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Our Board 


Milin Dutta is a founding member of Out in the backyard and Xukia (LGBTQ organization in Assam, India). Working as an IT professional (“to feed my stomach”) and a community organizer (“to feed my soul”), Milin Dutta builds connections both in the Twin Cities and India. “Every time I come back to the U.S.A., I feel lonely,” Dutta says. “I feel our LGBTQ community is disconnected and has lots of high risk activities. I want to build community, where gay or straight, black or white or brown, we all could be together.” In 1994, Dutta came to the U.S. with $500 in hand and two suitcases and has since risen to become an activist in South Minneapolis, organizing an annual fundraiser that supports women’s economic empowerment and organic farming in rural Assam, India. “In everything I do, I stay focused on a healthy LGBTQ community in South Minneapolis and women’s empowerment in Assam,” Dutta says. “These are the two most important areas to my life…they are my passion.” Dutta’s dream is to build bridges between Minneapolis and Assam, creating a healthier community in both locations. “I am going to open a space for the LGBTQ community here in South Minneapolis and in my home town, Assam.”

Marta Knutson

Community Board member and co-founder

Marta Knutson is a founding Member of Out in the Backyard. A native Minnesotan who left the state for several years, Marta Knutson graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, having studied in Argentina, Brazil and Italy. She found herself back in the U.S. with a job in New Mexico and eventually came back to Minnesota to settle in Minneapolis.

Marta’s commitment to the neighborhood goes back over 15 years, having been on the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association for two years. Marta has been with OIBY since its onset after getting a call from Milin Dutta asking that she be a part of a group that would assist in helping the queer community in our “backyard”. 

Marta Knutson owns a real estate company in South Minneapolis, along with being  a local landlord and home renovator. She is proud to be a part of the local community.

Marta’s vision for OIBY as a group and for the short term is figuring out how we can fundraise to sustain the successful programming we’ve been offering over the last several years. Long term goals could include having a full time or part time employee, growing our numbers of participants and classes that are offered, and potentially branching out into additional programs for the community outside of fitness classes.


Janet Dahlem

Community Board member 

Has been a leader with the project for more than 10 years. Has been an out and proud lesbian for more than 40 years and has been involved in civil rights and social just work for just as long.  She loves to Zumba with Out in the Backyard, engage in community activism, and gardening. Lives with her long-time partner in South Minneapolis. Janet knows that taking care of oneself is a radical act. Her day job is a professor at St Catherine University in the graduate program in Holistic Health Studies.


Bernice Arias

Community Board member

Bernice Arias - A native New Yorker of Puerto Rican heritage living in Minnesota over 28 years.  The first 20 years lived in the NW suburbs of Minneapolis and moved to the city after realizing it is where she belongs.   While living in the suburbs she spent most of her free time helping and communing with inner city folk.

Her commitment to the neighborhood where she currently resides goes back about 8 years.  First, as an instructor at the YWCA. She made connections and volunteered time to help with social justice issues,  physical health activities for Somali women and connect with members of the LGBTQ community which brought her to meet the founding members of OIBY.

Bernice is a corporate compliance manager by day and a Zumba instructor  and people connector by night.

Bernice’s vision for OIBY is to continue offering classes and opportunities for healthier lives within the LGBTQ community; especially for those individuals who have limited financial resources.  She is looking to learn more about how we can connect to other resources so that OIBY can obtain the funding it needs to continue to offer classes and expand our footprint in the community

Emily Allgeyer

Community Board member

Emily Allgeyer began attending Out in the Backyard classes in 2015, when she found out they were happening in Powderhorn Park, her front yard. After she offered to help out, she was recruited to the board and is looking forward to making Out in the Backyard classes available to more people in South Minneapolis and beyond.

Emily has a degree in Russian Language and Literature from the University of Minnesota. She works in a bookstore, and serves on her cooperative housing board, as well as volunteering with the Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society. She enjoys reading and hiking, and has spent three cumulative months of her life alone in the forest.


Larissa Bailey

Community Board member


Palani Pozzani

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