Features

The (Real) Power 50

Meet some of the best people to know when conducting business in the state of Minnesota

By Caitlin Hill
04-15-2014

The list
Stuart Ackerberg
Tom Ahonen
Rich Anderson
David Annis
Marcia Ballinger
Maureen Bausch
David Buelow
Andrea Christenson
Dan Cramer
Steve Cramer
Aaron Eggert
Dan Ferrise
Kieran Folliard
Chico Ford
Michael Gorman
Chris Guertin
Ed Heil
Justin Kaufenberg
Elizabeth Kessler
Tom Kieffer
Carson Kipfer
Alyssa Kreutzfeldt
Eric LeBow
Steve Lepinski
James Loffler
Kimberly Lowe
Darin Lynch
Brian Mallaro
Brandon Maves
John Montague
Marty Nanne
Cathy Paper
Elizabeth Patty
Rick Polk
Nora Purmort
Jim Redpath
Kristy Saum
Jatin Setia
Rajiv Shah
Katie Clark Sieben
Björn Stansvik
John Stavig
David Stillman
Jeff Stoebner
Arleen Sullivan
Dee Thibodeau
Jonathan Weinhagen
Lori Wiese-Parks
Jim Wolford
John Wood

The list

Click the name of each member for more information, or use the arrows to scroll

They are the linchpins in their company. The connectors in their industry.

The heart of the operation. The people who make things happen. The remarkable players in the Minnesota business community with a knack for getting things done — and being helpful along the way. We call them The (Real) Power 50.

To create this list, we selected people we trust to be nominators, asking them to suggest individuals who have impressed them in the past year. We also scanned the state’s business community, identifying the movers and shakers we knew should be on the list. So, without further ado, here are 50 of the most important people to know if you wish to conduct business in the state of Minnesota.

Tom Ahonen, Managing Partner, Platinum Group
Rich Anderson, CEO & Owner, ImagineIT
David Annis, Head of Production, Zeus Jones
Marcia Ballinger, Principal & Partner, KeyStone Search
Maureen Bausch, Executive Vice President Business Development, Mall of America
Aaron Eggert, Principal, iSpace
Chico Ford, Territory Finance Director, Best Buy
Michael Gorman, Managing Director, Split Rock Partners
Justin Kaufenberg, Co-founder & CEO, Sport Ngin
Carson Kipfer, Co-founder & Chief Evangelist, Sport Ngin
Alyssa Kreutzfeldt, Associate Managing Director, Principal Financial Group
Eric LeBow, President & CEO, Spanlink
James Loffler, Director of IT Services, Loffler 
Darin Lynch, Founder & CEO, Irish Titan
John Montague, Founder & Managing Partner, 40 Ventures/Aspire Beverage Company
Elizabeth Patty, Senior Director of Development, Children's Health at University of Minnesota Foundation
Nora Purmort, Senior Manager of Social Media, Lifetime Fitness
Jim Redpath, Managing & Tax Partner, HLB Tautges Redpath
Jatin Setia, Executive Director, Twin Cities Film Fest
Jeff Stoebner, President & CEO, AVI Systems 
Arleen Sullivan, Market President, Business Banking East, Anchor Bank
Dee Thibodeau, Co-founder & Co-CEO, Charter Solutions
Jonathan Weinhagen, Regional Director, St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce

 

Stuart Ackerberg

CEO & Owner, The Ackerberg Group

With more than 25 years of experience in urban development, Stuart Ackerberg has helped to improve the Minneapolis area one building at a time. The Ackerberg Group, his privately held commercial real estate development company, specializes in urban re-use and renovation. In Minneapolis he was one of the driving forces behind the mixed-use MoZaic building, which brought more daytime office workers to the Uptown neighborhood, better known for after-hours fun. Described as a “visionary” and “generous and detail-oriented,” Ackerberg is the chairman and founder of Catalyst Community Partners, an organization that revitalizes distressed Twin Cities neighborhoods. He also serves on the boards of Hope for the City, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, and The Oliver Press.

Tom Ahonen

Managing Partner, Platinum Group

Described as “professional, accomplished, and focused,” Tom Ahonen is in the business of creating “wins” for other companies. As managing partner at Platinum Group, he leads and advises companies through growth, turnarounds, and leadership transitions, drawing from his experience working in a family-owned business, a multinational consumer products company, and a large public accounting firm. “In Tom’s role as managing partner, he has served to connect many people from many disciplines, in many industries,” says Darin Lynch, CEO of Irish Titan. “Additionally, he has served to help stabilize and improve locally owned private companies.”

