Photo by Scott Demeranville

As you may know, in 2018 the Dark Clouds needed to formally separate board functions from the Wonderwall and create our own leadership structure. A group of about 15 people, representing all of the committees and other Dark Clouds, got together and met over the course of about six months to discuss, argue, and ultimately agree on the path forward.

This group agreed to a board structure. The board will be made up of one representative from each committee, typically the Chair or Co-Chair (SIGN UP HERE to get involved), as well as four at-large members elected by YOU the Dark Clouds members.

The election will take place online and the mechanism for that will be communicated on Thursday, February 28th (look for an email from the Dark Clouds). The election will open Thursday night and be open until Monday, March 4th at 11:59 pm. Also, make sure to attend the Dark Clouds Supporters Summit at Black Hart of Saint Paul on Thursday for $4 Summits and a chance to meet and hear from the candidates running for the board. I will say, we put out a call for nominations and we got some great candidates running.

Below are the Candidates and their answer to the question: Where do you see the Dark Clouds going in the next few years and what are 2-3 strategic things you want to see the Supporters Group focus on?

  • Julian Guilbeault – “I see this a growing living entity of soccer lovers in Minnesota. My plan would be to grow the following by doing freestyle soccer performances at soccer tournaments and building the next generation of Dark Clouds supports. I also would build relationships with local business. I have several other marketing strategies I would use to grow the following and supporter group.”
  • Zoey Peterson – “This is an exciting time to be a Dark Cloud, with so many changes for this coming season, there will be a need for people who are passionate about working together to continue to grow the organization, as well as, the partnerships within the community and the team. Along with that, I would like to focus on ways to get more involvement from members, as well as, focus on being a positive presence in the Midway community by continuing to truly embody “all fans welcome”. As someone relatively new to the Dark Clouds, I know first hand how intimidating it can be to jump in and get involved, but I also know how rewarding it can be. This past season, I met a lot of people and encouraged a bunch to become members and/or start volunteering. This season, I want to continue to meet even more people and discuss my experiences with making tifo, slinging merch, helping with the matchday experience, and volunteering with Silver Lining, in hopes to continue to recruit members and volunteers.”
  • Nachiket Karnik – “For the past six years I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know so many new friends through the Dark Clouds. It’s made me care deeply for this organization and its future. We are terrific soccer supporters but there is work to be done behind the scenes to strengthen the Dark Clouds
    The immediate goal for the Dark Clouds board is to work with membership to sort out what this organization’s core values are and to clearly communicate the same to the outside world. Once we can clearly state who the Dark Clouds are, it will be time to establish a strong sense of identity and attract new members who embrace our version of soccer support.
    Once that is done, we can move on to medium- to long-term priorities to establishing a strong pipeline of committed volunteers participating in non-gameday activities like tifo-building, committee activities and more. Another goal I would emphasize on the board is strengthening our strong merch to help ensure this organization’s financial stability and give our members gear to express their Dark Clouds pride.”
  • Andrew Wattenhofer – “1) Fix or re-do the logo and branding. 2) Establish control of finances, ensuring that the GBC is managing money EQUITABLY among the SGs it represents.”
  • Casey Mullan – “I think it is important for the Dark Clouds to maintain the “soccer for all” and “all are welcome” attitude that I think some other SGs lack. This to me means continuing to be welcoming to not only the people who have been a part of the group for years, but welcoming and encouraging the random people who sit in the section for one or a couple games a season, or the family with kids that love the game and the atmosphere of the section. I think this is the best opportunity for not only growth in numbers of the group but also the general culture of the group. Keeping it easy and low pressure for people to get involved with Silver Lining, Tifo, etc. will help this considerably in my opinion. Additionally, moving some watch parties to areas outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul proper to our other partners closer to suburbs I believe will get people out and encourage more interaction between current members and new members or potential new members. “
  • Karl Green – “As always, Dark Clouds should be to support our team and create a good atmosphere within the stadium. The vision is that the Dark Clouds becomes an umbrella organization that incorporates supporter subgroups of all persuasions. One main thing I would like to see is different supporters groups outside of the supporters section. Specifically a family friendly all-ages group. A big portion of this would be the need to expand away game ‘watch parties’ to outside of the sports bar scene. A place that both fans and families together. Second, I would like to see a more structured cheering and chant schedule. Perhaps at certain parts of the game, such as halftime, or second-half pushes doing a specific song that can be picked up by the entire crowd over the season. If we stick to a schedule for a handful of times during the game it gives other fans something to look forward to and follow. I look forward to continuing to be a part of the Dark Clouds, I hope to become more involved, however, if not then I will enjoy the games just as much! Go Loons!
