Our Team

Though we are small, we are mighty! Meet the individuals who captain the seas at Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute.


SAMANTHA SENCER-MURA, Executive Director 

Samantha is a Minneapolis native. During her time as a student in Minneapolis Public Schools, she recognized the deep inequities inherent in the school system and decided to commit herself to supporting low-income students of color. She received her B.A. from Occidental College and her M. Ed from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to becoming ED at MOI, she had been living on both coasts for the last ten years and is ecstatic to be back landlocked in the Twin Cities. Samantha loves singing karaoke, particularly anything by Usher.

Favorite Book: On Beauty by Zadie Smith


K. CROSS, Program Director

Cross is a former middle school science teacher with an insatiable appetite for hands-on learning, regardless of the subject. They are a proud University of Minnesota and Kansas State University alum. Cross enjoys soccer, boxing, and storytelling. Cross has two cats, Mack and Anonyme, and a knack for making highly accurate animal sounds.


LAUREN BORITZKE, Community Outreach Coordinator – AmeriCorps VISTA

Lauren has spent her life storytelling, from writing in student publications to co-founding Daughter Lit Mag, an annual digital magazine for women. Lauren has bachelor’s degrees in Strategic Communications and English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a product of realizing there's nothing she'd rather do than use stories to empower communities to care about social issues. In her free time, she loves traveling around to state and national parks for hiking and camping adventures, as well as making homemade herbal remedies.

Favorite Book: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

ELLEN FEE, Writer-in-Residence

Ellen grew up in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2016, where she studied English and wrote an undergraduate thesis on literacy development and children's poetry. Previously she has worked for the Minnesota Daily, the University's College of Education and Human Development, and the Minnesota Literacy Council. In addition to her work at MOI, Ellen loves gardening, cooking, camping, and crossword puzzles. This year she learned how to juggle.

MAX MEIER, Tutor Training & Evaluation Coordinator – AmeriCorps VISTA

Max grew up in the middle of Wisconsin (Go Pack Go!) playing lots of soccer and hiding out on the roof to teach himself guitar. It was while teaching swimming lessons at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated in 2016 with a degree in Philosophy, that he realized education was where he wanted to end up. In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out in a hammock with his lovely partner Alyssa and their mischievous cat Juno, reading plenty of poetry, and jamming with his band GNARhouse. 

Favorite Book: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman


DANIELLE JACKSON, Community Outreach Coordinator – AmeriCorps VISTA

Danielle is from Pennsylvania, but went to college in Michigan. While at the University of Michigan, she studied English and Social Theory & Practice, and edited for The Michigan Daily. She's used to living right by Lake Erie, so she's glad to be in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. In her free time, she likes yoga, writing, and doing nail art.

Favorite Book: "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.


NATALIE BOURMAN-KARNS, Tutoring Training and Evaluation Coordinator – AmeriCorps VISTA

Natalie grew up just outside of the Twin Cities area before heading off to Pennsylvania to study at Lehigh University.  While completing her B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology at Lehigh, she worked with an after-school tutoring program that served the local students with all of their homework needs. This experience led her down the path to MOI, where she continues to work with K-12 students. In addition to working with the students and volunteers involved with MOI, Natalie enjoys canoeing, camping, hiking, and any other outdoor activity that will tire out her two energetic dogs. 

Favorite Book: "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison


Interested in working with us? 

There are no open job opportunities at this time. 

We offer part-time internships for college credit. Candidates who are multilingual are preferred. Learn more here. 


Board of Directors

ZACHARY WILSON [Peace Presbyterian Church]

DAYNA FRANK [First Avenue]

JENNIFER THAO [Minnesota Historical Society]

KAREN DYE [St. Paul Academy Summit Schools]

KATHY THOMFORDE [Nonprofit consultant & volunteer]

PAUL VON DRASEK [Capstone Publishing]

MARY BURNTON [Zeller Realty Group]

KRISTIN BLENKUSH [Fredrikson & Byron]

MARLON JAMES [Macalester College]


MATT MITHUN [Somerset Amphitheater]


                                ALI LOZOFF [Minnesota Public Radio]