Executive Team 



MayKao Y. Hang, President and CEO  

Dr. MayKao Hang is the President and CEO of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving lives in the greater Saint Paul community and beyond through direct services, research, and community building. MayKao has extensive experience in the public and nonprofit sectors, serving low-income and disadvantaged populations. She is committed to achieving an equitable society where everyone can prosper. She believes that harnessing and building social and civic capital can transform the world.
MayKao has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Brown University, a master's degree in social policy and distributive justice from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a doctorate in public administration from Hamline University. She is Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Trustee and Chair of the Grants & Community Initiatives Committee of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, Co-Chair of the Itasca Project’s Socio-economic Disparities Work Group, and is on the Advisory Committee for John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. She is a founding member of the Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL) in Minnesota.
Dr. Hang has been recognized with numerous awards including the Community Champion 40 & Forward Award, the Humphrey Public Leadership Award, the Ann Bancroft Award, the Ultimate Hmong Woman Award, and the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans Leadership Award. 
MayKao can be reached at 651-280-2473 or maykao.hang@wilder.org.

Joan McCusker

Joan McCusker, Vice President, Finance and Administration and CFO

Joan McCusker joined the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in 2014 as Vice President, Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer. Joan has more than 25 years of experience in industries including manufacturing, government contracting and retail. Prior to joining the Wilder Foundation, Joan served as CFO at Lawrence Merchandising and held multiple Vice President roles at Alliant Techsystems Inc., including in Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Compliance.
Joan is a graduate of Minot State University with a bachelor's degree in accounting and the University of North Dakota with a master's degree in accountancy. She also holds a mini-MBA in healthcare management and a mini-MBA master of informational technology from the University of St. Thomas, and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive). She sits on the board of the National Kidney Foundation of Minnesota and enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons.
Joan can be reached at 651-280-2450 or joan.mccusker@wilder.org.

Nona Ferguson

Nona Ferguson, Vice President, Economic Stability and Aging Services

Nona Ferguson has been with the Wilder Foundation since 1995, providing a wealth of experience and expertise in health and human services work, program design, employment services and housing. She oversees Wilder’s housing support services, early childhood and parent education, aging services, and basic needs programs including Twin Cities Mobile Market. Nona holds a B.A. in Psychology from Tougaloo College, Mississippi, and a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from Minnesota State University-Mankato.
When she’s not working, Nona enjoys spending time with family and friends, and learning about the capacity of human beings to be resilient and rebound from life circumstances. Her favorite quote comes from author Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist, and in summary says that once you commit and determine what you want, the whole universe conspires to support you in achieving that goal.
Nona can be reached at 651-280-2351 or nona.ferguson@wilder.org.


Kristine Martin, Vice President, Wilder Center for Communities

Kristine Martin joined the Wilder Foundation in 2011. She provides direction for Wilder Center for Communities, which builds capacity in the community through leadership development, civic engagement and collaborative community initiatives.
Kristine is passionate about making a difference in social and economic disparities. She works to position Wilder as a thought leader around systems change and an innovator in creating conditions for political community engagement. She is an avid runner, a global traveler and enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.
Kristine can be reached at 651-280-2494 or kristine.martin@wilder.org.


Paul Mattessich, Executive Director, Wilder Research

Paul Mattessich (Ph.D) is Executive Director of Wilder Research, the nonprofit research arm of the Wilder Foundation (www.wilderresearch.org) which he joined in 1978. Through his leadership, Wilder Research provides valuable insight and information on critical social issues, producing research reports, evaluations, surveys and studies for nonprofits and other organizations.
Paul can be reached at 651-280-2710 or paul.mattessich@wilder.org.


Polly Schrom, Executive Services Director

Polly oversees and manages the work of the Wilder Foundation Board of Directors and board committees. She works closely with the President and Board of Directors in developing and implementing strategy. 
Polly can be reached at 651-280-2444 or polly.schrom@wilder.org.

Dr. Pahoua Yang

Pahoua Yang, Vice President, Community Mental Health and Wellness

Dr. Pahoua Yang has worked as a clinician with diverse client populations in multiple settings, including community mental health, higher education, and personnel and career evaluation. She has extensive experience serving children, adults, and families. In addition, she has served on a number of national and statewide committees and task forces aimed at advancing health equity.
Pahoua is a graduate of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-Health Resources Services Administration (SAMHSA-HRSA) joint initiative on Addressing Health Disparities Leadership Program, serves on the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council, and was named 2014 Professional of the Year from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Minnesota.
Pahoua holds a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a doctorate in educational psychology (counseling) from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and her Kindle.
Pahoua can be reached at 651-280-2145 or pahoua.yang@wilder.org.

Michelle Zwakman, Vice President of Advancement

Michelle Zwakman joined the Wilder Foundation in 2006 and leads the Office of Advancement, which integrates fundraising and development, communications and program development. Michelle has more than 20 years’ experience in human services in roles spanning direct services, management, program development and fundraising. 
Michelle is motivated to promote social equity and social justice by collaborating broadly in the community. She is inspired by exploring creative approaches to community concerns, particularly when participation meaningfully captures the strengths of community residents.
Michelle can be reached at 651-280-2447 or michelle.zwakman@wilder.org.

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