About Progress North

Progress North is an independent project, fiscally sponsored by TakeAction Minnesota, with a primary focus of connecting individuals and organizations in Northwest Wisconsin across race, class, gender, sexual orientation, generation and geography.

Our Team

Shawnu Ksicinski

Director of Progress North
Email: shawnu.progressnorth@gmail.com
Phone: (218) 590-3408

Shawnu grew up in Ashland, a small northern Wisconsin town between two reservations. Shawnu’s mom was a single mother until she was ten years old when she married her Indigenous stepfather. She grew up in generational poverty, and because half of her family is Indigenous, they experienced racism throughout their lives. There isn’t a single issue that Shawnu has worked on during her time at TakeAction MN that hasn’t touched her family in some way. Read More

David Mettille

Communications Manager
Email: david.progressnorth@gmail.com
Phone: (715)685-8300

David may be a transplant from the big city, but his lived experiences on his journey to finding home on the south shore of the big lake have led him time and again to work that defends the common good. For nearly a decade, he has called Ashland, Wisconsin his home.

As a member of the LGTBQ+ community, David has experienced firsthand the discrimination and inequity that is inherent in a society steeped in homophobia, heteronormativity, and gender normativity.  As a person with an autoimmune disorder, he knows too well the reality of navigating a for-profit healthcare system that fails those of us who are most vulnerable. As a single father of a child adopted from foster care, he has seen the very real effects of “the system” and its deficiencies when it comes to meeting the most basic needs of the underrepresented. Read More

Cheyenne Otto-Defoe

Lead Organizer
Email: cheyenne.progressnorth@gmail.comPhone: (218) 721-6103

As a small town kid from Northern Wisconsin, Cheyenne truly understands the dynamics of a rural community. From first-hand experiences, she also understands the inequality and racism (to name a couple of examples) that Indigenous and other folx of color face within our region every day…As a proud LGBTQ+ Indigenous woman, she is entrenched in the fight for the survival of her people- the fight for marginalized communities who deserve better… the fight for a better world for ALL. For these reasons and many more, Cheyenne knew Progress North was the right place for her. Read More
Jade Livingston

Regional Organizer
Email: jade.progressnorth@gmail.com
Phone: (715)685-4688

As an indigenous member of the LGBTQ+ community, Jade is passionate about working for the livelihood of marginalized peoples. Born and raised in Odanah, Wisconsin, Jade has directly experienced the generational hardships of Northern Wisconsinites and struggling reservations. Due to consistent, near unavoidable exposure to the oppressive environment in the North, Jade is committed to fighting for the success of every underprivileged and underrepresented community in Wisconsin.  Read More

Chelsea Anderson

Communications & Digital Strategist

Chelsea is a thirty-year-old bisexual woman who was born, raised, and continues to live in Ashland, Wisconsin. She has a deep love for the Northwoods and Lake Superior and is very proud to be a Wisconsinite. But like many others in the area, she has felt the hardships that also come with living in the region.

Being the daughter of a single-parent, Chelsea has experienced the economic struggles that single-income families face. She has also felt the detrimental effects of loved ones with addictions and alcoholism.

Her personal experiences with mental illnesses and her fight with the medical system, from diagnoses to billing, has led Chelsea to be very passionate in educating others about mental health, discrimination, and rape victim advocacy.

Kayla Bekkerus


Kayla or Kat grew up in a small rural town about 30 minutes away from the White Earth Reservation. Kayla descends from the Gros Ventre tribe from Montana. Growing up on a small hobby farm, Kayla spent most of her time outside exploring and enjoying nature. Having first hand experiences with mental illnesses, substance abuse and addiction as well as other structural issues, these quickly became passions of Kayla, driving her to study social work.

Kayla’s experience prior to joining Progress North includes the Birch Tree center as a mental health practitioner and Northwood Children’s services as a counselor. Recently graduating from the University of Minnesota Duluth’s undergraduate program for social work spring of 2020, Kayla is now enrolled in the graduate program for social work and is expected to graduate spring of 2021.

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