Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 50 Women Leaders of Minnesota for 2023. With endless natural beauty, a multitude of job opportunities, and great affordability, Minnesota continues to be a desirable place for professionals with its thriving workforce. In fact, as of April, Minnesota boasts one of the country’s lowest unemployment rates, at just 2.4%, compared to the national average of 3.5%. This year’s awardees are leaders in some of the nation’s most well-known organizations including Target, Best Buy, 3M, U.S. Bank, and more. These leaders are visionaries, strategists, and role models. Their guidance and leadership are vital to the development and success of the organizations they serve.
Among this year’s awardees is Amelia Hardy, Chief Inclusion, Diversity, and Talent Officer and SVP at Best Buy, who oversees the company’s strategy for creating and sustaining a more equitable environment and workforce, and is responsible for building an inclusive culture company-wide that is representative of its customers. Awardee Trudi Noel Trysla, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel at Fairview Health Services develops Fairview’s overall legal strategy and leads its adherence to federal and state law and health care public policy. Also awarded is Melissa Carmichael, Vice President of North American Growth at Seedz, a renowned global thought leader in agriculture who is dedicated to revolutionizing the agribusiness sector.
Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 50 Women Leaders of Minnesota for 2023.
3. Amelia Hardy
Chief Inclusion, Diversity, & Talent Officer & SVP, Best Buy
Amelia Hardy is the Chief Inclusion, Diversity, and Talent Officer and Senior Vice President at Best Buy. In this role, she oversees the company’s strategy for creating and sustaining a more equitable environment and workforce, both at Best Buy and in the communities they serve, and is responsible for building an inclusive culture company-wide that is also representative of the customers that they serve. Her responsibilities include ID&E, talent acquisition, and ESG coordination.
Most recently, she served as Best Buy’s VP of strategic community engagement, guiding the company’s work to connect with the community and drive change with external partners in multiple areas of ESG. She has also served in several other leadership positions at Best Buy, including senior director of health partnerships and director of brand marketing.
Prior to joining Best Buy in 2014, Amelia held a variety of leadership roles at Fortune 100 companies, including 14 years at 3M. Her career experiences include marketing, strategy, brand management, p&l management, and product commercialization.
She currently serves on multiple national and community boards including the Boys & Girls Club of the Twin Cities, MEDA, The Cowles Center, the Northside Achievement Zone, and Minnesota Community Care. Amelia earned her bachelor’s degree from Xavier University of Louisiana and has an MBA from Tulane University. She has been honored as one of the Top 100 national leaders in DEI, Power 50, and Notable Executives in the Twin Cities.
4. Beth Picha
VP & Client Partner for North America, Applaudo
Beth Picha is the Vice President and Client Partner for North America at Applaudo, where she leads a team that helps clients achieve their technology roadmaps through innovation and efficient operational excellence. She works closely with clients to establish objectives and enable the consistent delivery of Applaudo's value.
With over 18 years of experience in client-facing roles in sales, field management, and marketing, Beth has a proven track record of delivering large-scale business and technology changes. Her areas of expertise include complex business transformation, increased revenue and value, Go-to-market strategy and execution, and change management.
Beth is also extremely passionate about education. She is currently an adjunct professor for Concordia University's MBA program, where she imparts her knowledge and experience to the next generation of business leaders and is active in her children's community education board through the Grants and Scholarships Committee, as well as a member of the Women's Advisory board for the Women in Leadership program with Mankato State University
5. Melissa Voigt
Vice President of Client Success, WebMD Health Services
Melissa Voigt is the Vice President of Client Success at WebMD Health Services, a global well-being company that designs well-being programs for large employers, the public sector, health plans, and health systems. In this role, she leads a highly tenured client success team that partners with clients to deploy comprehensive well-being solutions. Melissa has built a 20-year career in the well-being industry and is passionate about helping organizations create well-rounded programs that drive population health behavior change. Starting her career as a personal health coach and evolving into providing clients with strategic consultation on their well-being program design, she has had a storied career and found success in dedicated well-being program management, account management, and account operations.
Melissa was with StayWell before WebMD where she served in various roles and was responsible for new client acquisition, client expansion, account management, and dedicated well-being program management. Before that, Melissa held progressive account strategy, program management, and operations roles at HealthPartners, where she led the delivery of integrated health and well-being solutions for the health plan's employer clients. She holds an undergraduate degree in biological sciences from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
6. Kristi Einhorn
Chief of Staff, Medtronic
Kristi Einhorn is the Chief of Staff and leads Integrated Business Planning for Enabling Technologies at Medtronic, the team responsible for advancing the standard of care for people living with cranial and spinal conditions worldwide. In this role, Einhorn aligns strategic, operational, and financial goals while balancing investments to accelerate innovation across the Enabling Technologies product portfolio. This work enables Medtronic’s mission to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life for patients around the globe.
Before her current role, Einhorn held leadership positions in strategy, marketing, finance, and operations, heading global teams across industries including retail, healthcare, financial services, and government. She is known for her results-oriented problem solving, building inclusive teams, and attracting, keeping, and advancing diverse talent. Additionally, her community involvement supports the development of the next generation to gain the skills needed to thrive in an increasingly complex and culturally diverse global society.
She served honorably as a captain in the United States Air Force and is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and Project Management Professional. She holds a Master of Science in Aerospace from the University of North Dakota and an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of St. Thomas.
7. Angela Volk
US Vice President of Sales, Medical Solutions Division, 3M
Angela Volk grew up in rural North Dakota and received her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from North Dakota State University and her MBA in marketing from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. She has spent her career in the medical device industry across several functions, including R&D, marketing, medical affairs, sales, and sales operations, and across several disease states including cardiology, urology, and wound care.
Angela currently serves as the US Vice President of Sales in the Medical Solutions Division of 3M. From products designed to protect and support patients along their surgical journey, hospital stay, or clinic visit, to leading innovations in negative pressure wound therapy, surgical incision management, infection prevention, sterilization assurance, advanced wound care, and skin integrity, 3M Medical Solutions Division is focused on addressing these challenges and meeting the needs of patients every day.
While Angela has a unique cross-functional background, her greatest strength lies in culture creation and developing high-performance leaders. Her most rewarding endeavors lie in developing high-potential women, whether through direct coaching/mentoring, creating networks or platforms where women can encourage and support each other, or demonstrating by example that achieving is possible for anyone willing to take risks, have leadership courage and believe in their ability to figure things out.
8. Sonja Dusil
SVP of Commercial Development & National Sales Leader, United Properties
In her role as Senior Vice President of Commercial Development and National Sales Leader, Sonja Dusil oversees the development of built-to-suit and pre-leased office properties in Minnesota, Colorado, and Texas. She also handles dispositions for all company assets including sales strategies, timing, and selection of investment sales teams, and oversees all negotiations through to closings.