Rich Anderson

CEO & Owner, ImagineIT

After working at Pricewaterhouse-Coopers and Thomson Reuters, Rich Anderson joined, and later purchased, the boutique consulting firm now called ImagineIT. Today the technology company provides IT services including cloud computing, managed services, data backup, and website design, and is becoming one of the state’s leading providers of technology management services. Others describe Anderson as “connected, sharp, and savvy,” standing out for his “business focus within a technology mindset.” Anderson is also known for hosting luncheons for various partners, clients, and others, centered around such topics as leadership and operational practices. Anderson also serves on a number of business advisory boards for other companies, as well as on the advisory council for ConnectWise.

David Annis

Head of Production, Zeus Jones

Heading up production at branding company Zeus Jones, David Annis is trying to redefine the role of production in a modern agency. Others say Annis is known for his “excellence, innovation, and strategy.” He’s helped improve operations at Zeus Jones while crafting innovative ways to develop the company’s workforce. “David has an incredible amount of drive and very strong communication skills. He is confident, forward-thinking, and has high expectations for excellence,” says Tom O’Neill, president of  The Nerdery. “As a partner, he is responsive, timely, and accessible. More importantly, he’s helped develop a culture at Zeus Jones that shares these same values.”

Marcia Ballinger

Principal & Partner, KeyStone Search

Seen as a leader within the executive search and HR leadership community, Marcia Ballinger recently co-authored a best-selling book, “The 20-Minute Networking Meeting,” to help executives in transition become more effective in their job search. To connect such individuals, Ballinger also hosts a monthly networking event called Keystone Coffee. “Many of [Ballinger’s] clients are repeat clients as she builds trusting, consultative, and authentic relationships with them that extend beyond a simple recruiting transaction,” says Lars Leafblad, leadership and engagement director at the Bush Foundation. Others describe Ballinger as a “counselor” and a “connector.” She also serves on a variety of nonprofit boards, including the American Red Cross, Minnesota Adoption Resource Network, and as board chair of Capella University.

Maureen Bausch

Executive Vice President of Business Development, Mall of America

In her role at the Mall of America, Bausch is tasked with using her years of experience in marketing, management, and public relations to help create an unforgettable experience for visitors. “Maureen is a compassionate leader with great energy, synergies, and a can-do attitude,” says Janel M. Goff, managing director of Goff Investment Group. “She graciously applauds her team for their accomplishments, and this truly makes her an inspiring leader to many.” In 2012, Bausch was appointed to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, an organization that provides stakeholder feedback on the challenges facing the nation’s tourism industry.

David Buelow

Partner, Koepke | Buelow

Dave Buelow isn’t your average attorney. In addition to providing legal services at the Minneapolis-based law firm Koepke | Buelow, he has built and operated his own businesses, including the commercial title insurance agency All American Commercial Title. Drawing upon his entrepreneurial nature and business experience, Buelow is able to provide legal services to his clients from the perspective of a business owner. Others describe Buelow as “intelligent, personable, and compassionate,” often going “above and beyond” for his clients, and “serving them with humility and understanding.”

Andrea Christenson

Vice President, Cassidy Turley

In her role at commercial real estate services company Cassidy Turley, Andrea Christenson is consistently recognized for her expertise in the retail arena and often quoted as a key source for retail-related business stories. Others describe her as “tenacious and passionate.” Christenson is known for her ability to build strong relationships and partnerships. “Andrea is willing to be a sounding board for ideas impacting downtown, whether or not they have a direct impact on her business,” says Scott Mayer, sponsorship manager of Hennepin Theatre Trust. Christenson is also founder of  The List, an invitation-only networking group, and serves on the Downtown Neighborhood Board of Directors.

Dan Cramer

Co-founder, Grassroots Solutions

Described by others as strategic and insightful, Dan Cramer uses his expertise and skills to help organizations expand their engagement capacities and build grassroots infrastructures. Prior to forming Grassroots Solutions, Cramer held numerous leadership roles for U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone and served as executive assistant to Minnesota House Speaker Phil Carruthers, among other positions. “Dan is the best kind of leader — he’s a doer,” says Brian Wachtler, president of the marketing agency Haberman. “He leads Grassroots Solutions by example, providing phenomenal strategic direction to clients while mentoring his team along the way.” Most recently, Cramer helped create the field-based conversation campaign for Minnesotan’s United for All Families, the first campaign in the country to defeat an anti–same sex marriage Constitutional Amendment.

