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meet the staff

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Dan De La Forest
Campus Director

Jesus met Dan as a junior studying chemical engineering at UMD and called him to be a campus pastor.  He has spent most of his adult life helping students in Duluth to discover God’s love and walk out his great purpose for them.  Dan is a “bible nerd” and is currently working toward his Masters in New Testament Theology.  He and his wife Sarah, an E.R. nurse at St. Mary's hospital, are currently wrangling two 9-year-olds (Elanor and Isaac) and two 7-year-olds (Cate and Jack). When they do find a moment to breathe, they can be found reading, baking, playing sports, cheering on our MN teams, or actively enjoying the outdoors of Duluth, especially the Boundary Waters.


Jenny Chladek
Ministry Director


Jenny graduated from the U of M Duluth in 2015 and upon graduation took her first step into full-time ministry with Chi Alpha Duluth seeking to share with students all that God had done within her during college. Little did she know, God would lead her to remain on staff for the next 7 years to continue to love and serve students. She has now transitioned into becoming the campus director of the ministry  and is very excited for what God wants to do.
One of Jenny's greatest passions is creating spaces for people to meet with Jesus. She believes nothing is more transformative and powerful than encountering the love of God and hearing His voice. She loves leading worship, prayer meetings, and seeing the love of Jesus transform students' lives. In her free time she loves to play the piano, write music, dance, swim, cook, spend time with loved ones, and be outside! One of her greatest joys is enjoying Duluth and its parks through biking, running, hiking, and occasionally taking a frigid jump in Lake Superior. 

Rachel Cheney


Rachel grew up in Bemidji, MN and graduated from UMD in 2018 with a degree in Elementary and Special Education. After graduation, Rachel taught students with learning disabilities and emotional behavior disorders at Bay View Elementary for two years before feeling a call to ministry and beginning the Chi Alpha internship in 2020. Rachel loves that she can use her gifts as a teacher to help our students gain a better understanding of the Bible. She also loves that her experience in the marketplace can help students prepare to live missionally when they leave Duluth and start their careers. Rachel got married to her husband Bruno in 2018, and they welcomed their first child on July 12th, 2022. Their beautiful baby girl is named Juniper Justice and she is so loved by all of our students! Being a new mom is a joy, adventure, and a challenge. Some of Rachel’s favorite things include thrift shops, water parks, roller coasters, picnics, new recipes, lakes, hikes, and good books.
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Tony Walters


Tony is from Stillwater, MN and graduated from UMD with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication with a Minor in Deaf Studies. Tony poured most of his college time into learning to serve God on the college campus and soon felt called to campus ministry with Chi Alpha. Tony completed his CMIT internship over the 2020-2021 school year and is now in his second year of full-time ministry. Interacting with non-Christians in a meaningful way propels him to create engaging events that welcome students into a godly community. Outside of ministry Tony loves spending time with his wife (and co-worker), Grace along with his dog Daisy. You can often find him at coffee shops, playing board games or out on the disc golf course.
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Grace Walters
Media Marketing, International Student Ministry


Grace grew up in Brainerd, MN and graduated from UMD in 2021 with a degree in Communication and a minor in Philosophy. Grace has always had a heart to do full time ministry and even felt the call on her life as a child. Through the Lord's leading and many detours, Grace ended up in Duluth and fell in love with Chi Alpha! Having the opportunity to show people the joy that a life with Jesus can bring is what compels Grace everyday! When she isn’t working you can find Grace outside on hikes, enjoying some good food, drinking an iced chai, or most likely hanging out with her husband (and co-worker) Tony and their dog Daisy.


Laura Hollen
Discipleship, Womens Ministry + Worship


Laura grew up in New Prague, MN and transferred to UMD in the Fall of 2017. In 2020, she graduated with a degree in Communication and a minor in Psychology. Through the Lord’s gentle guidance, Laura joyfully changed her plans during her senior year of college to enter into full-time ministry. She believes it is the best decision she has ever made after the choice to follow Jesus. She continues to grow in passion and zeal for seeing God’s Kingdom expand and bring life to college students. Laura is an extreme extrovert, loving anything she can do with other people. Most days you’ll find her worshiping at her keyboard, drinking too much coffee, going on long walks, and adventuring with her husband, Zack and chocolate lab, Kaia.
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Levi Rainwater
Large Group


Levi is from New Ulm, Minnesota, and graduated from UMD in 2020 with a Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering. He enjoyed discipling and production in Chi Alpha throughout his college career. He felt led to join the staff as an intern with the CMIT program for the 2020-2021 school year, and has been on full-time staff since the end of his internship in 2021. Levi enjoys spending time reading, playing games of all kinds (including chess), being with family and friends, and coffee.

