Mentors 2014-2015

Ryan Battis

Business Process Analyst, United Health Group

I am a Business Process Analyst at United Healthcare. I develop, maintain, and improve customer service processes for our Employer and Individual book of business. This role involves lots of interaction with stake holders and process owners, making sure we are able to deliver the best service model to our members. I have worked on models for companies such as Pepsico, Delta, and other big name clients.

Neil Bjorkman

Policy Counsel, House of Representatives

Graduated from Saint John's in 2001 with a B.A. in Spanish and from the University of Wisconsin Law School with a J.D.; clerked for Justice Dalveer Bhandari at the Supreme Court of India; practiced law with a firm in San Francisco; serve as the Policy Counsel to the Committee on Rules in the U.S. House of Representatives; speak Spanish, Hindi and Malayalam.

Richard Carlbom

Owner, United Strategies

Richard Carlbom is a seasoned marriage campaign veteran who in the course of two short years achieved double win when as campaign manager of Minnesotans United for All Families, he first led the campaign to defeat a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage and then 6 months later led the campaign in the Minnesota legislature to pass the bill bringing the freedom to marry to Minnesota. Before joining the campaign, Richard was the communications director for Chris Coleman, the mayor of St. Paul. He also managed the successful 2010 reelection campaign for Rep. Tim Walz (DFL-Minn). A 2004 graduate of Saint John's, Carlbom served as the mayor of St. Joseph, Minn., from 2005-2007. He plans to marry his future husband in December of 2013.


Kevin Clarke

Urban Planner, Hoisington Koegler Groupo, Inc.

Kevin works as an urban planner and park planner for Hoisington Koegler Group, Inc. based in Minneapolis, MN. After studying economics and political science at St. John's University, Kevin went on to graduate school at the Hubert H. Humphrey School for Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota College of Design to pursue urban planning and landscape architecture. With Hoisington Koegler Group, Inc., Kevin develops comprehensive plans for cities throughout the state and region. These policy documents inform the decisions that cities make regarding land use and the environment, as well as investments in infrastructure, parks, and economic development. His work includes urban design, small area & downtown plans, park plans, public engagement, and redevelopment projects for public and private clients.

Steven Chavez

Self-Employed Attorney

Steve Chavez is a legal executive with a high profile, broad practice serving Fortune 500 and mid cap corporate clients in diverse industries headquartered in the Twin Cities area. Presently, he conducts his multi-national transactional practice from his office in Eagan, which includes ethics, compliance, corporate governance, enterprise risk management, business continuity planning and government relations. In March 2011, Governor Dayton appointed Chavez to the Metropolitan Council where he serves as the chair of the Litigation Review Committee, vice chair of the Management Committee, member of the Audit and Community Development Committees and as the liaison for the Metropolitan Council to the Metropolitan Airports Commission. The Metropolitan Council, with 3700 employees, an annual operating budget of $750,000,000 and an annual capital budget in excess of $500,000,000, is the planning authority for the seven county Minneapolis regions and operates public transit, waste water treatment facilities and recreational open space, serving 2.8 million residents. Chavez earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Notre Dame Law School and his Bachelor of Arts in Government from Saint John's University.


John Chromy

Retired Vice President, Cooperating Housing Foundation International (CHF)

CHF International is an international development organization founded in 1952 that works in post-conflict, unstable and developing countries. Chromy has been with CHF International since 1996. He initiated programs in India, Kosovo, Palestine, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Serbia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Georgia and Lebanon; he also pioneered CHF's unique "Bottom-up Community Participation and Self-Help Planning" approach to economic development, job creation, community stabilization and infrastructure re-construction. John brings a broad experience in managing programs designed to help low-income people on the community and local government level. During his time at CHF, Chromy managed the foundation's relationship with US Congress and the Department of Defense.


Lauren Currie

Staff Assistant/Legislative Correspondent, United States House of Representatives

Lauren Currie is a 2014 graduate of the College of St. Benedict. During her time at CSB/SJU, Currie served as Captain of the Mock Trial team, President of the International Affairs Club, Head Delegate for the Model United Nations Team, studied abroad in Greece and Rome, and was part of the DC Summer Study Program. She focused her studies on public policy and wrote her honors thesis on the partisan gender gap in Congress. Now, Currie works for a western Republican congressman as a Staff Assistant and Legislative Correspondent. She currently spends her time working, finding the best place to eat brunch in DC, and trying to become the Leslie Knope of Capitol Hill.