Steve Cramer

President & CEO, Minneapolis Downtown Council

After serving as president at Project for Pride in Living for a decade, Steve Cramer became president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council last December. Others describe him as “connected, strategic, and thoughtful.” He serves as the chair of the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, as well as on the boards of the Minneapolis Consortium of Community Developers, the Twin Cities Community Land Bank, the Twin Cities LISC Local Advisory Committee, and the Northside Achievement Zone. “[Steve] connects people and ideas in the spheres of public policy, business, and not-for-profit organizations,” says Daniel Gumnit, CEO of People Serving People. “He is not just a thought leader, he is also one of those people who actually gets things done.” Cramer draws on his experience working between organizations and across sectors to not only help individuals and specific organizations, but also to help “move the entire community forward,” Gumnit adds.

Aaron Eggert

Principal, iSpace Furniture and MSpace

Aaron Eggert keeps himself busy serving as principal at both iSpace, a recognized leader in office furniture, product application, and installation, and MSpace, a design and technology company that provides modern meeting, presentation, and conference spaces. “Aaron’s personality conveys trust, his actions reinforce his creativity, and his ideas inspire,” says Jason Kaping, president of marketing and technology company KBS. Others describe Eggert as “driven, authentic, and compassionate.” Eggert is also known for leading by example, being available and approachable, and striving to create better customer experiences. “He is capable of thinking new, big thoughts, and actually setting these into motion,” Kaping adds.

Dan Ferrise

CEO, Miller Manufacturing Company

Dan Ferrise joined Miller Manufacturing Company, a manufacturer and international distributor of farm, ranch, and pet products, in 2005, and currently serves as CEO. He’s also a member of Allied Executives, an organization that facilitates learning exchange between business executives and owners. “Dan is a gifted operations expert and communicator,” says John Palen, founder and CEO of Allied Executives and a writer for this magazine. “[He] can see problems and identify solutions more quickly than most. He communicates regularly to seek ways to learn and continue to improve with the people in his circles.”

Kieran Folliard

Founder, 2 Gingers Whiskey Company

Known for his contagious entrepreneurial spirit, Kieran Folliard might just be the most well-known Irishman in Minnesota. With 18 years of experience in the pub business, Folliard has founded a number of popular locales, including The Local, The Liffey, Cooper, and Kieran’s Irish Pub. His most recent endeavor is 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey, which he launched as a test in his various pubs in 2011. Distilled at the Kilbeggan Distillery in Ireland, the whiskey quickly garnered a loyal following and can now be found throughout Minnesota and the United States.

Chico Ford

Territory Finance Director, Best Buy

Others describe Chico Ford as a “connector” who is “thoughtful” and possesses “integrity.” In his role at Best Buy, Ford has collaborated with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota to lead the creation of the first of three Geek Squad precincts in the hospitals, which provide free services to patients and primary care givers during their hospital stay to help keep them connected to their families, friends, and work. “Chico has been a key advocate within Best Buy for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics over the past five years,” says Jeff Weness, senior director of corporate development and innovation at Children’s. “Without his influence and connections, our hospitals would look quite different.” Ford also serves on the board of the River Valley YMCA.

Michael Gorman

Managing Director, Split Rock Partners

Entrepreneur Michael Gorman founded venture capital firm Split Rock Partners in 2004. Since 2005, Split Rock has raised $575 million in capital across two investment funds. “When I started Project Skyway to help new entrepreneurs, I asked for [Michael’s] help and he didn’t hesitate to commit his time to guide our new entrepreneurs,” says Cem Erdem, president and CEO at Augosoft. “He has been a great mentor for me personally, and I find his insight valuable.” Gorman also serves as a board member for a number of tech companies, including Code42 Software in Minneapolis and eBureau in St. Cloud. “He’s been making a huge impact in our entrepreneurial community,” Erdem adds.

