Meet the OFE Team
Muneer Karcher-Ramos, Director
“The racial wealth gap is not a thing that was created overnight. It’s a set of historical processes that will take time to reimagine and reconfigure and disrupt, so more folks can experience the economic and social benefits of the city."
Muneer Karcher-Ramos (he/him/él) is the inaugural Director of the Office of Financial Empowerment at the City of Saint Paul. He specializes in community- and culturally-valued approaches to working with communities who have historically experienced structural, systemic, and public disinvestment, which has often rendered these communities invisible. Prior to his current role, he was the director of the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, a cross-sector cradle-to-career education initiative focused on culturally-responsive approaches. He is currently a community faculty member in the Social Justice Minor at the University of Minnesota and a Fellow at the Cultural Wellness Center.
He lives in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul with his partner and their three children.
Kasey Wiedrich, Financial Capability Manager
“Some of the things the City has been doing are really different relationships with residents than the City has played in the past outside of just taxes and fees. We have put money back into people’s pockets directly.”
Kasey Wiedrich (she/her) is the Financial Capability Manager with the City of Saint Paul’s Office of Financial Empowerment. In her role, she works to integrate wrap around services into the City’s children’s savings account program, CollegeBound Saint Paul. Prior to joining OFE in 2020, Kasey was the Director of Applied Research at Prosperity Now in Washington, DC, where she managed the Prosperity Now Scorecard—a state-by-state assessment of how families are faring and the strength of state policies—and conducted research on household financial security and effective practices to build financial capability and wealth.
Ikram Koliso, CollegeBound Program Manager
“With CollegeBound, we’re connecting people to early childhood and financial wellbeing services in Saint Paul, which is helping build their child’s wellbeing. Being able to bring different institutions together that don’t normally talk to one another in the same room is really helpful.”
Ikram Koliso (she/her) helped with the design, implementation and launch of CollegeBound Saint Paul, the City’s college savings account program, and currently serves as the program manager. She previously served as a Policy Associate in Mayor Melvin Carter’s Office, as an Urban Scholar in the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet in the Office of former Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith, as well as has completed field work at Hennepin County and Allina Health – United Hospital. Ikram is passionate about the process of engaging communities around issues that impact them directly to ensure their voices are centered in the policies and programs designed. She received her degree from St. Catherine University in Saint Paul.
Kirstin Burch, Fair Housing Coordinator
“OFE has really leaned deeply into trying to address the unintended consequences of maintaining the status quo.”
Kirstin Burch (she/her) joined the City of Saint Paul in March 2019 as the Fair Housing Coordinator in the Office of Financial Empowerment. In her role, she works to affirmatively further fair housing with a focus on decreasing housing displacement and increasing housing access. Previously, Kirstin served as the director of a local housing nonprofit, ZOOM House, bringing experience in nonprofit leadership, culturally inclusive relationship building, and community engagement. Kirstin is passionate about holistic, community-driven solutions to housing and economic stability. Currently, she serves as a board member for Homeline Minnesota.
Kirstin is a native of Saint Paul’s Frogtown, currently residing in Ward 6 with her 3 children.
Katrina Mendoza, CollegeBound Outreach and Engagement Coordinator
Katrina Mendoza (she/ella) is the Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for CollegeBound Saint Paul. When she is not in community spaces sharing the benefits of CollegeBound or supporting the cohort of 27 Community Ambassadors she sits on the board of her district council at West Side Community Organization where she was elected West Sider of the Year in 2018 for her anti-displacement work. She also has spearheaded an initiative with Libraries Without Borders to bring community resources to her local laundromat and currently co-facilitates a Black Indigenous Womxn of Color cohort in her community. Katrina takes pride in her work for, in and alongside her beloved West Side community. She is striving to become a person her ancestors would be proud of.
Jack Smyth, People’s Prosperity Pilot Program Consultant
“We realize that the government can’t predict what happens in a family’s life. We’re hoping that in the future, both in Saint Paul and across the country, that the idea of giving a guaranteed income to families directly – and trusting in them – allows them the flexibility to make the best decisions for them.”
Jack Smyth (he/him) joined the City of Saint Paul’s Office of Financial Empowerment in August 2019 as an AmeriCorps VISTA Member. During his VISTA year of service, he helped design, develop, and implement the Neighbors Helping Neighbors volunteer initiative. Jack transitioned to his current role as People’s Prosperity Pilot Program Consultant in September 2020 to help develop the City’s guaranteed income pilot. This included helping to recruit and enroll the 150 families into the pilot. He continues to help maintain the pilot and provides ongoing support to pilot participants.