Meet the team behind the Minnesota State Fair Foundation’s daily operations and members of our board of directors.
Meet the Team
Mary Chung, Executive Director
Mary rejoined the Minnesota State Fair Foundation in April 2019 as its Executive Director. Mary previously worked for the Foundation in its early days in a variety of roles, including as Associate Director, and then spent eight years leading development and communication for Solid Ground, a nonprofit that addresses family homelessness.
State Fair Must: Enjoying shows at all of the free stages and exploring the beautiful displays of the Agriculture Horticulture Building rotunda.
Contact Mary at 651-288-4324.
Jennine Duda, Administration and Finance Manager
Office Administration, Earned Income, Finance.
Jennine oversees office administration, earned income, and finance. Jennine has worked in a variety of industries, from publishing to catering, and has held positions in other Twin Cities nonprofit organizations.
State Fair Must: Walk through Creative Activities to look at the quilts.
Contact Jennine at 651-288-4323.
John Lewis, Development Coordinator
Bricks, Benches, Taste of the Fair.
John came to the Foundation in 2013 as a volunteer and has been a part of the team since. John coordinates aspects of the Friends of the Fair program including recognition bricks and benches and membership fulfillment. He is the staff lead for Taste of the Fair.
State Fair Must: Watching a show at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell!
Contact John at 651-288-4325
Jessica Luther, Development Coordinator
Gift Processing, Volunteer Coordination, Marketing.
Jessica came to the Foundation after work experiences in web and social media communications, customer service and fundraising with local nonprofits. Before starting her career, she had several internships including one as special events and donor assistant for the Minnesota State Fair Foundation in 2012.
State Fair Must: I have to try some new foods or drinks every year!
Contact Jessica at 651-288-4327.
Danyl Vavreck, Philanthropic and Major Gift Officer
Grand Champions, Major Gifts, Stewardship.
Danyl has a long-standing relationship with fairs and festivals including an 18-year history with the Minnesota State Fair (marketing and corporate sponsorships) before joining the Foundation to secure major gifts. She is past president of the Minnesota Festivals & Events Association and has been appointed by the Governor to the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council.
State Fair Must: Spin-A-Painting with my kiddo, Fine Art Show on my own
Contact Danyl at 651-288-4328.
Shana Zaiser, Development Director
Major Gifts, Stewardship, Planned Giving.
Shana joined the Minnesota State Fair Foundation in October 2017 where she is specializing in major gifts. Shana has a broad background in development including 13 years at the University of Minnesota where she held a variety of roles including annual giving, campaign operations and major giving.
State Fair Must: people watching, crop art, and visiting the animal barns.
Contact Shana at 651-288-4326.
Board of Directors
The Foundation is led by a volunteer board of directors that look to advance the Minnesota State Fair Foundation by connecting community interests with the needs of the Minnesota State Fair. Through the time, talents and resources of community partners, the Foundation serves to further develop the State Fair as a “mirror of Minnesota greatness.”
Sandy Craighead – Chair
North Oaks, MN
Jason Koerth – Vice Chair
AVP, Animal Health Corporate Accounts North America, Ecolab
Litton E.S. Field, Jr. – Treasurer
Managing Director, Bearance Management Group
Mendota Heights, MN
Jerry Hammer – Secretary
General Manager, Minnesota State Fair
St. Paul, MN
Chairman, Bachman’s, Inc.
Eden Prairie, MN
Market President, Old National Bank
St. Louis Park, MN
Retired, Vice President of Corporate Communications, Hormel
Board of Managers, Minnesota State Agricultural Society
Owner, Goose Group, Inc. and New Life Farms
Founder & Principal, Norden Strategies
Solicitor General, Office of the Minnesota Attorney General
St. Paul, MN
Chief Development Officer, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
Professor Emeritus and Former Dean/Vice President, University of Minnesota
Mendota Heights, MN
Retired, Founder and Chair of Mona Meyer McGrath & Gavin (Weber Shandwick)
President, Minnesota State Agricultural Society
Retired, Communications Executive
Owner, Ribco Enterprises
White Bear Township, MN
Retired, Sixth Judicial District Court
Two Harbors, MN
North Oaks, MN
Retired, Vice President Worldwide Sourcing, General Mills
Circle Pines, MN
Partner, Lathrop GPM LLP
Senior VP Communications and Public Affairs, CHS
Cottage Grove, MN
President, Bolder Options
Founding CEO, Seasoned Specialty Foods
St. Paul, MN
(Years noted in parentheses denote the year each person was recognized as a Board Member Emeritus)
Mitch Davis (2021): Mitch served on the Minnesota State Fair Foundation Board from 2010 to 2019, including service as Board Chair from 2015-2017. Throughout his service and in his continued involvement, he has made key connections for the Foundation in the community, securing major gifts for a variety of projects and programs.