  • Andy Reierson – “With the move to Allianz Field, we will be committed to integrating our presence into the St Paul-Midway community via our charitable wing, Silver Lining. As part of this, I’d love to kick start new long-term projects with our local partners that tangibly impact the Midway community. Silver Lining was recently recognized as Philanthropic Group of the Year by the Independent Supporters Council, and I am very proud of that. It’s a fantastic start, but it is by no means the capstone to our supporter-driven philanthropy efforts. My most memorable and rewarding supporter interactions have occurred at Silver Lining events, and it is my hope that I can encourage new members to seek out those experiences for themselves. Lastly, I want to make sure that the core reason for this group existing is not forgotten: making the Minnesota soccer supporter experience as fun, engaging, and uplifting as possible. It’s easy to say that, but I am committed to working hard within Dark Clouds and cooperatively with other Minnesota supporters groups to ensure we achieve it.”
  • Andrew Beck – “First I want to improve on the work the membership committee has been doing to reach out and engage with underrepresented communities. I will be the first to admit I should have done more of that as the head of the membership committee but we need to continue this important work. Second I want to do a deep dive and really understand the Dark Clouds financial situation, especially post GBC split, to ensure the group is on solid ground going forward (this is not a dig at Andy who has done a fabulous job as Treasurer). Along with that I want to find things to improve on our current business model and make sure it has the ability to scale to quickly, diversify and increase revenue to continue to do great things. The third thing I want to do work with and engage with all Dark Clouds, from the Board of Directors to committees to the general membership, especially with people from historically underrepresented communities, to help define what our group is and what be as we move into our next chapter as an organization. With the Wonderwall taking over some of the day to day operational tasks that have traditional fallen to Dark Cloud SG we have opportunity to shift some of our focus. This needs be driven by our grassroots members from the bottom up not come from the Board as top down directive but some ideas I had were creating the best match day experience from pregame during the 90 minutes and after the game, growing Silver Linings and increasing our impact in the community, additional creative and SG specific collaborations with local businesses (signature beer for example). One more behind the scenes thing I want the Board to focus is to strength and improve our relationship with the front office along with other supporters groups.”
  • Carrie Meyer – “I’d like to see the Supporters Group focus on developing activities aimed specifically at the fans who standing the Supporters Section alongside outreach to the fans in the rest of the stadium. People want to sing along and be “on the inside” but there’s been a disconnect. I’d also like to see the group expand from mostly Twin Cities focused membership/events to active participation across the region. For match days, the Dark Clouds and the other supporters groups should have visible ambassadors throughout the stadium on match days to help orient newbies and wannabes! Building on the successful community involvement Silver Lining has had would also be a goal of mine. I see the Dark Clouds as the major driver of the fan experience if/when the team might be under-performing on the field. The Dark Clouds can be an influential driver of the overall fan experience on match days and should be a notable contributor to the community, building support for soccer throughout the region.”
  • Samantha Solberg – “I am passionate about the mission of the Dark Clouds to create an open and inclusive supporters group and our commitment to serving the community through the Silver Lining. As a board member, I would help navigate the changes we are undergoing as a growing group, while constantly keeping this mission in mind. My priorities for the Dark Clouds in the next few years include welcoming new members to our group and working with other SGs to create a strong Wonderwall while maintaining and celebrating our own identity and history. Some specific strategic areas I would like to focus on include developing a system to track our growing membership, helping Silver Lining finish the process of becoming a 501c3 and successfully maintain this status, and establishing a commitment to transparency in leadership and decision-making with this new board. I am excited to be a part of the future of the Dark Clouds, entering our new era at Allianz Field.”
  • Philip Hult – “I believe the strategic focus of the DC should include: Maximize Game Day Experience by: a.) Engage fans outside of the “supporters sections” through direct outreach. b.) Provide a welcoming environment for all fans before, during, and after every home game.” c.) Ensure that visiting fans are overwhelmed with MN hospitality. & Prepare the organization for the future by a.) Identify and pursue future leaders by identifying capable individuals passionate about the organizations mission. b.) Identify and pursue revenue opportunities that are consistent with our mission in order to secure fiscal stability.”
  • Ryan J. Gilmer – “1-creating a footprint in the new venue., 2-making an advertisement or documentary film about the group., 3-showing how the group is important to the team outside of the team.”
  • Christian Fitchett – “Over the next few years, I believe the Dark Clouds can become the preeminent supporters group in MLS, known as much for its passionate, inclusive support on game day, as for strengthening and supporting the community of soccer throughout MN.  I am running for treasurer, as I would like to leverage my ~20 years of experience in marketing and finance to help strengthen the Dark Clouds.  The 3 areas I would like to see the Dark Clouds focus on over the next few years are: 1) strengthening partnerships with like-minded organizations to grow the love of soccer and do good in the community, (such as partnering with youth soccer organizations, like-minded corporations, and not-for-profits), 2) continue to strengthen the game day experience and grow our membership by making the Dark Clouds accessible to those in and outside of the Wonderwall, and 3) continue to broaden opportunities for our members to get involved and deepen their love of the game (opportunities related to game days, community involvement, as well as opportunities to learn more about and enjoy soccer beyond MNUFC).”

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