnitedHealth Group, over nearly 25 years, leaving that organization as Sr. Vice President of Quality Management, Specialty Networks, and Behavioral Health. Dr. Bobbitt was on the Board and Chair for Walk-In Counseling and the Bridge for Runaway Youth. In 2022, he left the United Hospital Foundation Board, St. Paul, after completing a three-year term. He has also been actively involved in committee work for the American Psychological Association and the Minnesota Psychological Association, where he was President in 2018. He has given numerous professional presentations on healthcare issues, published articles in peer-reviewed psychology and behavioral health journals, and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He graduated from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and received his Ph.D. in child psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN.

Doug Elsass joined the Board of Directors in 2022 and currently serves as Shareholder at Nilan Johnson Lewis, PA, in Minneapolis. With more than 30 years of practicing law, Doug is a skilled business litigator for various industries, such as health care, financial services, retail, agriculture, and professional services industries, among others. Doug has worked extensively on shareholder and partnership disputes, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and business competition cases. This expertise is why fellow lawyers and local law firms frequently seek him to represent them in disputes. Elsass has served as President of the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and as Chair of the Civil Litigation Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association, making him sought after by various national firms for local counsel.

At Miami University, Elsass earned a B.A. in History, an M.A. in Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and a J.D., cum laude, at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Emily Essert, Ph.D., joined the Board of Directors in 2022 and currently serves as the Director of Institutional Partnerships at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

Emily is a skilled and versatile writer, project manager, and relationship builder who enjoys fostering vibrant and inclusive communities through nonprofit development.

She received a B.A. in English Literature from McGill University in Montreal, an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. in English Literature from McGill University.


Nancy McKillips has worked in marketing and development at Metropolitan State University for 25 years and retired in 2005. Other boards she has served on are as follows: Junior League of Saint Paul, Saint Paul Rehabilitation Center, Friends of the Saint Paul Library, Voluntary Action Center, Ramsey County Historical Society, and the Rotary Club of Saint Paul. McKillips was named the Outstanding Fundraiser for the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2005. She has a BA degree in Education and an MA in Management from the University of Minnesota. 

Seth Paradis, Ph.D., was elected to the board in the fall of 2018. Dr. Paradis is also the Chair of the Human Kinetics and Applied Health Science Department and founding Director of the Biokinetics program at Bethel University. Dr. Paradis and the program’s diverse healthcare faculty have built one of the fastest-growing and top new revenues of Bethel University. The program is known for its strategic cross-department curriculum, clinical hands-on work, award-winning student research, and strategic outreach that leads to top placement rates of employment and graduate school acceptance. Paradis has extensive consulting and research experience in injury prevention and the development of neuromuscular facilitation. He is starting to examine the body’s endocrine response to daily stress, how it relates to chronic disease, and the dimensions of well-being.

Chad Saunders is a member of the People Incorporated Board. He earned an M.B.A. in Marketing and works as a client executive at Blue Cross Blue Shield. Saunders utilizes his education and experience to bring everyone quality and affordable health care.

Kyle Thomas joined the Board of Directors in 2016 and currently serves as Senior Associate General Counsel – Optum Litigation, UnitedHealth Group. Thomas received a B.A. Political Science and Government from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a Juris Doctor of Law from the University of Minnesota Law School, and an MBA, in Healthcare from the University of St. Thomas – Opus College of Business.

Sharon Williams joined the Board of Directors in 2022 and currently serves as the Senior Vice Present, Payer Relations, at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Atlanta, Georgia. Sharon has over 20 years of experience in healthcare operations and policy, including creating ACOs, and risk agreements, developing and evaluating healthcare delivery and reimbursement systems, healthcare compliance programs, healthcare reform options, and healthcare data analysis.

At Syracuse University, Williams received a Bachelor’s in Public Relations from the Newhouse School of Public Communications and a Bachelor’s in Public Affairs with a minor in Economics from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. At the University of Chicago, Williams received a Master in Public Policy (MPP) and a Master in Health Administration (multidisciplinary program). Williams completed competitive Policy Management Institutes at Carnegie Mellon and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University under a Sloan Fellowship.

Matt Winston joined the Board of Directors in 2022 and is the Senior Vice President – Business Development & Relationship Manager at Brown & Brown, generating and developing new business relationships and all aspects of program design, marketing, and administration, including coordinating ancillary services between the client and the insurance carrier. In addition, he is actively involved on a consulting basis for his clients concerning their insurance and general business needs. Matt previously served as a consultant with an accounting and business consulting firm. 

Education: Bachelor of Science, St. John’s University, Certified Public Accountant (Inactive)