The Minnesota Youth Collective is built on passion and community. Our team includes young people from all over the state, with a wide array of community, electoral, and political organizing experience.

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Emily Wellen -

Executive Director (she/her/hers)

Emily Wellen founded the Minnesota Youth Collective along with our Program Director, Rahhel Haile. She started her political career working for the Obama campaign and has since worked for candidate and issue campaigns in Chicago, Oregon and of course, Minnesota. Emily has seen first-hand the power of young people in politics and community organizing, and she's ready for a world that is queerer, browner, and witchier than this one.

Emily doesn’t work all the time, though- when she has a minute, she loves putting together hip-hop playlists on Spotify and scheming how to make her her dog, Maggie, Instagram famous.


Rahhel Haile -

Program Director (she/her/hers)

Rahhel Haile is a co-founder of the MNYC. Rahhel is a first generation Eritrean American who has called Minnesota home for most of her life. She has a dual degree in Political Science and Finance from the University of Minnesota-Morris. Previously, she worked at the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group as the Economic Justice Organizer and at SEIU 284 as a Union Organizer.

Throughout her career and through her work at MNYC, Rahhel has prioritized co-organizing with young people of color without co-opting their movements. She believes in the power of combining grassroots and electoral work to create a future that young people can be proud of. Outside of work, she likes working on her BIPOC podcast Pass the Mic, finding her best camera angles, and obsessing over true crime. Rahhel is a proud Slytherin and is finally warming up to being a Capricorn.


Aurora Vautrin - Community Program Coordinator (she/her/hers)

Aurora Vautrin grew up in Duluth, Minnesota where she developed a passion for environmental and social justice. She has been organizing since 2010, starting as an intern with the Minnesota DFL and then Women Winning.

In 2016 Aurora organized Minnesota's 8th Congressional District for Hillary Clinton, and in 2017 Aurora signed on to organize for Erin Murphy's campaign for Governor. Aurora graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2018 with degrees in Political Science and Gender and Women Sexuality Studies.

In her free time, she tries not to adopt animals and enjoys hiking, reading, and camping.


Garrison McMurtrey - Board Chair (he/him/his)

Garrison McMurtrey is currently the Senior Public Affairs Associate at Target Corp. Prior to his current position, he worked as the Outreach Director for Senator Amy Klobuchar. Most of Garrison's career has been in political organizing and has worked on races on the national, state, and local levels.

He believes in the mission of this organization because for far too long the voices of young people have not been heard, yet so much that is done legislatively impacts the lives of young people. Having an organization like the MN Youth Collective that engages, educates, and provides our youth with the resources they need to make the changes they want to see if so pivotal in today's world.


Lidya Makonnen - Board Vice-Chair (she/her/hers)

Lidya Makonnen is an Outreach Director in the Office of United States Senator Amy Klobuchar, where she is the in-state lead on issues related to business, commerce, banking, manufacturing, export promotion, travel and tourism, consumer protection, workforce development, faith groups, foreign affairs, and communities of color. Previously, she held multiple roles in the Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith including Scheduling Director for Lt. Governor Tina Smith, Director of Strategy and Operations for the Young Women's Initiative of MN (a partnership with the Women's Foundation of MN), Appointments Coordinator, and Special Projects Coordinator. Lidya earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota in 2015.

She joined the MN Youth Collective Board because she believes in mobilizing young people as a catalyst for necessary change.


Geoff Koslig - Board Treasurer (he/him/his)


Elísabeth King Avíles - Board Member (she/her/hers)

Elísabeth King Avíles is the Visual Content & Brand Specialist at Alliance for a Better Minnesota. Prior to that, she worked for First Avenue & 7th Street entry, multidisciplinary creative studios like Pixel Farm, and advertising agencies like Terri & Sandy in New York.


Marissa Luna - Board Member (she/her/hers)