J. Michael Dady

Trial Lawyer, Dady & Gardner, P.A.

Michael Dady is widely regarded as one of the most prominent franchise attorneys in America. He and the other lawyers in his firm, Dady & Gardner, P.A. of Minneapolis and New York, limit their nationwide practice to helping franchises and dealers nationwide preserve and enhance the value of their businesses as effectively and as efficiently as possible. He and his partners have successfully represented franchises and dealers in more than 350 different franchise and supplier organizations, and they currently represent more than 20 different national franchise and dealer associations. Dady is active in supporting several service organizations. He formerly served as both the Chair of the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Chair of the Board of Regents of St. John's University. He has been honored by both his university, Saint John's University and his high school, Sisseton High School, as their Alumnus of the Year. Dady has long been active in Democratic political activities. A native of Sisseton, South Dakota, Dady is a rancher in his spare time, and considers "doing cowboy work" his favorite recreational pursuit. Dady is a graduate of Saint John's University, class of '71. To learn more about Dady, you can consult the company website at

Clement Huaweilang Dai

I'm in transition of a gap year between job and law school, currently on internship with Policy& Climate Change Team at the United Nations Development Programme-China Country Office. I am on a special project at the UNDP on 2014 APEC Summit in Beijing, as well as other climate change related projects. I intend to attend law school fall 2015.


Melissa DeOrio

Fulbright English Instructor, Ondokuz Mayis Universitesi

Melissa DeOrio graduated from the College of Saint Benedict & Saint John's University in May 2014 with a degree in Political Science. At CSB/SJU, DeOrio pursued a concentration in International Relations and focused her research on the Responsibility to Protect and Civil-Military Relations. During her time at CSB/SJU DeOrio participated in the West Point SCUSA Conference of 2013, studied abroad in London during the Spring of 2013, was a member of the CSB/SJU Symphony Orchestra, completed an honors thesis entitled "Civil-Military Relations in Emerging Democracies: A Case Study of Turkey," and worked at the McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement. Following graduation, DeOrio participated in a CSB/SJU Global Internship in Bosnia-Herzegovina where she interned for the Mozaik Foundation in Sarajevo. This September, DeOrio is moving to Samsun, Turkey to teach English at Ondokuz Mayıs Üniversitesi as a member of the Fulbright Scholars' ETA Program.


Peter Eckrich

Legislative Assistant, U.S. House of Representatives

Peter Eckrich is originally from South Dakota and has always been interested in politics. Eckrich studied political science and history throughout his college career. After graduating from St. John's in 2010, he moved back to South Dakota to work on a campaign for Kristi Noem. After a successful campaign he began working for Kristi Noem in her Washington, D.C. office and has been in D.C. ever since.


Timothy Enright

Political Military Officer, U.S. Embassy Abuja, U.S. Department of State

Since graduating from St. John's in 1999, Timothy Enright has worked extensively in the foreign affairs field. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan and since joining the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer in 2005 has served in Iraq, Russia, Washington D.C., Dubai and Afghanistan; Tim is now serving as the Political-Military Officer for the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, where is responsible for coordinating U.S. security cooperation and assistance to the Nigerian armed forces in their effort to combat Boko Haram. He previously worked on European and NATO policy at the Pentagon and for the consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton.


Mike Erlandson

Principal, Aurora Strategic Advisors

Aurora is a big picture public affairs, government relations and communications firm.  Positions prior to joining Aurora include: Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs and Vice President of Government Affairs at SUPERVALU (2007-2013) where he also chaired their federal political action committee and helped lead corporate social responsibility; Chief of Staff to U.S. Congressman Martin Sabo (1993-2006); Member of the Bi-Partisan Policy Center's National Transportation Project (2008-2011); State Chair of Minnesota's Democratic Party (1999-2005). Mike ran for Congress (2006) finishing second in a multi-candidate primary and was elected to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission in Washington, D.C. (1991-94).  He has appeared on national television and radio shows including: NBC's Today Show, Hardball, ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CNN, C-SPAN, and NPR. He graduated from St. John's University and Harvard's Kennedy School's Program for Senior Managers in Government.


