About MNAPG

Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling (MNAPG), Minnesota affiliate to the National Council on Problem Gambling, is a non-profit, gambling-neutral organization dedicated to improving the lives of Minnesotans affected by problem gambling. MNAPG is a coalition of individuals and organizations sharing the belief that problem gambling is a serious public health problem that is both treatable and preventable.

MNAPG works to raise public awareness about problem gambling and the stigma that’s often associated with it. We advocate for funding for treatment programs and provide professional training for those who work with problem gamblers. The collective impact of our efforts helps individuals, their families and their communities deal with the devastating effects of problem gambling.

As a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, MNAPG is funded by membership fees, financial and in-kind donations, and state and private grants. A considerable portion of our funding comes from the state of Minnesota and from major corporate sponsorships from the Draft Kings, CharitAble MN, Minnesota Lottery, Running Aces, Canterbury Park, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Minnesota Indain Gaming Association.

  Mission Statement

The Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by problem gambling through advocacy, education, training and research.

We achieve this by:

  • bringing together those with a professional or personal interest in problem gambling,
  • providing complete, accurate and unbiased information,
  • advocating for public policies that assist problem gamblers and their families,
  • raising public awareness of problem gambling,
  • identifying those whose professions might bring them in contact with problem gamblers and their families, and educating those professionals on appropriate interventions,
  • advocating for, conducting and disseminating research that furthers our understanding of problem gambling, and
  • developing, delivering and supporting programs to prevent problem gambling.
Core Values

MNAPG works toward our vision by upholding these core values:

  • Neutrality – We are neither for nor against legalized gambling.
  • Accuracy – We strive to ensure that all information we provide is accurate and complete.
  • Compassion – We recognize that problem gambling does not result from moral failings and that those with a gambling problem are not inherently bad people.
  • Inclusion – We believe that the interests of those affected by problem gambling are best served by inclusion of a wide range of interests. These interests include, but are not limited to, those in recovery, family members, treatment professionals, the gambling industry, those having professional contacts with problem gamblers, and those in other helping professions.
SERVICES WE OFFER
Community Outreach

MNAPG exhibits and presents at dozens of professional conferences around the state of Minnesota, providing us opportunities to speak one-on-one with mental health and substance abuse providers. We also present to numerous community groups to provide basic information regarding problem gambling and to offer support to those who may have a family member who has a gambling disorder.

Education

We produce a quarterly newsletter, employ social media and produce written articles for submission in other addiction publications. We target the general public, health professionals and legislators. We also produce symposiums, webinars, an annual conference and promote the efforts of trusted sources to provide the latest information on new research, industry trends, treatment best practices and gambling’s relationship with other addictions.

Membership

As a membership organization, we firmly believe in the power of the voice. By bringing together all stakeholders with a touchpoint to gambling, we fully understand the complexities of gambling and its impact on a small, but nonetheless significant, percentage of the population.

Research

MNAPG conducts research on a range of important topics to provide greater understanding of this addiction.

Speaker’s Network

Through our Speaker’s Network, a gambling addiction professional visits mental health and social services programs and introduces the topic of problem gambling and gambling addiction to staff. These visits can be arranged anywhere in Minnesota and are free. The purpose is to educate professionals who are not gambling specialists to the basics of gambling addiction as well as alert them to assessment, referral and treatment options available throughout the state.

To learn more or to arrange a visit, contact MNAPG Executive Director Susan Sheridan Tucker or call (612) 424-8695.

ABOUT MNAPG

Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling

MNAPG BOARD

SEAN COPELAND
(MEMBER AT LARGE)
Sean has worked as an attorney for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa since 2010 and has served as the Band’s Tribal Attorney since 2013. At Fond du Lac, he performs legal work related to tribal governance, natural resources, education, healthcare, and gaming.

 

DON FEENEY
A cofounder of Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling in 2001, Don has served as a board member since the organization’s inception. Additionally, Don served on the board of the National Council for Problem Gambling for 14 years, including two years as president. He began working on gambling policy in 1984 – during the Perpich administration – and though now retired from full-time work, continues to consult.

