Meet RMCEP’s New Executive Director, Tina Jaster; 30 Years of Service and Counting
5 Sep 2023
In May, Tina Jaster stepped into the role of Executive Director at Rural Minnesota CEP (RMCEP). As someone who’s worked at RMCEP for over 30 years, Jaster will bring crucial experience to the position. She succeeds Vicki Leaderbrand, who instilled in the organization the ability to adapt to rapid change.
In 1992, Jaster began her journey with RMCEP as a STRIDE Job Counselor. During these first 14 years, Jaster served low-income families in Clay and Wilkin Counties. Taking on the role of Family Stabilization Counselor in 2006, she continued her focus on family work at the Detroit Lakes Office. She remained there until 2016 when she became RMCEP’s Administration Operations Specialist.
As the Administration Operations Specialist, Jaster reviewed laws, statutes, federal documents, and state policies. At this time, Jaster wrote internal policies and developed program budgets and plans. Stepping into a leadership role, Jaster also trained staff on all RMCEP programs. In 2019, Jaster was promoted to the Director of Operations where she took a new role in overseeing all the programs at RMCEP. In this role, she assisted with high-level budget planning and grant writing and supervised five management team members.
With her crucial experience as a foundation, Jaster is fully equipped to lead RMCEP into its next era of growth. Jaster states, “As Executive Director, I can use all the knowledge I’ve captured over the past 30 years to help RMCEP remain a leader in employment and training in Northwest and West Central MN. There’s always work to do. Developing programs that benefit employers or assist underrepresented individuals are crucial to prosperity.”
Jaster Puts Priority on People; Informed and Personal Leadership
First and foremost, Jaster leads with the cherished memories of the community connection RMCEP provides. “Many of my favorite memories center around RMCEP’s community– our program participants, staff, and partners. I’ve had the continual pleasure of collaborating with others to develop exciting initiatives. To see someone get energized at the possibilities of what can be done when a group of counselors, planners, and partners get together is pretty remarkable.”
Jaster remembers a period when this was particularly true. “How RMCEP addressed the Great Recession of 2008 stands out. We received a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Through that, we served hundreds of individuals involved in layoffs, many for the first time. We assisted with school tuition, job search support, financial support, and career counseling. Our offices were busting with staff and clients. There was a lot of energy, innovative services, and success stories. Over 80,000 people came through our doors.”
Jaster Will Lead Rural MN CEP’s Next Era with Expertise
While Jaster has many ideas, she first wants to promote what already exists within RMCEP’s robust infrastructure. “I want to continue with the great work that we do. I’d like more people to know what and who RMCEP is. Coming up with creative solutions to get the word out on all the opportunities at RMCEP is at the top of my list. We’re exploring ideas that could provide the additional resources to build a broader footprint.”
Overall, Jaster remains motivated and excited to continue her work. “I can’t imagine not doing this type of work. It's noble work; our workforce is the heart of what keeps our communities strong and vibrant. I truly believe in the vision, mission, and values of RMCEP.”
Jaster’s testimony demonstrates that RMCEP creates community pathways between workers and employers. To learn more about how RMCEP can help you with your career, click here.