Meet our Leadership Team

In 2014, we formed a leadership team of Como neighbors to lead the planning, coordination and implementation of our work. Below are short bios of each of us.

We are available to have coffee with our neighbors, to hear your hopes and vision for our community.  Contact us at

Rachel Carlson – South(west) Como – I have only lived in the neighborhood for a few years, but I love it! The close proximity to the park, the lake, and the zoo is what drew me to Como, but the friendly, community-oriented neighborhood is why I most feel at home here.

I am a marketing assistant at Kowalski’s Markets, a local family-owned grocer in the Twin Cities. As a member of the Minnesota Active Citizenship Initiative, Kowalski’s strives to see itself as not just a grocery store but as an institute where every employee is encouraged to be an active citizen – a person who understands the obligation to work towards the common good in the communities they are a part of (work, family, faith, education, neighborhood, etc.). I have always had a passion for ecology, the outdoors, and the desire to make a difference in my community, and the work I have done with Kowalski’s using a civic approach has given me the political skills to collaborate with others towards a greater good. 

I joined the CACN because I feel that it is important to see our role in the success in our neighborhood – we are all stakeholders in the health of Como Lake, and we can all play a crucial role in preserving it for future generations!

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 9.43.00 AMJanna Caywood, East Como – I live on Avon Street, about a two block walk from Como Lake.  My husband Joe and I have lived here since 2001 and really love it. I’m a freelance consultant, working mostly with small, place-based organizations. My greatest passion is working right here in Como, building the CACN and working on neighbor-led strategies to make our neighborhood even more wonderful.

I’m a founding member of the CACN. I feel so inspired by my Como neighbors that I’ve gotten to know over the years.  They too are passionate about Como and the opportunities here to create a vibrant, connected community. I’m also a “lead” for Nextdoor East Como and block club leader for the Avon Street, Etc. block club, which includes many blocks beyond Avon and at last count had 96 households. We have a huge block party each summer which is super fun.

I feel so fortunate to live in such a community-oriented neighborhood.  Como is truly awesome!

Mike Ireland, East Como – For the majority of my life, I have lived within a few miles of Como Lake and have been blessed with the beauty and benefits of the Como neighborhood. I am fortunate to now have the time and energy to give back to our community and actively advocate for the wellbeing of the environment, of which both have given so much to me in so many ways.

One of the most meaningful ways I participate in environmental stewardship is by serving on the leadership team of the Como Active Citizen Network. This small group of dedicated individuals are committed to growing and sustaining a network of neighbors energetically engaged in improving the health of our waterways. Bound in this common cause, I have personally witnessed how individual efforts collectively combine to have a significant impact and make a difference far beyond the immediacy of where that effort was performed.

It would be disingenuous to deny the difficult challenges in caring for the environment. To acknowledge the extent of the damage already done and the significant struggles that lie ahead, I need inspiration to trust that there is joy amidst the injury, hope within the harm and laughter surrounding the tears or else I may become overwhelmed into inaction. That source of inspiration is found within the Como Active Citizen Network and through the vigorous efforts of the vibrant Como community where the focus is not only upon what is wrong but also what is right; not solely on what could fail but also what might succeed; and to not allow “no” to be the final word and instead pursue the potential “yes.” This is a core beauty of this organization’s place-based, neighbor-led, collective-action strategies where I am committed to being part of the solution with the firm assertion that, together, we can and do truly make all the difference in the world.

IMG_6533Angie Sechler, North End South(east) Como – I live on Maywood Place, a 10-minute walk from Como Lake. I have lived here since 2008. I’ve always had a passion for restoring our native landscape and currently volunteer with my Como neighbors to maintain Como Lake’s native plant garden, just north of the pavilion.

I am a block leader, of the Dale, Jessamine, Edgar, Simon & Maywood block club and have hosted a number of NNO gatherings. I’m also an alum of the Amherst Wilder Foundation’s Neighborhood Leadership program. I was part of a diverse cohort of community participants. We learned techniques for more effective leadership and the importance of working for inclusivity and intercultural communication in communities.

I joined the Como Active Citizen Network (CACN) in 2012 as a way to become more active as a citizen and neighbor. I view the CACN’s annual Como Curb Cleanup as opportunity for Como citizens to actively help prevent phosphorus pollution from washing down the street storm drains into Como Lake by removing the fall leaves accumulating along the curbs in front of their homes throughout leaf drop season.

What makes me happiest is that I’ve been able to expand beyond individual participation as a volunteer to developing my role as an organizer; talking with my neighbors about how our ongoing role as a community in reducing phosphorus sources can help improve the water quality of Como Lake.

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