Staff Directory

Lyndale Neighborhood Association Staff

Grayson Betz (He/Him/His)
Digital Literacy Instructor & Coordinator

Grayson is LNA’s Digital Literacy Instructor & Coordinator. He teaches Basic Computer Classes and English classes with enthusiasm and compassion to immigrant adults in the Lyndale Neighborhood. Grayson is developing a digital literacy curriculum for English Language Learners that will be used statewide upon its release in Winter 2024. Previously, Grayson completed his AmeriCorps service at LNA. He has his B.S. in Physics from Carleton College.

Grayson now calls Minneapolis home, but he originates from Mekoryuk, Alaska. He is a lifelong learner and is currently learning Somali to better communicate with his students. He enjoys photography (and acts as LNA’s in-house photographer!) In Grayson’s free time, you might find him sketching in a notebook or enjoying a mug of hot apple cider with a good book.

Photo of Eva Kim

Eva Kim (She/Her/Hers)
YMCA ESL Teacher

Eva is a passionate and dedicated English Teacher who brings her international teaching experience to LNA. Since her successful completion of a teacher training course from Cambridge Assessment English, Eva has been applying her knowledge and expertise in the sphere of Education to help learners from different countries achieve their goals. Eva believes that her teaching skills, creativity, determination and organization, together with a great team of neighborhood members, can make a valuable contribution to the growth of each and every neighbor of LNA.

Sarah Linnes-Robinson (She/Her/Hers)
Director of Projects

Sarah is working with the Lyndale Board and their committees to help them define their vision of success, and put a plan in place to reach that goal. She brings over 25 years of experience to this position as a project manager, community organizer, and an executive director of various neighborhood nonprofits. A volunteer herself, she has also served on numerous non-profit boards and City Task Forces.

Professionally, Sarah has organized and led large-scale events designed to educate and empower neighbors and other stakeholders to develop solutions for issues facing their community. She is a relentless cheerleader, rallying for the community and the “regular people” to step forward into leadership roles, pushing them in new directions to spur their personal growth.

Sarah is a creative and logistical problem-solver who loves to tackle new projects and create a template for their execution to share with other communities. She is happiest working with community members in the areas of art or the environment (or the intersection of the two!), whether painting or murals, nurturing bee hives, throwing clay, sorting compost, or lighting fires to boil maple syrup or cook pizzas!

Kara Rice (She/Her/Hers)
Communications Coordinator

Kara Rice is LNA’s Communications Coordinator. Kara is a thoughtful and passionate creative who enjoys helping nonprofits convey their impact in the community that they serve. Before joining LNA, Kara was the designer and webmaster at a St. Paul nonprofit, where she created print and digital collateral. She holds a BA in Art and Sociology from University of Minnesota and an AAS Graphic Design from Minneapolis College.

Kara lives in South Minneapolis with her family. In her free time, she enjoys staying up late to finish a good book, playing outside with her toddler and rearranging the furniture in her home.

Sami Smetana (She/Her/Hers)
Executive Director

Sami Smetana is thrilled to be joining the Lyndale Neighborhood Association as Executive Director. Throughout her career in education and social services, Sami has been a part of team-based organizations that work to understand their communities and respond to their needs. From teaching ESL learners in Japan and South Korea to working with grade school children in Appalachian Ohio to cook culturally themed meals in the classroom, Sami brings a passion for education into this role. Most recently, Sami worked as a director for a nonprofit social services organization based in western Hennepin County. This role taught her how to navigate the complex network of social services available in Hennepin County as well as the ins and outs of managing a nonprofit in Minnesota.

Originally from western Wisconsin, Sami moved to Minnesota in 2016. A resident of South Minneapolis herself, Sami is incredibly excited to engage with and support the Lyndale community to continue to shape the neighborhood to be safe, vibrant, and sustainable. In her free time, you will likely find Sami with her family exploring the wonderful parks throughout Minneapolis or gardening in her backyard.

Amanda Week (She/Her/Hers)
Neighborhood Engagement Intern

Amanda is LNA’s summer 2024 Neighborhood Engagement Intern. In her work, she will collaborate with LNA staff to improve language instruction and curriculum development, strengthen community engagement and partnerships, and enhance outreach and marketing efforts. 

Originally from Rochester, MN, Amanda now lives in St. Paul where she attends Macalester College. She is majoring in philosophy with minors in Spanish, linguistics, and media studies. At Macalester, she is an editor for the independent student newspaper, The Mac Weekly, and works as a peer writing tutor. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, cooking and baking, playing sudoku, and bowling.

Maleni Wiitala (She/Her/Hers)
Community Organizer

Maleni is originally from Mexico City but moved to Minneapolis in 2023! Currently, Maleni is studying interior design with previous minors in art history and photography. Her constant dedication to exercise, whether it be running, skating, or exploring the Minnesota landscape, reflects her enthusiasm and determination in her day-to-day life. Her focus is dedicated to contributing creatively and positively to the Lyndale community.