Sonja joined United Properties in 2022 with more than 20 years of real estate industry experience. Before United Properties, Sonja served as SVP for CBRE as part of the Instructional Capital Markets Team specializing in the sales of office and industrial assets and assisting clients with sourcing equity for development and JV partnerships. She also served as an executive director of brokerage services for Cushman Wakefield Northmarq where she focused on the Minneapolis market.
Sonja served as the President of NAIOP Minnesota in 2015 in addition to serving on the board and holding a variety of committee chair positions and is currently a NAIOP National Forum member. She has been a recipient of numerous awards and accolades throughout her career. She earned her undergraduate degree in business and marketing from the University of Northern Iowa. Sonja is a licensed real estate broker in Minnesota.
9. Carrie Ackerman
VP & Program Director, U.S. Bank
Carrie Ackerman is a Vice President and Director of the Workplace Violence Prevention & Internal Fraud Investigations Programs at U.S. Bank. She built and currently manages an enterprise-wide Workplace Violence Prevention Program and Team at the bank. Carrie also leads an enterprise-wide Internal Fraud and Sales Misconduct Investigations Team and Program.
Carrie has extensive experience leading multidisciplinary teams of professionals. She managed Target Corporation's Threats of Workplace Violence Program and led their Threat Assessment Team for five years prior to joining U.S. Bank. She is on the advisory council for the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators and is currently the VP of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals' Great Lakes Chapter after terming out of the president role. Carrie has represented Target at summits on workplace violence, suicide prevention, and domestic violence; and has presented nationally and internationally on behalf of Target and U.S. Bank. She has worked with corporations, law firms, advertising agencies, governments, schools, and nonprofit organizations in North America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
Carrie taught English and Spanish in Prague, Czech Republic. She also worked at a law firm in Rome, Italy, assisting with European Commission projects, and has clerked for the Chamber of Commerce in Bilbao, Spain. Carrie graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a degree in international relations and public relations. She obtained her JD at Hamline University School of Law and is a licensed attorney in the State of Minnesota. Carrie has practiced criminal defense and immigration law throughout the state.
View the complete list of awardees.
10. Miriam Chickering
CEO, Ulrich and Ruth Frank Foundation
Founder, Nurses International
Miriam Chickering the CEO of the Ulrich and Ruth Frank Foundation for International Health (known online as NextGenU.org) and the Founder of Nurses International. The key programs she directs include The Addiction Training for Health Professionals Program, Humanitarian U, Public Health U, and STEPS (STEM teacher/student Education for Primary Schools).
Chickering specializes in globally scaled solutions for healthcare and education. The NextGenU.org platform freely provides learning materials through >2,000 institutions and in every country, while Nurses International creates free, critically needed learning materials for nurses in over 120 countries. Humanitarian U has trained over 30,000 humanitarians globally, and Public Health U trains 150+ Masters-Level Public Health students each year from 50 countries. She is the director of the Addiction Training for Health Professionals Program, which focuses on training physicians in substance use disorders, and provides this training to users in medical schools and other audiences throughout the United States and globally. STEPS is an active research project in Benin, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo that serves teachers and more than 10,000 primary school students in four school systems. To achieve positive outcomes with scaled solutions, Chickering builds and manages competent, responsive, courageous teams that empower recognized leaders in healthcare and education to identify and address the wickedly difficult problems that prevent the emergence of health and education equity for all people.
Recent accolades include Chickering receiving the 2021 Humanitarian Service Award for
Transformative Global Leadership in Democratizing Education from NHSD/Humanitarian Pakistan and for co-authored research she led, which received the 2021 Translating Science into Nursing Education award from Sigma Theta Tau with the US Nurses’ honor society.
11. Shanda H. Blackmon
Medical Director of User Experience, Mayo Clinic
Shanda H. Blackmon is a minimally invasive thoracic surgeon. She completed her cardiothoracic surgery residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. She was awarded the clinical instructorship position in thoracic surgical oncology at MDACC until she was recruited to build and lead the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Houston Methodist Hospital. Dr. Blackmon was chief of Thoracic Surgery at Houston Methodist Hospital for eight years, serving as the director of the Thoracic Tumor Board and director of the Lung Cancer Screening Program. She has led esophageal support groups for 17 years. She is now a professor of thoracic surgery within the Department of Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Blackmon holds patents, including a novel esophageal anastomotic device, minimally invasive surgical tools, and the concept of 5D printing. She also leads the Mayo Clinic Esophageal Tumor Board, started the Lung Ablation Tumor Board, and developed the UDD App, which is a virtual patient management platform for foregut surgery and post-esophageal reconstruction patient longitudinal care in the DELiVER Clinic. She has developed a specialized team for complex esophageal reconstruction. She is the Thoracic Surgery Champion for 3D anatomic modeling for complex thoracic resections. She served as the Medical Director of Mayo Clinic Consumer Digital Platforms, working to advance the overall digital strategies and product roadmaps across the flagship properties that are part of Mayo Clinic’s digital ecosystem, including the public website with 1.8 billion followers and the patient portal. She currently is the Medical Director of User Experience. She is dual board-certified by ABS & ABTS.
Blackmon has published over 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts, given over 400 oral presentations, is internationally recognized, and has published more than 100 instructional videos. Currently, she is focusing on Survivorship Care, creating Mayo Clinic’s first completely virtual longitudinal disease-specific digitally-guided integrated survivorship program.
13. Trudi Noel Trysla
Chief Administrative Officer & General Counsel, Fairview Health Services
Trudi Noel Trysla develops Fairview’s overall legal strategy and leads Fairview’s legal and ethical adherence to federal and state law and healthcare public policy. She oversees Fairview’s legal and risk management functions. Trudi, named general counsel in February 2014, has more than 20 years of legal experience in health care.
Before joining Fairview in 2008 as associate general counsel, Trudi served as senior legal counsel at Medtronic Inc., as legal counsel for Mayo Foundation in Rochester, and as an attorney in private practice. Trudi earned her law degree from the University of Minnesota and her undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska. She is licensed to practice in Minnesota and the Eighth Circuit.
Trudi is a member of the American Health Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, and the Minnesota Bar Association’s Health Law Governing Council. She also is active on various Fairview boards and community boards, including the Fairview Pharmacy Board, the Minnesota Center for Health Care Ethics, and the Minnesota Epilepsy Foundation. She is a frequent lecturer on healthcare topics, including accountable care organizations and models.
