Duane NinnemanDuane Ninneman, Executive Director, Director of Climate & Energy

Duane Ninneman was recently named the Executive Director of Clean Up the River Environment.  He continues to serve as CURE’s Climate and Energy Director, the program area he has led since joining CURE in 2005.  Duane concentrates on broadening and deepening the conversations needed to achieve meaningful and lasting results in watershed sustainability, including climate solutions and renewable energy adoption.  He believes that real progress toward sustainability can only come from honest assessments and a genuine understanding of the complex dynamics that are affecting the environment.  Duane is a recognized rural environmental leader and shares his understanding of rural history, culture, and the environment as a public speaker and network weaver.  Duane graduated from St. Olaf College with a BA in Sociology and Anthropology. Currently, he is the Chair of the Clean Energy Working Group and serves on the Steering Committee of RE-AMP.  His life away from work is tied to his farm and family in Big Stone County, Minnesota. To contact Duane, email


13_08_15_CURE Board_Dixie 2Dixie Tilden, Office Manager

Dixie Tilden is the Office Manager and Community Relations Director at Clean Up the River Environment.  She joined CURE in 2000.  Dixie provides the first point of contact for people learning about CURE and is CURE’s historical reference librarian. She is in charge of all regular office functions, historic fact checking, information accountability and proofreading.  She functions as the hub of CURE’s daily operational schedule, bookkeeping and payroll.  As CURE’s community liaison, she is the first point of contact for issues and inquiries unique to CURE’s rural Minnesota location.  Dixie also makes sure that CURE’s fleet of canoes, kayaks and related equipment is kept in good condition and available to members for their use.  From South Dakota, Dixie and Jerry – her husband of 50 years – moved to Minnesota in 1970.  They raised their two children in Montevideo and have eight grandchildren scattered from North Dakota to Japan.  Dixie is a long-time community leader and volunteer.  She spends free time helping her husband in the garden and a good book is always near by. To contact Dixie, email


Peg Furshong, Director of Operations & Constituent Relations

Peg Furshong joined Clean Up the River Environment in August of 2012.  As the Director of Operations & Constituent Relations, Peg is responsible for internal operations including financial systems and budgeting, information technology and managing organizational performance, record management, facilities and risk management.  Peg is also focused on building relationships with members and providing educational and experiential opportunities.  In the summer of 2013, she led the effort to develop CURE’s Events & Adventures division. As an educator, throughout most of her professional career, Peg has worked with young adults in higher education – facilitating programs in leadership, civic engagement, sustainability and diversity.  Born and raised in Montana, she came to Minnesota with a love for nature and the values of environmental stewardship.  Outside of work, she spends time with her husband and children gardening, biking and enjoying the outdoors.  Peg holds a M.S. in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Information, Process & Communication (IPC) from Montana State University-Billings. To contact Peg, email


Sarina OtaibiSarina Otaibi, Director of Communications & Engagement

Sarina Otaibi is CURE’s Director of Communications and Engagement.  She joined CURE in January of 2012 and is responsible for CURE’s varied and integrated communications products and services, including newsletters and other print publications; Web, E-news and other online communications; media, public relations and marketing.  As a member of Generation Y, Sarina sees the importance of supporting and educating our next generation of leaders to step up early and become part of the decision making process.  Sarina believes in the need for action, the communication of that action related to the restoration and preservation of our land and water resources and combatting global warming.  Sarina received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing with a Minor in Environmental Science from Stetson University in Florida and a master’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Maryland, College Park.  She lives in Granite Falls, MN, serves on the City Council, and lives in and is restoring a historic church.  Sarina and friends partake in all of the recreational opportunities the Upper Minnesota River Valley has to offer. To contact Sarina, email



Ariel HerrodAriel Herrod, Water Program Coordinator

Ariel Herrod joined CURE in November 2013 as CURE’s Programs Assistant. In January of 2014, Ariel took on the new responsibilities as CURE’s Water Program Coordinator. Herrod’s previous experience is rich with work that has involved public outreach and hands-on environmental education.  She has also had farm experience in the Minnesota River Watershed and considers herself a healthily integrated (though new) member of the vibrant sustainable farming community in the area. Her interest in environmental sustainability sparked in freshmen science classes and she pursued that interest at Macalester College in St. Paul by earning a double major in environmental studies and geography. Although a Maryland native, Ariel feels a sense of responsibility to the Minnesota River Watershed community, especially because of its proximity to the Mississippi River. To contact Ariel, email


Kristian NybergKristian Nyberg, Energy Program Coordinator

Kristian Nyberg leads CURE’s Energy Program.  His responsibilities include the coordination of RE-AMP’s Clean Energy Working Group and leading rural organizing in support of Minnesota’s Clean Energy and Jobs Campaign.  A graduate of University of Minnesota Morris, Kristian majored in Environment Studies and Political Science.  At Morris, he studied the relationships between climate, energy, and ecosystems and the public policy required to address these societal challenges. Before coming to CURE, Kristian worked as a campaign organizer for Senator Al Franken. To contact Kristian, email

Jordan WenteJordan Wente, Field Organizer and Policy Analyst

Jordan Wente is a Field Organizer and Policy Analyst under CURE’s Energy Program. The Minnesota Clean Energy and Jobs Campaign is the focus of Jordan’s field organizing work as well as a campaign to engage with members of Minnesota’s rural electric cooperatives.  His responsibilities extend to research, analysis, and reporting on the economics of clean energy in rural Minnesota. Jordan is currently a senior at the University of Minnesota, Morris majoring in economics, statistics, and Spanish. Prior to joining CURE, Jordan worked for UMM’s Center for Small Towns as a project statistician and solar energy consultant. In 2014, Jordan was named a Harry S. Truman Scholar for his work in sustainability, policy research, and community outreach. To contact Jordan, email


Erik HatlestadErik Hatlestad, Public Interest Fellow

Erik Hatlestad is CURE’s Public Interest Fellow, while also organizing the students of the University of Minnesota Morris’ MPIRG (Minnesota Public Interest Research Group) Chapter.  As a part of his role in both organizations, Erik works on policy issues surrounding renewable energy, rural electric cooperatives, and sustainable agriculture.  In short, he marshals student support in Western Minnesota for CURE’s policy initiatives.  Growing up on a farm taught him the delicate balance between nature and humanity and that protecting the environment is just as important for our society as it is for the Earth.  As a lifelong resident of Western Minnesota, he is inspired by the activists of the Farmer’s Holiday Association and holds them as proof that the people of Western Minnesota can change the course of history. Erik holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Concordia College and while he’s not working against climate change, he enjoys biking, canoeing, and sitting around campfires. To contact Erik, email