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 7-year-olds (Elanor and Isaac) and two 5-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.

Danielle Hoel 

Teaching Pastor

Pastor Danielle aka "Momma D" was a Chi Alpha student at UMD many moons ago.  She met her husband Grant there, and graduated with a degree in Communications.  However, most of her life was spent preparing for ministry!  Danielle and her husband Grant moved back to Duluth in 2008, and quickly began serving students with Chi Alpha Duluth once more.  She is passionate about discipling the next generation to read God's Word, serve others, and have healthy relationships.  Danielle is Mom to twin daughters Eden & Hope, and "Mom" to many young adults around Duluth.  When she has a spare moment she loves to read, play music, run, and plan outdoor excursions with family and friends. 

Jenny Chladek 
Associate Director
Media & Marketing

Jenny grew up near Eau Claire, Wisconsin and moved to Duluth to attend the U of M Duluth. After graduating college she took her first step into full-time ministry as an intern with Chi Alpha Duluth. Upon completing the internship she joined the Chi Alpha staff team as a Campus Pastor. One of Jenny's greatest passions is creating spaces for people to meet with Jesus. She loves leading worship and prayer meetings, women’s ministry and seeing the love of Jesus transform student's 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 recently is biking around town and on the mountain biking trails in beautiful Duluth. 

Brian Ziolkowski
Student Leadership Director

Brian grew up in Lino Lakes, MN and studied Finance at Winona State University. After graduation, he worked on staff with Chi Alpha at Winona State with his wife, Bethany. In June 2019, Brian and Bethany moved from Winona to Duluth to join the Chi Alpha staff team at UMD. Brian leads our large group service and oversees our mens ministry. He is passionate about leadership, worship, and discipling students as they grow their faith in Jesus. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, coffee, exploring the outdoors, and anytime he can go golfing.  Brian and his wife welcomed into the world their first daughter, Amelia, this past January.

Rachel Cheney
Discipleship Director

Rachel grew up in Bemidji, MN. She got involved with Chi Alpha as a freshman in 2014 and has been around since! She graduated from UMD in 2018 and worked with XA as a volunteer while she taught special education for two years at Bay View Elementary. Rachel and her husband Bruno got married in 2018. She is happy to be working with Chi Alpha full time! Rachel loves mentoring students as they navigate all the highs and lows that college brings! She is passionate about helping students find their identity in Jesus and live life to the fullest. Some of Rachel's favorite things include roller coasters, water parks, lakes, board games, thrift stores, long hikes, and new recipes!

Levi Rainwater
Missionary Associate

Technology Specialist

Levi is from New Ulm Minnesota, and graduated from UMD in 2020 with a Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering. He enjoyed discipling and leading students in Chi Alpha throughout his college career, and felt led to join the staff as an intern with the CMIT program for the 2020-2021 school year. Levi enjoys spending time reading, playing games of all kinds, and being with family and friends.

Laura Miller
Missionary Associate

Worship + Connections Coordinator

Laura graduated in the Spring of 2020 with a Bachelor's degree in Communication. After completing her CMIT internship, she is excited to dive into another year of full-time ministry. Laura enjoys kayaking, hiking, and spending time with friends and her chocolate lab puppy, Kaia. She is passionate about worship and theological discussion. She LOVES the hours she gets to spend talking with her girls, figuring out life with the help of a little coffee and a whole lot of Jesus. Her passion in ministry is to help people discover their true identity as His masterpieces; intentionally created; sons and daughters of the King.

Tony Walters
Missionary Associate

Outreach Coordinator

Tony graduated from UMD May of 2020 with a Bachelor's degree, majoring in Communication and minoring in Deaf Studies. He was involved in Chi Alpha Duluth all throughout college and has met some of his closest friends through the community. Seeing Jesus change the lives of college students is the reason Tony loves campus ministry. Some of his favorite hobbies are hammocking, disc golfing, and playing board games. His favorite thing to do is to be with friends and his fiance, Grace. Tony is getting married and is thrilled to pursue a career in ministry and start a marriage!


