Elevate Team


Melinda McDermott – Founder/President

[email protected] – 612.615.8824 (text/call)

Melinda is the Founder of Elevate Hope House. She spends a great deal of time with her family, whether it’s fishing with her husband, attending her son’s baseball games, having tea parties with her two girls, or traveling to her parents in Wisconsin with the whole family to enjoy cabin/lake life. She has a variety of interests, but none more important than serving others in her community!

Since her Senior year of High School, Melinda has been on a career path of leadership. Initially, in retail management, then working with businesses and families throughout the metro area. She earned both her undergrad in Business Management & her MBA from Bethel University. At the end of her MBA program, she realized that her heart truly resided with families and children, and she has spent the last several years working with organizations in Anoka County on the fight to end homelessness – specifically focusing on families.

In addition to her work with Elevate in the non-profit world, Melinda is the Vice President of Operations for New Creations Child Care & Learning Center. The combination of leadership experience and career experience in both business and early childhood education has given her a unique perspective to cast vision for our organization. While leadership is a priority, Melinda’s overwhelming desire is to help guide the moms we work with on a path of self-sufficiency through Christ. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (I John 3:16-18, NLT)

Caryn Buxengard – Finance Director

[email protected]

Caryn joined Elevate’s Board of Directors in 2018. She is an active wife and mom. Caryn works for Code42 Software, Inc. as a Revenue Accountant is very active in her church in children’s ministry.  She loves to be outdoors and you will find her with her family in the spring, summer, and fall camping and enjoying God’s creation! Caryn has a B.S in Speech and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Psychology. This education laid a foundation for her life and has supported her strong desire to help children and families be strong and healthy.

Renee Hanson – Engagement Director – Oak Haven Church

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Bio Coming Soon!

Megan Leister – Family Engagement Director

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Megan is a proud wife and mom who enjoys spending her free time exploring the cities with her family – favorites are anything with animals or the outdoors. Megan has had a servant heart since she was a little girl, instilled by her family’s values. Megan has a degree in Family Services and experience working in substance abuse, mental health, and children’s health care. Megan values both the joy and complexities that come from the family system, and she strives to bring a solution-focused mindset mixed with positivity to everything she does.   


Mary Sufka – Family Advocate Coordinator

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Mary has been a part of Elevate Hope House since 2019. She has worn a lot of hats within the organization, but most recently became Elevate’s Family Advocate Coordinator for our Ham Lake Families. As one of our first Family Advocates with Elevate Hope House, Mary has learned through hands-on experience what it takes to be a Family Advocate within Elevate Hope House. These Advocates are currently volunteers, and it takes the right person to be willing to walk alongside a young mom in crisis and choose to stay resilient, committed, and showing Christ’s love in all circumstances.
In addition to working with Elevate, Mary is a full-time nurse, mom of two, and wife to a servant-hearted, Christ-following husband. They also have a family dog that keeps them busy! Her family enjoys the outdoors and is often road tripping whenever they get a chance outside of school and work schedules. Mary’s heart for the Lord is overflowing, and we are beyond blessed to have her on our team.

Jessica Heinrich – Residential Housing Coordinator

[email protected]

Bio Coming Soon!


Emma Frankenstein – Events Coordinator

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Emma is a stay at home mom living in North Dakota who enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children. She joined Elevate Hope House in 2024 as our mission to support single moms and their children speaks to her so much. In addition to loving being a mama, Emma loves animals. Not only does she own two dogs of her own, she also fosters kittens and puppies for Lake Traverse Animal Rescue. Emma also loves offering event management support through her event management company Events By Emma Dale. She’s passionate about taking on large projects and seeing all of the small details come together to create a successful event. Emma loves a challenge and is never afraid to roll up her sleeves and help out however necessary. Welcome to the team, Emma!
As a child, Emma traveled with her missionary parents to third world countries (mainly Ghana, Africa) to support international missions in small villages. She helped implement programs to provide healthcare and schooling for children and families in the Asikuma area.  Throughout her adult life she has been involved in several non-profit organizations focused on improving the lives of others through micro-financing start up businesses that provide opportunities for single moms to provide for their families.
Emma doesn’t know a stranger and makes new connections wherever she goes. She doesn’t like to sit still and is never one to pass up an opportunity to be helpful to others. Her positive outlook on life is attributed to knowing the love Jesus Christ has given her through His death on the cross. Emma is involved in her church hospitality team where she works to provide a welcome space for newcomers and regular attendees.