Staff and Board Of Directors
Erin moved to Brainerd in 2010 from the Duluth area, which happens to be the same year that TheShop was founded! She holds Bachelor’s degree in Human Services Management and has 13 years of experience in the field of mental health with both adults and youth.
Erin comes to us from the Northern Pines Mental Health team based in the Brainerd High School, so she is already a familiar face to the youth we serve. She also served on TheShop’s board of directors for several years before taking the leap to become the Executive Director.
Working with youth, especially teens and young adults is one of her passions and she believes that, while they do age her on occasion, they also keep her flexible and keyed into the “spark” for life that all youth possess. Erin believes that youth need spaces where they can socialize, be creative, be themselves, and feel safe and she considers it an enormous privilege to be able to provide that in the Brainerd/Baxter area.
Being from the Duluth area, Erin loves to spend time on or near the water with her family and is grateful to live in a community with so much access to that. She loves to read and is an active reptile keeper who can’t wait to share some of her collection with the youth at TheShop.
Nate is our manager at TheShop. He is guide and mentor to all youth who visit and has a hand in the day-to-day operations including program development. With a staff of two it’s very much a collaborative effort.
Nate returns to this position after a two-year hiatus. He left in 2018 after 4 years as manager of TheShop to pursue other paths within the Brainerd area. He worked with Mid MN Women’s Center as an advocate and then found his way Lutheran Social Service Hope Housing as a caseworker. During this time he spent a year on the BBYC Board of Directors.
He fell in love with a beautiful woman, proposed, planned a honeymoon, moved in together, became pregnant, and in September their two lives were again all smiles with the birth of their son.
Nate found his way back to TheShop in October. Arriving during Covid Protocols left time to refocus and repurpose. The mission of TheShop is to be guide and mentor to youth. Nate is a truly caring adult mentor. He shares his personal life struggles with youth who are in similar situations. Empathy builds trust with youth who may be struggling and trust keeps connections open in good times and in bad times. And he is good at organizing “stuff”.
The Brainerd Baxter Youth Center Board of Directors
Joined the BBYC Board in 2015. Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor a local high school with a passion for helping youth. She is both a Learn To Skate director and coach for youth of all ages at a local Skating club.
Jennifer Perez Kruger
Board Vice Chair
Therapist and college instructor in the Brainerd Lakes Area
She loves to sing and connect with others.
LICSW and Director of Mobile Crisis Outreach for Northern Pines Mental Health Center. Passion for helping those in the most need and supporting people when needing. Downtime activities include fishing, golfing, and being a voracious reader.
Founder and past Director of The BBYC known locally as TheShop
They can’t seem to get rid of her. Passion for all things community focused.
Founding Board Member
Retired after 30 years with the Brainerd Police Dept as School Resource Officer, Patrol Sgt, and trainer. Currently works on the security and safety team at Central Lakes College
Current Advisor for the TRIO Upward Bound Program at Central Lakes College and does extensive advocacy work with the Minnesota TRIO Association. Completing his Master of Social Work from Augsburg University. When not geeking out about social studies you can find him playing guitar or hiking.
Moved from Uptown Minneapolis to rural Pine River in 2013 with his wife Macy and a bunch of rescue animals. When not doing things for TheShop, he can be found spending his time running the Northwoods Mobile Food Shelf, hosting trivia, and finding ways to make good trouble in an increasingly troubling world.
New to the board! Mom, volunteer, music lover and a work from home IT project manager. Also loves to garden, practice interior design and cooking! Enjoy sharing my time and energy with others to make a difference!
Honorary Board Member
Likes to hang out and flower. Thrives in the center of the table and when touched has many sharp and focused points.
Join The Board
Contact us if you are interested in working collaboratively for healthy futures through community connections.
Youth Board Member
Founding youth member of The RainbowRoad Program and Girls Who Code at TheShop. She gives voice to her ideas and has embraced leadership opportunities at TheShop. She has been accepted to the University of Oregon and is ecstatic to begin a new journey.
Youth Board Member
Became part of TheShop in 2015 through the Bicycle Recycle Youth Project. He continues to be part of this program and is an asset for TheShop with his knowledge and historical perspectives including infrastructure.