Shelley Valentini
Executive Director

Shelley has been with the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota for 27 years, with 22 years as the Executive Director. She has three adult sons, but as a stay-at-home mom she volunteered and organized events for years around the activities her sons were involved in. "Being a volunteer was a natural lead-in for the position I'm in. I understand the passion and time that volunteers are being asked to commit to when serving the United Way organization. I've stayed with the United Way for all these years because I love the job I am doing! It is never boring, ever-changing, and often exciting, and the thousands of caring people I've met over the years are fantastic! I've seen the impact that people can make through participating in United Way in some way, and it's awe-inspiring the way it connects all of us." Away from work Shelley loves to be active, biking, skiing, walking, swimming, etc. Besides her sons and their spouses/significant others, she has six grandchildren, five grand-dogs, and a great husband. She also travels with a group of girlfriends that she has pulled into volunteering for United Way.


Erin Shay

Community Impact & Engagement Director

After completing her Bachelor's Degree at the College of St. Scholastica, Erin opted to move back to her "home on the Range" where she came to find her position with the United Way in October of 2004. She has been able to fulfill her passion for working with people whether it is meeting with area employees to talk about the good things United Way does, planning a United Way event or working on the ever growing list of community impact initiatives the United Way coordinates. "It's amazing to me the amount of people I've been able to meet through United Way. I love going out and being able to tell them the unbelievable impact their donation is making on families and individuals right here in our communities." When Erin isn't at work her favorite place to be is at home with her husband, two little girls and their 70lb Labradoodle Maddie. Together, they keep busy playing, cooking, gardening, and spending time with their family and friends. In addition Erin enjoys anything outdoors that keeps her active, and she recently took up the sport of deer hunting.


Elizabeth Kelly

Resource Development & Events Director 

Elizabeth joined the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota team in February of 2012. Elizabeth is an Iron Range native, growing up in Chisholm. She spent 13 years in the Twin Cities, earning a Bachelor's Degree from the University of St. Thomas, a Master's Degree in Nonprofit Management from Hamline University and working as development and event director for an educational nonprofit. Elizabeth always planned on moving back to the Iron Range and the opportunity at the United Way allowed her to return home. "It has always been my career goal to work for an organization on the Iron Range that allows me to help people and utilize my skills and experience. I am thrilled to be able to fulfill this goal right here at home with the United Way. I am proud to work for an organization that creates positive change, provides support to thousands and makes such a tremendous impact on our community." The true joy of Elizabeth's life is her son Ethan; she loves watching him learn, grow and play. In addition, Elizabeth enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on Side Lake, reading, watching movies and walking her Maltese, Cooper.


Michelle Lampton

Community Impact Coordinator

Michelle joined the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota team in April of 2018. She is a Duluth native, but she moved to the Iron Range in 2009. Michelle earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a double major in Education. She has been working in the human services field  for the last 17 years.  “Through my work at UWNEMN, I am able to utilize my previous experience as I help the organization carry out our direct-service programming.  I love working for an organization that is so integrated into the local community.”  Michelle enjoys spending her time outside of work with her husband, children, and dog.  She enjoys hunting, baking, camping, and sewing.



Katy Lofquist

Communications & Engagement Coordinator

Katy joined the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota team in May of 2019. Katy is an Iron Range native who grew up in Virginia, MN. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Print Journalism from Concordia College Moorhead; for her first job out of college she returned to the Range to work as a reporter for the Hibbing Daily Tribune. She has lived in Duluth for the past eight years where she maintained a connection to the Range working for the Iron Mining Association of MN and recently moved back to the Virginia area.  “I was always impressed by the UWNEMN when I reported on the organization for the Hibbing Daily Tribune, and I’ve long considered my role at the Iron Mining Association of MN as a way to help grow this region that is so close to my heart. I am so excited to have been given this opportunity to blend all my passions in a way that can positively and directly impact the lives of men, women, and children in our area.” Katy enjoys spending time with her family (especially at the cabin), traveling with her husband, and game nights with friends. 



Sarah Gardeski

Education & Childhood Programs Specialist 
Sarah joined the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota team in January of 2020. She is an Iron Range native, growing up in Hibbing, and has her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health Sciences from Hamline University. She has worked with children since graduating and is excited to be able to work with the organization's children’s programs. “Working with children is near and dear to my heart. They always see the good in people, and their glass is always ‘half full.’" When she’s not working she loves spending time with friends and family, watching movies, boating, fishing, and spending time on the lake



Gail Rice


Gail joined the United Way of NE MN team in February of 2012. She has been working as a bookkeeper for over 20 years.  “I love bookkeeping and working with numbers. I love to see things balance and enjoy the challenge of finding out why when they don’t. I have worked in a variety of industries over the years but never for a non-profit organization.  I am so impressed by the variety of programs and outreach to the community that the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota has.”  Gail and her husband Scott have been married for 42 years and have three grown children and six grandchildren.  She currently resides in Hibbing but she grew up on Dewey Lake, north of Chisholm.  Her grandchildren and her work with children at her church keep her free time busy.