Thursday, July 31, 2014

Emerson receives 2014 Leaders in Public Policy award

Politics in Minnesota and the Capitol Report have announced that Elizabeth Emerson (MPP '02)  has won a 2014 Leaders in Public Policy award in the One to Watch category.

Emerson, director of government relations at the public affairs firm Goff Public, helped pass a landmark criminal justice law (exoneree compensation statute on behalf of the Minnesota Innocence Project), and a major human services reform initiative on behalf of the Minnesota Association of County Social Service Administrators.

A program recognizing honorees was held Thursday, July 17 at the St. Paul Hotel.

Originally from Hawarden, IA, Emerson graduated from the University of Michigan and received a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She currently resides in Saint Paul’s West 7th neighborhood.

For more information on Leaders in Public Policy, visit this website.

Larson to lead the Office of Medical Cannabis

The Minnesota Department of Health has hired Michelle Larson (MPA '07) to lead the Office of Medical Cannabis that will implement and administer Minnesota's new medical marijuana program.

Larson starts as director Aug. 13. She was most recently deputy director of the health department's Office of Statewide Health Improvement, where she managed tobacco, obesity and nutrition programs. Before that she managed the state's medical supply and resource management programs in the Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Read the full article here.

Photo courtesy of Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Minnesota Chamber names Blazar interim president

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's board named Bill Blazar (MA '80) the interim replacement for its late longtime president, David Olson.

The Chamber said Wednesday that Bill Blazar will fill in while the board searches for a successor to Olson, who died of cancer July 16.

Blazar, previously the chamber's senior vice president of public affairs and business development, joined the St. Paul-based organization in 1992.

Read the full article here.

Photo courtesy of Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Taylor appointed lead of Minneapolis Community and Economic Development Department

D. Craig Taylor (MPA ‘06) has been appointed the lead of the Minneapolis Community and Economic Development Department (CPED) by Mayor Betsy Hodges. CPED is in charge of overseeing everything from guiding the city’s development investments to advising the council on planning.

Taylor is currently the director of the business and community economic development office at the University of Minnesota.

Read the article about his nomination in the Star Tribune.

Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Kosek and Prahl join Aurora Consulting

Kristine Kosek (MPA ‘13) and Lexi Prahl (MURP ‘14) are now working together on a team at Aurora Consulting. Aurora links principles from nonprofit organizational management as well as leadership development to create a training program to help guide clients into implementing their own management system into their organizations.

Lexi has been working with Aurora since last September as a part-time associate consultant. Now she is full-time and is bringing in her knowledge of planning processes that she learned while studying at the Humphrey School.

Kristine is the newest member of the team and will be a senior consultant. She has 15 years of experience with community and business development as well as strategic planning.

Connect with Kristine and Lexi on LinkedIn.

Ekeberg Joins American Refugee Committee

Julia Ekeberg (MPP ‘14) recently joined the American Refugee Committee (ARC) as a program assistant in June of 2014. ARC is an international nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian support to 10 countries around the world. ARC helps to provide shelter, health care, skills training, protection, as well as education to those who have lost everything due to circumstances out of their control.

Before joining ARC, Julia was a program evaluation and audit intern at the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities. She also spent two years working in the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa.

Connect with Julia on LinkedIn.

Mac Arthur joins Greater Twin Cities United Way

Andrea Mac Arthur (MPP ‘12) became an account executive for the Greater Twin Cities United Way in July 2014. United Way is an organization that helps children succeed, stabilizes families, and enables healthy lives by confronting poverty on a communal level.

Before joining United Way, Andrea was the senior manager of corporate relations at Community Heath Charities Minnesota where she developed and maintained relationships with national and local clients within health charities.

Connect with Andrea on LinkedIn.

Hartzell joins Martin, Arrington, Desai & Meyers

Brent Hartzell (MA ‘94) is now a consultant at Martin, Arrington, Desai & Meyers. The firm was developed to help both businesses as well as individuals with auditing, accounting, and taxation. Brent’s position will involve providing management and fiscal consultation to the government of American Samoa with more projects forthcoming.

