Executive Leadership Team
Michelle Basham, MPA/Esq., Executive Director
Michelle brings to The Bridge for Youth more than 20 years of experience in the public and nonprofit sectors. She has started and led organizations focused on runaway and homeless youth, child welfare, racial disparities and strengthening families since the early 1990s. In 1993, she started Avenues for Homeless Youth, one of the first programs in Minnesota for homeless youth and an organization still in existence today. Between 2001 and 2008, she worked in progressively higher positions at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, eventually leading department priorities regarding racial disparities in health care, healthcare reform, licensing regulations and child maltreatment. She left the Department in 2008 to serve as the Executive Director for FamilyWise (formerly Genesis II for Families) and between 2008 and 2013, led a dramatic organizational turnaround including the organization more than doubling in size, completely rebranding and merging into it several smaller nonprofits and programs. Michelle also co-founded the Minnesota Runaway and Homeless Youth Coalition in 1998 and the Nonprofit Emerging Leaders Academy in 2009. She also served as a Vice President at CommonBond Communities and as the CEO for the YWCA of Delaware.
Michelle holds an undergraduate degree in communications and organizational development, a graduate degree in public administration and a law degree in addition to having previously served as a Fellow at the Humphrey Institute Public Policy Forum where she did her group work on women and people of color in political leadership. Michelle is also a part-time adjunct professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. She brings to The Bridge her education, experience and more than anything, a deep and unwavering passion for protecting and serving runaway and homeless youth.
Christina Heineken Woodlee, MPA, Associate Director
Christina has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit administration and development. She has developed nationally recognized donor engagement programs for United Way, including Arise Project and Emerging Leaders. Most recently, Christina was the Director of Donor Relations at Perspectives Inc., where she introduced an audience segmentation and donor acquisition strategy focused corporate women and millennials.
Christina holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of New Mexico. She and her family live in the Twin Cities metro area.
Angela Alvarez, Human Resources Director
Angela Alvarez graduated with a BA in psychology from Minnesota State University at Mankato and an M.A. in counseling and psychological practices from St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis. She started as a Youth & Family Counselor intern in the fall of 2011, before joining the staff full time in the Emergency Shelter Program. With a passion for organization, policies and supporting BFY staff, Angela made the transition from direct staff to administration staff when the HR Coordinator position opened up. Angela was promoted quickly to HR Manager and then to HR Director where she oversees the daily HR functions for staff, interns and volunteers. Angela enjoys reading, writing, traveling, the outdoors, being a sports fan and spending time with friends and family.
Karla Dross, Finance and Operations Director
Karla Dross has more than 25 years of experience leading the finance and administrative functions in nonprofit organizations.
Most recently, she worked as a Chief Financial Officer for CliftonLarsonAllen-Business Operations team working with several nonprofits. She has served as Chief Financial Officers at the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI) and the Center for Victims of Torture. Dross has also worked at College Possible as its first Director of Finance and Operations, and at the Neighborhood Health Care Network. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration from Wichita State University and a master’s degree in Public Affairs from the University of Minnesota.
The Bridge for Youth’s Board of Directors
Scott Thomas-Forss, Chair
Kristine Oberg, Vice Chair
Bob Striker, Treasurer
Michelle Richardson, Secretary
James Denniston, Governance Committee Chair
Margaret McDonald, Development Committee Chair