2021 Candidates

EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator™ – Minnesota

Alison Weinlaeder - Cardiomelon, 2nd Place Grant Recipient 

Alison Weinlaeder, founder and CEO of Cardiomelon, is a licensed speech-language pathologist with specialized training in assessing and treating adult cognitive-linguistic disorders secondary to stroke, concussion, traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s dementia. She is an outpatient speech-language pathologist for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute at United Hospital in St. Paul.

Her clinical background includes working at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, Regions Hospital and Fairview Southdale Hospital. Weinlaeder completed her graduate studies in speech-language-hearing sciences at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where she discovered her love of studying brain healing and improvement in Dr. Mary Kennedy’s NeuroCognitive Communication Lab. Weinlaeder created Cardiomelon to empower adults to take control of their cognitive and physical health through accessible and affordable brain and body exercises.

Often bored with routine fitness programs, she found her niche combining her love of fun and interactive physical activity with a passion for helping others improve their brains. She keeps her brain and body active by playing with her 3- and 5-year-old daughters, reading and listening to books, connecting with friends and family, walking her dog Brenda, learning new words in different languages, trying new recipes, writing with her left hand, playing the piano and exploring parks and museums in the Twin Cities.


2021 Business Accelerator Candidate, 2nd Place Grant Recipient Alison Weinlaeder 

Batala McFarlane - Insights iHeal

Batala McFarlane, co-founder of the Insight Health Equity Action Lab (iHEAL), is publisher of Insight News, Minnesota’s largest ethnic publication. She has more than 25 years of newsroom, media production, marketing and community organizing experience. iHEAL advances health equity through storytelling and investigative journalism, actionable research, convenings and programming. It works in partnership with communities and various organizations across sectors to develop and implement sustainable and measurable strategies that support healthy communities and put people at the center of the process.

In 1999, McFarlane became one of the youngest publishers in the Black press in the country. Under her leadership, Insight News has won several awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association and the National Newspaper Publishers Association, including best column writing, best website and general excellence. She’s also co-producer of the weekly radio program, “Conversations with Al McFarlane.”

McFarlane has led Insight News’ health reporting and programming since 2002, when the company hosted the first Communities of Color Health Leadership Awards Luncheon. In partnership with HealthPartners, the event honored community health professionals who “work in the trenches.” She was instrumental in positioning Insight as a leader in providing health news about and for people of color.

McFarlane is driven by her passion to foster relationships and create networks that support building communities so all people can thrive and survive. She was a founding board member of the Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota and has served on the KMOJ Board of Directors. She’s also on the board of the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center and Healthcare for All Minnesota. She is a member of the Hennepin Healthcare Community Advisory Board and serves on the Attorney General’s Task Force on Women’s Economic Security.


Batala McFarlane - Insights|iHeal

Chaz Sandifer- the NEWmpls, Fan Favorite

Chaz Sandifer is founder of theNEWmpls, which focuses on affordable fitness, wellness and nutrition. Bringing her holistic approach to the community, Sandifer teaches others how to break generational cycles, that fitness is fun and nutrition and wellness is key to good health. 

Sandifer is the 2020-21 African American Leadership Forum fellow, Northside Awesome Grant recipient, Republic Services Grant recipient, vendor at the BEE Marketplace and the winner of the 2020 Scissor Business of the Northside Award.

She has expanded her brand to include Let Go Let Flow, a wellness company that focuses on anti-racism work between Black and White women, life and wellness coaching and weekly Wellness Wednesday Chats discussing various topics that affect Black people. 

Sandifer joined the Rolling Out AM morning live show, “Winning Wednesdays,” which highlights successes in the Black community.
She teaches numerous fitness classes, a monthly Meal Prep w/a Twist class, leads the Diabetes & Arthritis Prevention Program and operates and owns the Camden Farmers Market.

Chaz Sandifer - theNEWmpls

Carline Bengtsson - Dine4Dinners

Carline Bengtsson is retired from corporate life after careers in the insurance, military avionics and medical technology industries at Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Honeywell and most recently Medtronic, where she was a people/program manager. 

She received her Bachelor of Arts in business administration and art from Concordia University St. Paul, a mini MBA from the University of St. Thomas and a marketing certificate from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Executive Education Program. 

Bengtsson immigrated to Minnesota from Jamaica as a child and later married a native Swede, which sealed her affinity for the culture, language, country and the American Swedish Institute.

