2011 Entrepreneurs of the Year Winners
Check back soon to watch the videos of the 2011 winners!
Saint John's University Winners
Bill Jeatran '82 CEO, RJF Agencies
Bill launched RJF in 1986 with the goal to create a new kind of insurance agency with a strong value proposition based on integrity and respect. He wanted to create a firm that would leave a positive impact on both its customers and employees, and drive innovation into the industry. By elevating the company from an insurance commodity seller to a business advisor with expertise in organizational risk management, RJF has grown to represent more than 5,000 corporate clients. It now employs over 150 professionals in five offices. Under his leadership, RJF revenues have grown from under $100,000 to $25 million. Agencies and brokers world-wide now look to RJF as a model firm. Bill devotes much of his time to coaching the leadership within RJF and promoting the RJF culture of values in all levels of the company. RJF has been named the best medium-sized employer in Minnesota, has been one of the fastest growing private companies in Minnesota six times, is one of the "100 largest brokers of U.S. business" out of 35,000, and was nominated for the 2008 Minnesota Business Ethics AwardTM. In 2006, Bill was named Entrepreneur of the Year by TwinWest Chamber of Commerce. Ernst & Young selected him as a finalist for Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2007 and 2008.
Timothy M. Fleming '82 President, RJF Agencies
In 1988 Tim joined his former St John's University roommate, Bill Jeatran, at RJF Agencies. His vision aligned well with Bill's to drive innovation into the professional business insurance industry. Tim began his career with AEtna, servicing large commercial clients throughout North and South Carolina. He earned his CPCU in 1987, and his CIC designation in 1995. He continues to service several corporate clients, including nearly 40 middle-market companies that have been with him for more than 15 years. Tim's current activities also include corporate strategy and execution, recruiting top sales talent, and leading the client retention committee. Additionally, his passion for insurance carrier relationships is evident in his recent nomination to a three-year term on the board of directors of the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (CIAB) in Washington D.C. , the premier trade association representing leading domestic and international commercial insurance agents and brokers. Tim is active in his community, serving on the advisory board for St. John's Vianney and coaching for Orono football, baseball and hockey for numerous years.
The College of Saint Benedict Winner
Judith Sitarz '72 Founder, CEO, Painting Perfection, Ltd.
Judith has always followed a path less traveled. Not very many new graduates - certainly not women - would take a job after graduation at Prospect Foundry, even if it was a family owned company in Minneapolis. She worked there from 1973-1989, learning the business, expanding her expertise, and challenging those who thought this was not "women's work." During that time her work led her to leadership positions on several committees, including the Metal Casters of MN, a government lobbying association. Prospect Foundry was sold in 1989 to a New York investment firm. Judith is a 1972 graduate of College of Saint Benedict, with a B.A. in History. She also has a Certificate of Accreditation from the Women in Management Program from College of St. Catherine and certification in Beginning Metallurgy from the American Foundrymen's Society. In 1995 her entrepreneurial spirit led her to become the owner, President and CEO of Painting Perfection, Ltd. This painting contractor, with more than 50 current employees, serves new construction, light commercial and residential painting. The company also does UV pre-finishing for architectural moldings, doors and decorative plexiglass. Judith served as a member of the CSB Board of Trustees from 2002 until the completion of academic year 2010. She was an active member of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, Student Development and Resource Development Committees. Judith is an avid reader, belonging to a Class of '72 Book Club as well as a women business leaders' book club. She loves to travel and has been to nearly every continent. An accomplished gardener and dog lover, she is also keenly interested in homeopathic medicine and genealogy.
CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year Winner
Denise DeVaan '75 President and CEO of DeVaan & Associates
Denise DeVaan is President and CEO of DeVaan & Associates, LLC, and through ICF International is currently Senior Asset Building Consultant to the Assets for Independence (AFI) Program, Federal Department of Health & Human Services, Washington, DC. In her current work she leads a team of 15 consultants working with HHS Regional staff, local grantee organizations and partners to implement the ASSET Initiative in all fifty states. This initiative is implementing widely the lessons and practices of early demonstrations in a variety of states. Denise led the demonstration in Minnesota. After leading a 1997 public policy campaign to win passage of the Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota (FAIM), Denise began her consulting business to lead the design and implementation of FAIM through multi-site network reaching nearly all 87 Minnesota counties. Working through Community Action Agencies, Women Venture, Indian Tribe and City County Federal Credit Union, this transformational pilot program of matched savings accounts and financial education demonstrated that individuals living in poverty, when given an opportunity, could build a personal asset base, gain financial literacy and move out of poverty. The model builds relationships between public, nonprofit and private organizations, especially financial institutions, at the local and state levels to combine expertise and resources to focus on ending poverty. In Minnesota $2million and nationally $66million has been deposited in matched savings accounts by low-wage workers. Thousands have completed financial education classes, gotten banked, purchased homes, pursued higher educations, and started microenterprises. Denise graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 1975 with a major in Theology and went to obtain a Masters in Human Development from St. Mary's University. Her service learning experiences in college set her on this path of service to others. Between college and her asset building work, Denise focused on social policies and programs to reduce poverty. Mid-career she was selected to receive the prestigious National Kellogg Fellows Leadership Award that allowed her interaction with the leaders of the most dynamic social change efforts in the world. Her Kellogg leadership studies in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Cost Rica, Brazil, Mexico and the United States provided a new understanding of how to build cross-sector partnerships to change how people living in poverty are assisted and to building dynamic coalitions that get results. Denise is active in volunteer leadership roles in national organizations focused on ending poverty.