14. Tracey Gibson
Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer, Andersen
Tracey Gibson is the Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for Andersen Corporation. Tracey joined Andersen in November of 2019 and brings a solid background in corporate social responsibility, strategic global inclusion & diversity, and operations. She is a strong
visionary and insightful leader who connects people, processes, and technology to transform cultures, build capabilities, and deliver operational excellence that helps businesses thrive. Most recently, Tracey served the state of Minnesota as the statewide director of recruitment,
retention, affirmative action, and inclusion. Tracey spent 30 years with Cargill, Incorporated
in finance, HR, diversity & inclusion, and global community engagement. She holds an undergraduate degree in accounting from Fort Valley State University and a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Biblical Preaching from Luther Seminary.
Andersen was founded in 1903 on the philosophy of working "all together" to deliver on its promise to its customers. Every day, the company's more than 13,000 employees are empowered to imagine what's possible and do what's right. Andersen delivers products for the way people live, unmatched performance for the comfort and security homeowners desire, and endless design options to achieve any style.
Headquartered in Bayport, Minnesota, Andersen Corporation and its subsidiaries manufacture and market window and door products under the Andersen®, Renewal by Andersen®, EMCO®, and MQ™ brands. Andersen, a privately held company, operates manufacturing sites across North America and Europe.
15. Veronica Janssen
Global Head of Labs, Elavon
Veronica Janssen has over 25 years of experience in the payments and financial services industry. She brings expertise in the areas of product development and management, sales enablement, and program management. Since 2017, Veronica has been responsible for defining and driving the execution of product strategy for the vertical markets in North America at Elavon. Since then, she was named Head of Labs for North America and has recently been named Head of Labs Globally. She is a visionary leader and a frequent subject matter expert at various Elavon conferences. Janssen is a certified New Product Development Professional and Pragmatic Marketing Founder. She earned an MBA from Tulane University in finance and global competitive strategy.
Elavon, a wholly owned subsidiary of U.S. Bank, has been a global leader in payment processing for more than 30 years. With a broad range of technologies, their scalable payment solutions are tailored to meet the needs of any size business, in any industry or processing environment.
17. Teri Kaslow
Vice President of Data & Analytics, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota
Teri Kaslow is the Vice President of Data and Analytics at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. In this role, she has accountability for enterprise data, business intelligence, and advanced analytics spanning diverse enterprise needs such as data science, quality and risk adjustment analytics, member and provider analytics, population health analytics, and trend analytics. Kaslow is a proven thought leader working side-by-side with business partners to address creative data and analytic solutions to improve the healthcare ecosystem. She has a passion to create more meaningful personalized interactions and improved health outcomes for members by leveraging an integrated, holistic view of the member and applying impactful analytics, inclusive of understanding the unmet social needs of members through the advancement of social determinants of health analytics.
Kaslow joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota in 2022 from Optum where she focused on utilizing data and disruptive technologies to enable better business outcomes. Additionally, she has worked in credit risk analytics, marketing analytics, and loyalty analytics with corporations such as Fair Isaac Corporation, Carlson Companies, and Deluxe. Kaslow graduated from St. Olaf College with an undergraduate degree in economics and mathematics with a concentration in statistics as well as completed graduate coursework in economics at the University of Minnesota. She remains active in academia as an adjunct faculty member instructing courses in economics and statistics.
18. Laura Brock
Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer, nVent
Laura Brock is the Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer at nVent. She joined nVent in October of 2018 and is responsible for leading Inclusion & Diversity, Employee Engagement, and oversees the nVent Foundation. Laura brings over 25 years of experience in the Inclusion & Diversity space having held leading DEI roles in U.S. Bank and Hormel Foods where she was responsible for building the foundation for global strategy, the implementation of Councils, Employee Resource Groups, diversity recruiting, training and development, and pillar infrastructure. Laura spent almost 20 years at Medtronic starting her career in legal and moving into the Office of Workplace Inclusion both as a master facilitator as well as a corporate diversity consultant. Laura is an advisory board chair of IBelongHere, a nonprofit organization focused on building diversity and inclusion in the electrical distribution industry. She received her undergraduate degree from Bethel University and holds a Diversity Management Advanced Practitioner degree from Cornell University.
Laura is known for building a solid and sustainable DEI foundation across pillar platforms. She understands the need to integrate inclusion and diversity principles into organizational infrastructure whether it is policy, process, or programming. She has a proven track record with developing I&D Councils and establishing award-winning employee resource groups. She is passionate about empowering others and creating an environment where shared accountabilities enhance the organization's inclusive culture and drive business growth.
View the complete list of awardees.
19. Rebecca Lieberman
Vice President of People, Optum
Rebecca Lieberman is Vice President of People for Optum. In this role, she leads the people strategy and partners with the chief digital and technology officer on advancing the business through forward-thinking solutions, development of innovative, consumer-based outcomes, upskilling of capabilities needed to meet current and future customer needs, and creating an inclusive culture.
Before joining Optum in 2021, Rebecca spent 5 years at the Radisson Hotel group in a variety of roles, most recently as CHRO leading the HR, communications, responsible business, and facilities functions for the Americas. In this role, she was responsible for leading and enabling the business to deliver on the achievement of strategic and operational business goals. Additionally, she developed and deployed globally aligned strategies throughout the Americas, EMEA, and Asia Pacific regions for both performance and talent.
Rebecca was the owner and principal human resources consultant for RTL Consulting, where she specialized in HR strategy and organizational effectiveness for various companies going through M&A and divestitures. She also spent 10 years at Target Corporation serving in a variety of leadership roles and leading organizational transformations for both corporate and stores divisions.
In addition to her corporate experience, Rebecca currently serves as chair on the foundation board of directors for Children’s Hospitals of Minnesota. She holds an undergraduate degree in mass communication and journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.
20. Jennifer Lohse
Chief Legal Officer, Aware Recovery Care In Home Addiction Treatment
Jennifer Lohse joined Aware Recovery Care in 2022 as Chief Legal Officer, where she is responsible for the legal, risk management, compliance, privacy, payer relations, and health information management functions. She is a member of the executive leadership team, services as a corporate officer, and is a direct advisor to the governing board and several board committees. Lohse has an expansive comprehension of healthcare operations and routinely advises on multi-state and federal matters, including strategy development, mergers, acquisitions and partnership development, operational implementation, and governance.
Prior to joining Aware Recovery Care, Lohse served as general counsel, chief compliance officer, and corporate secretary at both Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the Center for Diagnostic Imaging/Insight Imaging, where she led the legal, risk management, and compliance departments.
Lohse received her law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, and her undergraduate degree from the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University in St. Joseph. She has been certified in healthcare compliance by the Compliance Certification Board. Lohse is also an active member of the American Health Lawyers Association and the vice chair of their Behavioral Health Task Force. She is also a member of the Health Care Compliance Association. Jennifer presents regularly on health care legal and business topics.