Chris Guertin

President & CEO, Sport Resource Group

Chris Guertin founded and leads the sporting goods company Sport Resource Group, which provides containment solutions for hockey, soccer, and lacrosse to schools, summer camps, and other organizations. Previously, he played various positions at CBS Sports, the Florida Marlins, the National Inline Hockey Association, and In-Line Sport Systems. His positive experiences in the industry and passion for sports motivated him to found Sport Resource Group in 2006. Others describe Guertin as someone who is “well-connected to his values and principles,” and “always supportive of the community.” 

Ed Heil

Owner & President, StoryTeller Media & Communications

As owner and president of marketing at the Bloomington-based digital public relations agency StoryTeller Media & Communications, Ed Heil draws upon his years spent telling stories as a reporter and news anchor for various television stations, including WCCO-TV. But today, his focus is on telling stories with the goal of driving new leads to his clients’ businesses. “He tirelessly strives to help customers improve and grow,” says Randy Feld, partner at Boyum & Barenscheer, PLLP. “Ed is a connector of people and is always willing to go to bat for clients, employees, business partners, and friends.” Others describe Heil as “unique, candid,” and a “communicator.”

Justin Kaufenberg

Co-founder & CEO, Sport Ngin

As co-founder and CEO of Sport Ngin, Justin Kaufenberg is responsible for setting the overall direction and product strategy for the company, a provider of web software and mobile applications for youth, amateur, and professional sports. “[Justin and co-founder Carson Kipfer] have believed from day one in fostering an open, entrepreneurial culture that encourages each of their employees to use their skills and talents to enrich the experiences of each of Sport Ngin’s customers,” says Nicholas Engbloom, external relations officer at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. As a result, Sport Ngin has grown from a two-person startup in 2008 to employing more than 140 today. Previously, Kaufenberg co-founded Third North, a technology-based agency specializing in e-commerce and web platform development. Along with Kipfer, he is also a co-commissioner of the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships.

Elizabeth Kessler

Engagement Manager, McKinsey & Company

Described by others as authentic, accessible, and engaging, Elizabeth Kessler serves as the engagement manager at global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. “Elizabeth navigates between the world of CEOs, McKinsey’s consultants, and community leaders with keen intelligence, insight, thoughtfulness, and graciousness,” says Lucy Swift, a VP at Minnesota Productions & Partnerships. Kessler also contributes her expertise while managing the Itasca Project, an employer-led civic alliance intended to help strengthen the socioeconomic future of Minnesota. In each role, Kessler is tasked with balancing individual leadership along with coordinating a complex system of community-wide leadership activities. “Elizabeth is able to both lead in her own right, and yet create a supportive environment that allows the best of others’ leadership to flourish,” says Swift.

Tom Kieffer

CEO, Virteva

In 2005 Tom Kieffer co-founded Virteva, a Minneapolis-based technology consulting company. Prior to Virteva, where he’s now CEO, Kieffer founded Agiliti, which became a pioneer in the cloud computing market. Others describe Kieffer as a “visionary, salesman, engineer, leader, and mentor.” He works to build the state’s technology industry through serving on the board of directors at the Minnesota High Tech Association, and through being a member of the Itasca Project, an employer-led civic alliance improving the quality of life and economic competitiveness of the Twin Cities region. “Tom invests his time, talents, and experience to help others — another partner, client, or associate,” says Michael Lacey, founder and CEO of Digineer. “He has been personally involved in helping [Digineer]. This has helped us strategically, as well as with business referrals.”

Carson Kipfer

Co-founder & Chief Evangelist, Sport Ngin

What is a chief evangelist, you ask? Exactly what it sounds like. Co-founder Carson Kipfer evangelizes the Sport Ngin cause and core values through communication, events, and experiences. Founded in 2008 by Kipfer and Justin Kaufenberg, Sport Ngin provides a suite of easy-to-use, time-saving tools to provide online sports organization management. Giving back is also important to Kipfer and the leadership team. So much so that Sport Ngin recently made a pledge of $100,000 to build a multi-purpose Sport Court at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. Kipfer is also co-commissioner of the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships. 

Alyssa Kreutzfeldt

Associate Managing Director, Principal Financial Group

As associate managing director at Principal Financial Group, Alyssa Kreutzfeldt oversees the strategy and execution of the company’s branding. Described as “caring, creative, and driven” with a “knack for building and maintaining relationships,” she has helped her firm look at new ways of doing business, including showing advisors how to use social media to better build their practices. “Alyssa is able to open the minds of our advisors to market opportunities and new ways of doing business,” says John Hoffman, regional managing director at Principal Financial Group. “She is a team player that is determined to see our advisors succeed. There are not many like her in the financial services distribution system across any company.”

