In their own words, staff describe what they do on a daily basis, how they spend their free time, and what they most enjoy about working at PROP.
Janet Palmer, Executive Director
Janet has been the Executive Director since February 2015. She previously served as the Operations Director since 2008 and has been instrumental in helping the organization expand its programs and services. She was a key contributor to the strategic planning process and has led the execution of several new initiatives over the past several years.
Janet believes PROP belongs to the community. As Executive Director she strives to ensure we all work together to enrich the lives of people in our community and to work under our core values; compassion, integrity, respect, stewardship and relevance.
Outside of work, Janet is active golfing, running, painting, reading, and playing with her dogs. She also enjoys spending time with her adult daughters and husband, Greg.
Mary Brown, Development Director
Joining the staff in April of 2016, Mary has been a volunteer with PROP for twenty years, dating back to the days when the food shelf was located in the lower level of City Hall and she brought her daughter’s Girl Scout troop to help sort food. More recently, she volunteered her time in fundraising, seeking financial partners for PROP’s mission in the community. It has been her joy to watch PROP’s service grow and expand over many years.
As the Director of Development, Mary works with individuals, churches, organizations and businesses in seeking philanthropic support for PROP and its services. In a community filled with abundance and generosity, Mary says she has the best job around.
On weekends, you will find Mary spending time with her family, writing, and occasionally preaching in a congregation. An ordained Lutheran pastor, she appreciates the opportunity to stay connected with the faith community in this way.
Jenny Buckland, Program Director/Employment Counselor, CPCC/PCC
Jenny plans, promotes and evaluates PROP’s programs and services and leads our case management team. She also works with the employment clients to understand their needs and help them get ready to be effective in searching and pursuing new job opportunities.
Jenny joined PROP in October 2014. She believes strongly that journeying effectively through challenging times and job change takes a community. She loves how PROP provides a wonderfully positive space for enabling mutually beneficial connections and relationships for our Eden Prairie and Chanhassen residents.
On weekends you will find her hiking and nature watching – especially birds! Jenny and her family also enjoy watching movies and trying out new and adventurous foods.
Cindy McPherson, Operations Manager
Cindy recruits, trains, manages, and schedules our volunteers – more than 120 each week. She oversees the day-to-day client services office, food shelf functions, and seasonal programs such as Back-to-School and Holiday Gifts. Every year, she looks forward to seeing the bright, smiling faces of children picking out their new backpacks for school and taking them home with pride.
Cindy enjoys reading, spectator sports, home decorating and spending time with her family.
After nearly six years at PROP, Cindy finds each day unique and rewarding in so many ways. PROP participants are so grateful. Cindy is inspired and challenged by creating and implementing new programs.
Kelli Steidle, Marketing Manager
As the Marketing Manager, Kelli is involved with developing, implementing and executing strategic marketing plans for the entire organization. Her focus will be on brand building within the community and supporting existing and new PROP initiatives.
Kelli joined the staff in May of 2016, after volunteering with PROP for several months on the front line as a pantry greeter. It is in the joy of serving and helping others that inspired her to want to join the staff and lend a voice to the PROP mission within the community. She believes that PROP’s concept is simple – Neighbors helping neighbors; a concept that is easy to believe in, to talk about, and to feel grateful to be a part of. Kelli brings over twenty years of marketing experience in the food industry, from small online startups like Highland Plains Bison to large scale food companies like ConAgra Foods. She has been in involved with various philanthropic organizations over the years helping to raise awareness, raise funds, and raise spirits.
In her free time, you can find her spending time with her two kids, two dogs and husband. Being new to the Twin Cities, she is often found rummaging around the city finding great places to eat, shop, and hang out!
Gretchen Strate, Case Manager
Gretchen has been working in the social services field for many years, providing case management and advocacy services to diverse client populations in both emergency residential settings and long term supportive housing programs. Gretchen has experience working with families and individuals experiencing homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, immigrant and refugee families, those experiencing mental health and/or chemical dependency concerns, and those experiencing barriers to self-sufficiency, including criminal histories, housing barriers, and financial and credit concerns. Gretchen joined the PROP team in June of 2016. Gretchen is deeply inspired by the stories and the strengths of the families and individuals that she works with and also by the compassion and dedication of PROP’s committed volunteers. When she is not working, Gretchen enjoys spending time with her family, reading, traveling, and having outdoor adventures.
Crystal Winston, LSW, Case Manager
Crystal is PROP’s full-time LSW Case Manager. She has worked in the helping profession for over ten years. She has served a wide range of client populations, from adolescents to senior adults. She brings specific expertise in working with the clients who are experiencing homelessness, re-entry (ex-offenders) and seniors who face adult challenges. Crystal joined PROP in March 2015.
Crystal helps clients navigate a wide variety of concerns on their road to self sufficiency. What inspires her are the committed passionate volunteers and staff who strive to make PROP’s mission come alive daily.
Crystal’s favorite saying is, “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” – Dr. Maya Angelou.
When she is not working, you will find Crystal enjoying time with family and friends, walking on trails and listening to music. She also loves watching movies. Her favorite actors are Denzel Washington and Samuel L Jackson.
Tricia Ode, Case Manager
Tricia is an experienced client advocate, case manager, program coordinator and parent & child educator. She has worked with individuals and families from very diverse backgrounds including those experiencing crisis, homeless families, unaccompanied and homeless youth, domestic violence survivors, refugee and ELL families, and at-risk children. In 2013, Tricia served as PROP’s Social Service Intern, and in February 2015 she began working as a part time Case Manager at PROP.
Tricia is inspired by the individuals that bravely walk through PROP’s doors each day, as well as the volunteers who dedicate their time and talents while working hard to make a difference in our community.
When she’s not working, Tricia enjoys being a “Sports Mom,” spending time outdoors, exploring new places and working on DIY projects. Her favorite ways to relax are playing lawn games and sitting around a campfire with her family.
Jennifer Smith, Food Shelf Coordinator
Jennifer joined PROP in October 2018 as the Food Shelf Coordinator. She oversees the day-to-day
functions of the food shelf and Fresh Choice Market, everything from food deliveries and donations to
stocking shelves. Jennifer has had a lifetime of service to others and is inspired to be making a
difference in our clients’ lives.
When she’s not working, Jennifer enjoys reading, cooking, painting and spending time with her husband
and two daughters.