August 12, 2010
By Diane Hageman
CSB alumna Amy Fredregill, '97, sees her share of grain silos in the countryside. As vice president of the Cooperative Network, a two-state 1,000-member business trade organization that represents cooperatives (co-ops), she works with businesses and people in industries ranging from agriculture, energy and food-co-ops to housing, credit unions and health care. She manages the Minnesota division. Her activities include governmental affairs, lobbying, business development and setting the strategic direction of the organization.
Among these diverse businesses, personalities and political persuasions, Amy occasionally runs into another type of "silo" - where people tend to view things from their own perspectives. "Life isn't in a little box or silo. In my role, I work with our business members as well as decision-makers to break down the barriers to issues and help them find common ground," Amy said.
Her anti-silo mentality has served her well throughout her career, which includes work in Washington, D.C. on political fundraising and an appointment with the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. While working in the nation's capital, she added a master's degree in public policy from George Washington University to her resume.
More recently, she has been named a policy fellow at the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
Her talents and professionalism have not gone unnoticed. Last May she was one of 25 women honored by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal as a "Woman to Watch."
Amy credits her time at CSB with shaping her career path. During her sophomore year in an economics class with Professor Ernie Diedrich, she discovered a course of study that would become her major. He encouraged her to join his student group traveling to Costa Rica over winter break. She also volunteered on Alternative Spring Break trips and studied for a semester in Galway, Ireland - a memory that ranks as her favorite during her CSB years. All of those experiences convinced her she could combine her two academic pursuits - economics and environmental studies. "They are not mutually exclusive," she said.
"In my time at CSB, I felt I was exposed to many different ideas, people and places. That kind of liberal arts education helps you to develop skills that will prepare you for future jobs as well as diverse life challenges."
For her senior economics thesis, Amy's research on renewable energy included attending public hearings at the Public Utilities Commission in the Twin Cities. Through that experience she gained an internship with the commission and met her future boss. Upon graduation, she worked for the Izaak Walton League of America , a national nonprofit organization.
"My Saint Ben's links to my career path have been so direct, and continue to be quite close. Those one-on-one connections have been so helpful. It's important to set yourself up on the right track, and CSB and SJU can help students do that."