Eric LeBow

President & CEO, Spanlink

As president and visionary for telecommunications company Spanlink, which among other things creates and manages call centers, Eric LeBow is always looking for ways to add value to the company’s business and inspire employees. LeBow joined Spanlink in 1998, quickly rising into senior management positions. Since taking on his current role in 2011, LeBow has helped to “build out a world-class team that took the company to the next level,” says Ted Risdall, chairman of Risdall Marketing Group. “[LeBow] focused the [Spanlink] team to become the best-of-breed in the industry, upping both service levels and reinventing the product mix.” As a result, Spanlink has seen a sizable revenue growth, better positioning the company for long-term success. In addition to his role at Spanlink, LeBow is a very active speaker at trade and industry events.

Steve Lepinski

Executive Director, Washburn Center for Children

For nearly three decades, Steve Lepinski has served as the executive director of the Washburn Center for Children — and for nearly four decades overall he’s played that kind of role for children-focused nonprofits. “Steve has a firm understanding of strategies that were effective in the past, but is not afraid to implement new tactics to better serve the children’s and our community’s needs,” says Amy Langer, co-founder of Salo. Lepinski’s collaborative efforts in community action groups and other initiatives have resulted in legislative changes and increased funding for early intervention of children’s mental health. “Steve leads with both a focus on the organization and the community, highly aware that the future of our community is only as strong as its children,” says Langer.

James Loffler

Director of IT Services, Loffler Companies

Joining Bloomington-based business technology and service provider Loffler Companies in 2006 as a sales executive, James Loffler has since become director of the IT Services Group. In this role, he is responsible for developing and managing critical sales and service strategies, including account management, business development, contract negotiation, and vendor management. “[Loffler] takes the extra time to really understand what makes people happy in their career and personal life,” says Justin Hanratty, CEO of Hanratty & Associates. “He also truly cares about lining up the right products with the vision of our company.” Others describe Loffler as “authentic, giving, and caring.”

Kimberly Lowe

Shareholder, Fredrikson & Byron P.A.

Attorney Kim Lowe is making her mark on the world of social enterprise. Specializing in corporate finance with an emphasis on cooperatives, tax-exempt organizations, and emerging businesses, Lowe chairs a committee of Minnesota lawyers, business professionals, and legislators tasked with drafting Minnesota’s Benefit Corporation Statute, which was introduced at the legislature earlier this year. “Social enterprise bridges the nonprofit and for-profit worlds, and Kim is almost unique in her understanding of both nonprofit and for-profit corporate law,” says Brad Brown, principal at social venture consulting firm Socentia. “Kim is not only an excellent legal advisor, she is a field builder for social business.” Lowe also co-teaches the Small Business/Nonprofit Clinic at Hamline Law School.

Darin Lynch

Founder & CEO, Irish Titan

Darin Lynch, CEO of e-commerce business Irish Titan, is well known for his entrepreneurial spirit. Coupled with his passion for online strategy and technology, Lynch has been able to successfully create an independent, top-notch team of web experts at Irish Titan. Others describe him as “driven and strategic,” possessing a “tireless energy toward creating business value for customers” in a creative way. Lynch previously served as an associate at The Platinum Group, a company providing advisory, transition, and turnaround services, where he specialized in e-commerce, leadership, organizational alignment, and sales and marketing.

Brian Mallaro

Partner, Deloitte

As a partner at Deloitte, Brian Mallaro is known for his ability to build strong relationships at both his company and within the industry. Mallaro is often sought after for his counsel and career advice. “He has the reputation of being accessible when he is needed,” says John Folkestad, co-founder and managing partner of recruiting firm Salo. “One can always trust they are getting good advice [from him].” Mallaro has spent his entire career in Minneapolis, and as a result, has been able to foster strong relationships with an array of local professionals, leaders, business owners, and influencers. Mallaro also values giving back, serving as Deloitte’s point person for the United Way. 