Bengtsson is also a published cookbook author and an engaged community leader serving on several boards. Recently, she was appointed to the President’s Advisory Council at Concordia University St. Paul.

Family and friends describe her as a chef of enticing, inventive and delicious eats. She founded Dine4Dinners to further pursue her two passions of helping others and creating memorable meals. The Dine4Dinners’ mission is a shared vision with organizations that provide meals for people in need of daily nourishment through dependable, reliable and sustainable sources.

Carline Bengtsson - Dine4Dinners

Jana Martin - FOODRx 

Jana Martin joined Second Harvest Heartland in 2019 as the FOODRx program manager and registered dietitian.

Prior to Second Harvest Heartland, Martin was the vice president of operations in Minnesota at Concerto and the group facility administrator at Davita. During her tenure at Davita, she helped the company improve patient health outcomes, increased employee and patient retention and built a healthy and effective workplace environment.

Martin graduated from Mankato State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and dietetics. She has a master’s degree in adult education from Indiana University. She lives in Corcoran, Minnesota with her husband of 10 years and two young boys, Colton and Hudson. When she’s not busy with work and as a mom, she spends a lot of time in the spa.

Jana Martin - FoodRx

Kimberly Brown - Get Up and Get Moving Paragraph, 1st Place Grant Recipient 

Kimberly Brown is the founder of Get Up and Get Moving, a health and wellness program she formed in light of her struggle with her weight and her journey to better health.

Brown says she knows how it feels to know what to do, and yet not do it. When she created the program, she says she thought not only of herself, but of the many people who need to improve their health. This is for those who need to put themselves first on the list of priorities, are on medication or end up in the emergency room. Brown realized the need in communities of color and people in churches for a simple, accessible option that encourages them to live longer, healthier lives.

She wrote the theme song for her program while on her treadmill, and then followed it up with a 30-day nutrition and physical activity challenge.

Brown is a singer/songwriter influenced by the Grammy Award-winning group, The Sounds of Blackness. She has toured around the world and performed with legendary artists such as Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, Prince and Kenny G.

The grueling regimen of late-night recording sessions and touring attributed to her poor health habits. When she hit rock bottom with a cholesterol reading of 314, she knew it was time to take charge of her health.

1st Place Grant Financial Recipient, Kimberly Brown - Get Up and Get Moving

Marlee Dorsey - Reviving Roots Therapy and Wellness

Marlee Dorsey is a licensed mental health therapist and consultant in South Minneapolis, focusing on intergenerational trauma, social justice and relational cultural work. 
She’s a certified clinical trauma professional and has practiced at the Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture at Boston College. Most of her clients are Black and Latino people who want to make a change in their lives for themselves, their families and their communities.

Dorsey says one reason she became a therapist was because her healing impacted the people in her life. She realized that her openness about herself translated to openness with others, allowing them to share parts of themselves they didn’t believe could be accepted.

Dorsey’s mission is to serve people of color so they can build a generational legacy of health and healing. She has worked in the mental health field as a crisis counselor, school therapist, case manager and most recently as the owner of Reviving Roots Therapy and Wellness. 

Dorsey enjoys art, fashion, everything Afro-futuristic, good music and Italian food.

Marlee Dorsey - Reviving Roots Therapy and Wellness

Valerie F Turner - VF Health Fitness Solutions

Valerie “Coach Val” Turner is a mother to her son Josiah, fitness instructor, lifestyle coach and entrepreneur.
A graduate of Florida A&M University, Turner moved to Minneapolis in 2003 to work at Medtronic. She later worked at Target. In 2014, she resigned from her corporate career due to major life transitions.

Later, Turner heard a disturbing discussion during a radio program about health disparities and the high number of Black men and women dying in Minnesota, especially in North Minneapolis where she lives. She was then inspired to start her career in health and fitness with a mission to reduce health disparities and increase physical activity among Black and Latino people.

Since 2014, Turner has created a fitness movement in North Minneapolis by providing free health and fitness services, cultural relevance and inclusiveness to all fitness levels and backgrounds in partnership with organizations such as Pillsbury United Communities, North Point Health and Wellness, Greater Twin Cities United Way, St. Paul Parks and Recreation and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation.

In 2017-19, she coached diabetes prevention to over 300 women. Her weekly fitness classes impact over 200 people per month.

In 2019, Turner founded VF Health Fitness Solutions to provide services such as community health and fitness and corporate wellness management led by people who are empathetic, sympathetic and passionate about the health and wellness of Black and Latino people.

Valerie F. Turner - VF Health Fitness Solutions