Previously, Brent was the interim budget director for the City of Detroit. Brent helped to implement an operational budget as well as helping to prepare the mayor’s executive budget. Brent has also held positions at Sallie Mae as director of public policy and at the U.S Department of Education.

Connect with Brent on LinkedIn.

Engh joins City of Minneapolis

Rachel Engh (MURP ‘13) became the arts, culture and creative economy program associate for the City of Minneapolis in April 2014. Rachel’s main job is to facilitate a citywide cultural planning process.

Before beginning her new job, Rachel held numerous internships involving arts and culture. She was a creative city making intern at Intermedia Arts and also held an internship at Tunheim Partners where she wrote media alerts and press releases.

Connect with Rachel on LinkedIn.

Spoonheim joins HealthPartners

Joel Spoonheim (MPlan ‘98) is the new director of health promotion for HealthPartners. Joel will be leading the health promotion segment of the company and managing department activities. He is responsible for the development and support of the department with long-range plans meant to support the growth of the department’s objectives.

Previously, Joel was the executive director of community programs at Healthways. He was also involved in numerous other health groups including Spoonheim Group and Blue Zones.

Connect with Joel on LinkedIn.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dong Joins the China Center

Chuqing Dong (MPP ‘14) is now the training program assistant at the China Center at the University of Minnesota. Chuqing will be helping to arrange events and training programs, as well as researching and contacting potential speakers and lecturers.

Previously, Chuqing took part in multiple public relations internships including the office of Governor Mark Dayton, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, and the Taobao Marketplace.

Connect with Chuqing on LinkedIn.

Promotion for Whyte

Amelious Whyte (MA ‘97) is now the senior associate vice provost for advocacy and support at the Office for Student Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Amelious has many responsibilities including making sure the Office for Student Affairs meets the needs of graduate and professional students as well as serving as a member of the office’s leadership team.

Amelious’s education experience includes many years of working directly for various senior student affairs officers, in addition to several years of experience providing sexual assault prevention education, adjudicating violations of the Student Conduct Code, coordinating chemical health education for students, working for the University's Board of Regents, and teaching and mentoring students in leadership. 

Connect with Amelious on LinkedIn.

Hampton Joins Zan Associates

Kadence Hampton (MURP '14), joined Zan Associates as an associate in March of 2014. Zan Associates is a woman-owned company whose goal is to help build communities and neighborhoods with the use of assignments that engage people in conversations about public policy while providing quality services and products to their clients.

As a student, Kadence was previously a diversity committee research assistant at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She has also done work as an intern for the Metropolitan Council, Minnesota Brownfields, and St. Edward’s University.

Connect with Kadence on LinkedIn.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Johnson Opens New Restaurant in Minneapolis

Ben Johnson (MPA '10) is reviving Town Talk Diner, an East Lake Street landmark in Minneapolis, with his with Emilie. It is scheduled to open on September 13, 2014. They were recently featured in a Star Tribune article.

The article reads in part:

After a depressing three-year hiatus, the historic Town Talk Diner is going to be back in business.

The East Lake Street landmark – dark since January 2011 – is being revived by spouses Emilie Cellai Johnson and Ben Johnson, and being re-christened Le Town Talk French Diner & Drinkery.

Emilie has culinary and hotel/restaurant management degrees from her native Marseille. After working in a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower in Paris, she relocated to the Twin Cities for a job at the Hotel Sofitel, where she met chef Patrick Bernet. She helped Bernet and his wife Azita open their Patrick’s Bakery & Cafe, then spent the last decade working in restaurant sales for Reinhard Food Service.

Ben is a D’Amico and Partners veteran and is currently a real estate project developer with the Neighborhood Development Center, a non-profit small-business incubator that revitalizes low-income neighborhoods. The couple has been scouting sites for two years before finally landing the Town Talk.

