Meet our Team

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;

indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.  - Margaret Mead 

We are currently seeking additional board members!
Visit our volunteer page to learn more about this opportunity.

 

Michael Wendland

Cofounder & Board Chair

I am currently the Flight Path Coordinator for Red Wing Public Schools and also have 11 years of Special Education Teaching Experience.  I have a Bachelor's degree in Special Education as well as a Master's degree in Educational Administration. I first traveled to Cambodia in 2009, when I designed and led a training in sensory disorders for the staff of House of Smiles, a daycare center for children with disabilities. This was likely one of the first of such trainings in the country. I began to recognize the discrepancy of services available to people with disabilities, despite the interest and efforts of caring and compassionate people. Through the trainings I have since lead in Cambodia, I have seen the positive impact they have had and I hope that through our continued efforts with DSI, we can enrich the services available to people with disabilities around the world.  Additionally, with a diagnosis of epilepsy, I am thankful for the support and care I have access to which has further driven a personal connection to the work we are doing.

Jennie Wendland

Cofounder & 

Executive Director

As one of DSI’s founders, I believe that together we all can and must stand against injustice and inequality that exists in our world today. My educational background includes a degree in music therapy and a Masters in Special Education. As I grew up with a brother with multiple disabilities, spent time working with marginalized and vulnerable populations in Cambodia, taught special education in Alaska, and worked in culturally diverse situations (including with immigrant and refugee citizens), God continued to cultivate my passion and open my eyes and heart toward those with disabilities, who are all too often unseen and unheard in many parts of the world today. In 2017, I was selected as a U.S. delegate to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India, because of my work with DSI. I currently serve as a Human Rights Commissioner in Red Wing, MN and am proud to work as the volunteer Executive Director on DSI's mission and development.

Dinesh Ranasinghe

 

Board Vice-Chair

I am an IT professional with over 16 years of experience in software development, design, software architecture, as well as a variety of IT leadership roles. Besides my love for technology, I am also an avid outdoorsman who loves camping, hiking, and mountaineering.  As an amputee and a disabled athlete, I am passionate about disability advocacy and empowering disabled individuals. This is why I am committed to helping DSI accomplish its vision and strategic objectives. I am honored to be a part of DSI and look forward to accomplishing our mission one individual, one program, and one country at a time. 

George Shardlow

Board & Treasurer

I work in corporate government relations and am based out of Minneapolis. I hold a Master's in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. I previously worked in disability policy for the State of Minnesota, focusing on accessibility law. I am excited for the opportunity to help DSI share best practices for advancing policies that empower people with disabilities, across the globe.

Sierra Janka

Board Secretary

I am an elementary special educator currently teaching in Juneau, Alaska. I hold dual degrees in elementary and special education and am currently pursuing my Master’s in Education. I am highly motivated and focus on bringing a lot of energy and passion to our team, trying to think outside the box to bring new insights and ideas. I have traveled to a number of countries around the world including Cambodia to participate in DSI research with the founders in 2016. I am committed to the mission of DSI and working with international organizations to better myself as a professional as well as the opportunities for people living with disabilities in Cambodia and other countries.

Catherine Hennessy Wolter

 

Board Member

I am a Minnesota-based musicologist, music educator, and advocate for social change. I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and teach music history and world music courses at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. My relationship with DSI began as an undergraduate when I met two of DSI's eventual founders, Elizabeth and Jennie. I have been inspired by their international work for the better part of a decade leading up to DSI's official launch, and I am delighted to be a part of the team today. A central way I serve DSI is through grant writing and other development work.

Audra Quandt

Board Member

I’m a mother of two wonderful girls.  My youngest has cerebral palsy and she has been my inspiration to advocate for others with disabilities. One of my greatest community achievements was co-founding the Red Wing Area Universal Playground where people of all abilities can interact and play together. I enjoy working with DSI as the organization continues to grow and enrich the lives of others in much-needed areas globally.

Elizabeth Schrader

 

Cofounder

I first became involved in international development work in 2008, designing music therapy programs at an aftercare center in Cambodia and volunteering at a center for children with disabilities. Upon returning to the US, I continued my involvement in international humanitarian efforts and during my graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, assisted with research to improve schools at the system-wide level. I currently teach special education in Central Wisconsin and own and operate Legato Music Therapy Services, LLC. I am a Neurologic music therapy fellow and practice music therapy over the summer with Adam's Camp, an interdisciplinary therapy camp for children with disabilities.

DSI's current structure includes a dedicated group of volunteer Board of Directors contributing their skills to DSI's development, as well as committees that work to advance the development and mission of DSI.​ 

 

Current committees focus on:

 

Do you have skills and interest in being involved in committee work ​or helping us on a consult-type basis?

 

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 DSI is a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit, EIN: 81-1195531. Your donation is tax-deductible.

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