TEAM

We are Northland residents, banding together to support newborns and their families.

JON BENSON

Board Chair

Raised in the Twin Cities, Jon originally moved to Duluth to attend UMD and like so many others got pulled into all that the Northland has to offer. For almost two decades now, he continues to make his mark in Northland and is proud to call it home. Jon works at Compudyne Inc. where he brings his strong IT and financial expertise to Compudyne’s Executive Clients to advise on IT needs and to support the growth of their organizations.  Jon has previously chaired the board for other organizations where he raised in excess of $70,000 to help fight infant mortality.  Married to fellow Board Member Courtney, the Bensons are parents to two busy and wonderful kids, Charlie (3 years) and Abby (6 months).

KIM PEARSON

Vice Chair

Kim has supported women and children in the Northland for over 15 years through both her work at Essentia Health and previous charitable roles. A native Wisonsinite, Kim is the Director of Nursing for the Superior Hospital of Essentia Health and previously managed the Birthplace for 12 years. In this role, Kim was instrumental in Essentia Health receiving their Baby-Friendly designation. As both a board member and event chair for other organizations, Kim has helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve health of newborn babies. Following in her footsteps are her two daughters who are successful nurses working with women and children. Kim is also on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Organization of Leaders in Nursing.

KELLY ALVAR

Secretary

Duluth native Kelly Alvar has been raising funds for newborns in the Northland for more than 10 years. Alongside her husband and fellow board member Nate, the Alvar’s are parents to four boys. Their first son Isaiah was born in 2006 and due to severe birth defects survived for 20 minutes - 20 minutes that were special in a way only a parent knows. Mason was born in 2007 at 26 weeks old and passed away after one week due to complications of extreme prematurity. Jonas (2008) and Elias (2012) were born healthy at 36 weeks and continue to thrive today. Kelly turned her grief into action and continues to fight to ensure every baby is born full term and healthy. The Alvar’s created the Yeti Tour in 2011, a beloved Northland snowmobile event. Between the Yeti Tour and other efforts, they have raised more than $200,000. Kelly has been a RN for 15 years and currently works at St. Luke’s Hospital. In 2018, Kelly was the recipient of The Women Today’s Spirit Award for her exceptional courage and determination.

ANNIE LEPPER

Treasurer

Raised in Superior, Annie has been a Northlander all her life. Currently the VP of Operations and Marketing for Minnesota Power Employees Credit Union, Annie spends her daytime hours living the Credit Union philosophy of “people helping people”. This drive to help others has extended into her charitable work with the United Way and various children’s charities and events. As a mother to a premature (born at 33 weeks) baby herself, Annie understands the stress that goes along with joy of being a new parent of a baby born too early. Now a healthy 2 year old, her daughter Quinn inspires her to continue working so every baby is born healthy.

NATE ALVAR

Director of Social Media

Nate Alvar is a lifelong Duluth resident, along with his wife Kelly and their family.  His connection to the Foundation mirrors Kelly's, of course, having lost his first two sons to birth defects and premature birth.  From that experience, they have become avid supporters of newborn health in the area, focusing their efforts in the last decade to produce the Yeti Tour, a 150-mile charity snowmobile ride.  Nate works as VP of Product Engineering for FMG Suite, a San Diego based firm providing marketing services to financial advisors and insurance agents, operating their technology campus in Duluth, MN.

ALI COMNICK

Director of Communications

Born and raised in Duluth, Ali couldn’t imagine a better place to call home.  An alumni of the University of Minnesota Duluth, Ali currently works as an Account Representative for the Woman Today Magazine,  Moms and Dads Today Magazine, and Duluth.com.  Ali has been involved in other charitable organizations for 4 years where she has chaired events, and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fight infant mortality.  In her spare time, you can find Ali out with her dogs on some of the wonderful trails Duluth has to offer. The impact Ali has personally seen on her close friends as well as on the Northland in total, continues to drive Ali’s involvement in the Northland Newborn Foundation.

DEB PETERS

Member at large

As a dedicated Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in the NICU at Essentia Health, Deb has been fighting for newborns and their families for more than 20 years. A mom to three kids, Deb loves traveling, agates, fishing and all that Lake Superior and the Northland has to offer. In 2014 Deb was honored with the Kunsche Award for her outstanding service and continued commitment to the Minnesota Perinatal Organization. Deb is also on the Planning Committee for the Minnesota Perinatal Organization.

KARI TCHIDA

Member at large

Kari is manager of the NICU at Essentia Health in Duluth.  Her family has 7 children including a wonderful 20 year son that was a preemie. Working with families and children is her passion.  She is thrilled to be on this board.

COURTNEY BENSON

Member at large

A native Chicagoan, Courtney moved to Duluth in 2008 to work for Duluth based Maurices. More than ten years later, Courtney has grown through the company and currently holds the position of Director of Digital Product Management where she works to optimize the online shopping experience. Courtney is the recipient of numerous company awards including Executive Team Choice Award, Team of Year and Achiever Award. Married to Jon (current Director of the Board) in 2011, the Benson’s are parents to 3 year old Charlie and 6 month old Abby.  While Jon and Courtney have supported multiple children’s charities in prior years, complications at Charlie’s birth is the main reason the Benson’s got proactively involved in supporting babies and families in our area. Courtney can often be found throwing rocks into Lake Superior with Charlie or helping Abby reach her next milestone moment.

CHRISTINA FALGIER

Member at large

Dr Falgier has dedicated her career as a neonatologist to the care of ill and premature newborns in the NICU.  She is currently the Section Chair of Neonatology at Essentia Health St Mary’s Children’s Hospital, where she has the privilege of leading an outstanding, dedicated team of physicians and neonatal nurse practitioners. Her passion for caring for ill and premature infants is deepened by her first hand experience as the mother of a premature baby boy, born 12 weeks early.  He is now a happy, healthy college sophomore.  When not in the NICU, Christina enjoys time with her family and can usually be found at a local hockey rink cheering on her son, at a Bulldogs Hockey game, working around her house, or at Disney World. 

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