Brandon Maves

Partner, McGladrey

Serving the industry for more than 15 years, Brandon Maves was recently named the national construction practice leader for accounting firm McGladrey. “[His] interactions with his clients are about their business — not just about the numbers — and he has a passion for helping people to grow their business and be successful,” says Mike Nelson, managing partner at McGladrey. Maves also serves on the board of a number of organizations, including the National Association of Real Estate Companies, where he is also the membership chair, and as a member of the Financial Accounting Standards Committee. Maves is an accomplished Eagle Scout and serves on the board of the Boy Scouts of America Northern Star Council.

John Montague

Founder & Managing Partner, 40 Ventures; Co-founder & Chief Aspiration Officer, Aspire Beverage Co.

John Montague is a busy man. Drawing from his entrepreneurial nature, in 2009 Montague founded 40 Ventures, a company that provides capital and consulting services to high-potential startups, and he currently serves as its managing partner. In 2012, he co-founded Aspire Beverage Co., a manufacturer of all-natural drinks formulated for active young people. Through his experiences, Montague has learned what it takes to create, develop, and grow innovative businesses. 

Marty Nanne

President, The KNW Group

Marty Nanne started his career as an independent insurance specialist in 1992, helping clients in the areas of corporate-owned life insurance, estate planning, charitable giving, income replacement, and disability insurance. Since then, he has gone on to be a founding principal and president of The KNW Group, an independent financial and insurance consulting firm based in Minnetonka. Others describe Nanne as “extremely well connected,” making himself “accessible by phone or email at any time.” Nanne is also a member of the Pacific Life Advisory Board and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Board, as well as an amateur scout for the Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League.

Cathy Paper

President, RockPaperStar

With 17 years of experience in leadership development and marketing, along with thousands of hours spent coaching companies and leaders, Cathy Paper knows how to get results. Additionally, she has founded, launched, and sold three companies — PaperPlus Recycling, JumpStartResults, and Live Dynamite. Others describe Paper as “dynamic, bold, and vibrant.” She’s known for her ability to connect and build relationships with others, and she makes herself accessible to all whether it’s through meetings, texts, phone calls, or networking events. Currently, Paper runs her consultancy RockPaperStar, which specializes in delivering bestselling book launches and product development. She also serves on the board of Data360 and Quest for College.

Elizabeth Patty

Senior Director of Development, Children's Health at University of Minnesota Foundation

With 20 years of experience in fundraising, marketing, and development, Elizabeth Patty is making a difference in the lives of children through her role as senior director of development in the area of children’s health at the University of Minnesota Foundation. “Elizabeth stands out not only within the U of M, but in the Twin Cities community. Her dedication and support of children’s health is quite admirable,” says Mary Jaffray, a recovery analyst at Best Buy. “She has tireless energy to respond to the needs of everyone who seeks out her help and opinions, while remaining humble.” Patty has also served on the board of directors at Open Arms, and as the Minnesota Children’s Museum Gala Sponsorship co-chair and committee member.

Rick Polk

CEO & President, WhiteBoard Product Solutions

In the business of inventions and product design for more than 20 years, Rick Polk might just have one of the most interesting jobs out there. Polk’s company, Eden Prairie–based WhiteBoard Product Solutions, is a product design and development firm that partners with its clients to create innovative design solutions for everything from toys to medical devices, across a range of industries. Others describe him as “creative, high energy,” and a “big thinker.” Though Polk maintains his position as the company’s leader, he still manages to “facilitate the kickoff of the creative process” and takes a “hands-on” approach, says Jeff Engler, founding shareholder and chairman of Border Foods Companies.

Nora Purmort

Senior Manager of Social Media, Lifetime Fitness

Described as “positive” and “vibrant,” Nora Purmort brings a breadth of experience and a knack for the written word to her position as senior manager of social media for Lifetime Fitness. “Nora isn’t just a Lifetime leader — she’s a community leader, she’s a social leader, she’s a writer, an activist, a doer,” says Nancy Lyons, president and CEO of Clockwork Active Media. Purmort serves on the board of directors for the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA). “Her work with the MIMA board is significant, not only in terms of the programming she’s been able to bring to this market, but also in the open and inclusive energy she champions for that organization,” says Lyons.

Jim Redpath

Managing & Tax Partner, HLB Tautges Redpath

Jim Redpath has a passion for understanding tax law and performing strategic planning with his clients. “[Redpath] is a leader of a vibrant and growing CPA firm that excels in getting deals done,” says David Moran, shareholder and attorney at Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A. “Jim ‘gets it’ when it comes to marketing and networking, and the resulting impact is a vibrant accounting firm.” In addition to his role at the firm, Redpath has been involved with S Corporation Association, a Washington, D.C.–based organization that aims to protect family-owned and closely held businesses from excessive taxes and government mandates. While chairman of its advisory board, he helped initiate and lead discussions on key issues facing such companies across the nation.

