Board of Directors

We facilitate local governmental officials, civic and youth organizations, and business leaders in the creation and promotion of constructive civic engagement.

Irina Fursman

Co-founder of Global Synergy Group, who developed her passion for  people, learning and leadership while growing up in Russia and Ukraine, and becoming a professional facilitator in the USA. Irina is a Chief Facilitator and OD Practitioner at HUE.Life, organization development and facilitation firm that focuses on Human Understanding and Engagement as a core strategy for change. She is working on her dissertation with the focus on leadership in collaborative, non-hierarchical environments. Irina develops programming and coordinates exchanges as well as takes an active role in delivering the experience to program participants. Her “can do” attitude and strong desire to impact people’s lives drives her commitment to GSG. 

Dr. Richard Fursman, Ed.D

Organization Development and Change expert for HUE.Life. Richard has helped hundreds of organizations develop and implement strategy by facilitating discussions and aligning strategy with action planning, hiring, and review. He has facilitated and advised on Strategic Thinking and Planning with National, Regional, and Local governments in the USA and Eastern Europe involving small, intimate groups and large-scale events involving hundreds of participants. Richard has and continues to lecture on individual and whole-system change at a number of universities and conferences in the USA and abroad. He has over 20 years of senior management experience in local government. Richard earned his Doctorate in Organization Development from the University of St. Thomas where he serves as an Adjunct Faculty member.

Jim Brimeyer

City Manager and owner of an Executive Search firm for 22 years, Jim has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Jim has served as a member of the board of the Metropolitan Council for four years and as a Interim City Manager and Director for several organizations. Currently he is serving as an Executive Coach/Strategic Advisor with HUE.Life. Jim was one of the original participants to Boryspil, Ukraine in May 2011 and has served as GSG Board Chair since February 2012. He was successful in obtaining $10,750.00 from Rotary in 2016 to fund the Open Youth Forum in Ukraine and is committed to continuing that effort into the future. 

Natalia Etten

Coffee enthusiast with two Master’s Degrees in Comparative and International Development Education and in Ukrainian Language and Literature. Natalia’s career has been rooted in youth development and international education since she won her first grant from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to run a State Department’s EducationUSA advising center in Crimea, Ukraine. Since then Natalia has helped thousands of people in Ukraine receive comprehensive information on educational opportunities in the USA. Natalia serves as the youth leadership program coordinator on the Global Synergy Group board since its creation. She facilitated and provided simultaneous interpreting during five exchange visits from and to Ukraine.

Karla Hill-Donisch

Life-long learner with a passion for teaching. She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Development and a Bachelor of Arts in School and Community Health Education. Karla is the owner of Hill & Company, a business focused on facilitating, presenting, and training on ways to communicate and work together effectively. A Board Member since 2014, Karla was inspired by volunteering in the summer of 2014 with the youth from Ukraine during the second Youth Leadership Engagement and Development exchange visit. She was further moved to stay connected and chaperoned the groups from Minnesota to Ukraine two summers in a row. 

Jason Gadd

Community engagement mentor with a passion for creating innovative solutions with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Communication Studies.  As an entrepreneur for over 16 years, Jason guided NexGen Associates company focusing on providing innovative web-based tools to nonprofit and community based organizations. He also serves on the City Council for the City of Hopkins. Joining the board of Global Synergy Group in 2014, he was motivated to combine his community skills and technical knowledge to help share GSG’s vision with community leaders and youth leaders around the world.  Jason is working to connect the accomplishments of the Ukraine exchanges to local communities.

Jamie Verbrugge

The city manager of Bloomington, MN, Jamie has previously served as the chief administrative officer in the cities of Brooklyn Park and Rosemount. He is a graduate of St. Cloud State University, with Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Hamline University. Jamie is on the board of directors for the American Red Cross Minnesota Region and serves as an ex-officio member of the board for Artistry, a visual and theater arts organization based in Bloomington.

Verbrugge’s community service includes being a member of the Bloomington Noon Rotary Club, previously serving as a member and chair of the Annunciation School advisory board, being a board member of the North Hennepin Community College Foundation, and serving as a youth baseball coach. Jamie have visited Ukraine as part of the GSG delegation to the Open Youth Forum in July 2016 and is currently serving as a Global Synergy Group’s Board Chair

Tom Dibsky

An executive leader with more than 35 years managing world-class private and public companies, Tom’s mission is to help organizations leverage their human capital to build high-performing organizations. Tom’s experience and expertise have been key factors in helping his company achieve extraordinary results which include a stock price increase of over 31% compounded annual growth, doubling of the stock several times over, and more than $50 million in operational savings. 

Since leaving the corporate world in 2014 Tom has been focused on building an OD Consulting Business and working for nonprofit organizations. Tom also lectures at several universities (Harvard Business School, U of MN, U of St. Thomas, and Ukrainian Catholic University) on Change Management, Building High Performing Leadership Teams, and Strategy Development. Tom’s real passion is working with young future leaders, helping them understand leadership, and how they can play a valuable role in the future of their country.

Douglas Bruce

Following a career in business, health care, training and development Doug retired from Normandale Community College as a Continuing Education Program Director. Doug has a Master’s Degree in Communications from the University of Wisconsin. His leadership roles in community development include City Planning Commission, Big Brother Big Sisters Program, disability issues and environmental concerns. Doug’s living and working abroad has made him aware of the importance of GSG’s work and resulted in joining the Board of Directors in 2015.  

Eugene Maxwell

A lifelong resident of Hopkins, MN, Eugene is a board member of First Minnetonka bank and a member of many other Hopkins organizations. After high school he was drafted into the United States Army for two years and later attended the University of Minnesota.

38 years ago he opened a local business that is still thriving today. Eugene has been serving the community of Hopkins for over 30 years, which has included being on the park board, planning and zoning board, and being a member of the Hopkins City Council. Within that time Eugene was the Mayor for 16 years.