MARIE HINTON
(SECRETARY)
Marie is a public affairs strategist at the Minnesota Lottery and a member of the Lottery’s Responsible Gambling Task Force. The Minnesota Lottery became one of the founding corporate members of the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling in 2001. Marie has represented the Minnesota Lottery on the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling Board since January 2018.

MICHAEL HOCHMAN
Michael has been with Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota since 2000, and has served as their Vice President of Casino Operations since 2009. He opened and managed the card room for the Suquamish tribe in the Seattle area from 1996-2000, and worked in both poker and table games in Las Vegas from 1988-1996. Michael has served on the MNAPG Board since 2004.

 

JEFF HUDSON
(PRESIDENT)
Jeff is a compulsive gambler in recovery since 2011. In his professional life, Jeff has been a teacher and currently works with businesses to provide skill development for employees. He has also facilitated numerous programs for Gamblers Anonymous and looks at service as an important part of his recovery. Jeff joined the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling board in 2020 and is particularly interested in bringing together diverse stakeholders in the problem gambling community.

CRAIG JOHNSON
LADC and MN Certified Gambling Treatment Provider
Craig is a licensed addictions counselor and mental health practitioner with Club Recovery. Over the years he has developed a perspective on treatment based on his own journey in recovery and by pursuing both undergraduate and graduate degrees focusing on addiction and psychology. Craig completed the Addiction Studies Program at Metropolitan State University and earned my master’s degree at St. Mary’s University in Counseling and Psychology.

Muhannah KekishMUHANNAH KAKISH
(MEMBER AT LARGE)
Meet Muhannah Kakish, a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS), Forensics Peer Support Specialist (FPSS), and Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS) thriving in long-term recovery, including from problem gambling. He keeps connected through his radio show “The Rise Up Hour – Recovery Out Loud” on WFNU. Through recovery, he was able to create EyE’s Limited, an upcoming eye glass company. Muhannah’s passion is to help create a peer program for problem gambling in Minnesota.

RENEE MOST
Director of StepUP, a Collegiate Recovery Program at Augsburg University.
Rachel has worked in the behavioral health since 2002 and believes families and individuals deserve an opportunity to receive support. Renee joined the board to assist in bringing public awareness to problem gambling.

 

Rebecca PakarinenREBECCA PAKARINEN
(TREASURER)
Becky Pakarinen is the Senior Director of Financial and Employment Services with the Minnesota based nonprofit, Lutheran Social Service. The Financial Counseling programming provides budget/credit/debt, student loan, homebuyer, foreclosure prevention/housing, and reverse mortgage counseling. Many of these services are available nationwide. On the Employment side employment supports are offered ranging from applying for a job all the way to helping maintain employment and growing your career.

Becky began her career teaching second and fourth grade in Houston, Texas. In 2007, she moved back to Minnesota and started with LSS as a Certified Financial Counselor. Under her leadership as both Counseling Director and Senior Director, LSS Financial Counseling has grown in the number of consumers served, as well as in their DMP portfolio. Her team continues to provide high quality, individualized counseling for free. Becky completed the St. Thomas Institute for Executive Director Leadership and is a graduate of the Blandin Community Leadership Program. She is currently serving on two additional community organization boards.

MARTI PAULSON
Executive Director/CEO of Project Turnabout/Vanguard
Marti has been with Project Turnabout since 2005, serving in many different leadership roles throughout the years. She is also a Registered Nurse, and one of very few nurses in Minnesota who are Internationally Certified as an Addictions Registered Nurse (CARN). Marti has presented at multiple state and national conferences on problem gambling, chemical addiction and rural healthcare issues.

KATIE RICHARD
(VICE PRESIDENT)
LADC and MN Certified Gambling Treatment Provider
Kati has been a substance use counselor since 2015 and became problem gambling certified in September 2020. Katie helped establish the gambling program at Vinland National Center and is leading the efforts to build their outpatient program.

