As Women Winning heads into its 40th year — and what is sure to be our most important year yet — we are thrilled to announce two new staff members joining our team.

Marnie K. Wells joins the organization as the new Interim Executive Director and Karen Velez joins the team as Operations Manager.

Marnie Wells is a cross-sector leader who builds community solutions for the common good. Partnering with leadership teams, Marnie creates innovative and scalable business models that increase accessibility while growing sustainable revenue. Most recently, during her tenure as CEO of Camp Fire Minnesota, Marnie raised more than $24 million, including a multi-million dollar capital campaign which doubled Camp Fire’s ability to serve young people year-round.

Marnie is known for her love of fundraising, relationship building, and visionary leadership and joins Women Winning eager to maximize the organization’s resources to achieve the mission in electing more pro-choice women to office. Marnie brings extensive non-profit leadership experience and a passion for electing pro-choice women leaders. She is proud to join the Women Winning community at this pivotal moment in time, as the important work of encouraging pro-choice women across the state to run for office continues alongside organizing Minnesotans to support and elect pro-choice women leaders up and down the ballot.

When Marnie is not hard at work raising the visibility of Women Winning, you can find her out on a long run around the chain of lakes in Minneapolis or traveling to warm beaches with her husband.  

Karen Velez is an accomplished organizer and immigration advocate whose passion for human rights earned her the distinction of being named “40 Under 40: Latinos in American Politics” by the Huffington Post. Before joining Women Winning, Karen worked at the Minnesota DFL, where she managed grassroots fundraising programs and organized successful donor events as Deputy Finance Director. Her own immigration story and frustrations with America’s broken immigration system helped drive her efforts as the face of DACA Sin Miedo, a Minnesota awareness campaign for DACA recipients, while she was still a high school student.

Karen grew up in the suburbs of Minnesota surrounded by a large and close-knit family and eventually moved to Washington D.C. While in D.C., she majored in Political Science at George Washington University and worked as a paralegal at the nationally renowned, full-service immigration law firm, Benach Collopy. Karen’s experience in D.C. helped her build well-rounded experience managing various teams and legal research. Despite her love for the nation’s capital, Minnesota is home. She returned to be closer to her beloved family and to help Minnesota maintain its status as the Midwest’s progressive firewall.

Outside of her busy work life, Karen loves trying new, locally-owned Twin Cities restaurants, listening to her favorite podcasts, and of course, you can always find her spending time with her close friends and family.

With Marnie and Karen, the Women Winning team heads into 2022 ready to continue the critical work of organizing communities across Minnesota to support pro-choice women running for office. There is work ahead, as the 2022 Midterm Election will determine reproductive rights and its far-reaching impacts in Minnesota for generations to come. We hope you’ll join us throughout the year.

Please join us in welcoming Marnie and Karen! And meet the rest of the team here.

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