Kristy Saum

Attorney, Messerli & Kramer

Described as “strategic, detailed, and thoughtful,” attorney Kristy Saum is an experienced employment counselor and accomplished litigator who focuses her practice on employment law and contract disputes. “[Saum] takes a fiercely focused approach to advocating for her clients’ best interests, while at the same time going above and beyond in serving them with thoughtful understanding,” says Eric Hawkinson, director of business development at CBIZ, a professional services company. “[She] is a dynamic attorney, tenacious litigator, and a caring philanthropist.” Saum is also active with a variety of nonprofits, including the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which offers resources and support to people helping those with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Jatin Setia

Executive Director, Twin Cities Film Fest

As executive director of the Twin Cities Film Fest, Jatin Setia uses his experience in project management and event marketing along with his passion for acting, producing, and directing to bring the community together to celebrate the arts. “Jatin has a collaborative approach and creative mind that envisions big-picture ideas, and [he] has the drive to execute,” says Michael Landstad, senior property manager at Duke Realty. “His approach to business is one that focuses on building relationships and long-term partnerships.” Setia is also involved with Minnesota Film and Television, IFP Minnesota, and Minnesota Women in Film and Television, and he currently sits on the board for the Twin Cities Actor Expo and the Twin Cities Film Fest.

Rajiv Shah

CEO, MyMeds

In 2003 Dr. Rajiv Shah founded MyMeds — a medication manager and pill reminder for Android, iPhone, and the web — in response to a need for patients to become more actively involved in their health care. Shah combined his background in cognitive psychology with his experience in clinical medicine to create this medication management tool that helps people take their medications properly. Board-certified in nephrology and internal medicine, Shah also practices nephrology at InterMed Consultant, serving as president/managing partner. Before his career in medicine, and at the age of 21, Shah co-founded Athletes Committed to Educating Students, an after-school tutoring and mentoring organization for inner-city children that unites them with local sports teams in a long-term initiative to educate inner-city kids.

Katie Clark Sieben

Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Prior to being appointed as the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in 2012, Katie Clark Sieben served as executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office. Earlier this year, along with the DEED office, Sieben announced the newly created Minnesota Job Creation Fund, a pay-for-performance business development initiative administered by DEED. She also serves on the board of the State International Development Organization, as well as on the advisory boards for the University of Minnesota’s Center for International Business Education and Research, the University of Minnesota Carlson School Global Institute, and the Minnesota Department of Education Global Competencies Advisory Board.

Björn Stansvik

CEO, MentorMate

Björn Stansvik started Minneapolis-based MentorMate in 2001 around a single innovative app for language educators. Though his idea was too early for the times, Stansvik stuck with his vision — and it paid off. Since then, his single idea has grown into a mobile solutions firm with employees working in five cities across the globe. “What has always stood out to me about Björn is that he has extraordinary creative thinking ability, which allows him to adapt to any situation or client need very quickly,” says Hugh Williams, president/owner of Williams Global Marketing in Minneapolis. “[Björn] also truly cares about the people working for him.”

John Stavig

Professional Director, Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship

As director of the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, John Stavig is able to live out his passion for education every day. Prior to returning to the University of Minnesota to teach and lead the development of the entrepreneurship center, Stavig built a career in management consulting and private equity in the communication industry. Known for his ability as a facilitator, Stavig shares his expertise in entrepreneurship with students, faculty, and external constituencies in the area, helping them to further their businesses. “John is available virtually at all times,” says Dan Mallin, managing partner of digital marketing agency Magnet 360. “He teaches classes, hosts events, and constantly has one-on-one meetings supporting the community.” Stavig is also involved in the Minnesota Cup, the nation’s largest statewide new-venture competition.

David Stillman

Director, USA, Free the Children

Described as “energetic, committed, and a visionary,” David Stillman is affecting change through Free the Children, an international charity and educational organization. Stillman was also the driving force behind bringing We Day, an educational event and movement of young people leading local and global change, to Minnesota. “David is the consummate networker and is always looking for ways to assist everyone he meets to accomplish their goals,” says Beth Kieffer Leonard, managing partner at Lurie Besikof Lapidus & Company. “Often sought after for his counsel and opinion, his imprint is noticeable in both the national expansion of Free the Children and global initiatives.”