Colin Frederick

Consultant, Inter-American Development Bank

Colin Frederick works as a consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC, which finances development projects and technical strategies to reduce poverty, expand economic growth, increase trade and investment, and foster private sector development in Latin America and the Caribbean. During his time at St. John's, Colin was a Washington, DC Summer Study Participant, a Marie and Robert Jackson Fellow and he also represented the school at the Harvard National Model United Nations and the 62nd Student Conference on US Affairs held at the US Military Academy in West Point. Additionally, Colin was a member of the St. John's Senate, played varsity soccer and also served as a resident assistant. To gain international exposure, Colin spent a semester abroad at Universidad Rafael Landivar in Guatemala, where he fostered a greater understanding of Latin American anthropology, cultural norms, environmental practices, and volunteered for community-based organizations.


Tom Freeman

Government Relations Advisor, Faegre Baker Daniels

As deputy political director for Minnesota's House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) in 2012, Tom managed day-to-day operations for 30 targeted House races and 21 staff members. His role also included recruitment, direct mail, radio, targeted door knocking, precinct analysis, debate preparation and fundraising.Previously, Tom was committee administrator for the Minnesota Redistricting Committee in 2011-12. As the lead staff member, he was responsible for creating and redrawing legislative and congressional district boundaries. Tom also assisted in the passage of the legislative and congressional district plans. During that time, he also was the committee administrator for the Capital Investment Committee, which passed the first state investment in restoring the Minnesota State Capitol among other important infrastructure projects of statewide significance. Before joining Faegre Baker Daniels, Tom spent one year managing trade shows for Starkey Hearing Technologies in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. From planning to execution, he interfaced with marketing and sales teams to oversee comprehensive operations in every trade show across the United States and select international sites. His duties also included budgeting, communication, logistics, sponsorships, travel arrangements, booth design and corporate social media.


Janel M. Goff, CRPC®

Managing Director, Goff Investment Group

Since graduating in 1991 Janel has worked in the financial industry and soon formed the Goff Investment Group to work with families, individuals, business owners, foundations, and non-profit organizations helping them pursue their financial goals. We pride ourselves in building long term relationships with our clients and guiding them through all market conditions. Specialties: Retirement Planning, Wealth Transfer, Insurance evaluations, 401k Plans, 401k Rollovers, Business transition issues, and Investment plan evaluation (a .k.a. "second opinion"). In addition to offering personalized investment advice for the over 20 years. The Goff Investment Group and Janel Goff have hosted "Invest in Yourself," a monthly luncheon series designed for business executives and owners to provide education and insight on issues of interest. We follow a disciplined approach to balance risk and return, and believe that educating clients enables them to make informed decisions.

Brian Halloran

Lobbyist, Redmond Associates, Inc.

Halloran is approaching his 20th year as a government affairs professional. He has been a lobbyist at Redmond Associates since 1996, and had the opportunity to help shape public policy on behalf of his diverse clients in health care, professional athletics, the arts, energy & environment, and business. Among his current clients are United Health Group, the MN Vikings, the Builders Association of MN, Conservation MN, Allina Health, and Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. Halloran was selected to be a Humphrey Policy Fellow, and is a regular speaker on politics, elections, and the importance of civic engagement. After graduating from SJU, and as a result of his J-Term trip to the Middle East, he volunteered in Jerusalem for a year, followed by another year in Toronto working for political refugees.


Luke Hellier

Senior Account Executive, Public Affairs Company

Luke Hellier joined Public Affairs Company after having worked in government and politics prior to joining the firm. Employing a combination of skills in communications, political campaigns, community outreach and new media, Luke brings a wide range of expertise and knowledge for PAC clients. Immediately prior to joining the PAC team, Luke served as Press Secretary at the Minnesota Senate Republican caucus acting as spokesman for the Senate Republican Leader, social media strategist, and media contact for the caucus.Before the Senate Republican Caucus, Luke worked for Congressman Erik Paulsen as his District Outreach Coordinator. He covered a range of policy issues including taxes, trade, medical devices, energy, shooting sports, and health care for the Congressman.He is also is involved in his community and is currently a member of the Edina Lions Club and works as a delegation adviser for the YMCA's Youth in Government Program.Luke earned his degree in Political Science from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN. He lives in Lakeville with his wife Josi and daughter Betty.


