OUR INCLUSIVE TEAM
Marnita’s Table is committed to hiring personnel that reflect the diverse communities we serve. The majority of our staff of 7 are people of color, including all members of the senior leadership team. Over half of our team, including all members of the senior leadership team, are women or gender non-binary and about half of our staff also identify as LGBT+. Additionally, most of our team members are proud Minnesota natives, born and/or raised in the state.
CEO & Founder
Marnita created the successful model of Intentional Social Interaction. A new human-centered approach to decreasing disparities, Intentional Social Interaction catalyzes enduring personal friendships across race, class and culture.
A 2009 Shannon Leadership Fellow and a 2014 Roy Wilkins Fellow, Marnita is a social entrepreneur who has invented a replicable way to catalyze strong relationships between disparate organizations and individuals in order to deliver a stronger, more engaged communities for the benefit of all. She is a frequently sought-after interactive presenter on the topic of Bridging Social Capital. A senior communications industry veteran with more than 20 years experience facilitating, training and team building for corporate groups and senior executives, Marnita employs an innovative and goals-oriented approach to achieving clients’ professional and personal objectives. A skilled and energetic facilitator, she excels at demonstrating the positive rewards garnered from proactively identifying and maximizing social capital. Marnita’s professional and community volunteer activities focus on energizing groups and individuals to make proactive transformational change through intention, communication and action.
Marnita is herself a prime exemplar of strength through multiculturalism. She is a biracial woman born of a Black man from the Dominican Republic and a Jewish Danish-American mother, raised by Irish-German immigrant adoptive parents, with American Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese foster siblings. She is now the essential anchor for a family including her husband Carl, his two Jewish-Norwegian children, and her own son, whose father is Black.
Sammie Ardito Rivera
Senior Project Director
Sammie Ardito Rivera is the Operations and Project Director. As head of operations she ensures the organization runs smoothly internally. As a Project Director she ensures the project teams effectively deliver the model of Intentional Social Interaction to the communities we are tasked to serve.
Sammie Ardito Rivera is a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe with paternal ties to White Earth. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Sammie spent most of her young adult life learning from diverse communities across the United States while working on issues of economic justice, indigenous rights, environmental justice, education, and climate.
Elexis Trinity Williams Gray
Director of Research & Projects
Elexis Trinity is a community-based researcher and project director at Marnita’s Table where they are responsible for program design and implementation, evaluation and reportage, and oversight of the organization’s grant writing efforts. Previously, they worked as an educator and community arts organizer and served as a researcher with the Women Writers Project – or more recently, on projects for Human Rights Watch and the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C. Lex holds an AB in Africana studies from Brown University where they were named a Sidney E. Frank First Generation Scholar and a Community Fellow with the Swearer Center for Public Service. A member of the Marnita’s Table team since 2015, they subsequently earned a master’s degree in human rights with a minor field in science, technology and environmental policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Currently an incoming doctoral student at Cornell University, their research lies generally at the intersection of health, environment, technology and policy. Eclectic interests notwithstanding, Elexis is most passionately committed in all their work to intentional community-building, rights-based advocacy, and collaborating to create more equitable and humane systems.
As the Training & Project Director at Marnita’s Table Lauren Williams manages training and client-based projects involving training components, ensuring that IZI is accessible to all, no matter age, access or ability. Beginning in the role of Communications Coordinator in 2016, Lauren changed roles in 2017 to focus on enhancing the Intentional Social Interaction training experience.
Lauren graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies and a minor in Leadership. As a South Minneapolis native, with family roots in the St. Paul Rondo community, Lauren has been engaged with community service organizations since childhood – developing her leadership on the shoulders of strong community leaders.
Marnita’s Table is committed to hiring personnel that reflect the diverse communities we serve. The majority of our 11 staff members are people of color, including all members of the senior leadership team. Over half of our team, including all members of the senior leadership team, are women or gender non-binary and about half of our staff also identify as LGBTQ+. Additionally, most of our team members are proud Minnesota locals, born and/or raised in the state.
Operations & Business Development Manager
Food and Beverage Manager
Research Content Coordinator
Johanna Keller Flores
Administrative Coordinator, Brand & Research Creative
Marlene Rojas Lara
Marnita's Table is a 501(c)3. Our 18-year old organization seeks to close gaps across difference through making Intentional Social Interaction (“IZI") / Digital Intentional Social Interaction (“dIZI”) the new pattern for society where Indigenous; Black and brown people; the disenfranchised; the poor; the LGBTQ+; those from historically and currently pushed to the margins communities; the traditionally unheard and excluded are actively and intentionally included and valued at the policy-making and resource-sharing table.