Jane Krentz runs the McVay Youth Partnership at Hamline University.  I worked for her all four years of college. McVay, an afterschool mentorship program, was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. As you have likely seen in several other profiles in this project, working for McVay is a common theme in many of my college friendships. And, Jane is to credit for this beautiful opportunity in my life.

Jane is civically engaged, caring, socially conscious, and dedicated to her work, students, and community.

I was (still am) the type of person who fully reads campus announcement emails in case there is an opportunity or info that might apply to me. This is how I found out about the McVay Youth Partnership. In my first semester of school, I applied or contacted Jane over email and then completely forgot about it. She (THANKFULLY) reached back out to me over email and asked if I was still interested before summer break. I started that fall. . . and the rest is history.

 When school started, I attended my first training. This was fall 2007, so I likely showed up wearing a short jean skirt over leggings, a scarf, and sunglasses (my uniform) and a lip ring.  I bonded with a fellow coworker who couldn’t whistle (Matrika), was captivated by the good-looking boy who thought I smelled good (Tony), and started talking to the folks that I would be having giggle fits with at the same training next year (Kelly and Adam). This was truly the beginning of something beautiful.

I, honestly, cannot underestimate the power of McVay in my life! I built some of the closest relationships with other folks in McVay (including my significant other)! Really and truly, college would not have been what it was and I would not be who I am were it not for McVay. I worked with passionate people who “loved the kids” and so did I! And, my conversations with students and coworkers deepened my understanding and interest in social justice issues.

I remember when I was a member of Hamline’s Wesley scholars Jane came and talked to us about her political background and some of her experience. That was the first time I learned about Jane’s depth and expertise outside of her role with McVay. Jane uses her brilliance and talents to serve others and positively impact our community and country.  

Jane, of course, is the Director of the McVay Youth Partnership - mentoring over 50 amazing Hamline students yearly, who serve as Fellows and Interns working with urban middle and high school youth in partnership with area churches.  Jane graduated from Hamline University in 1974 with a degree in Psychology and Elementary Education, and completed her M.Ed. at the University of MN in Special Education. 

She taught elementary school in the Mounds View School District, was a stay-home mom for 9 years, and served as a Minnesota State Senator for a decade (1993-2002) where she served on the Education Committee for 10 years, and was selected Chair of the Environment and Agriculture Budget Division and subsequently the Chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. 

Jane is a mover and shaker – a true woman on a mission. She has had previous and current involvement in multiple groups and boards. She has served as the Regional Coordinator for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators and has been active in the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Jane served as conference coordinator for “Turning the Tides”, an international conference on chemical policy and its impact on Women’s Health for the Women’s Cancer Resource Center in Minneapolis in 2003-2004.  She currently serves on the board of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and is a Strategic Advisor for Conservation Minnesota.

In addition to her work at Hamline, Jane worked for 20 years for the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO), focusing on the inclusion of students with disabilities and English Language Learners in assessment and accountability.  And, she has worked at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis part-time for nearly 43 years.

Jane dearly loves her family (a son, two daughters, their spouses and a grand-daughter), as well as her McVay “family”.  She says McVay is the best job ever! (You and me both, Jane!) When she is not working, or spending time with family and friends, you can find her floating in her floating chair on Square Lake.

Jane has so many qualities I admire. She is dedicated to her student staff and the students served though McVay.  Jane is committed to hiring a diverse staff as she understands the importance of children seeing role models that look like them. She is also civically engaged and deeply committed to bettering our nation.  Additionally, I admire her extreme punctuality with letters of recommendation. Her quick turnaround time and willingness to write these is really an inspiration. (Seriously! It’s amazing and wonderful!)

Jane calls those of us who have worked for McVay her “McVay Family”. She travels around the country quite a bit and always makes every effort to see McVay alum when she’s in our cities. Unlike many folks, she does a superb job of keeping in touch with us.

Finally, Jane taught us something about programming with kids that I think is brilliant and applicable to all parts of life. When we were playing a game or doing an activity, she encouraged us to quit while it was still fun. Sometimes, you play a game till you’re sick of it and it’s not fun anymore. Her advice was to stop before you hit that point so the kids would leave on a high note and would look forward to playing it again. This is simple but really quite wise! And, I apply it to other parts of life, as well.

McVay was a major part of my growth into the woman I am today – lots of beautiful and hilarious moments sprinkled with a little heartbreak and challenge. I have Jane to thank for giving me the opportunity to be involved in this organization, supporting me while I worked for McVay, and staying in touch now that I’m an alum.

Read about Jane’s inspirations and advice below. .

What inspires you?

I am inspired by. . .
People who truly try to make a difference in this world
Positive, happy, caring people.
Generous, loving and thoughtful people.

I am particularly inspired by…
Children, youth and young adults
My own family and my “McVay” family
Persistent people who work to improve things, despite the odds.
Stewards of the land, air and water.

I am also inspired by…
The absolute beauty of a summer day, floating on my lake, listening to the loons call.
Snowy mornings sparkling with sunshine.
Art, music, and theater of many genres.

I am inspired by possibility.

Who are women in your life or throughout history who inspire you?

I am inspired by my daughters, Leah and Sarah, who are strong, smart, capable young women.  I’m incredibly proud of them and who they have grown to be.

I’m also inspired by many of my Hamline/McVay students, who have become like family to me. 

I’m particularly inspired by women in the Karen refugee community in Minnesota who have overcome so much, and remain caring, positive, generous and hard-working.

If you had one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be and why?

Surround yourself with positive people.  Don’t try to assuage the haters and those engulfed in negative energy.  Say goodbye kindly to them and move on. Life’s too short to spend time with people who suck the energy out of you. 

Enjoy some time in nature every day, or at the very least, as often as you possibly can.  Even on a cold winter night, if I come home late after working a couple of jobs, and stopping to pick up groceries- I try to stop and look at the stars, listen to the quiet of the night, watch the moonlight reflecting on the snow.  And, in summer, I can’t get enough of being outdoors. =)

Don’t judge others.  Everyone is who they are for a reason.  Cut them some slack. Give them a chance.  If they repeatedly mess up, then wish them well and say goodbye.  Life’s too short. 

Don’t sweat the small stuff. 

Love your children and family and friends with all of your heart. 

And, as cliché as it sounds, live everyday as though it were your last- and look for the good in everyone and every situation.


This March, I am celebrating all the amazing women around me! Sharing women who have influenced me and make up my personal history. As the month goes on, you can see all my Inspiring Women posts here!