Our Board

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Jeff Blodgett

Jeff Blodgett is the Board Chair of WIN Minnesota, an independent political donor table that works to keep Minnesota moving in a progressive direction. He has worked in Minnesota and national politics and public life for 34 years. In 2012 he served as State Director for the Obama campaign in Minnesota, a position he also held in 2008. In 2003, Jeff started and ran for 7 years the organization Wellstone Action, a national center of training, capacity building and leader development for people and organizations involved in politics and public life. He spent 13 years as a senior aide, advisor and campaign manager to the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, running all three of his election campaigns, including the hard-fought 2002 race cut short by tragedy 12 days before Election Day. He has a B.A. from Carleton College and a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is on the faculty of the Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership program at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He has co-written two books: Politics the Wellstone Way and Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way.


John Curry

John Curry is the Associate Director at Minnesota Land Trust after many years in the conservation arena, most recently as Assistant Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Central Partnership Office. He has managed effective conservation programs with Audubon Minnesota and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and served as Director of the Minnesota Campaign for Conservation, which spearheaded the lobbying effort that led to the successful Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment passed by Minnesota voters in 2008. He is a familiar face at the Minnesota State Capitol, and provides a depth of experience in policy development, nonprofit fundraising and grants management.

John holds bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and master’s degree in Public Administration from Hamline University. John enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, biking and cross-country skiing. 

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Nancy Gibson

Nancy Gibson is best known for her effort to build the International Wolf Center in Ely beginning in 1987. She poured her energy into raising the necessary funds to build the Center from the Minnesota State Legislature and private sources.

In 1998, she was one of the leaders who helped pass the State Constitutional Amendment dedicating 40% of net proceeds of State Lottery dollars to the Environment and Natural Resource Trust Fund. Governor Pawlenty added citizen experts to the Commission that oversees these expenditures and Nancy was one of his first appointments in 2006. Governor Mark Dayton has re-appointed her twice.

She works and consults as the naturalist for several media outlets in Minnesota. Her biology background, education skills and talent were the catalyst for two Emmys on the award-winning PBS show, Newton’s Apple. Nancy won the Willard Munger Stewardship Award, conservation awards from Ducks Unlimited, Friends of the Boundary Waters and was honored as one of the 50 top women in Minnesota by First Lady Mary Pawlenty.


David Hartwell

David Hartwell is President of Bellcomb Technologies Incorporated, a world leading manufacturer of composite panels used in industrial, non-aerospace applications and unique products that has an annual capacity of 40M square feet.

In addition, he is active in many non-profit activities. He is on the boards of the Belwin Conservancy—a 1350 acre sanctuary in Afton, MN (President), National Audubon Society, Land Trust Alliance, Island Conservation, Mississippi River Fund and the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (Chair).

David and his wife Elizabeth enjoy travel and often (but not often enough) go to distant places to birdwatch, see the countryside and hike. A garden lover, his entire backyard is vegetables with the only grass in it being of the weed variety. David’s record tomato plant reached 14’ high and provided great entertainment for his four grown children and seven grandchildren.


Darby Nelson

Darby Nelson, born and raised in Minnesota, is a free lance writer and conservation activist. He received his Ph.D. in aquatic ecology at the University of Minnesota and taught biology and environmental science at Anoka-Ramsey Community College for 35 years. Darby served three terms as a Minnesota state legislator.  He did contract writing in environmental science books for McGraw-Hill Publishers for six years.  He has written many magazine articles on environmental topics. He has received several awards including the Minnesota Post-Secondary Science Teacher of the Year; Faculty Excellence Award; Golden Chalk Award from students; as well as awards from the Sierra Club, The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Izaak Walton League. He has served on The Nature Conservancy Board and the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and is now on the boards of Conservation Minnesota and the Freshwater Society. For Love of Lakes is his first book. He will donate royalties from the book to Conservation Minnesota. Visit DarbyNelson.com for more information on his book and water related issues.


Gia Vitali

Gia Vitali received her degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After graduation, she spent four years working on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC for Congressman Bruce Vento and his successor Congresswoman Betty McCollum. In 2004 Gia returned to Minnesota and led the Get Out the Vote effort in Saint Paul for Kerry/Edwards. That opportunity opened a political door to Gia. She went on to manage several campaigns, work for a United States Senator, serve as political director for a national organization focused on recruiting, training and helping to elect candidates to state and local office.

In her final political endeavor, Gia served as deputy campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families—the historic campaign that successfully defeated the constitutional amendment to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman. After over a decade working on political campaigns and for elected officials, Gia turned her focus to health care. Then in February 2018 she became Minneapolis Mayor Frey’s chief of staff.