21. Deborah LaMere
Chief Human Resources Officer, Datasite
Deb LaMere serves Datasite as Chief Human Resources Officer. Deb is responsible for all aspects of the firm’s human resources strategy, including talent management, leadership development, and compensation and benefits. She works closely with leadership around the globe to build a culture that attracts, retains, and develops top talent.
Prior to joining Datasite, Deb served in senior employee engagement roles at Ceridian, the cloud-based global human capital management software company. These roles included employee engagement product manager for key modules of Ceridian’s cloud HRIS system and vice president of employee experience and culture. Before that, she was a senior HR consultant at Lawson Software and held several HR leadership roles at Allina Hospitals & Clinics in Minneapolis.
Deb holds a master’s degree in industrial relations and human resources from the University of Minnesota, and an undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas.
22. Kari Severson Snaza
Co-Founder & President, Oasis Health Partners
Kari Severson Snaza is Co-Founder and President of Oasis Health Partners, which is building the leading value-based care solution for seniors in rural America. She serves on the board of directors for US Anesthesia Partners (USAP) and Spire Health. She previously served as chief strategy officer of the Mayo Clinic. Prior to Mayo Clinic, Kari spent 15 years with UnitedHealth Group in leadership roles across the Optum and UnitedHealthcare businesses.
Kari’s professional experience also includes founding a social wellness startup, Walkway, and various healthcare advisory and consulting engagements. She received her undergraduate degree in business administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and her MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. She is also a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.
23. Traci Lehman
SVP of Midwest/South Regions, Sentry Management
Traci Lehman serves Sentry Management by supporting nine divisions in the Midwest and South regions. She guides the Division Presidents in setting strategic goals to help them meet their client service level commitments and overall financial goals. Traci works closely with other key executives in the company to develop long-term strategic plans to improve operations and drive revenue growth to be the best community management company in the country.
Before Sentry Management, Traci served with Cities Management in Minneapolis for over 20 years. She guided the company's strategic direction, vision, and growth initiatives, as well as continued to oversee day-to-day operations at the company of 50+ employees. She was one of only a small handful of female presidents in the community management industry. Before being named president in 2011, she fulfilled a senior leadership position for 8 years. Traci’s duties included supervising and training 15 community managers for properties, setting company policy and procedure, marketing services, and oversight of property management operations including the client services staff.
In addition to her careers with Sentry Management and Cities Management, Traci demonstrated leadership in the community management industry on a national and local level. She is the past president of the Community Association Institute-Minnesota Chapter and has served on the board of directors of the Minnesota Multi-Housing Association. She was committee chair of the CEO-MC Retreat Planning Committee with the Community Association Institute.
24. Traci LaLiberte
Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, University of Minnesota
Dr. Traci LaLiberte is the Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW), in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota. She manages this large research and training center for child welfare professionals while also focusing her research on child welfare practice and policy with a particular interest in child and parent disabilities. LaLiberte has worked as a practitioner in the fields of child welfare and developmental disabilities for 35 years. She has developed curriculum and facilitated local, national, and international level training on a wide variety of topics related to child welfare and disability. In addition to her presentations at conferences and her professional consultation, she has many publications in peer-reviewed research journals.
LaLiberte has provided leadership in the State of Minnesota to improve the training of child welfare professionals and was instrumental in the passing of legislation that created a statewide training academy for child welfare professionals, implemented in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and her Center at the University of Minnesota. This dynamic training enterprise is changing how professionals who serve children and families learn and deliver high-quality, competent services. In addition to her work in this area, she has utilized her practice experience and research knowledge to mentor students and colleagues in the examination of comprehensive assessment, evidence-based practice in treatment foster care settings, the intersection of child welfare and disability, child welfare and educational experiences of high-risk youth, and experiences of the child welfare workforce. The impact of her leadership is evident in local, state, federal, and international settings. LaLiberte received her MSW from the University of Connecticut and her doctorate from the University of Minnesota
25. Melissa Carmichael
Vice President of North American Growth, Seedz
Melissa Carmichael is the Vice President of North American Growth at Seedz, a Brazilian ag-tech company founded in 2017. As a renowned global thought leader in agriculture, Melissa is dedicated to revolutionizing the agribusiness sector. Seedz is a digital platform that integrates the entire agribusiness value chain by converting data into actionable insights. Through its customer relationship and loyalty program, Seedz offers transparency to the opaque value chain by connecting industry suppliers, distributors, resellers, and farmers. The platform incentivizes growth and motivates sales through cashback and loyalty campaigns. Seedz has raised over $21M in capital and experienced significant success in transforming the agribusiness landscape in Brazil/LatAm, with plans to replicate this success in North America.
Before joining Seedz, Carmichael was the VP of strategy & innovation at Bremer Bank, where she spearheaded the bank's innovation practice, built engagement within the fintech and ag-tech ecosystems, executed strategic partnerships, and informed and educated the executive team. Melissa is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and serves as an advisor to Homegrown Capital, a South Dakota-based VC that invests in early-stage companies in the Northern Plains. In 2019, she was named one of the Top Women in Finance by Finance & Commerce. Melissa is passionate about addressing the challenges of feeding a growing global population, advancing technology in the agricultural sector, and promoting sustainability. Her expertise and thought leadership has made her a well-respected figure in the industry.
View the complete list of awardees.
26. Diane Kaufman
VP of Human Resources, Electromed Inc.
Diane Kaufman serves as the Vice President of Human Resources at Electromed, Inc. She possesses expert human resources leadership skills and is a culture game changer. She has previously implemented eight new people programs in eight months resulting in significantly reduced turnover and improved hiring, securing national top talent and retaining great existing talent. She has championed and implemented people programs increasing collaboration and trust, engagement, and creating a culture where people want to work and stay resulting in unsurpassed productivity. Diane is a member of the executive leadership team and serves on the board of the Directors Compensation Committee and American Lung Association. Diane is a former SVP of global HR for Ergotron, headquartered in the United States with 4 subsidiaries, China operations, and representation in 67 countries.
Diane has vast expertise in multiple functions and industries in the global HR and business world including championing cultures of pure productivity that get results with a no-nonsense approach. Diane's unique and innovative ability to revolutionize workplace cultures into productive, results-driven, rewarding, and enjoyable environments is unsurpassed. Accountability, focus and what she calls "no noise" in the workplace is what makes companies tick. Her uncomplicated, creative HR practices that only add value to the growth of the company and its people combined with her business savviness is what has made her a truly accomplished leader with proven performance results. Diane is known for her most admiral skill of mastering people influencing, instilling great cultures, HR operational efficiencies, effective coaching, and expert knowledge in business and HR. Diane knows how to get the right things done and gets them done!