“It’s the right space for us, it’s such a perfect fit,” said Cellai Johnson. “We have a small budget, and we needed an existing kitchen, we couldn’t afford to build from scratch. We love the neighborhood. It’s full of younger families, and that’s what who we are, and who we want to serve.”

The Town Talk’s status as a diner was another key attraction.

“By being a diner previously, we have the opportunity to keep it casual,” said Cellai Johnson. “We want to redefine French food. You say ‘French restaurant,’ and people get scared, they think that they won’t be able to afford it, that it will be too fancy.”

Not here. “We’ll be using all of my family recipes, from my French mother and Italian grandmother,” said Cellai Johnson. “I’ll put my spin on them to make it modern, but it will still be the classic comfort food that we made at home. Eating at home is accessible to everyone.”

Read the entire Star Tribune article.

Photo courtesy of the Star Tribune.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Walz selected to advance in Minnesota Cup

Candi Walz (MPP '09) was recently selected as one of 70 teams to advance in the Minnesota Cup for her project, Let's Talk Kids: BrainBuilders, A Playing and Learning Kit, that was part of the Social Division of the contest. The Minnesota Cup is an annual competition that seeks to support and accelerate the development of the best breakthrough ideas from across Minnesota.

Excerpts from the June 9, 2014 press release follow:

MINNEAPOLIS — June 9, 2014 — The Minnesota Cup announced today that it has advanced 70 teams of Minnesota-based entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators to the second round of the 2014 competition. A new record total of nearly 1300 participants submitted entries to the tenth annual Minnesota Cup, which is the largest statewide new venture competition in the country. The following semifinalists, in seven divisions, will now compete for a share of $300,000 in prizes, as well as the opportunity to make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.

Thirty-four percent of the tenth annual Minnesota Cup entries came from women-led teams, while a total of 45 percent included entries with at least one female team member — the largest representation of female participants in the competition’s history, due in part to two new programs launched earlier this year by the Minnesota Cup and the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship to encourage more women to get involved in entrepreneurship, as well as the competition.

The Minnesota Cup’s semifinalists were chosen from a wide range of small businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors who entered in the following divisions: Food/Agriculture/Beverage, Energy/Clean Tech/Water, General, High Tech, Life Science/Health IT, Social and Student. These semifinalists will now have the chance to put together a detailed business plan with the help of the competition’s mentor network, take advantage of a free one-month PRO membership to Cafe, Inc., meet members of the Cup’s review board, as well as attend events organized by Cup partners.

The 2014 semifinalists will be honored on June 18 at a reception at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management by contest organizers — including Minnesota Cup co-founders Scott Litman and Dan Mallin, review board members, mentors and partners, in addition to past Minnesota Cup finalists and winners.

“Minnesota has long been an incubator for innovation, and the Minnesota Cup harnesses that innovative spirit with the help of our extensive local business network,” says Minnesota Cup co-founder Scott Litman. “Our goal is always to find the great ideas of the future and help transform them into the next successful, Minnesota-based companies. And this year’s strong applicant pool is no exception — we’re so excited to see what will develop through the summer.”

Sage-Martinson named Planning and Economic Development Director of St. Paul

SAINT PAUL – Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman today announced the appointment of Jonathan Sage-Martinson (MA '98) as the City’s new Planning and Economic Development (PED) Director. With more than 15 years of community and economic development experience, including serving as the Director of the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, Sage-Martinson succeeds Cecile Bedor, who left May 8 to serve as Executive Vice President of Greater MSP. Sage-Martinson will assume his duties as PED Director on August 4.
“There is incredible momentum in Saint Paul right now and I am confident that Jonathan will be able to hit the ground running, working with stakeholders in all sectors of the planning and economic development community to continue the City’s proactive, business-friendly approach to innovation and growth,” said Mayor Coleman. “Jonathan is also committed to the values I believe are essential to making our City the most livable – including viewing planning and economic development opportunities through the lens of equity, sustainability and innovation.”

