Side by Side Associated Consultant bios
Alphabetical by last name
"Who We Are" for bios of Side by Side partners Barb Rose and Sarah Gleason)

Sally Brown is an independent consultant with extensive experience in youth development, leadership development and community building. She has experience teaching in the Peace Corps, working with children and youth with learning disabilities, overseeing child care programs, designing and leading after-school programs and collaboratives, developing curriculum, managing volunteers, directing AmeriCorps and service learning programs, coordinating community capacity building efforts, and implementing leadership development programs for youth and neighborhood leaders. Most of her work experience has been in multicultural settings and urban communities. More...

Nickyia Cogshell is a Youth Development Consultant with fifteen years experience working with youth in historically underserved communities and adults who serve them. She has worked in many capacities in the youth development field, including: facilitating youth and adult learning experiences, managing youth programs, developing culturally responsive curriculum, and designing inclusive learning environments. Nickyia currently serves as director of Access and Opportunity Center and Chief Diversity Officer, Century College. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services with an emphasis in Adolescent Development and a Masters Degree in Education, Youth Development Leadership. See Nickyia's resume

Barbara Simpson Epps has spent a lifetime working to enhance the operations and effectiveness of organizations in both the public and private sectors. Deeply committed to strong, healthy communities, Bob-e has used her expertise to build and sustain programs in diverse business environments. Formerly she was the vice president and director of corporate relations for First Children’s Finance.

Prior to joining First Children’s Finance, Bob-e held positions with the Maryland State AIDS Administration, Associated Black Charities (Baltimore, MD), Goodwill/Easter Seal (St. Paul, MN), the Children, Families and Community initiative (St. Paul, MN) and CHART/WEDCO (Minneapolis, MN). Her human resources experience includes managerial positions for Imation and Silicon Graphics. During her career, she also ran her own consulting firm for seventeen years, specializing in public health, diversity, change management and organizational development. Bob-e received Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Northern Iowa in broadcast journalism and speech pathology and has worked towards a masters in communication. She is active in professional and community groups and has received numerous honors in recognition of her leadership.

Melvin Giles is a veteran peace and diversity educator. His current work includes facilitating a 3-year citywide peace campaign – The Peace Pole and Peace Message Campaign. This campaign is intended to decrease violent crime as well as creating places, spaces, and opportunities for peaceful gatherings and racial and cultural appreciation and education in the greater St. Paul area. A former administrator of Frogtown Catholic Charities, Mr. Giles has also served as the co-chair and trainer of MCARI, an anti-racism training group sponsored by the Tri Council Coordinating Commission of the Council of Churches.

In addition, Mr. Giles is also a founding member of the Pluralism Circle in St. Paul which worked to develop a network of community leaders committed to addressing institutional racism and providing models for organization growth in this area. Mr. Giles was the 2003 recipient of the Martin Luther King “Dream Keeper” Award, which recognizes individuals who exemplify the passion and dedication of Dr. King and his hunger for social equality and justice for all people. In 2005, Mr. Giles was honored as one of eleven McKnight Award winners. Mr. Giles currently serves as an adjunct faculty instructor for Bethel University and is certified to conduct and co-facilitate Racial Sobriety workshops for community institutions and groups.

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Sherry Johnson facilitates meaningful, strategic conversations that build a shared sense of ownership over neighborhood and organizational change. Sherry specializes in using ToP® methods for strategic and action planning, with a passion for organizational transformation and helping leaders build consensus methods into their organizations. Sherry has a strong background in education and curriculum planning. More recently, Sherry has served on the board of Twin Cities Academy, as well as in leadership roles with the Minnesota RollerGirls. Sherry currently organizes community conversations and action planning around East Metro transit equity.

Margaret Jones draws upon 20 years of experience helping schools, businesses and nonprofits tackle their unique organizational and communication challenges, specializing in conflict management and resolution, facilitation and coaching. In 2006-2007, she served as a “talking circle keeper” for the Science Museum’s Race exhibit and has facilitated conversations about race and racism with both secondary school students and adults.

Sida Ly-Xiong
Sida Ly-Xiong is interested in fostering learning communities that will inform decisions, raise accountability, and enable leaders. Sida is a skilled practitioner in participatory evaluation and community-based research methods. She has 12 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, serving in diverse roles throughout her career. Previously, Sida served as associate director of evaluation and research at a community foundation where she designed the grantee capacity building program and led policy and research initiatives. She also has experience in program development, communications, social entrepreneurship, and quality assurance.

In 2010, Sida launched her own business: Ly-Xiong Consulting ( She has worked with a variety of organizations to engage and empower their constituents, including PFund, Minnesota Asian American Health Coalition, Hmong National Development, and the US Farm Service Agency. Sida continues to be actively involved in many national and local nonprofit networks and serves as a member of the Project 515 Finance Committee and the Open Cities Community Health Clinic Board of Directors. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from Macalester College and a Master of Science degree from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Sida also teaches economics at Metropolitan State University. See Sida's resume

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Molly Phipps, PhD. is the owner of Molly Phipps Consulting an environmentally-focused research and evaluation firm located in Saint Paul. Molly focus her work around the intersection of science learning in non-school settings, community building, and the use of technology to support learning. Molly is the Vice President of the Minnesota Association for Environmental Education, the chair of the American Educational Research Association’s Informal Learning Environments Research SIG, a member of the editorial board for Visitor Studies, and on the education committee for the Will Steger Foundation. Molly can support your project or organization with all stages of evaluation (front-end, formative, remedial, summative), and takes a utilization-focused approach to evaluation: working closely with clients to ensure results are helpful and leaving clients with tools to be better consumers of evaluations. Molly can also support with grant writing, budgeting, strategic planning, developing trainings and curriculum, and workshop facilitation. Past and present clients include the Science Museum of Minnesota, Hennepin County Library, the Will Steger Foundation, and Oregon State University. Molly also teaches graduate courses in the Oregon State University’s College of Education, courses include Introduction to Free-Choice Learning, The Socio-Cultural Dimensions of Free-Choice Learning, and writing for Masters students.