Matt Hughes

Minnesota Managing Director, Cooperative Network

Matt Hughes is the Minnesota Managing Director for Cooperative Network, a two state association of cooperative businesses. He directs the business, legislative, and political affairs of the Minnesota office. Previously, he has served as as staff in the Minnesota House of Representatives, the office of Governor Tim Pawlenty, and was a Senior Executive Officer at the Department of Human Services during the Pawlenty Administration. In Washington DC, he served as legislative staff for Minnesota Congressman Mark Kennedy and Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, and was a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Administration of President George W. Bush at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington DC.


Adam Ironside

Federal Human Capital Analyst, Deloitte

Adam is a Human Capital Analyst in Deloitte's Federal Practice. He currently supports the Organization Transformation & Talent Service Line within the firm. Adam graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and communication from Saint John's University in May 2014. While completing his degree, he interned with the Public Affairs Council and VOX Global Public Affairs. His interests include change management, process optimization, public affairs, strategic communications, and leadership development. Adam spends his free time traveling, skiing, and exploring all that Washington, D.C. has to offer.


Larry Johnson

Johnson has over fifteen years of experience in Government Relations and Legislative operations. As Director of Government Relations for Golden Living Centers, he lobbies on legislative and regulatory issues in six Midwestern states and California. Johnson represents one hundred forty-eight skilled nursing / assisted living facilities' interests, primarily Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and oversight. He works with administrators and staff to drive grassroots efforts to effect policy and administrative changes in each state. After graduating from St. John's University in 1999 he went on to complete his MA in Public Administration at Hamline University. His professional career has included experience on staff at the Minnesota House and Senate, a regional lobbyist for the American Chemistry Council and American Plastics Council and nearly five years working in the U.S. House of Representatives. Larry has been married to Kate, a 2000 graduate of the College of St. Benedict for twelve years and resides in Rosemount, Minnesota with their three children.


Joe Kane

Education Liaison, Minnesota Office of Higher Education

A 2009 South Louisiana Corps Member with Teach for America, Kane spent two years teaching middle school special education. In addition, Kane led the Special Education Department for the a year and a half, becoming a member of the SUNS Center Special Education Leadership Academy. He now works with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education as an Education Liaison through their Gear Up Federal Grant at Brooklyn Center High School providing students with curriculum and advising sessions about college access and financial aid literacy. He is also actively involved in education policy and political organizing in the Twin Cities. Joe is a 2009 graduate from SJU with a degree in Political Science.


Sean Kershaw

Executive Director, Citizens' League

In 2003 Sean Kershaw became just the sixth Citizens League Executive Director in its 60 year history. Sean has been a member of the Citizens League's 50th Anniversary report on Doing the Common Good Better prior to becoming the executive Director. During his tenure, membership in the Citizens League has more than doubled; revenue has tripled, and the organization has helped to initiate new ways of addressing public policy issues. Kershaw left his position as a Deputy Director for the City of Saint Paul's Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED), where he had worked for 11 years. Prior to that, he was planning coordinator for the Public Housing Authority in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Kershaw is passionate about active citizenship, civic organizing, and good public policy. He is a founding member of the Active Citizens School, a young adult civic leadership program, and is currently part of the Minnesota Active Citizenship Initiative. Kershaw is on the Board for the Twin Cities United Way.

Lindsey Krause

Univeristy of Minnesota Law School J.D. Candidate, class of 2016

Lindsey Krause is currently a student at the University of Minnesota Law School where she serves as the President of the Women's Law Student Association and as a staff member on the Journal of Law and Inequality.  Most recently, Krause was a summer associate at Koepke Buelow Law, a small firm in Minneapolis specializing in business, banking, and real estate.  Krause also works part-time at Excelsior Brewing Company and, after falling in love with the craft beer industry, hopes to pursue a career in Food and Beverage law. During her time at CSB/SJU, Krause was heavily involved in political campaigns and served as an intern in Amy Klobuchar's Washington D.C. office though the school's DC Program. Her interests include craft beer, Ultimate Frisbee, collecting political campaign buttons and anything else that can take her mind off of the stresses of law school.

Kristi Kubista-Hovis

Acting Director of Specialty Programs, USDA Rural Business Service

Kubista-Hovis studied biology and communications at St. Ben's before earning two Master Degrees from Indiana University in 2004, one in environmental and resource management and the other in agriculture and applied ecology. She started her career as an environmental statistician for the USDA, but quickly became a Program Examiner for the Office of Management and Budget, where she acted as an expert on climate change, renewable energy, and human capital programs for 6.5 years. In 2011 Kubista-Hovis took a position as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Rural Business Service Administrator, an organization that creates economic development programs in rural communities, in 2012 she transferred to the Rural Utilities Service, and was responsible for writing regulations, providing guidance on electrical and renewable energy issues. As of May 2014, she became Acting Director of specialty programs in RBS, responsible for 7 programs that provide over $100 million in funding annually to rural communities across the United States.