In addition, Diane is the author of 2 published books, HR Bullcrap! and The Magical Mystical Santa Sleigh, her first children’s book in a potential series to come! Diane attributes her career and personal successes to those she is surrounded by - the great employees who make it happen and her friends and family.
27. Michelle K. Murray
President & CEO, Nexus Family Healing
Dr. Michelle K. Murray is the President and CEO of Nexus Family Healing, a national nonprofit mental health organization serving thousands of children and families each year through community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and youth residential services.
Murray is a true advocate for family mental health, positioning Nexus Family Healing as one of the only full continua of care models in its area of operations. She has worked to build and implement many new programs in partnership with other leaders, including a family partnership initiative, trauma-informed practices, and innovative partnerships with those in healthcare, education, government, and communities to fill gaps in mental health services. Additionally, she focuses on organizational integration across Nexus service lines, and the important work of fundraising to expand the organization’s capacity for growing community needs. Core to Dr. Murray’s leadership of the organization, and the message she shares with team members and clients, is her belief that no child, family, or individual is ever beyond hope, a message that is empowering for all who look to Nexus as a resource or a career.
Dr. Murray’s clinical and executive experience spans nearly 25 years. Before serving as CEO, she was Nexus’ VP of clinical services and chief clinical officer. Before joining Nexus, she led residential treatment programs for youth as the director of Adelphoi Village/Northern Tier Children’s Home. Additionally, she led programs in the areas of foster care, shelter/diagnostic assessment services, group homes, independent living services, and community-based psycho-sexual assessments.
Dr. Murray is a licensed marriage & family therapist and an approved clinical supervisor through the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. She received her master’s and doctoral degrees in marriage and family therapy at Syracuse University.
28. Sarah Haecker Meeks
SVP of Global Business Development, MaxCyte
Sarah Haecker Meeks has over 20 years of senior-level management experience in business development in the biotech sector. She is currently Senior Vice President of Global Business Development at MaxCyte, Inc., and has been with the Rockville, Maryland biotechnology company since 2019. In her current role, she is responsible for the establishment of strategic partnerships with cell therapy companies worldwide in addition to directing the company’s Value for Patients Initiative.
Previously, she was the VP of business development for Synpromics Ltd. from 2016 until its acquisition by AskBIO in 2019. She served as Adjuvant Partners’ chief scientific officer, leading business development and corporate strategy for several clients, including large-cap pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, technology providers, and major medical centers with a focus on cell and gene therapy. She is on the founding team of Cardiogen Sciences, Inc. (acquired by Audentes Therapeutics) and was the senior director, Technology Sections at the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine including launching and managing the Gene Therapy Section and the Genome Editing Task Force. Before Adjuvant Partners, Sarah held the position of VP of business development for Orasi Medical, Circle Biologics, and BioE.
Sarah holds a doctorate in molecular biology and bioethics from the University of Minnesota and an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship with James M. Wilson, MD, Ph.D. in the University of Pennsylvania’s Human Gene Therapy Program focused on in vivo muscle-directed gene therapy as well as served as a licensing manager for the UPENN Center for Technology Transfer and continued her education taking classes in the MBA program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
29. Trish Backes
Group Senior Vice President, uncapped communications, a GCI Group company
Trish Backes is a Group Senior Vice President at uncapped communications, a healthcare communications agency partnering with biotechnology and medical technology companies to unlock their full potential. With two decades of public relations experience in the highly-regulated life sciences industry, Trish is adept at devising impactful communication strategies tailored to reach and influence the full gamut of stakeholders along the healthcare continuum. Trish leverages her deep knowledge of corporate reputation, product promotion, issues mitigation, disease state education, media relations, and change management to solve business challenges and uncover new opportunities for her clients.
Previously, she led communications strategy, public relations programming, and issues response efforts for all business units at Boston Scientific Corporation. Trish holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Saint Thomas, where she earned a major in communication studies with an emphasis in rhetoric and secured a minor in journalism.
30. Lindsey Hickey
As the CEO of Simek’s, Lindsey Hickey is on a mission to make mealtime a better time for all. Hickey joined Simek’s in 2008 and became co-owner and president in 2010 to firmly established the company as a second-generation family-owned and certified women-owned organization Under Lindsey’s leadership, Simek’s has grown from a local frozen food company to the fastest-growing frozen lasagna brand and meatball brand in the US. Lindsey has fortified strategic partnerships with key retail industry leaders, launched innovative new items, expanded distribution into new markets, donated millions of meals, and removed ocean-bound plastic from the environment. With her passionate expertise, Lindsey led Simek's team to increase sales by 148% in 2022 as compared to 2021.
Lindsey believes in using business as a force of good and proudly led the organization through their B Corporation certification in 2022, making Simek’s the only women-owned frozen food brand in the US with this certification. She also led the launch of impact partnerships with Feeding America® and RePurpose, where every product purchased donates a meal locally and removes the same amount of plastic from the environment as used in the packaging and shipping of that product. In 2022, Simek’s donated over 2.8 million meals and removed the equivalent of 26.3 million plastic bags from the environment, furthering their mission to provide great food for the greater good.
Lindsey has been recognized for her outstanding leadership numerous times. In 2018, she was a Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal 40 under 40 recipient. Lindsey was recognized in 2023 with the Frozen & Refrigerated Women Achieving Remarkable Distinction Award and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Women in Business Award. She has also been featured in many national news articles, including Forbes.com and Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer, as well as local news channel’s TV segments and articles, for her achievements at Simek’s.
31. Angelina Lawton
Founder & CEO, sportsdigita
Angelina Lawton has combined her passion for sports, branding, and technology to become the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of sportsdigita and a respected leader in the sports industry. She was recently named by Forbes as one of The Most Powerful Women in US Sports and was featured in Inc. Magazine for her success.
Sportsdigita has disrupted the industry by partnering with more than 450+ brands across professional sports and enterprises to elevate presentations with their interactive platform, DIGIDECK.
Angelina received an undergraduate degree with a focus in journalism from Arizona State University. She was formerly the SVP of corporate communications for the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning.
32. Jennifer Ryan
Executive Vice President, Aurrera Health Group
Jennifer Ryan is Executive Vice President of Aurrera Health Group, a woman-led, mission-driven healthcare policy, and strategic communications consulting firm. In addition to her executive leadership responsibilities, Jennifer guides the firm’s initiatives to advance access to affordable, comprehensive, equitable, high-quality health coverage and care. Jennifer and her team help clients navigate, develop, and implement a wide range of Medicaid and Medicare policies in Minnesota and nationally. Since joining the firm in 2015, Jennifer has presided over significant growth, evolution, and expansion - working in more than a dozen new states over five years, tripling revenue, and expanding the team from 30 to 80 employees. Jennifer prides herself on a relationship-driven approach to customer service, the ability to adapt to changing landscapes, and maintaining an innovative spirit.
