I served for 5 years as a commissioner for the city of Maplewood up until this past July when my wife and I bought a house in Oakdale. For the past year and a half, I have been serving on Governor Dayton’s Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force alongside, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Rep. Dean Urdahl, and many historians and civic leaders. We oversee the state’s commemoration efforts for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, now through 2015. I have also been active with the Century College Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, and was voted in as President in February of this year.
Public and Governmental Relations at Tunheim Partners in Minneapolis. I work with a few different teams of coworkers to assist our clients with their public and government relations needs. Part of my time is spent monitoring news and social media for any articles of posts about my client's organizations in order to help them be aware of the ever-changing public perceptions of different companies, products, and issues. I write and distribute press releases to local, state, and national news outlets, and I help with product pitches from time to time. The favorite part of my job is coming up with event ideas for my clients to help them achieve greater publicity and community interaction.
Where did you attend college?
I attended Century College in White Bear Lake from 2005-2008 while completing my A.A. degree. I took general elective credits and was able to transfer 64 credits to Hamline University. I spent two years at Hamline University where I completed my 4-year degree in Business Management.
What position(s) did you hold while in MSCSA?
I was appointed by Governor Pawlenty in 2006 to the MnSCU Board of Trustees. I was the community college student trustee for a two-year term. My position was created by the legislature to help ensure that student representation (with full voting power, unlike many other higher education systems) would exist on the board (there is also a position for the technical college students and for the university students). I tried to make an appearance at every MSCSA conference during my term, so I could keep up to date on the most pressing student issues. I made sure to take a lot of notes, to ask a lot of questions, and to try my best to answer any questions that my fellow students had for me. I also usually spoke at MSCSA conferences, to update the student leaders on any policy changes that the MnSCU Board would be considering.
What drew you to become involved in MSCSA?
When I became a trustee, I really wanted to continue to be informed about obstacles or hardships that other 2-year college students faced, and I wanted to work with other students to try to find solutions to some of those challenges. I was immediately impressed with the high caliber of MSCSA’s leadership, especially when they would speak on behalf of the association and on behalf of over 100,000 students, to the MnSCU Board. Dedicated individuals like former president Scott Formo, were constantly working their best to deliver the voice of the students. I became a more informed trustee with every MSCSA conference I attended. I also had a great time working alongside some wonderful people during workshops and activities, and enjoyed socializing with the student leaders and the staff, after each day’s meetings were adjourned.
What did you learn from your experience in MSCSA that positioned you for future success?
I learned how to better prepare for public speaking engagements, especially when complex policy was involved. I also learned a lot about advocacy and how to lobby politicians for a cause. I also became a better networker, from the various social activities that the association organized. All of those skills have helped me be an effective member of different political teams and for non-profit boards. I also met a few people that have helped me with job searches or who have served as references during my job searches.
What advice would you like to share with current/future members?
Communicate with MSCSA staff if you ever have any questions about legislation or about MSCSA processes. If you hear of any ongoing or new obstacles to the success of your fellow students, share what you know with the leadership of MSCSA to see if they have any ideas for solutions or to see if they know of any resources or ways to help overcome those obstacles. If you are presented with an opportunity to attend a MSCSA conference, definitely try to go, you will learn a lot and you will have a great time working and socializing with like-minded student leaders.
Proudest MSCSA moment?
Either breaking 100 points during a MSCSA bowling game or being accidentally pepper sprayed by a fellow member of MSCSA who mistook the powerful eye irritant for axe body spray. I guess I should have showered right after the bowling game, perhaps they were trying to tell me something.
What leader inspires you?
Paul Wellstone and Jim Ramstad inspire me because of how they treated the powerful and the everyday Joe and Jane exactly the same. Even though they were both busy on the occasions I met with them, they seemed to make sure I felt like they had all the time in the world for me. Furthermore, I was inspired by Wellstone's passion and drive. Even though he had a medical condition, he kept fighting for what he thought was right. Jim Ramstad may have had a much different political stance, but he knew how to compromise and work with members of the other party to the benefit of the state of Minnesota and our country. I know politicians can be very busy, but some do not make it a point to listen to those who are not in a position of influence. I was also impressed with the politicians who came to our MSCSA conferences and spoke to us about the importance of our mission and the importance of accessible and affordable higher education. People like Tom Rukavina and Marty Seifert who were public servants and would try to make enough time to let every student who had a concern or issue be heard.