Zack Liebl

Liebl was born and raised in the Willmar community in West Central Minnesota. He is a 2010 graduate of the political science program at St. John's University. Liebl is currently running to become Willmar's next Mayor in the 2014 elections.  He is the Outreach Coordinator for the Willmar Community-Owned Grocery Store and is also an Army Engineer Officer for the MN Army National Guard. In 2012 he was the Independence Party of Minnesota's candidate for MN House Distinct 17B (Kandiyohi County) and ran a very successful campaign as an independent candidate. His interests include current events, theatre, exercising, and cooking.


John Lindstrom

Retired Judge and Mediator

Judge Lindstrom was most recently a Minnesota District Court Judge for the Eighth Judicial District from July 1976 to August 2005. From January 1973 to June 1976 he was a Minnesota State Representative and prior to that, engaged in private practice of law for over nine years. He was the President of the Minnesota District Court Judges Association as well as a member of the Board of Directors for the organization. He is also a member of both the Minnesota and American Bar Associations and the National State Trial Judges Association. He has received numerous honors throughout his career, Lindstrom was a Fellow of the American Bar Association and received a Saint John's University Presidential Citation. Lindstrom currently serves as a mediator and arbitrator with the Gilbert Mediation Center. John is a 1963 graduate of Saint John's University.

Scott McMahon

Associate Vice President for External Relations, Saint Mary's University

Scott McMahon recently made a career change, joining Saint Mary's University of Minnesota in the summer of 2013, as its associate vice president of external relations. In this role, he is responsible for increasing the visibility of the University and fostering key partnerships with key community, government and business leaders. Additionally, he serves as the executive director of The Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership, which is located at the University. The Hendrickson Institute serves as a forum for the exploration of ethical issues. Prior to joining Saint Mary's, McMahon was the director of government and community affairs for the Minnesota Private College Council, where he served as the lead lobbyists for the state's 17 nonprofit, liberal arts colleges and universities for six years. He also spent two years as the research director for the National Institute of Health Policy. McMahon currently serves as the Vice Chair of The Minnesota Project, an organization that champions the sustainable production and equitable distribution of energy and food in communities across Minnesota. He also serves as a member and past board president for the Alumni Board of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. McMahon earned his undergraduate degree in political science from Saint John's University. He holds two master's degrees, a Master of Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Nonprofit Administration from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.

Robyn Meyer-Thompson

Immigrant Health Law Specialist, Health Access MN

Upon graduating with majors in Political Science and Spanish, Robyn taught U.S. History on the U.S./Mexican border through Teach for America. Currently, Robyn works as an Immigrant Health Law Specialist for Health Access MN, a MNsure navigator organization. Robyn graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in May of 2014. While in law school, Robyn worked as an Immigration Law Clerk for Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Service (SMRLS) in St. Paul. Robyn also gained experience working with family-based, employment, asylum, and removal cases through Wilson Law Group, Grell & Feist, and the Immigrant Law Center of St. Paul. While at CSB, she interned for Senator Amy Klobuchar with the Washington D.C. Summer Study Program. In 2008, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Chile.


Vic Moore

Co-Owner, Franzen and Moore

Vic Moore is the co-owner of a legislative consulting company called Franzen and Moore. Prior to that, he worked in the Minnesota State Senate for 22 years, and the last 13 years as a DFL Chief of staff. Before that he was a planner and director at the Minnesota State Planning Agency for 10 years. He graduated with a Government major from SJU in 1972. He has sat on the Board of Directors of the St. John's National Alumni Association, and currently serves as the Co-Chair of the CSB/SJU Politics and Public Policy Alum Chapter. In college he played football, basketball and baseball and he is currently on the Board of Directors of the J Club.


Madolynn Morken

Associate, David Turch and Associates

I am originally from Minnesota. I am a December 2012 graduate from CSB/SJU where I studied Political Science. Following my graduation, I moved to Washington, D.C. and began working for David Turch & Associates. At the firm, I manage a portfolio of clients from Oregon to Florida and deal with energy and environmental issues for a private sector client in California. I also provide marketing support services for the firm.


