We are very excited to announce four new additions to the Minnestar Board of Directors: Antoinette Smith, Joel Crabb, Caroline Karanja, and Heather Mickman.  Each individual comes with a wealth of experience in their field, as well as a true passion for the Minnestar and the Minnesota technology community. They will join our dedicated board in continuing to help chart the strategic vision for Minnestar, our programming, and our mission.

Please take a moment to get to know them:



Antoinette Smith has been a part of the Twin Cities tech community since moving from her hometown of Chicago in December of 2010. She has worked in a variety of roles since that time, from solutions engineer to software engineer.

Antoinette is the co-founder of Techquity –a local organization focused on creating an inclusive tech economy for people of color in tech. She is also the co-owner of RawaySmith, a software/digital service company.

Since completing a dual masters in business and software engineering at the University of St. Thomas in 2017, Antoinette has finally found the time to return to her goal of completing 50 marathons in all 50 states (she has 15 so far).


Joel Crabb has served as Chief Architect for Minnesota’s two largest consumer goods retailers, Target and Best Buy. At Best Buy, Joel led the multiyear project that rebuilt BestBuy.com from scratch as a distributed cloud-based e-commerce platform. At Target, Joel has created the Target Retail Platform, a single unified view of how a retailer can build all its applications to function as a multi-channel entity. Joel has spent most of his working life building large scale software systems for enterprises in and around Minneapolis. He has worked in multiple industries and companies from startup medical devices, power utilities, health insurance, online banking, work force management, rail car commodity trading, online education, long haul trucking logistics, and currently, retail.

Joel has a BSEE from Washington University in St. Louis, a MSNE from the University of Wisconsin, and an MBA from the University of Minnesota.


Caroline Karanja is the founder and CEO of 26 Letters, a technology enabled equity and inclusion company. Using data, insight and learning opportunities, 26 Letters helps address equity in education and helps organizations understand and incorporate, diversity, equity and inclusion in their attraction, recruiting and advancement efforts. Caroline is also active in the local entrepreneurial and technology ecosystem. She is on the board of the U-YMCA and participates in the community to encourage more youth people to explore their entrepreneurial ventures.


Heather Mickman is VP Platform Engineering + Practices at Optum. Throughout her career, she has built APIs to unlock enterprise data, created awesome platforms, led Ops organizations, and built supply chain software for Fortune 50 companies. Heather has a passion for technology, building high performing teams, driving a culture of innovation, and having fun along the way.