President’s Back to School Message

Dear PTA Leaders,

Welcome to the 2017-18 school year! The Minnesota PTA Board of Directors and office staff look forward to supporting you throughout the coming school year. This Back-to-School mailing is only one small way for us to do that. Please take the time to go through each document, as they all are important for a smooth beginning to your year.

Special attention should be given to the document titled “Units in Good Standing” as it lists the four requirements each PTA needs to complete to be a recognized under Minnesota and National PTA. Once you’ve completed those, go ahead
and add these other tasks to your ‘to-do’ list…

  • “Like” us on Facebook. Look for the Minnesota PTA logo shown above, and you have the right page. We will utilize Facebook a lot this year to stay in contact – you don’t want to miss anything! Encourage all of your members to do the same.
  • Presidents and Treasurers should request to join our Minnesota PTA closed groups on Facebook (Minnesota PTA Presidents Group & Minnesota PTA Treasurers Group) as a way to stay in contact with other leaders across the state – it’s a great place to ask questions and support each other.
  • Go to and create an account. It will give you access to the National Back-to-School Toolkit ( plus lots of other resources you can utilize throughout the year.
  • Mark your calendar with the important dates listed on the half-sheet enclosed, especially Saturday, April 14, 2018 – the date of our state convention.

In case you haven’t had the chance to meet us, below is the contact information for all of the board members and our
state office staff. Please do not hesitate to call or email if you have any questions – we are here to help!

Amy Nelson, President:

Amy Nelson (she/her) has been actively involved with PTA for 10 years. In that time, she has served on local unit boards of 3 schools and on the Rochester Area Council Board. Amy joined the Minnesota PTA State Board in 2018 as Education Commissioner, an opportunity that allowed her to be trained at National PTA's Center for Family Engagement. She was then elected Vice-President of Minnesota PTA in 2019 and has enjoyed working and growing with the other members of the Board. With a background in elementary and middle school education, as well as raising two kids, Claire and Trygve, with her husband, Garth, Amy is looking forward to continuing to serve all of the children of Minnesota and represent Minnesota PTA.

Carla V. Ries, Secretary:

"Carla V. Ries was born and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Since moving to the United States, she has lived in various states including Florida, Virginia, and California. In 2010, she moved to Minnesota with her family, and in 2011, they settled in Bloomington. She soon began attending Early Childhood classes and volunteering with the Parent Advisory Council of ECFE. Since then, she has been involved in various PTAs and Parent/Teacher groups wearing many hats including running Book Fairs, Representative to District PTA Council, Representative to the Pathways Advisory Committee (school curriculum), Secretary, Vice President, Co-President, and Secretary of MNPTA.

Carla lives in a multi-generational, multi-cultural home with her husband, two children (10 and 12 years old), her parents, two cats, and a dog. She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, learning about her adopted state, volunteering for various organizations, and championing diverse causes. She looks forward to being able to do much of these things in person once again as well as being able to see the smiles on the faces of her loved ones and friends."

Rachel Coleman, Treasurer:

I love being a member of PTA because it allows me to use my skills with great people for a great cause!

Cathy Nathan, Advocacy:

I am a mom of two sons who have graduated from our local schools and moved on to college and beyond. I initially joined PTA because I wanted to learn more about how to navigate the public school system and to make it a better place for my boys and their classmates. I joined the Minnesota PTA board as the Advocacy Commissioner because our schools can't do their work without adequate funding and effective policies from state and Federal legislators and agencies. I've also developed resources and training on STEM + Families programming offered by the Minnesota PTA. My PTA experiences motivated me to run for and win a seat on the Rochester School Board and to represent parent perspectives on the Rochester Cradle 2 Career Leadership Table. I support the the 23 Rochester PTA local units as President of the Rochester Area Council PTSA; we also present “Families Power Student Success” workshops to Rochester families.

Christine Jannetto, Bylaws:

I am a wife and the mother to two wonderful daughters and through their schools I found a desire to be involved. The PTA has been a wonderful way to be involved, help others and do my part for the students, parents and staff. My love for and involvement in the PTA has grown not only from my own unit, but also to our city’s Area Council and upward to the MNPTA. I’ve really valued being a member of the MNPTA and look forward to my role as the Bylaws Chair starting this year. I love rules and regulations as well as helping others. The MNPTA does so much for so many, and I’m honored to be a part of it all.

Nicole Patraw, Health & Safety Chair:

Nicole Patraw is a mom to 3 from Forest Lake, MN. She had spent 10 years working in special education as a para/deaf-blind intervener, and now enjoys her time working as a Holistic Health Coach.

Nicole has served in many roles in her local parent advisory council, PTA, and schools. When she’s not at the hockey rink or football fields with her kids, she can often be found hiking and camping in any new place that she can find.

She looks forward to guiding one community at a time in order to empower the youth, and to advocate for their health, safety and overall wellness.

Thuy Ros, Membership:

I am a mom of 3 (10, 8 & 2 years old) children. I served 2 years as PTA president at for our unit & now am secretary. I had great role models & influences to show me the way & why it’s important to be involved in my children’s education.

Heather Starks, Past President:

I joined PTA for my kids. I stayed in PTA for me. The friendships and relationships I have made through this organization are some of my best in my adult life and I don't know how I would be surviving parenting without them. The bonus is that I get to help impact the everyday educational lives of kids across the state, and their families, and that brings me great joy.

Lori Ortega, Reflections:

The mission of PTA aligns with my beliefs regarding parent involvement, child advocacy, and cultural arts advocacy. I have been involved for many years, and am a second generation PTA member, supporter, and leader. PTA is great for everyone and gives parents opportunities to be involved in many ways and to support their child’s school and community.

Deborah Seelinger, Special Projects Chair:

PTA is a community of caring adults, focused on the well-being and potential of our most precious resource - children!

Communication Chair:

Open Position - Apply Today!

Convention Chair:

Open Position - Apply Today!

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Chair:

Open Position - Apply Today!

Education Chair:

Open Position - Apply Today!

Outreach Chair:

Open Position - Apply Today!

Technology Intern:

Open Position - Bring your skills to our group and walk away with real world experience. We are looking for website management, program and software support on a number of different platforms, and hardware know-how. Learn as you go and enjoy a fun team to grow with! Apply buy clicking HERE!

Vice President:

Open Position - Apply Today!

Resource Development:

Open Position - Apply Today!

We are always looking for PTA leaders that are ready to join us at the state level – especially in our open positions
(Education Commissioner, Health and Wellness Chair, Convention Chair, Membership Chair, Scholarship Chair and
Strategic Chair). If a board position is not for you, we are also looking for committee members to help support board
members on the above chart. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you want more information.

While I have only been in this position since April, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know PTA leaders across this
great state. Thank you for all you do for your schools, your students, and your families – you should all be proud of the
great work you do for Minnesota’s students! Have a great year!

Heather Starks

President, Minnesota PTA

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