Jennifer’s career spans nearly 30 years in health care and public policy, including a series of senior leadership roles at the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Jennifer led CMS’ efforts with states across the country to implement the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid coverage to millions of Americans. She spent nine years at the National Health Policy Forum, an affiliate of George Washington University, where she conducted and published research on Medicare and Medicaid policy issues.
Jennifer is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College with a degree in political science and communications. She is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, a past member of the Minneapolis-based Business Women’s Circle, and serves as an advisory committee member for the Peter Harbage Fellowship. Jennifer served as president of the board of Pause 4 Paws Minnesota and is an active supporter of PRISM Minneapolis and the Plymouth Wayzata Youth Baseball Association.
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33. LuAnn Heinen
Vice President, Business Group on Health
LuAnn Heinen works with health and benefits leaders to navigate complex employee health and well-being issues. She’s a key member of a team of experts who serve employers by providing both a tenacious voice in healthcare policy and a forum for collaboration to implement more effective and innovative approaches to employee health and well-being. Business Group on Health is a nonprofit membership organization of 450 companies including 74 of the Fortune 100. Business Group on Health members collectively provide health coverage for more than 60 million workers, retirees, and their families in more than 200 countries.
Heinen is known for her thought leadership and ability to convene business leaders to address major health and well-being concerns. For more than 15 years, she has led summits of business leaders to consider both long-standing and emerging health and well-being challenges and opportunities. She developed the Best Employers: Excellence in Health and Well-being awards and continues to oversee the program. Heinen also co-hosts the award-winning Business Group on Health podcast featuring conversations with guests who bring insight and perspective on modern healthcare issues. In her podcasts, she has covered topics such as the youth mental health crisis, eating disorders, disability inclusion, why friendships at work are good for business, the mind-gut connection, working with cancer, and the social and emotional tax of sleep loss.
Previously, Heinen consulted independently for Be The Match and other nonprofits and worked in research and evaluation at UnitedHealth Group. Her early experience was with The Lewin Group, a policy consulting firm, and Harvard Health Plan in Boston. She graduated from Stanford University with a human biology degree and from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with a Master of Public Policy.
34. Stephanie Flies
CEO & Founder, City Mom Collective
Stephanie Flies is the CEO & Founder of City Mom Collective, growing the network after founding its original site, Scottsdale Moms Blog, in 2009. Now living in the greater Minneapolis area, she oversees the national network by spearheading growth strategies while shepherding and encouraging an ever-increasing number of moms managing individual hyper-local parenting websites. She is married to Alan and is the mom of three girls. She loves throwing a great party, connecting people, and cooking with a glass of red wine in hand.
Stephanie is a leader and visionary with a passion for inspiring and connecting women through the power of building and empowering local communities. In 2010, Stephanie launched Scottsdale Moms Blog with a friend. Little did she know that in a few short years, this single site would grow to nearly 80 sites around the country, allowing over 100 women to own their own small businesses, representing thousands of voices of moms from around the country as contributors and writers, and come to be known as City Mom Collective.
As City Mom Collective’s CEO, Steph is passionate about leading with grace and a heart of service. She does this by empowering moms throughout the US to launch parenting sites in their cities, giving a balance of motherhood and entrepreneurship to thousands of women. She considers leading the City Mom Collective team and its sister site owners a great privilege.
35. DeAnna Murphy
Chief Knowledge Officer, Thrivin
DeAnna Murphy is the Chief Knowledge Officer for Thrivin, and a global advisory board member for WorldWorking. Her twenty-six-year international career as an organizational psychologist, expert learning and development practitioner, and executive coach has taken her to 69 countries and given her extensive proficiency in the talent pipeline and leadership development, assessment of organizational needs and culture, design, implementation, and evaluation of programs and assessment tools, strengths identification, application, and development, and coaching and facilitation of professional development experiences.
DeAnna oversees and furthers the development of Thrivin's People Acuity "power skills" solution suite of products. She is the co-creator of the StrengthsMultiplier™ strengths assessment, self-leadership, strengths at work, and the organizational coach certification and cutting-edge leadership/talent development process.
DeAnna received undergraduate and master’s degrees focused on organizational psychology, leadership, and team development from Brigham Young University. She has completed over two dozen training certifications from FranklinCovey, Coaches Training Institute, InviteChange, Center for Right Relationships, and Gallup and has logged over 15,000 hours creating and delivering OD programs that have been delivered globally. DeAnna has been the director of the Strengths-Based Leadership Institute and on Gallup’s corporate advisory panel and their prestigious coach council. She is endowed as a Top 100 Global Coaching Leader and is the recipient of the International People Achievement Award. DeAnna is a widely regarded keynote speaker and the author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living, Choose to See You, and the soon-to-be-released book, The Success Multiplier, featuring the top seven hottest power skills needed to lead and work in today's VUCA marketplace.
36. Kerry Juhl
Vice President of Marketing & Strategy, SIVO, Inc.
Kerry Juhl is a highly experienced consumer insights executive. With 24 years at General Mills Inc., she used the voice of the consumer and marketplace insights to drive business growth on mega brands such as, Cheerios, Pillsbury, and Nature Valley. Kerry has held Insights leadership roles, both domestically and in global assignments. While on an expat assignment in Switzerland, she led the Global Consumer Insights function for Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW), a joint venture between General Mills and Nestle. In this role, she advanced the insights function, developing modern capabilities, and establishing a consumer demand growth framework and category vision, that are the foundation of CPW’s global marketing and innovation strategies.
She also has diverse market research agency experience, including her current role as Vice President of Marketing and Strategy with SIVO, Inc. She has worked with a range of industries and clients, such as Ford Motor Company and Delta Airlines, resulting in a broad insights toolkit focused on brand building, new product innovation, shopper insights, and advertising development. She builds strong relationships, has a bias for action, and loves to tackle business challenges with creativity and technical expertise.
37. Katie Lammers
Partner, Heimerl & Lammers
Katie Lammers has represented hundreds of clients in civil litigation cases in Minnesota, the vast majority of which have been in family law matters. She has experience in virtually every aspect of the litigation process including appeals, jury trials, bench trials, summary judgment hearings, motion practice, and ADR, including Early Neutral Evaluations.
Katie is on the bench and bar committee at the Hennepin County Bar Association working to bring the members of the bench in contact with members of the bar through education. She also serves as a volunteer investigator on the 4th Judicial District Ethics Committee. Katie uses her leadership and interpersonal skills to handle a full range of family law concerns from custody and parenting time to the division of complex assets. She believes that the practice of family law should be civil and treats all parties with respect even in the most acrimonious of disputes. She has received compliments from clients, the Court, and opposing attorneys as to her professionalism and competency in handling family law cases. Katie's clients have described her as "knowledgeable", "excellent", and an "attorney who truly cares." Her clients have lauded her for being calm and collected in court, and tough on the opposition.
