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Sarah Ness

Southeast Service Cooperative
Program Manager | GRAUC & SciMathMN Board of Directors | Entreprenerur
Rochester, MN

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Sarah serves as one of southeast Minnesota's connections to all things STEM, workforce development, and CTE education. Sarah serves Minnesota communities with a passion to leverage peoples strengths and resources to find innovations and develop solutions that are needed in our communities. Sarah's ability to recognize her vast network of K-12, post secondary, and industry partners has led to a wide network of partnerships to work collaboratively toward a larger mission, rural economic stability and opportunities for all. Sarah's experience developing and growing collaborative partnerships, organizational and programmatic strategic planning and implementation, and cultivating an AMAZING team of staff who help to support career connected learning in rural school districts has led to the rapid growth of new services and initiatives in southeast Minnesota. Sarah was also given the Outstanding Service Award from the Minnesota Service Cooperatives in July 2020.  Sarah serves on the SciMathMN Board of Directors as Committee Chair for the Personnel and Marketing & Communications subcommittees and Vice Chair of the Executive Committee. In addition, she is also a proud entrepreneur of Nesst Companies Home Staging & Interior Design. A proud mom of Taryn and Brock, wife to high school sweetheart Dan, and fur-mom to two wild and crazy dogs, Aspen and Boomer. Sarah enjoys weekends watching the Vikings, socializing with her dearest friends and family, and hiking in the great trails of Minnesota's state parks.

SSC's team is proud to announce the launch of a new tool to increase community economic development while simultaneously creating community partnerships that lead to more meaningful career connected learning. Southeast Minnesota can opt in to using a cooperative model Career Navigator position to better align opportunities and partnerships between communities and their school districts. These opportunities include experiential learning, the launch of a new software platform, FutureForward (www.futureforward.org), designed to coordinate experiences, provide lesson supports, and connections to employers.

The Southeast Service Cooperative (SSC, ISD #921) is a public, non-profit agency started through Minnesota statutory authorization in July 1976. We serve over 80 public and private school districts, cities, counties, and other organizations in the 11-county southeast region of Minnesota. Member institutions enroll almost 82,000 preK-12 students and employ 17,500 employees. Student enrollment in school districts ranges in size from 100 to almost 18,000.

Our Board of Directors, comprised of 10 individuals elected by member organizations, works with our staff and advisory committees to strategically vision, develop, and deliver cooperative services. Operations and programs are funded with membership fees, service fees, administrative fees to contracted vendors, and grants and scholarships.

SSC’s workforce of 31 staff and corps of independent consultants deliver administrative services such as facilities management, volume purchasing, health insurance pool management, and the Wood Lake Meeting Center. Educational programming includes professional development, a multi-partner mobile science lab, student enrichment programming, and the Southeast/Metro Regional Center of Excellence with the MN Department of Education. SSC collaborates with eight other MN Service Cooperatives to support education, local government and non-profits statewide in these and other program areas.

SSC is recognized for its workplace flexibility practices and its productive culture. We are an award winning regional service agency with sound track record of superior service, financial stability, and innovative thinking.

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