Rachel Mullin

English Teaching Assistant, US Fulbright Program- Malaysia

Rachel is a 2014 graduate of CSB/SJU. She was a History and Political Science major with a focus on International Relations. She completed her Honors Thesis on the Bosnia Genocide, comparing the impact of economic upheaval and media manipulation on the start. She was also named a 2013 Truman Scholar for the state of South Dakota, CSB/SJU's first scholar in 15 years. During her time as a student, Rachel was involved in a variety of activities. She was part of the International Affairs Club and Harvard Model UN team, as well as an active participant in McCarthy Center events. Most of her time was spent as director of the student run documentary team, Extending the Link. Rachel also traveled extensively. She spent the fall semester of her sophomore year studying in Beibei, China. She completed two ETL film trips, one in Kolkata, India and one to refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border. She also spent a summer in Bosnia Herzegovina interning and researching for her thesis. Rachel is currently a Fulbright Scholar to Malaysia and will begin her ETA assignment in January of 2015.


Cap O'Rourke

President ORourke Strategic Consulting

I have spent my entire career working as a legislative strategist, policy advocate and grassroots campaigner.  With every experience I have gained a greater understanding of the complex political, financial and human pressures that affect how public policy decisions are generally made.  Using that experience I founded O'Rourke Strategic Consulting (OSC), which assists organizations strengthen their position and have a greater impact on policies in which they are invested.  Happily, my client base affords me the opportunity to work inside a broad range of issues.   My career started while working on a number of political campaigns across the state of Minnesota, which helped me transition to a staff position in the Minnesota Legislature. Being on the front lines of both state-wide and smaller municipal campaigns was a great experience and allowed me to understand what factors elected officials consider when making decisions. With over a decade of legislative experience I have had the privilege of working first hand on a number of major legislative proposals including tax reform, stadiums, education reform and small business development projects.


David Osberg

Eagan City Administrator

Osberg has been the Eagan City Administrator since March, 2013. Previously, he had been administrator of Hastings since 1989. He's been active and knowledgeable about Dakota County issues, having chaired the Dakota Communications Center Executive Committee for the combined public safety answering point for 911 calls in the country. He was also a previous co-chair of the High Performance Partnership committee of city managers and mayors. Osberg has more than 32 years of full-time experience in local government as a former city manager and city administrator in St. James and Waterville, Minn., respectively. In addition, Osberg currently serves as the President of the League of Minnesota Cities. Osberg has a master's degree in urban and regional studies from Mankato State University, and a bachelor's degree in government from Saint John's University.


Mary Ostroum

Mary Ostroum has more than 30 years of experience in the Public Housing industry in Property Management and in Human Resources as a Training and Development Coordinator. She has worked as an adjunct professor for a variety of colleges in the Twin Cities teaching Ethics, Human Resources, Supervision, and Training and Development at the Carlson School in the Government HR Generalist Certificate Program. Ostroum was a fellow in the MN Excellence in Public Service Program, 2011-2012 and has served as a campaign manager for a variety of conservative political candidates in state and congressional races. She has been a previous mentor at North Hennepin College in the Woman and Leadership Program and taught mentoring to new mentors of the program. She is now concentrating her work in the field of political management and teaching.


Stephanie Pinkalla

Coordinated Field Organizer, Minnesota DFL

Stephanie is a 2014 graduate of CSB/SJU. As a Political Science student, her primary focus was environmental policy. Stephanie directed the Full Circle Greenhouse Project, participated in Sustainability Alliance, the Peer Resource Program, College Democrats, and completed the DC Summer Study Program on climate resilience research. She completed a CSB/SJU research fellowship on international climate science and her senior honors thesis on wilderness policy. Stephanie now works on an organizing team for the Minnesota DFL Party to elect candidates at every level in MN's second congressional district.


Patrick Plonski

Executive Director, Books for Africa; Executive Director, Minnesota Agricultural Education Council

Dr. Patrick Plonski currently serves as Director of Books for Africa, the world's largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent. Since 1988, the organization has distributed over 29 million books to African children in 49 African countries. Dr. Plonski has 23 years of experience in university administration, and international non-profit management and literacy advancement, and holds a PhD in international education. Plonski currently serves as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Minnesota teaching World Development Problems coursework with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In addition, Plonski previously served as Executive Director of Minnesota Agricultural Education Council (MAELC) at the University of Minnesota.

