Audrey Suker provides leadership to ServeMinnesota, the state’s hub for AmeriCorps service. Under her direction, the organization supports thousands of individuals who work to improve the lives of Minnesotans through service opportunities focused on education, affordable housing, employment, and the environment.
Under Audrey’s entrepreneurial leadership, ServeMinnesota has more than tripled the number of AmeriCorps positions available to Minnesotans and increased state support for AmeriCorps from $900,000 annually to $5 million and private support from $75,000 to $2.5 million. ServeMinnesota was also recently awarded a Social Innovation Fund grant for its Minnesota Reading Corps program, because of its replicable, evidence-based model.
Since joining the team in 1999, her experience in establishing community and corporate partnerships, strategic planning, and innovative program design, has resulted in significant growth for the organization. To maximize the potential of AmeriCorps resources, she orchestrated the organization’s transition to an independent nonprofit in 2002. With this new nimble structure the organization has achieved a leadership position nationally, ranking 1st in AmeriCorps federal funding among all 50 states.
Her vision for leveraging the power of AmeriCorps to solve unsolved problems led to the creation of Minnesota Reading Corps, the largest state AmeriCorps program nationally and a statewide initiative to ensure that all children are reading proficiently by 3rd grade. It’s grown from a small pilot serving 500 children nine years ago with 24 members to reaching 30,000 students with more than 1,000 members in nearly 700 sites across Minnesota. Through research-based literacy strategies, AmeriCorps members tutor students, age 3 to grade 3, to ensure they reach reading proficiency by the end of third grade – a critical benchmark in academic success. Its proven model has been validated by the U.S. Department of Education. She has developed strong partnerships with Target, several local United Ways and other state commissions to replicate the program in six other states.
She is a frequent speaker and panelist at local, regional and national conferences about the power of national service and its ability to address issues. Previously, Suker was the director of vocational services at the Courage Center and before that, her career focused on vocational rehabilitation counseling – first as a counselor and then as a manager of rehabilitation field office for the State of Minnesota. She received a Master of Science degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from St. Cloud University and her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Minnesota-Morris.