38. Maria Awes
Executive Vice President, Committee Films, Inc.
Maria Awes is an award-winning investigative journalist who spent the first decade of her career working in the Minneapolis/St. Paul television news market. After following countless cases of crime and justice as a producer and storyteller, she took her passion for sharing complex, important stories to the next level. Joining forces with her husband, Andy Awes, to help create Committee Films – a boutique television production company in Minneapolis. Her breadth of storytelling expanded to include rich, diverse projects across many genres.
At Committee, Maria has overseen the writing and production of a multitude of television series and specials for networks including, but not limited to, ABC, Hulu, MSNBC, History, Travel, HGTV, and ID. Driven by her desire to expose the truth and bring victims justice, her main interest lies in the true crime and mystery space, but she is also passionate about other concepts as well. In addition to her work on television series and specials, she also helps oversee commercial and branded content production at the company.
39. Gina Ciganik
Chief Executive Officer, Healthy Building Network
Gina Ciganik, Chief Executive Officer, has been growing and scaling Healthy Building Network’s (HBN) vision since assuming the CEO role in 2016. Before HBN, Gina was VP at a Minneapolis-St. Paul area real estate developer, where she spent two decades creating thousands of healthy, high-performance affordable homes. Her efforts culminated in the construction of The Rose, a 90-unit apartment building in Minneapolis that set a new national standard for healthy materials.
Gina is recognized as a national leader in transforming human and environmental health through capacity building, strategic partnerships, and innovative business practices. A champion of equity and environmental justice, she is an innovator with a proven track record of creating leading-edge, nationally recognized sustainable spaces where we live, work, and play.
Gina was named to Finance and Commerce’s Top Women in Finance (2012 & 2015), and in 2021 received a Women in Sustainability Leadership Award, one of the most prestigious awards honoring leadership in sustainability across the globe. She completed the Achieving Excellence program at Harvard University's JFK School of Government and holds an undergraduate degree in housing from the University of Minnesota.
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40. Debra Laaser
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist & CEO, Faithful & True
Debbie Laaser is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and was involved in recovery with her husband, Mark for over thirty years. After Mark’s passing in 2019, she became the director of their counseling center, Faithful & True, treating men struggling with sexual addiction and their spouses. Debbie has facilitated therapy groups, individual counseling, and intensives for betrayed wives for over 20 years. She authored From Trauma to Transformation, Shattered Vows, co-authored with Mark Seven Desires and A Toolkit for Growth, and published research, “Posttraumatic Growth in Relationally Betrayed Women”.
41. Katie Steller
CEO, Steller Hair Co
Katie Steller is the Founder of Steller Hair Company, a values-driven hair salon located in NE Minneapolis, and Executive Director of the Steller Kindness Project. Katie entered the hair industry when she was 18, but her story began much earlier. At age 11, she was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. This diagnosis dictated much of her childhood but did not dictate her spirit. Throughout illness and life circumstances, she became a determined fighter. When Katie turned 18, her illness progressed beyond remission, and she had her large intestine removed. This created the circumstances that inspired her to become a hairstylist. Her serious health challenges resulted in hair loss. Losing something can make one realize its value. Seeing Katie’s distress, her mom decided to book her a hair appointment with a family friend. Katie had never received a professional haircut before, and after having her hair cut and styled, she realized the impact a hairstylist could have on their client. She was more than an illness during her appointment: she felt like a person. A person who was beautiful, cared about, and important. This experience changed her personally and professionally.
In every aspect of her life, Katie strives to advocate for people, her employees, clients, and all members of her beloved community. She believes in showing up, even when difficult, and doing her best in every situation daily. The reputation and growth of Steller Hair Company are evidence that she is succeeding in these goals. In 2017, Katie had the idea to start a project that would help spread positivity and kindness. Katie decided that she wanted to use her skills as a hairstylist to celebrate and uplift those around her. She started by offering free haircuts to those in need and publishing stories of people doing good in their communities, even in small ways. Her idea developed into the Steller Kindness Project, now a nonprofit organization that recognizes and celebrates those in the community who show up, and have a positive impact on those around them without even knowing it. Because if fear is contagious, what can’t kindness be?
42. Marcia J. Bunge
Professor of Religion and Bernhardson Distinguished Chair, Gustavus Adolphus College
Dr. Marcia J. Bunge is a Professor of Religion and the Bernhardson Distinguished Endowed Chair at Gustavus Adolphus College and Extraordinary Research Professor at North-West University in South Africa. She earned her BA from Saint Olaf College and her MA and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Bunge is a scholar, faith leader, and child advocate. She has written widely on children and youth and has been engaged in several academic and advocacy efforts devoted to children and child wellbeing. She regularly speaks about her work in the US and abroad and has participated in child-focused consultations and initiatives on six continents.
Bunge's primary area of research is perspectives on children and childhood in world religions, and she has published six volumes on the subject, including The Child in Christian Thought (Eerdmans, 2001), Children, Adults, and Shared Responsibilities: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives (Cambridge University, 2012), and Child Theology: Diverse Methods and Global Perspectives (Orbis Books, 2021). Bunge has also written about the moral and spiritual formation of young people, issues in higher education, and the history of education and child protection in Germany and Scandinavia. She is an ELCA Lutheran, co-founder of the Gustavus Academy for Faith, Science, and Ethics, and co-editor of a collection of essays entitled So that All May Flourish: The Aims of Lutheran Higher Education (Fortress, 2023).Over the years, Bunge has procured institutional and research grants totaling more than $4.5 million.
43. Joni Thome
Partner, Wanta Thome PLC
Joni Thome is a founding partner of Wanta Thome PLC and is a practicing MSBA Certified Employment Law Specialist. She has been recognized locally and nationally for her work for employees and for others adversely affected by discrimination and hostility due to their protected status. She has worked for employees and students for over 30 years with unwavering commitment. She is a founder of the MN Lavender Bar Association and board member emeritus. She has also served on boards or worked as a volunteer for several organizations over the years including Gender Justice, the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association, OutFront MN, Minnesota Aids Project, Cancer Legal Care, Seward Childcare Center, and the MN Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association.
Joni has been named as SuperLawyer each year since 2005 and consistently received recognition as a Top 50 Woman Lawyer and Top 100 Lawyer in Minnesota. She co-taught sexual orientation in the law at HUSL for several years. She is the recipient of community service awards from the MN Lavender Bar Association, MN NELA's Karla Wahl Dedicated Advocacy Award, and Cancer Legal Care's service award. Most of all, Joni is known for her passion for the pursuit of justice for her clients and the greater good.