Alex Ricci

Field Representative, Kline for Congress

Alex Ricci is a 2013 graduate from Saint John's University, and is currently working as a Field Representative for John Kline's campaign for U.S. Congress in MN-02. Ricci sees his post-graduate life as a testament to the strength of the Mentor Program - the alumni connections he made as a student referred him to his last two jobs. Ricci's experiences as a Saint John's student and graduate have inspired him to seek a career helping people solve problems.


David Sandager

Interpreter, Minnesota Historical Society- Minnesota State Capital & Minnesota History Center

David Sandager graduated from SJU in 2010 with a History major and Political Science minor. While in college Sandager participated in the South Africa study abroad trip as well as the Washington D.C. Study Program. After graduation Sandager worked in Ely, Minnesota and then in Washington D.C. prior to moving back to Minnesota in 2011. Sandager managed the Hay Lake School Museum in Scandia, MN for two seasons whilst working with the Washington County Historical Society from 2012 to 2013. Sandager currently is employed with the Minnesota Historical Society at the Minnesota State Capitol and Minnesota History Center as an interpreter, Classroom Lesson Teacher, Food Crawl Tour Conductor, and Event Set-up Assistant.

John Schaus

Fellow, International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

John graduated from CSB/SJU with a degree in Political Science and Spanish, then promptly moved to China for two years teaching English and studying Chinese. Since 2005 he has worked in Washington, D.C. on international and defense policy. After nearly four years at the Pentagon, John is back at CSIS where he conducts research on defense and security issues impacting the United States. He holds a Master's in Public Policy from the Humphrey School of the University of Minnesota.


Eric Schubert

Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs, Ecumen

Eric Schubert leads communications, branding and public affairs for Ecumen, one of the country's top 20 largest non-profit senior housing and services companies.Previously he was a member of the leadership team of the Minneapolis-based public affairs firm Himle Horner. Earlier in his career he worked in marketing communications with the public relations firms Manning, Selvage & Lee in Atlanta and Weber Shandwick in Minneapolis. He authors a blog for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and is a former community columnist for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. He is a past recipient of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal's "40 Under 40" award and the Citizens League's Civic Leadership Award. Eric received a B.A. in English from Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minn., where he also served two separate terms on the school's alumni board, and was a Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.


Anna Schumacher

Operations & Talent Development Manager, Groundswell, Inc.

Schumacher, a Saint Paul native, graduated from CSB in 2010 with a degree in Economics. During her time at CSB/SJU Anna was a member of Cultural Affairs Board, Saint Ben's Senate, an RA, and worked at the McCarthy Center. She was also a Marie & Robert Jackson Fellow at MN Campus Compact and a John Brandl Scholar at the Citizens League and spent a semester abroad in Viña del Mar, Chile. Following graduation she served as Director of Operations at Sertich Consulting, a firm focused on higher education, rural economic development, and leadership. Following her time at Sertich Consulting she spent a year in India as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Anna relocated to Washington, DC in 2012 and now works as the Operations Associate at Groundswell, a DC-based nonprofit social enterprise focused on clean energy and community development. She is a member at large of the Board of Directors of DC Chapter of the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network (YNPN) and a StartingBloc Fellow.


Aaron Sinner

Board and Federal Relations Policy Specialist, MNsure

Recent grad (Class of 2011) with work experience emphasizing health policy, currently working for MNsure, Minnesota's state-run health exchange, providing policy support to the MNsure Board of Directors and coordinating with federal stakeholders. Work experiences include research and data analysis at a law firm, research and writing on health policy for a think tank, and inter-governmental relations for the city of Minneapolis. Also experienced in political and issue campaigns, currently through ISAIAH, a faith-based justice coalition.

Katie Spoden

AmeriCorps Vista, Central Minnesota Sustainability Project

Katie is a recent CSB/SJU alum, graduating in May of 2014. She is dedicating her first year post-undergrad to serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. Through this position, Katie is working with low-income communities in central Minnesota to overcome barriers to healthy eating. After her year of service, Katie hopes to pursue a career working to create a healthy, fair and just global food system. Katie loves to garden, walk to the Local Blend from her new apartment in St. Joe, and is anxiously awaiting the final season of Parks and Rec.