Bennett Sell
Worship Ministry


Bennett graduated from UMD in 2021 with a degree in Mathematics and Statistics, and had planned to become an actuary before the Lord changed his life. Over the last three years God has turned his life around and given him a heart for campus ministry, discipling students and serving on campus. He is passionate about encountering God through worship, and is beyond excited to lead the worship ministry. Outside of ministry Bennett loves playing sports, swimming or going on adventures outside, coffee, and has a perpetual fear of “growing up”


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Gabe Gracza


Gabe is a CMIT this year after graduating from UMD with a degree in Chemistry. He met Jesus when he was going to high school in Roseau, MN, and furthered his faith as he worked at Bluewater Covenant Bible Camp during the summers. He is answering God’s call to a year serving UMD with Chi Alpha and praying about a future in ministry. Gabe loves chess, climbing, Tang, and the Lord of the Rings, but most of all, he loves being with his wife Kierra and worshiping Jesus.

Caitlin Kohli


Caitlin’s excited God’s called her to be a CMIT at UMD and see God transform lives here. For the past two years she’s worked as a missionary associate with Milwaukee XA at UW-Milwaukee, where she graduated from in 2020 with a BA in English. In her free time, she reads both nonfiction and fiction, drinks tea and coffee with friends, and enjoys God’s creation outdoors. Her passion is seeing students follow Jesus and become more like him in every area of their lives.

student officers

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Sophie "Soup" Haugen

Soup is studying English Education as a senior this year at UMD. She worked at a church camp in Leavenworth, Washington after graduating from high school (and again this past summer). From then on she’s learned more and more about God’s character and His will for her life. She loves talking to strangers and seeing the Lord’s unique masterpiece in every individual! You can usually find her working at Jimmy John’s, wandering around Duluth, playing piano, or hanging with her cat Richard. Soup enjoys shenanigans of all kinds, especially those that involve climbing and adventuring. She’s super pumped to connect with new friends and learn more about Jesus together!! She loves good fun and meaningful conversation so feel free to text her about anything and everything (or if you’d like to know the story behind the nickname).

Sydney Lewis

Sydney is going into her senior year at UMD and is studying Industrial Engineering. This past summer, she worked an engineering internship where she grew in her ability to lead with a servant heart and show the Lord’s character in the marketplace through her actions and heart for people. The previous summer, she worked a children’s ministry position where she discovered her joy of leading others into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Outside of school and work, Sydney loves to go for walks on Lake Superior, spend quality time with friends and family, and go on coffee dates! She has grown immensely in her faith through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the community she’s been blessed with through Chi Alpha. Sydney loves interacting with people and sharing her story, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

Aaron Hess

Aaron is entering his 6th year at UMD and with Chi Alpha. He studied Biochemistry during his undergrad at UMD and is pursuing his PharmD at UMD for the next 2 years. When Aaron isn’t studying for a massive number of exams, he is usually hanging out with friends in Kirby or doing something fun outdoors like hiking or frisbee. He loves to invest time and energy into the people around him and is very excited to continue to invest in this community. If you ever want to worship spontaneously or dive deep into conversation, feel free to reach out to Aaron at any time.


Camie Fineday

Camie is from Cass Lake, MN. She is in her third year of school. After her second year of school, she took a gap year to regroup and has just transferred to UMD for Secondary Education in social studies. Camie has been part of the church her whole life but started making her faith a priority in her later high school years. Camie was a freshman in 2020 and wasn’t really able to settle into Duluth before we were all sent into quarantine. Thankfully, within the first month back, she was able to get connect to XA through a small group and found her home away from home. Camie is most excited for the opportunity to pursue true connections with her peers as an officer. When Camie isn’t studying or working at Target, you can probably find her reading, playing board games with friends, or taking her adventure kitty, Piper, on walks around town.

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