Meet Our Core Team
Owner & Administrator
Leeann Metzmaker started the company in 1999 and it has grown every year since. As the company has expanded, her focus has never wavered. She is focused on providing each individual with the right amount of assistance, care, and resources to succeed. She frequently surprises clients with visits to their place of residence, place of work, and even some of their extracurricular activities like personal hobbies and softball games.
Human Resources Director
Rayne began working at New Challenges in 2001 as a Program Coordinator, and was later promoted to a Program Director. Her passion for the field is fueled by the experiences that New Challenges provides for their clients. In addition to interacting with clients, she also enjoys getting to know the new hires and as well as their stories that they share while in her office. She considers herself a people person and believes strongly in the values that New Challenges instills in their clients and employees.
Sue began working at New Challenges Inc. in 2009. Upon joining New Challenges she brought with her more than 20 years of experience in the social service field and non-profit community. She is primarily responsible for program oversight, training, new development, staff management, client intake and placement. Around the office her homemade banana bars are enjoyed by both clients and staff.
Senior Program Director
Shannon, Senior Program Director, Residential Services, joined New Challenges, Inc. in 2006. She has more than 13 years of experience managing homes for individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities and emotional and mental health issues. Shannon graduated from Winona State University in 2002 with a B.S. in Social Work.
Thea passionately believes that everyone has a story and needs support at some point in their lives. In college, Thea served as a volunteer advocate for victims of sexual assault. While volunteering, Thea met a young lady that needed some help, but was unable to clearly articulate what had happened to her due to her disability. The experience changed Thea’s life and inspired her to change her major and work with individuals with disabilities and disadvantages. Twenty-five-plus years later, Thea continues to be inspired by and honored to support individuals with disabilities who bravely meet every day challenges with courage and strength. Thea and her spunky cat live in Saint Paul. She enjoys a variety of crafts in her free time and dreams of someday being physically fit. Thea joined the New Challenges team in 2015.
Dawn has been employed in various different positions with New Challenges since 2008. Dawn is now a Program Director serving individuals with Mental Health and Chemical Dependence disabilities. These individuals live in Independent or Semi Independent Living Programs and receive staff supports to maintain housing, learning daily living and coping skills. Dawn very much enjoys the rewards of her job as well as the challenges. In her free time Dawn likes go walking, spending time in the sun/outdoors, and hanging out with her daughters/granddaughters.
Ted has been a Program Director at New Challenges since April 2014. Ted attended college at the University of Minnesota–Duluth. Prior to New Challenges, he worked with brain injured adults in Duluth, MN, for 10 years. Ted has held various positions throughout his career including, direct support staff, crisis supervisor and house supervisor.
I started my journey working with people with disabilities at a fairly young age. A friend of the family had a daughter who was born with a disability and I spent quite a few hours babysitting for her. It piqued my interest in working with people with disabilities. During high school I was fortunate enough to be able to be a peer tutor for a special education class. I started working in this field shortly after graduating from high school. I began working for New Challenges in 2009 as a program counselor. I transitioned to a Program Coordinator in 2011, and most recently have accepted a position as a Program Director in 2014. I have enjoyed working for a company with such high values for the people that are served. I can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead!
All my life I have had a compassion for the “wounded bird” (as my mom would call it). I believe everyone in life has a right to be able to live their lives to the fullest whether they have had life altering incidents affect them or they have a disability. I adopted four children from the foster care system of Minnesota. One of my daughters, Ashley, who has developmental disabilities, developed severe mental illness in her pre-teen years. Throughout the last twelve years I have been Ashley’s advocate and mother. I have seen many things through my life with her and not only have I become passionate about individuals getting the care they need, but also to see them receive help to live their lives to the absolute fullest potential they can. My daughter’s case worker referred me to New Challenges Inc. because she knew this company was the right fit for me. I have a bachelor’s degree in Human Services and specialize in mental illness and developmental disabilities. I’m excited to be a part of this team and work for a company I know believes the same as I do.
I started at New Challenges February 2007. I was a PC at one site then a year later took on a second site. I worked with TBI and DD clients. I had an understanding of people with DD, I have a close relative who was born prematurely and was diagnosed with MR. He is my little cousin and I grew up taking care of him. When his Mom passed away in 2005, I became his Legal Guardian, he lives with me and he is a happy healthy 38 year old. In March 2015, I accepted a Program Director position working at the sites I have already been working in. It was an easy transition for me. I enjoy the clients I’ve worked with, also enjoy getting to know the clients that are new or have transitioned from other company’s and programs.
I became passionate about working with people with disabilities when I was in high school. There was a girl that had Down syndrome that I would take to various activities throughout high school, such as choir concerts, football games, etc. I really enjoyed being able to see how little things that I took for granted made a big difference for the girl that I was lucky enough to get to know. That experience made me want to be able to make a difference to help others to grow as a person and become more independent to have a fulfilling life. After high school, I worked in Mankato in a group home and then moved onto working in a nursing home while I went to college. Since then, I have had several different roles in human services. I was a guardian for a few years for an adult that had disabilities and got into some legal trouble, I also worked as a supervisor in a day program, and as a supervisor, now Program Director for ILS. I also have a child that has a mental health disability that helps me have a better understanding how to work with team members and people with disabilities as a parent, and as a provider for people I work with.
I’m originally from the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota, and I moved to the metro area in August 2015 for a change of pace. I’ve been working in this field for many years starting in direct care and worked my way up to Program Director. I used to coach Special Olympics and wouldn’t mind doing so again. I enjoy many activities including: painting/drawing, volleyball, football, grouse hunting, fishing, hiking, and traveling-to name a few, and love to try new adventurous things. It’s my passion to help other people and bring a smile to their faces.
Renee joined New Challenges as a Program Director February 2018. Renee completed the Medical Assistance program at John A. Logan Community College in Marion, Illinois. She also studied Behavioral Health at Southern Illinois University- Carbondale. Renee started working in the Human Services field in 2000 as a Habilitation Technician, transitioning individuals with various disabilities from state facilities to SLS homes. Renee has worked with children and adults with mental illness, chemical dependency, developmental disabilities, and brain injuries. Renee has worked as a Direct Support Professional, Program Manager, Behavioral Technician, Psychiatric Technician, Mental Health Practitioner, and Program Director for various companies. In her spare time, Renee loves to fish and volunteer at her church with the youth.
Personal Statement: The most successful people learn something new each day. Knowledge is endless, and personal growth is continuous. Always seek more.
My name is Cynthia and I recently joined New Challenges as a Program Director. I started working in the field in 2006 and have worked in a variety of different levels of persons served: Mental Health, Chemical Dependency, DD, high medical needs, and serving others with a variety of disabilities. I am currently attending Metro State University and graduating in the summer of 2018 with a B.S. in Criminal Justice. I will eventually go to Augsburg College to pursue my M.A. in Social Work. I have a great passion and care to work with individuals that are less fortunate.