Steve Eilertson (2015): One of the founding members of the Minnesota State Fair Foundation, Steve served as Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair from 2002 to 2013. He was instrumental in establishing our financial policies and procedures and has continued actively supporting the Foundation since leaving the Board.
John Fabie (2021): John served on the Minnesota State Fair Foundation Board from 2011 to 2020, acting as Investment Committee Chair for most of those years. He was instrumental in establishing endowment giving for the Foundation, providing donors with the opportunity to give in this meaningful way with a perpetual impact.
Jim Foss (2021): Jim joined the Foundation board in 2007 as the Minnesota State Agricultural Society Board of Managers liaison and served through 2014, chairing the Nominating Committee and serving on several other board committees during his tenure. Jim’s involvement with the Foundation predates his board service. He and his wife Liz are members of the Foundation’s “First 100” donors who in 2002 provided funding to help launch the Foundation and have remained loyal supporters each year since.
Joe Fox (2012): One of our founding Board members, Joe continues to be involved with all of our projects through his devotion to the Foundation as well as his current service on the Minnesota State Agricultural Society Board of Managers (State Fair Board). He was the first chair of the Foundation Board when it was formed in 2002. His passion and enthusiasm for our mission are inspirational.
Terry Gilberstadt (2017): Terry served on the Foundation Board from 2008 to 2017. She led the Development Committee, brought major funds and naming projects to the State Fair with Horton Pavilions and the Schilling Amphitheater, and made an initial investment in upgrading the Minnesota State Fair Archives.
Bert Greener* (2021): Bert first worked with the Foundation as legal counsel at its inception developing the Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, obtaining our 501(c)(3) charity tax status, and authoring the bill that became law in 2001 enabling the State Fair to create the Foundation. Bert joined the Foundation board in 2012 and served through 2020. During his service on the board, he continued to be a go-to source of legal expertise.
Dave Hyslop (2018): In 2002, Dave was one of the founding members of the Minnesota State Fair Foundation and is one of the 11 names that appear on the Articles of Incorporation. He was an instrumental part in helping the Foundation to grow into what it is today with his expertise in philanthropy.
David Johnson (2013): Dave brought us his global passion for agriculture and feeding the world. He willingly and successfully brought connections and partnerships that broadened public education at the fair on the importance of agriculture and technology in our society.
Malcolm McDonald (2013): Malcolm urged us to look forward, embracing the idea that we are here to help ensure that the State Fair will be available and relevant for future generations. He brought innovation and inspiration to think about what’s next and helped with the founding of our organization.
Mike Miles* (2012): Mike was elected to the Foundation Board of Directors in 2005 and served until his death in September of 2010. He was instrumental in moving forward one of the largest single gifts in the history of the Foundation through the Lee and Rose Warner Foundation, which provided long-term funds for capital improvements at the Coliseum.
Clarice Schmidt (2016): Clarice served on the Foundation Board from 2002 to 2011, overlapping her service for the Foundation with her role as President of the Agricultural Society Board of Managers. She has been an active and very personal proponent for the success of the Foundation, especially as a key Foundation greeter each year for thousands of visitors to the J.V. Bailey House during the fair.
Minnesota State Fairgrounds, J.V. Bailey House
1265 Snelling Avenue North
St. Paul, MN 55108
Directions: The J.V. Bailey House is located on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Cosgrove Street, across from the Space Tower. Look for the yellow house!