MNAPG STAFF

Susan Sheridan TuckerSUSAN SHERIDAN TUCKER
Executive Director
sstucker@mnapg.org

Susan Sheridan Tucker is the Executive Director of Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling. She’s been with the organization since 2018. Over the past 35 years, Susan’s career has focused on nonprofit management, building organizations and advocating for those with diminished voice or power. Susan received her master’s in urban planning which laid a foundation for community building and strategic planning. Through Susan’s leadership, MNAPG is increasing Minnesotans’ awareness to gambling addiction and emphasizing the connections between substance use disorder and mental health. Susan’s overall focus is to build a stronger infrastructure of problem gambling services in Minnesota. Susan serves on the National Council on Problem Gambling’s board of directors and in July 2023 was elected its president.

SONJA MERTZ
Community Educator

Sonja joins the organization with a variety of skills in prevention research, education and advocacy. Formerly a Prevention Research Specialist with the Minnesota Prevention Resource Center, Sonja will expand our outreach efforts throughout Minnesota and will help to develop programs specifically geared towards youth, college-aged and families, while also promoting general awareness of gambling issues. Sonja holds a Master of Library and Information Science from St. Catherine University and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Theater Arts.

ADINA BLACK
Program Manager

Over the past 15 years, Adina has been committed to community-engaged work striving to build equity and social justice through approaches that redistribute power, provoke change, and dismantle inequitable structures. Her skill set is rooted in partnership development and maintenance, capacity building, and resource conception and dissemination. She has engaged in work that explores and amplifies the voices of underserved and marginalized communities informing and mobilizing methods to improve community outcomes. She holds educational training in Sociology and Epidemiology.

COLETTE DEHARPPORTE
Operations Manager

Colette brings 15 years of experience as a business owner, and a background in both Public Health and Mindfulness. Her skills range from accounting and budgeting to strategic visioning and training. Colette holds a BS in Public Health from USC, an MA in Organizational Management, and is a certified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Yoga instructor.

STRATEGIC PLAN

Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling’s strategic plan was approved by the board of directors in April, 2019. The final plan details six major organizational goals and 19 key strategies.

Goals

The goals identified in the process look out 10-15 years and will require strong partnerships to achieve. These goals include:

  • Fewer Minnesotans become problem gamblers.
  • Minnesotans experience fewer negative consequences from problem gambling.
  • Minnesotans view problem gambling as a public health issue.
  • There is adequate funding to prevent and reduce problem gambling.
  • Minnesotans can access appropriate treatment, aftercare.
  • MNAPG is the go-to source for information, resources on problem gambling, responsible gambling.
Key Strategies

Key strategies to help advance goals will take 3-7 years to complete or maintain. These strategies include:

  • Obtain stable state funding
  • Fund priority efforts
  • Ensure MNAPG is fiscally stable
  • Ensure plan adherence
  • Align staff composition and work to key priorities
  • Be source of best practices for treatment and aftercare
  • Maintain reputation as content and policy expert
  • Influence policy positions and efforts on problem gambling
  • Educate people about problem gambling and prevention
  • Facilitate access to appropriate information and services
  • Be source of best practices for prevention
  • Lead a strong coalition of problem gambling stakeholders
  • Develop statewide problem gambling prevention plan
  • Leverage coalition to close gaps in continuum of care
  • Partner to ensure underrepresented communities are served
  • Advocate for increased funding for research, prevention and treatment
  • Facilitate training delivery to targeted audiences
  • Ensure policies place problem gambling on par with other addictions
  • Advocate with legislators about problem gambling as public health issue

A list of our most sought after presentations can be found here.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH PRESENTATIONS

Community outreach is an important part of our mission. MNAPG is available to present on a series of issues pertaining to problem gambling such as an introduction to problem gambling, gaming disorder, gambling as a co-occurring addiction, to name just a few topics. These can be geared towards community and school groups to professionals in the addiction, mental health or other professions that are impacted by problem gambling, such as attorneys, employee assistance programs,   to community groups. These visits can be arranged anywhere in Minnesota and are free of charge. The purpose is to broaden the awareness of gambling disorder and who it affects, initiate conversations about prevention, highlight the importance of healthy play and making the public aware of available treatment assessments and options available at little or no cost.

To learn more or to arrange a visit, contact MNAPG Community Educator, Sonja Mertz, smertz@mnapg.org or 612-424-8595 x3.

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