The staff of Ignite Afterschool looks forward to supporting afterschool in your community.  Contact us today and let’s get started.

Main Office Line: 651-644-5836

Kari Denissen Cunnien Staff PhotoKari Denissen Cunnien

Executive Director


As Executive Director, Kari ensures Ignite’s core work advances the organization’s mission, builds strategic partnerships, and support our Board of Directors. Please contact Kari with any press or media inquiries.

Kari joined Ignite Afterschool in 2013 to help build a strong, united voice for afterschool throughout Minnesota.  Before joining Ignite, Kari spent seven years at the City of Saint Paul advancing Mayor Chris Coleman’s bold educational vision, and also as director of Sprockets, the city’s afterschool network.  Kari has nearly 20 of experience as youth worker, youth program manager and community organizer.  A contributor to numerous whitepapers and a frequent presenter at industry conferences, Kari studied youth policy and public and nonprofit management at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and was trained at the Organizing Apprenticeship Project and the National Training and Information Center.

Brandon Bagaason

Program Improvement and Partnerships Manager


Brandon B. manages Ignite’s afterschool program quality improvement initiatives, including the Professional Development Coordinating Council, the Making Meaning with Multiple Data Sets (M3) process, and Believe It. Build It. – Minnesota’s Guide to Effective Afterschool Practices. He also builds Ignite’s relationships with afterschool program providers, citywide systems, and regional collaboratives.

Joining Ignite in 2017, Brandon’s background includes more than 10 years in youth engagement – helping young people tell their stories and build confidence through songwriting, music production and performance. You may recognize Brandon from past gigs at Hope Community Inc., Migizi Communications, McNally Smith College of Music, Minneapolis YMCA Beacons or perhaps as part of the renowned Twin Cities-based hip-hop duo Big Quarters. Having roots in both metro and rural Minnesota communities, Brandon is eager to strengthen afterschool access and quality in communities of all sizes. Brandon holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Chicano studies from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.


Brandon Tice Bio PhotoBrandon Tice

Policy and Communications Project Manager


Brandon T. is responsible for all Ignite communications, including digital media, social media, and communications materials. He also coordinates afterschool issue education and policy efforts at the state and federal levels.

Brandon joined the Ignite Afterschool team in 2013, and immediately put his experience in research and policy to work for the young people of Minnesota.    A University of Minnesota graduate, Brandon interned in London with Three Faiths Forum, a non-profit dedicated to intercultural and interfaith understanding, tutored U of M student-athletes in social sciences, and spent time in Washington, D.C. as an intern for Senator Al Franken.  When he’s not figuring out new ways to help Minnesota’s youth reach their fullest potential through afterschool, Brandon enjoys running, rock climbing, and reading to discover new ideas and perspectives.


Matthew Tyler Ramirez

Office and Event Manager

Matt keeps Ignite’s administrative functions running smoothly – including invoices, contracts, and financial documentation. He also plans, coordinates, and executes Ignite Afterschool’s events in collaboration with Ignite’s staff and network partners.

Soccer, swimming, Science Olympiad, student council, theater, marching band, choir — that’s just the beginning of the long list of afterschool programs Matt participated in as a young person growing up in Olathe, Kansas. So it’s no surprise that Matt has spent the past 10 years supporting young people’s creativity and self-expression at various arts organizations across the Twin Cities. A five-time marathon runner, Matt is an avid reader who is currently pursuing a Certificate from the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Matt is a University of Minnesota graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Art History and Chemistry.

Elena Anderson

AmeriCorps VISTA – Membership Outreach Coordinator

Elena is an AmeriCorps Vista member serving with Ignite Afterschool. She is helping to develop Ignite’s database and engagement systems to ensure Ignite’s partners have the best possible experience. Beyond building out our member engagement system, she will also be supporting Ignite’s professional development coordination efforts.

Elena grew up in Saint Paul and graduated from Luther College. While at Luther she studied Environmental Studies- which gave her an itch for working and teaching outdoors. She started youth work in 2013 working for a YMCA camp located outside of Ely MN. In her free time she tries to do all of the fun things youth in afterschool programs get to do like pottery, canoe, cook, and hang out with fun people.