MOI is thrilled to welcome Cristeta Boarini as our new Program Director. Read on to learn more about Cristeta’s background, why she is excited about taking on the position, and of course, her favorite books!
Share a bit about your background-education, where you grew up and how you were occupying your time before joining us at MOI.
I grew up in the west suburbs of Chicago and I still have many friends and family there to this day. I'm an only child, but I have 34 first cousins and countless second cousins with whom I romped and swam and explored. I came to Minneapolis in 2008 to attend the University of Minnesota, and met the boy who would become my husband my second semester of college. I stuck around ever since.
My husband and I co-own Chapel Brewing in Dundas, Minn., where he is the head brewer. Before I came to MOI I was serving as Chapel's sales coordinator. But many Twin Cities folks might remember me from my time as the editor of the Twin Cities Daily Planet where I taught investigative reporting to community-based storytellers. We went in deep exploring the nuances of renters' rights, the criminal justice system and diverse representation in our government. I highly encourage you to check out what they're publishing now.
For fun, I read a lot, play Nintendo Switch, knit, cook, and play strategic/designer board games. One of my favorite things to do is to invite friends and family over to enjoy those hobbies with me.
What drew you to apply for the Program Director's position at MOI?
When I was in middle school, hyped up on the Crocodile Hunter and visits to the Shedd Aquarium, I was dead set on becoming a marine biologist.
But I was always better at writing than the scientific method, so when I saw MOI had an opening, I thought that this would be the next best thing.
Most of my career I've been a journalist for small, local operations writing pages and pages every day about people in community. It's extremely rewarding and also draining work. So when I would look for an extracurricular activity to "fill my cup," I often found myself volunteering in support of young people. I was a volunteer editor for ThreeSixty Journalism, University of St. Thomas' writing camp. I volunteered at local high schools to talk about ethnic studies. When I saw the position was open, I fell in love with MOI's mission and programming. I knew that this would be the right next step to combine my work as a storyteller, community advocate and volunteer into a career that could bring smiles and change lives.
What three words would you use to describe MOI?
Unique. Delightful. Understanding.
What is your motto or personal mantra?
My mother always says "If you can read, you can cook." In the same vein, if you can read you can DO ANYTHING! You can learn how to weld, or you can play a really cool video game. You can even imagine you're in a neat world with sorceresses and dragons. Reading means access, and I am all about increasing access.
What book did you read last and what books are at your bedside?
My two favorite genres are fantasy and POC contemporary literature. I just finished up Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver on audiobook. It was performed by Sir Ian McKellen and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time!
Right now I'm reading America is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo, which follows a Filipino immigrant family and sharply echoes my own family's experiences. And I'm also listening to the City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty, a gorgeous fantasy novel that imagines a world where djinn and humans live side by side in the Napoleonic era.
What would you like most to tell yourself at age 13?
Be patient with yourself and your family.