Operations Manager

Bethany Israelson

Born and raised in Minnesota, Bethany has dedicated her career to breaking down barriers for the state’s most underserved communities. In particular, through roles at nonprofit organizations like Autism Works and Fraser, she has worked to advocate for and support youth and individuals diagnosed with special needs. Her drive to see all students, regardless of ability, receive the education they deserve has led her to EdAllies, where she provides development, finance, administrative, and communications support to advance the organization’s mission of ensuring that every young Minnesotan has access to a rigorous and engaging education. A first generation college student, Bethany holds a bachelor’s degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota and a master’s in Special Education for Autism Spectrum Disorders from the University of St. Thomas. In her free time, Bethany most often can be found curled up with a book and a cup of coffee. In the brief moments she can pull herself away from a story, she enjoys kayaking, hammocking, and traveling.

What inspires you to work in education advocacy?

Having gone through a special education preparation program, I understand many of the challenges facing teachers, especially those working in special education. Through countless conversations with Twin Cities families and youth, I also appreciate the barriers that they encounter when navigating education systems. Even though I chose not to pursue a career as a teacher, I am still committed to changing the landscape of special education, and of education more broadly—work I now get to do as an advocate. The students, families, and educators I have met throughout my experiences as a student and teacher-in-training have instilled in me a sense of urgency and possibility. I know just how much work there is to do to give students with special needs, and other underserved students, the support they need to be successful, and I also believe that this work is possible.

What part of your job gets you out of bed in the morning?

Coming into the office and working alongside passionate individuals who are driven to bring their best inspires me to be my best. The staff at EdAllies are full of vision, and everyone is here because they genuinely want to be. I come to work each day with the mindset that the work I do has an impact on the world around me; knowing that definitely energizes me!

Why is honesty important to you?

EdAllies’ core value of honesty is important to me for several reasons. In our internal operations—which I work to streamline and strengthen in my role—I seek to be honest and reliable. I want my word to mean something; if I tell you I’m going to do something, I want you to trust that I will accomplish what I said I would do. Not only does honesty make our team’s operations stronger, but it’s also key to our work in the community. Through our commitment to honesty, I believe we each bring our best foot forward to the team, and also help build and deepen the relationships that are so essential to our work for Minnesota kids.