The Aliveness Project welcomes several new staff to the team. We are excited to see what new accomplishments we will achieve together. Learn more about each person in their bio below.
James McMurray (he/him) – Case Management Supervisor
James has 20+ years of experience in crisis management, extensive customer service background, mental health counseling, instructional training and design. Most recent, mental health case manager with Avivo and mental health practitioner at Pride. James moved to Minnesota in 2015, for work with AT&T, Walden University and Internship at Pride Institute. He graduated in November 2018 and received his Master’s in Clinical Mental Health. He has worked within the LGBTQIA+ community as a volunteer at men’s STI clinic and mentor at youth positive program in San Francisco. He currently sits on the Board of the Minnesota HIV Care and Prevention Council. He visited Paris and Germany for 28 days a few years ago, and dream places to live would be Paris, London or Amsterdam. He also works at Insight Counseling private practice in his spare time and you are probably wondering “What does he do for fun?” He shared that his love for people gives him all the joy in the world and knowing that he is making a difference and impacting the lives of others. The position at Aliveness appealed to James because of what organization does for the community aligns with his beliefs and passion.
Ray Camper (he/him) – Housing Manager
Raymond was born and raised in Virginia, mostly residing in the Tidewater and Williamsburg areas. Raymond moved to Minnesota after joining the Army National Guard, and eventually got his bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Metro State University and has been working in various areas of Human Services since 2004, including Targeted Case Management, CADI/BI Waivered Case Management, and also as a Shelter Case Manager. In addition to being a Iraq War Veteran, Raymond is also a published poet, and more information about his book and other writings can be found HERE. Raymond is currently in the process of obtaining his Master’s in Advocacy and Political Leadership from Metro State, and is very involved in political and community action groups and interests, particularly those focusing on housing disparities, racial inequality and the need for reimagined community and law enforcement collaboration and reform.
Grace Olson (she/her) – Housing Locator
Grace (she/hers) enjoys working alongside folks in pursuit of their housing goals. Before joining the Aliveness Project, she completed her degree in Developmental Psychology at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and worked with African Career, Education and Resource Inc. (ACER) as a Housing Navigator, facilitating applications for emergency rental assistance due to COVID-19. Grace is an avid reader and art enthusiast. When she’s not at work, she’s most likely playing piano or curled up with a cup of earl grey tea and a book (see: Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés). Grace feels most herself when she’s at the Aliveness Project and is grateful to work in an inclusive, mission-driven space.
Megan Littler (she/her) – Medical Case Manager
Megan has a little over 12 years working in non-profit settings. Most recently, she was working as a skills mentor in a day treatment program in Brooklyn Center. She has a strong passion for social justice and LGBTQIA+ causes. She spends her free time reading, camping, playing Nintendo, and cooking. She has 2 cats and 2 dogs at home with her wife of nearly 5 years.
Joe Reyes (he/him) – HIV Testing & Outreach
Texas transplant Joe moved to Minneapolis in 2018 with a dream and a cardigan. He have always wanted to live somewhere with seasons and the cardigan he brought just wasn’t enough. Now in my third year here Joe is finally feeling like his life is starting. He is grateful to be a part of this wonderful organization and work with some wonderful people. Joe says “I finally feel I am doing what I was meant to do.”
Jessy Weiss (he/him) – Housing Case Manager
Jessy is a Minnesota native, spending his youth on a hobby farm near Cannon Falls. He has been a member of the Aliveness Project since 2005. He is passionate about service and has instrumental in policy and advocacy work. He has worked with Scott in Charitable Gaming for the Aliveness Project for the past couple years. As a member, Jessy also believes in the work and impact of the Aliveness Project; until recently, he advocated for the rights and well-being of our membership as President of the Membership Advisory Committee. Jessy hopes he can continue to help meet the most pressing needs of Aliveness members in his new role, and is excited to join the dedicated staff of Aliveness.
Nathan Hesse (they/them) – Housing Case Manager
A compassionate public servant with 15 years of field experience in community outreach, education, and social services. I have recently graduated with my MSW in community practice social work. I am excited to work helping my community break down systemic barriers that keep them from living the lives they desire. Before launching into finishing my master’s full time, I spent several years working in the hunger relief sector, learning about the systemic barriers that prevent people from accessing the food they need and desire to live their lives. With a systems-based approach and firm grounding in social justice, I hope to be of service to my community in helping find ways to break down the systemic barriers that prevent them from living their lives to the fullest extent in the ways they choose. When we work together to ensure equitable access for those with the most significant barriers, we work together to ensure equitable access for everyone, and then everyone wins.
Angie Skelly (she/her) – Development & Communications Associate
Angie Skelly, has joined the Aliveness Project as the Development and Communications Associate. She will primarily be working on the Red Ribbon Ride event, but will also be assisting the External Relations Department with other tasks. She has been a participant of the Red Ribbon Ride since 2007, worked for the Ride in 2017, and again in 2019. Previous to the Red Ribbon Ride, she worked at Clare Housing as a Caregiver, and in healthcare. When she is not working, you can usually find her hanging out with her family (4 kids, 1 spouse) and their two pets, or playing music. Pre-pandemic, she was a member of the Golden Valley Orchestra.
Akello Alay (she/her) – Aliveness Intern
I moved to MN from Colorado 3 years ago. My work experience includes working in shelters for youth who are experiencing homelessness and managing the SAFE program. A program that provides services to African American mothers who are experiencing domestic violence. I have also worked with Ramsey County ACE Program (All Children Excel) which provides long-term compressive Case Management to children under the age of 10 living in Ramsey county who are at the highest risk of becoming chronic or violent offenders in the future. Additionally, I worked with Brittany’s Place a 12-bed shelter bed provides services for sexually exploited/trafficked young women who are now learning about marketing and recruitment skills for a home care company. Outside work and school I enjoy taking vacations to sunny warm places with beaches, hiking, cooking, playing basketball, paddle boarding, happy hour with friends, visiting family, and watching sunsets. I want to become a social worker because I like connecting people to resources, removing barriers, advocating, and encouraging/empowering personal autonomy.
Alisha VanKirk (she/her) – Aliveness Intern
Before coming to Aliveness I was employed as a teaching and educational assistant to support students that had a cognitive and/or physical disability diagnosis in the St. Paul Public School District. In addition, I was employed as an in-home mental health practitioner that taught ARMS and CTSS skills. Currently, I am employed as an intervention specialist at an elementary school in the St. Paul district.
Outside of work, I spend a lot of time with my family and friends. I have an eighteen-month-old niece that lives in the same household as I do so a majority of my free time is spent with her. Being in nature and listening to music are some of my favorite activities. During the summers, many of my weekends are spent up north, camping, fishing, and riding the trails. Some of my interests include helping people, collaborating with others, and expanding my knowledge by learning.
Presently, I am pursuing a Masters in Social Work from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. This is the profession I am interested in because I want to help individuals and families be successful in their lives. Moreover, I want to join this profession to provide support and resources to individuals and families. Having the ability to advocate for equal opportunities, rights, and overall equality are other reasons I am interested in the social work profession.