Becky Pakarinen Senior Director of Financial and Employment Services at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, Treasurer

A: Before coming to work at Lutheran Social Service (LSS), I was an elementary school teacher, and along with teaching the kids you get to really know them and their families. There was a lot of addiction and financial struggles going on in the home, which then carried over into the classroom through their kids. It was hard to see these great families going through such tough times and not have a lot of knowledge or resources to help them. So, when I saw the opportunity to make a career change and become a financial counselor, it was a path that held a lot of interest for me. In my work as a financial counselor, I supported families directly, and then as a trainer and now senior director I bring in experts to ensure our counselors have the best knowledge and tools to help our clients achieve their financial goals.

Q: What do you hope you can contribute to the board and the mission?

A: Working at various levels in financial counseling has really allowed me to understand the struggles, whether large or small, that everyone has with their finances. It is important to me to normalize financial counseling so that folks reach out for help when they need it.

Q: Are there particular areas within problem gambling that are of special interest to you?

A: I am passionate about working to take the shame out of problem gambling. There are great services, tools and people out there who truly care and can help folks get back on track with their finances.

Q: What are some of your hobbies and interests?

A: I enjoy watching my kids play sports and spending time outdoors traveling, hiking and snowshoeing with family and friends.


Muhannah Kakish Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist, Member at Large

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.

A: As a person in long-term recovery, I offer a unique perspective to the group. My understanding of recovery and specifically the continued sustainability of positive growth, is evidenced by my achievements in the field. I am a certified peer recovery support specialist, forensics peer recovery specialist, certified peer support specialist, as well as a certified wrap 1 facilitator. In addition to the titles I have earned, I’ve engaged in numerous other trainings and community endeavors. I am the host and creator of The Rise Up Hour, a weekly radio broadcast on WFNU 94.1 FM. The Rise Up Hour has given me the platform to reach the community by embracing all forms of recovery, celebrating allies to recovery, and espousing opportunities of involvement available. In addition to my focus on recovery, I am in the process of re-launching my eyecare business, EyEs Limited. I have taken every experience I’ve had, as well as everything I’ve learned from those experiences, to enhance my success to build the entity I’ve always envisioned.

Q: What do you hope you can contribute to the board and the mission?

A: Given my unique perspective, I hope to bring my lived-life perspective to the board. I want problem gambling to receive the recognition and inclusion, in terms of services available for recovery, that it demands. That includes the inclusion of problem gambling in the peer support recovery coach curriculum. I intend to offer my common sense, my background as a professional in a business context and the insight I’ve gained through my certifications and training. One of my biggest goals in serving on this board is to help remove the stigma of problem gambling and make getting help in dealing with the situation less taxing and more common.

Q: What are some of your hobbies and interests?

A: In my spare time, I am an avid volunteer in the community for a variety of causes, including The Steve Rummler HOPE Network, Minnesota Recovery Connection, the Peer Support Alliance and others. I also enjoy a variety of hobbies, including rock collecting, bird watching, gardening and playing with my two energetic dogs. I’ve recently embraced journaling and have begun to explore my artistic aspirations through sketching and painting.

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