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Grace Walters

Grace graduated the spring of 2021 with a Bachelor's degree in Communication.  Being involved in Chi Alpha during her years at UMD God solidified her call to go into ministry by calling her to be a  missionary with Chi Alpha! Grace has a passion for lost students, and loves helping others discover the beauty of living for Jesus! Grace is also excited to do full time ministry with her husband Tony! When Grace isn't working she loves to spend time with friends, go outdoors, drink iced Chai and enjoy all the joys of the beautiful life God has given her! 

Bennett Sell

Bennett grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota and graduated from UMD in 2021 with a degree in Mathematics and Statistics. Bennett been a part of Chi Alpha for the last year and a half, and the Lord has changed his life significantly through this ministry. In March of 2021, he felt called to take a step out of the corporate world he planned to enter and into giving a year as an intern. He is fired up for the year and ready to watch Jesus transform students on campus in the same way he was transformed. Bennett enjoys playing guitar and piano, being outside, and just about any sport he can get his hands on!

Nico Fernandez

Nico graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Over the past 4 years, he has been involved in Chi Alpha and truly found his faith in college. He has been a leader for the past two years and felt a call to give a year as an intern coming back from a mission trip in Chicago. He loves to be able to mentor college-aged men towards a stronger relationship in their faith. Some of his hobbies include anything technology-related, spending time with friends, and gaming.

student officers

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Lindsey Kauffman

Lindsey is a senior at The University of Minnesota Duluth, pursuing Marketing and Graphic Design. She grew up in Hanover, MN and attended Buffalo Covenant Church. Lindsey founded her own relationship with Jesus on a trip to Israel and continues to grow her faith in Chi Alpha. One fact about Lindsey not a lot of people know: UMD was the only school she applied too as she felt called to Duluth. Lindsey knew she belonged in Chi Alpha after attending the welcome back bonfire her freshmen year. The people in Chi Alpha inspire her to be on fire for the Lord and continue spreading the good news about Jesus and His love as that message has transformed her life. Lindsey loves people and can’t wait to serve and grow with her community, tell others about Jesus, and see what God’s got planned this year! 

Nick Catlett

Nick, a senior at the University of Minnesota Duluth, is excited to join the Chi Alpha Student officer team for the 2021-2022 academic year. Nick is a Biology major with an emphasis in genetics and cellular development and takes a particular interest in Chemistry and Psychology, both of which happen to be his minors. Yes, if it wasn't already assumed, he happens to be a super nerd, so much so that he is currently in the process of applying to medical school, which he hopes to start in fall 2022. Although estranged and distant from his faith during the years before college, he joined Chi Alpha his freshman year to rediscover what it means to be a follower of Christ.  That same year Nick was born again through his baptism at Chi Alpha's fall retreat. One of Nick's favorite things is having honest conversations about what it means to follow Jesus. So day or night, give him a call; he'd love to chat it up with you!

Sophie "Soup" Haugen

Soup is studying English Education as a junior this year at UMD. She worked at a church camp in Leavenworth, Washington after graduating from high school. 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, or hanging with her cat named Richard. Soup enjoys shenanigans of all kinds, especially those that involve climbing and the late night. She’s super pumped to connect with new friends and praise God together!! Hit her up for some good fun and meaningful conversation (and if you’d like to know the story behind the nickname).

Gabe Gracza

Gabe Gracza grew up on the northern border in Roseau, MN and has now found a home in Duluth. Gabe is a junior at UMD, studying chemistry, and as if that doesn't already peg him as a nerd, he can usually be spotted in a Star Wars T-shirt. He was raised in the church but founded his own relationship with Jesus while working at Bluewater Covenant Bible Camp the last three summers, and by being a part of XA. He's a big fan of God's creation and all the things we can do in it, from canoeing and camping to climbing and snowboarding. Gabe is also slightly addicted to Tang and handstands.

If there's anything he said that you want to talk about, or you know if you just have a really good pun, give him a call!