Christine Metzo, Initiators Fellowship program manager, Initiative Foundation
Christine Metzo will lead the Initiators Fellowship program.

Metzo to Lead Initiators Fellowship Program

LITTLE FALLS, MINN.–The Initiative Foundation announced today that Christine Metzo will succeed Chris Fastner as the Initiators Fellowship program manager. Metzo will lead the well-established Initiators Fellowship program, a social enterprise program that equips Greater Minnesota entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow as community leaders and turn their ideas into scalable, sustainable ventures.

Metzo joins the program midway through the 2022-23 Fellowship cohort, which includes Fellows from four Minnesota Initiative Foundation regions. Recruiting for the 2024-25 cohort will begin in spring 2023.

“I think the lifeblood of any small community is always going to be the people who commit to the vibrancy of their town and their region,” Metzo said. “The fact that this program provides support for entrepreneurs and for their community leadership is vital because all communities need great leaders.”

Metzo recently served as the director of first-year and transfer experience at St. Cloud State University. During her time at St. Cloud State, she managed a variety of programs, including mentoring and coaching initiatives to support students and professional development work with faculty and staff. Metzo holds a doctorate degree in philosophy and advanced degrees and certificates in women’s studies, geography and social theory. Metzo has served on the board of Children’s Day Montessori and volunteers with SCSU’s Community Anti-Racism Education Initiative, Saint John’s Preparatory School and GREAT Theatre.

“Christine’s expertise in designing and delivering programs, as well as managing teams of mentors and coaches, makes her a perfect fit to lead the Initiators Fellowship program,” said Brian Voerding, Initiative Foundation vice president for inclusive entrepreneurship. “Christine is a seasoned educator, facilitator and presenter with a passion for developing rural leaders. She will be a great champion and steward of the Fellowship as it continues to grow and mature.”

Metzo is filling the role held by long-time Initiative Foundation teammate Chris Fastner. In his 17 years with the Initiative Foundation, Chris has invested in and lifted up countless nonprofits and community leaders while building and championing a range of innovative programs. He led nonprofit development and training for several years, guided the AmeriCorps VISTA program, ran a youth in philanthropy program, and transformed the way the Initiators Fellowship serves and invests in social enterprise visionaries. Chris will continue to support the Initiative Foundation through his independent consulting business, True North Strategy.

The Initiators Fellowship provides Fellows with $30,000 for each of their two years in the cohort along with a suite of supports—including training, mentoring and funding. The Initiators Fellowship is a partnership among the Initiative Foundation, Northwest Minnesota Foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation and West Central Initiative. The Initiators Fellowship is made possible by generous funders, including Granite Partners, a founding funder and partner, along with the Bush Foundation, the McKnight Foundation and Sourcewell.