Our Team

Our team.

Our team brings a wide variety of technology, education, and leadership experience to Silicon North Stars. What we all share is a passion for our students, and a belief in the power of mentorship and experiential learning to help guide young people toward brighter futures.




Steve Grove


Steve Grove is the Commissioner of Employment & Economic Development for the state of Minnesota. He grew up in Northfield, Minnesota, and he and Mary recently moved their family back to Minnesota.

Mary Grove


Mary Grove is a Partner at Rise of the Rest Seed Fund focused on investing in innovation outside of Silicon Valley. She was previously the founding director of Google for Entrepreneurs. She and Steve live in Minneapolis with their two-year old twins.

R.T. Rybak

Board Member

R.T. Rybak is the former mayor of Minneapolis and journalist who launched the STEP-UP summer jobs program. He's now the President and CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation.

Damola Ogundipe

Board Member

Damola Ogundipe is co-founder and CEO of St. Paul-based start-up Civic Eagle. He first attracted attention as a University of Minnesota Golden Gopher football player who also scored a degree from the Carlson School.

Kyle Coolbroth

Board Member

Kyle Coolbroth is the co-founder and CEO of Fueled Collective, formerly COCO, a network of co-working space for startups in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Garrio Harrison

Minnesota Program Manager

Garrio Harrison is the Marketing Manager at Fueled Collective, formerly COCO, a network of co-working spaces for startups and small businesses in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Emily Kjesbo-Johnson

Minnesota Program Manager

Emily Kjesbo-Johnson is a high school teacher at Washington Technology Magnet School in Saint Paul. She has taught math and theater arts for over ten years, both locally in Saint Paul and internationally as a Peace Corps volunteer to Uganda.

Matthew Grove

Minnesota Program Manager

Matthew Grove is a high school social studies teacher in Farmington, Minnesota, where he also leads the school's leadership development program. He is currently on leave, teaching at an international school in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with his wife Ellen.

Connor Swenson

Silicon Valley Program Manager

Connor Swenson works for Google and lives in London. He is originally from Plymouth, Minnesota.

Joe Himinkool

Design Guru

Joe Himinkool grew up in San Diego and currently works in Marketing at a Fortune 50 Company in Silicon Valley. He provides web support for Silicon North Star initiatives.