Sage-Martinson will bring extensive background in community development and nonprofit management to the city. In addition to playing a significant role in the Green Line project during his six years at the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, Sage-Martinson served as Executive Director of SPARC, Associate Director of the Green Institute and has also played key roles in sustainable economic development collaborations such as the Phalen Corridor Initiative and the Great Northern Corridor.

“Under Mayor Coleman’s leadership, the City of Saint Paul is consistently reaching out to a broad coalition of economic development stakeholders – from the business and development community, to the non-profit community, to the state and federal government and beyond, looking to create synergies and build the most livable city," Sage-Martinson said. "I am excited to work with him, the experts within PED and leaders in the wider community to continue the momentum here in Saint Paul.”

Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Matt Kramer said, “Jonathan brings an energy and dedication to inclusive and innovative development, which served us well on the Green Line. We are excited for him to bring those skills to other developments in the city – like Ford, Macy's and our unique neighborhoods."

Sage-Martinson, a Saint Paul resident, holds leadership positions on several community boards, including the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies Executive Committee, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s Local Advisory Board, and Advocates for Human Rights Board of Directors. Sage-Martinson earned a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Minnesota, with dual concentrations in community economic development and nonprofit management.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Neighborhood Community Relations Welcomes Ahmed

Abdirashid Ahmed (MPP '13) recently joined the City of Minneapolis's Neighborhood Community Relations team as an East African community specialist.

Abdirashid is a public policy analyst and has previously worked with public assistance programs in Ramsey, Hennepin and Dakota Counties. He has also worked with Metropolitan Council and Lutheran Social Services. He has a master’s degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and an undergraduate degree in human services administration from Metropolitan State University.

Connect with Abdirashid at

Igoye awarded UMN's Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals

Agnes Igoye is a senior immigration officer and training manager in the Government of Uganda's Ministry of International Affairs, where she provides expertise on migration issues and human trafficking to various local and international organizations including the United Nations Development Program, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the International Office for Migration.

Igoye holds a bachelor's degree in social sciences and a master's degree in sociology from Makerere University in Kampala. She earned a Postgraduate Diploma in management from the Uganda Management Institute and was a 2010-2011 Humphrey Fellow of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. In 2011 she was selected to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual meeting that brings together heads of state, Nobel Prize laureates, non-governmental organizations, and major philanthropists to discuss pressing global challenges.

Igoye is the founder of numerous organizations designed to improve the lives of women and children worldwide. Her projects include the initiative "Huts for Peace," which constructs shelters for women whose homes were destroyed in war-torn communities, and "Coming Home," a rehabilitation center that provides assistance to orphaned children, some of whom were abducted and trafficked by the Lord's Resistance Army. In addition she has trained thousands of law enforcement officers worldwide to bring attention to key migration and human rights issues.

Igoye has stayed connected to the University of Minnesota by mentoring Humphrey School students through the Global Mentor Program. She has also served as a resource to students interested in Uganda or her work, and participated in the selection of the 2012 and 2014 Fulbright Humphrey Fellows. She has worked with the Minneapolis organization Books for Africa to send thousands of books to Kampala to encourage literacy education.

In naming Ms. Igoye as a recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals, the selection committee cited her inspirational and active leadership on human rights and on behalf of marginalized communities and her bright future in Uganda and worldwide.

The Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals is a University-wide award for alumni, former students, and friends of the University who have distinguished themselves in their post-university work as leaders in their professional careers.

This award may be conferred on alumni, former students, and friends of any campus (current or former) of the University. Individuals will have attained unusual distinction as professionals in their careers within institutions or in public service and have either demonstrated sustained outstanding achievement and leadership, or demonstrated promise of such on a local, national, or international level.

Originally published on Global Notes.

Koenigs joins UMF

The University of Minnesota Foundation is pleased to welcome Clark Koenigs (MPP '13) as the new technology support analyst.

Clark joins UMF with a strong technical and customer service background from Target and the Minnesota Center for Energy and the Environment. Clark earned his master’s of public policy degree with a concentration in science, technology and environmental policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government from Iowa State University.

Connect with Clark on LinkedIn.