Jeff Stoebner

President & CEO, AVI Systems

Jeff Stoebner assumed the role of president and CEO at information technology and services company AVI Systems in 2009 after starting in the technical services area and working his way up. “Jeff is a second-generation CEO, his father being the original,” says Scott Burns, CEO and co-founder of GovDelivery. “He has made his own mark in the company in a positive way, growing value at a rapid pace by building on all that was done right by the first generation.” Stoebner is known for his accessibility as a business leader, with all customer feedback going directly to his desk. He serves on the board of the International Communications Industries Foundation, an educational nonprofit.

Arleen Sullivan

Market President, Business Banking East, Anchor Bank

In her current role with Anchor Bank, Arleen Sullivan, who has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, provides both strategic and tactical direction. She leads and manages a business banker team responsible for $500 million in business loans and related services. Sullivan joined Anchor Bank in 2003, having previously served as a business banking vice president. Outside of work, Sullivan finds time to give back to others in her role as an advisory council member for the nonprofit CaringBridge. Additionally, Sullivan has served as a spokesperson for the Southwest YMCA Y-Partners Program.

Dee Thibodeau

Co-founder & Co-CEO, Charter Solutions

Some describe Dee Thibodeau as “the ultimate connector.” As CEO of Charter Solutions, she has a passion for driving change and innovation in the technology and health care arenas. “Dee is particularly passionate about helping women advance in technology, and supporting women entrepreneurs in starting new companies,” says Joy Lindsay, president and co-founder of StarTec Investments. “At the same time that she is providing outstanding results for her customers, she is also mentoring the next generation of leaders and working to advance business across the state.” With 10-plus years of experience in health care, and through being a board member of the Women’s Health Leadership Trust and the Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association, Thibodeau continues to make a difference in the health of the community in many ways.

Jonathan Weinhagen

Regional Director, St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce

In his role at the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Jonathan Weinhagen helps to deliver economic opportunity to local companies and organizations. “Jonathan is never too busy to help or be available to listen,” says Beth Neu, director of the Performance Excellence Network in the Twin Cities region, where Weinhagen served as president of the advisory board. In that role, Neu notes, Weinhagen provided invaluable counsel on how to grow the association. He also serves as a member of the Shoreview Economic Development Commission and sits on the board of trustees for the Mounds View Schools Education Foundation. “Jonathan,” Neu adds, “is as genuine as they come.”

Lori Wiese-Parks

Principal, Gray Plant Mooty

With a broad background in business law, attorney Lori Wiese-Parks specializes in the areas of intellectual property and business law, and also acts as general counsel to several businesses in her role as principal at Gray Plant Mooty. “[Lori] is a great business advisor to Summit Brewing Company,” says Kelly Larson, CFO at the St. Paul–based brewer. “Along with wearing her ‘lawyer/counsel hat’ she also understands our business and advises us with a great blend of legal guidance, combined with business acumen.” Wiese-Parks is also a frequent lecturer for student and business groups, speaking on intellectual property and business issues, and regularly offers in-house training programs to clients on a variety of subjects.

Jim Wolford

CEO, Atomic Data

As CEO of technology services company Atomic Data, Jim Wolford’s goal is to help business owners take control of their IT infrastructure and properly use it to achieve their goals. Described as “devoted, passionate, and humble,” Wolford hosts a monthly company picnic every summer where he dons an apron while co-manning the grill to feed employees, clients, and business partners. Wolford has shared his technology expertise abroad, traveling to Uganda in support of the American Refugee Committee to better understand local needs and implement new technologies. His company launched a fundraising campaign that matches donations and provides funding for infrastructure projects in Uganda.

John Wood

Senior Vice President, Mortenson Construction

In his current role at Mortenson Construction, which he joined in 1977 as a project manager, John Wood provides executive leadership to the company’s National Project Group and headquarters estimating team. Notable projects that Wood has worked on include Target Field, Minnesota Multi-Purpose Stadium (Vikings Stadium), and the Minneapolis Central Library, among others. Wood is also past president of the Design Build Institute of America–Upper Midwest Chapter, and he has served on the board of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, as well as the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Marquette University Construction Engineering and Management Industry Advisory Board.