Friday, October 30, 2015

Lynch moves to DC

Sarah Lynch (MPP ‘01) has recently returned to Washington, DC after living and working in St. Paul, MN for a little over a year. She recently began working at with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, as its director of performance, evaluation, and planning. As such, she leads several teams in running the agency’s strategic and annual planning; directing evaluations; and overseeing internal management controls and GAO/IG audit liaison activities.


Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.         

Mortensen joins Minnesota Council on Foundations

Katina Mortensen (MPP ‘11) is now a program manager at the Minnesota Council on Foundations. She was previously a program manager at Grassroots Solutions.


Connect with Katina on LinkedIn.

Scherpelz starts at Minnesota International Center

JB Scherpelz (MDP ‘13) is now the corporate relations officer for the Minnesota International Center (MIC). MIC is an organization that has provided rich and varied opportunities for individuals from Minnesota and around the world to serve as citizen diplomats and to gain a deeper understanding or their place in the world community.

Previously, JB worked at Sivo Insights as the director of business development and research consultant.

Connect with JB on LinkedIn.

Daggett Passes Away

Becca Vargo Daggett (MS-STEP ‘04) passed away on October 17th, 2015. Read the full obituary below.

Becca Vargo Daggett was happiest when she felt she was making a difference, and she wasn’t shy about getting involved.

“She’d be the one in the room to notice the person standing in the corner who looked worried, or the child who wasn’t playing,” said husband Paul Daggett. “She’d draw them out and find out what they needed.”

As an activist and researcher, she applied that same sense of concern to a long list of Twin Cities community groups and organizations. Daggett, of St. Louis Park, died peacefully on Oct. 17 after a long illness. She was 43.

Daggett grew up in Mound. She spent her teen years with her family near Heidelberg, Germany, then studied philosophy and social anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin, and the University of Minnesota. She earned a master’s degree in public policy at the Humphrey Institute, where her faculty adviser was former U President Ken Keller.

David Morris, a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and director of its Public Good Initiative, hired Daggett fresh out of the U in 2003. Initially, she was charged with working on energy issues, but in 2005 Minneapolis issued a request for proposals to develop a privately owned wireless network. Morris said Daggett was concerned that the city had decided to embrace private ownership without analysis or public hearings, and she plunged into the issue.

“Becca was extraordinary,” said Morris. “She was dogged, spirited, dedicated and unafraid of taking on the unknown. She had a … keen sense of right and wrong and an innate ability to empathize with those on the outside.”

Daggett believed public ownership was a better option for the city and became an advocate for municipal networks, helping launch ILSR’s Municipal Broadband initiative, which has gained international recognition and influence.

“Becca faced significant challenges in her quest to try to change Minneapolis’ mind,” said Morris. “She had to educate people about a complex and intimidating technology. She had to assure people that public ownership was possible and profitable. And she had to do this in the face of criticism that often bordered on outright condescension from corporate representatives and city officials who dismissed her because of her youth, and possibly her gender. She never lost her poise or wavered in her determination.”

Daggett was also a world-class multitasker. She was a member of the Seward Neighborhood Association, was part of the first caucus to elect Keith Ellison and was a supporter of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. She was an early booster of MinnPost, a nonprofit news organization, and City Council Member Cam Gordon asked her to serve on the city’s Capital Long-Range Improvement Committee (CLIC,) which reviews capital budget requests for the city.

Daggett also believed that people needed to vote with their pocketbook, so in 2007 she started training to become a financial adviser with a focus on helping people make socially conscious investments. Until 2011 she was a financial planner for UBS.

In the midst of embarking on her new career, Daggett embraced a new challenge at home. Paul’s parents both had Alzheimer’s, but were living separately in the same facility in Phoenix. So in 2009, Paul and Becca moved into a larger house with room for his parents so they could live out their final years together. With a toddler at home, Becca was a full-time caregiver until they died.

The experience inspired Daggett to advocate for and promote alternate forms of caring for seniors at home. She lent her support to a free Minnesota information service called Senior LinkAge Line by writing essays about her experience as a caregiver.

“She was happiest advocating for things that would change people’s lives for the better,” said Paul. “She was a crusader.”

In addition to her husband and son, Max, Daggett is survived by her mother, Cynthia Vargo, sister Abbey and two nephews.

A private family service has been held.


Originally posted by the StarTribune.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Musaifer pursues Ph.D.

Sara Musaifer (MPP ’11) was recently awarded an Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC) Graduate Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in Comparative and International Development Education (CIDE) at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities.

Previously, Sara was the Head of International Organizations Unit at the Bahrain Institute for Political Development in Manama, Bahrain.


Connect with Sara on LinkedIn.

Thao joins St. Olaf College

Pa Thao (MPP ‘14) is now the institutional research and effectiveness (IR&E) associate for St. Olaf College. She will be providing technical, organizational, and analytical support for institutional research as well as effectiveness activities across the college. She will also be designing, conducting, and reporting on research and analysis that supports institutional decision-making and effectiveness.


Connect with Pa on LinkedIn.

Nix joins Ramsey County

Noel Nix (MURP ‘10) has accepted an appointment to the office of Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter as her principal assistant. He will be advising the commissioner on policy as well as providing constituent service support. He will also be representing the commissioner within the community.

Previously, Noel was the outreach coordinator for the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities where he provided public outreach support to the Metropolitan Transportation Services division of the council.


Connect with Noel on LinkedIn.

Baltazar wins NextGov Bold Award

James Baltazar (MURP ‘12) won a 2015 NextGov Bold Award for a small contractor project that he created and managed with staff from HUD and BusinessUSA. The project created a website for federal grantees to post bid opportunities in one central space online and a module on the BusinessUSA mobile app for Android and iOS devices to notify app users when bid opportunities are available in their area. The NextGov Bold Awards selects winners who have taken strategic risks to boost their agency’s technological prowess.

James is currently a senior management analyst with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Minneapolis.

Connect with James on LinkedIn.