44. Shannon Gilbert
Director of Claims Management, Brown & Brown
Shannon is a Director of Claims Management at Brown & Brown with more than 30 years of experience in a variety of casualty claims roles. She has worked for TPA’s, insurance carriers, a Risk Management Department, a law firm, and a consulting company. Shannon works on behalf of Brown & Brown clients to ensure the best business outcomes and cultural fit in many aspects of their Workers’ Compensation Program. She is actively involved in working with clients on claim closure initiatives, litigation management issues, RFP processes, workflow and process management (both internal and within the TPA/Carrier), audits, strategic program planning, and training opportunities. She also organizes client claim reviews and round table discussions on complex claims, and keeps clients apprised of the constantly evolving jurisdictional changes in the workers’ compensation arena.
Outside of work, Shannon has been involved in a variety of community organizations and activities. She was a member of her local hockey board of directors for 9 years and among her many activities, she organized the volunteer program for the association and the SKATE program. SKATE is a program designed to recognize the hockey players that maintained above a 3.0 GPA throughout their busy hockey season. Shannon was also one of the founders of her local fire department auxiliary organization which helped fundraise and secure grants for necessary equipment for the fire department.
45. Kristin Parrott, RN, CSPO
Director of Product & Design, Bigfoot Biomedical
Kristin Parrott is the Director of Product & Design at Bigfoot Biomedical, a leader in developing intelligent, connected injection support systems for people living with insulin-requiring diabetes. Bigfoot aims to reduce the burden on people living with insulin-requiring diabetes, improve access, and support healthcare providers in optimizing diabetes care. As Director of Product & Design, Parrott leads the product management, UX design, and human factors engineering functions at Bigfoot.
She has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry and has dedicated her career to designing products and services to improve health outcomes for patients and streamline care delivery for healthcare providers. Parrott started her career as a registered nurse working in critical care and cardiology and in 2003 made the transition to telehealth startup company Cardiocom, which was eventually acquired by Medtronic in 2013. During her combined 18 years there, Parrott held leadership roles in program and product management, clinical services, and clinical informatics which allowed her to become adept at leading teams and delivering innovative, digital health solutions.
Outside of Bigfoot, Kristin serves as a delegation director, leading a group of student delegates for the YMCA's Youth in Government program. She earned her undergraduate degree in nursing from the University of North Dakota.
46. Suzi Kim Scott
Director of Communications & Member Audience Services, American Public Media Group
As Communications Director at APMG, Suzi Kim Scott leads communications efforts in partnership with teams across the organization. She has 15 years of experience in communications and public relations and brings a passion for collaboration, storytelling, and working across the organization to engage dynamic teams. As a mentor and director, she excels at fostering team growth, identifying and onboarding creative thinkers, and embracing the organization’s culture, which celebrates excellence in journalism. As a strategist, Suzi helps tell APMG’s story externally and internally while supporting her team and the organization’s broader business goals. She works closely with executives to develop communications strategies in service of their business priorities and to drive APMG’s reputation.
Before APMG, Suzi worked as a communications and public relations strategist and change management consultant for large nonprofits and corporations. She built and heightened reputations while creating cohesive brand experiences for a diverse client group through exceptional storytelling. Suzi’s experience spans board development, governance, strategic planning, industry thought leadership and systems change. She has dedicated a career and board service to social impact and equity, particularly in public health, children's rights, economic development, and education.
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47. Sousada Grande
Network Director of High School Placement, Prodeo Academy
A transformational youth mentor, licensed educator, and network leader, Sousada Grande “saves” young people by helping them build their capacity to see circumstances that scream impossible as “I’m possible.” Something she learned from her own life’s journey after being born in a refugee camp in Thailand.
Dr. Grande began her career as a licensed high school mathematics teacher in urban settings, and has held multifaceted leadership roles in charter and private schools, including instructional coach, assistant principal, social justice mathematics education consultant, and principal. Currently, she serves as a Network-level Director of High School Placement at Prodeo Academy, a college preparatory school with two campuses: Columbia Heights and St. Paul.
In her inaugural year of serving in this role, Grande utilizes her multilingual skills to engage families and community partners. Her leadership, coupled with her capacity to fundraise, and connect with donors, and community and school partners, has so far enabled Prodeo Academy 8th graders to garner over $750,000 in scholarships, grants, and gifts to attend their top choice private high schools.
Dr. Grande is passionate about creating access to high-quality education for underserved students from low-income communities. She also adamantly believes that all students, no matter their socio-economic status, ethnicity, or zip code deserve the opportunity to contribute productively to society and build generational wealth. Through her own life’s journey, she knows that education is one of the major gateways to enable her belief to become a reality. She is proud to serve in a neighborhood she once called home.
48. Emily Schumacher
Director of Student Affairs, Prime Digital Academy
Emily Schumacher is a mom, educator, and leader. She serves on the Leadership team as the Director of Student Affairs at Prime Digital Academy, a training program for adults transitioning into careers in tech. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Gustavus Adolphus College, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of St. Thomas.
Emily has over ten years of experience in education, leveraging adult learning and development, human-centered design practices, and organizational leadership to transform how institutions do their best work, teaching the next generation of leaders. From policy to services to training programs, her leadership has helped shape how organizations serve, educate, and prepare students for meaningful careers. Emily has worked in a variety of roles within higher education for Minnesota’s private and public institutions before transitioning to the ed-tech space. Her passion for training people for meaningful careers led her to Prime Digital Academy where she's spent the last 5 years working with other organizational leaders to prepare the future technology leaders. Emily is passionate about the intersection between technology, education, and business, and how it can positively shape experiences, outcomes, and results.
49. Ning Li
Director of Global Innovations, Genesis Medtech Group
Dr. Ning Li is an innovation leader in digital product research and development, including various industrial solutions with Artificial Intelligence. Currently, she is leading digital surgery product development at Genesis Medtech USA in Minnesota.
Dr. Li joined Fortune 500 company Seagate Technology in Minnesota in 1998. Over her 18 years tenure, she focused on advanced technology research and product development management. She held a technical leadership role leading teams to deliver world-class innovation results. She has managed product development from prototype to volume production, and the product has achieved industry-first in time-to-market and record-setting performance benchmarks. She was later responsible for advanced technology roadmap, architecture design integration, and customer technical communication. In 2016, She moved to Pittsburgh and co-founded the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning platform company Petuum, where she held various executive positions. She led the company to grow over 100 employees with investments from Softbank, Tencent, and Northern Light Ventures. Dr. Ning Li has been a venture partner at Foothill Ventures since 2019.
Dr. Li received her undergraduate degree from Tsinghua University, her MS and Ph.D. from Rice University, and her Executive MBA from the University of Minnesota.
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