Meet Our Staff
Rev. Erica Koser
Pastor Erica is originally from Denver, Colorado but has lived in the Mankato Area for over 25 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Concordia, Moorhead, a Master of Arts from Luther Seminary and a Nonprofit Leadership Certificate from Dakota Wesleyan. She is an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church and has a diverse working background that includes working in a variety of maternal child nursing settings, beginning Mankato's first Birth Doula program, owning a small business and serving at Centenary UMC in Mankato. Together with Pastor Collette Broady Grund, she founded Connections Ministry in 2016 and served as Board Vice President and was the organizations first full time employee. She also Pastors Shelter Church. She loves how this work combines all of her skills! Erica is mom to four young adults and runs a small hobby farm full of goats, chickens, cats, and dogs.
Director of Development
Liz Paul is originally from Neenah, WI but came to Minnesota in 1997 to attend St. Olaf College and never left. She earned a Masters of Theology from Luther Seminary and worked for 10 years in Children’s ministry in the ELCA. Following her work for the church, she has worked in a variety of nonprofits in both youth programming and development including Temple Israel, Twin Valley Council Boy Scouts and the Greater Mankato United Way.
Liz and her family moved to Mankato in 2018 and she participates in a variety of community organizations. She is the current president of the Mankato Kiwanis club, is on the children’s board for Bethlehem Lutheran Church, sings with Musicorum and is Cubmaster of Pack 12. When she is not working or parenting, she enjoys camping with her family, board games, D&D, and playing trumpet.
Director of Outreach and Guest Care
As a Mankato native Michelle has watched our community grow and change over the years. Helping people has always been a passion of hers, and naturally that passion pushed her into a career in healthcare. Being a nurse for over 8 years she has served people in all walks of life. It was during her time as the Medical Service Manager at Open Door Health Center that she was able to take that passion and truly put it into action. There she was able to partner with pastor Erica and the Mayo Family Residency Program to help launch the shelter clinic. It was through work with the shelter clinic where the true spark ignited in providing equitable healthcare and services to their guests. It was only natural that she was drawn to the mission and vision of Connections, and when they developed an outreach program that she was interested in helping. From there they have been able to continue to meet people where they are at in their journey, creating a drop in center and connecting them to services in the community. When Michelle is not in the office she enjoys traveling, taking in live music, gardening, and spending time with her family.
Leah has lived and worked in Southern Minnesota for nearly all of her life. She has a Bachelor of Science in Alcohol and Drug Studies and a Master of Social Work, both from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her professional experience includes working with individuals and families experiencing homelessness, individuals with Substance Use Disorders, and in professional advocacy
Leah is passionate about social policy and advocacy work, particularly in the areas of housing, economic justice, and disability justice. Leah serves as a board member for the National Association of Social Workers, Minnesota Chapter (NASW-MN).
Beyond her professional pursuits, Leah enjoys a variety of hobbies including gardening, sewing, playing tabletop and video games and spending time with family and friends.