Lisa Spoden

Sr. Vice President, Strategic Health Care, Counsel, Burkman and Associates

I live close to and work in Washington DC. I owned Strategic Health Care for almost 15 years, sold it and remain a staff member. I have lobbied at the state and federal levels for many years. I also bring the unique perspective of an entrepreneur in this arena.


Erin Sexton

Director of Government Affairs, Mayo Clinic

Erin Sexton is the Minnesota State Director of the Division of Government Relations at Mayo Clinic. In this role she is responsible for developing policy recommendations and advocating on behalf of Mayo Clinic to serve the patients and employees. Prior to accepting her position in 2011, Sexton worked in various government relations roles spanning more than 12 years. Her most recent role prior to joining Mayo was State Government Affairs Senior Manager for Medtronic Neuromodulation on legislative and regulatory issues related to device coverage and reimbursement in more than 20 states. Before joining Medtronic, Erin held government relations roles at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Medical Association, and Xcel Energy. Sexton graduated from CSB with a degree in Political Science in the class of '98.


Jessica Slattery

Foreign Affairs Officer, United States Department of State

Ms. Slattery is a foreign affairs officer at the State Department in Washington, D.C. in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Office of International Labor Affairs, covering global child labor, the International Labor Organization, supply chains, the informal economy, and labor conditions in the countries of South and Central Asia. In her current capacity, Ms. Slattery provides policy analysis following devastating factory fires and building collapses in Bangladesh and Pakistan, including outreach to domestic and international stakeholders and engagement with civil society on improving labor conditions and workers' rights. Ms. Slattery recently served as political officer responsible for the human rights and labor portfolio at U.S. Embassy Dhaka, Bangladesh. In the spring of 2014, Ms. Slattery covered the International Labor Organization multilateral diplomacy portfolio in the Department's Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Office of Human Security. In 2013, Ms. Slattery also served as a political officer at the U.S. Mission to the European Union covering human rights and European enlargement as well as the EU's relationship with the countries in Africa. Prior to joining the State Department, Ms. Slattery worked as an attorney practicing business and commercial litigation in Minnesota and served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Justice Wilhelmina M. Wright. Ms. Slattery holds dual M.A.s in International Relations and European History as part of the Atlantis Program through Collegium Civitas in Warsaw, Poland, and the University of Tartu in Tartu, Estonia, and West Virginia University, a J.D. from the University of St. Thomas, School of Law, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a B.A. in Management and Communications from the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota. She is the recipient of two of the State Department's Meritorious Honor Awards for her work on Bangladesh and two Franklin Honor Awards. Ms. Slattery has language skills in Spanish, Russian, Polish, and Estonian and has begun lessons in French.


Doug Stang

Public Affairs, 3M

Doug Stang joined 3M's Government Affairs team in September, 2007 following two years working in Government relations at Lockridge Grindal Nauen, PLLP. Stang joined that practice in September, 2005 after serving as Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health. Governor Pawlenty appointed him in 2004 after his retirement from the Minnesota House of representatives where he served four terms. As a legislator, Stang was elected by his colleagues as Assistant Majority Leader for the Republican Caucus, and appointed to serve as Chairman of the Higher Education Finance and Vice Chairman of Commerce Committee. He was a Chairman of the House Republican Campaign Committee during the 2002 election, which under his leadership, the Republicans increased to their largest majority of 82 members. He graduated from SJU with a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Government.


Drew Stommes

Univeristy of Chicago, International Relations M.A. Candidate

Drew Stommes graduated from CSB/SJU in 2013, majoring in political science. He is currently pursuing an MA in International Relations at the University of Chicago, specializing in international security. Drew previously worked as a research assistant intern at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, conducting research on the global arms trade, defense arms procurement, and US International Military Education and Training (IMET). Prior to the Wilson Center, he worked as the South Asia intern at the Henry L. Stimson Center and studied in Kolkata, India for a full semester. His primary interests include South Asian security issues, nuclear nonproliferation and deterrence, and U.S. foreign policy.


Jennifer Tong

Senior Account Executive, LEVICK

Jennifer has extensive experience in research, public affairs, messaging, and branding. During her tenure at LEVICK, Jennifer has worked in several industries including energy, aviation, and food. Previously, Jennifer worked as Policy and Communications Director at Jubilee USA Network. At Jubilee USA, she managed communications and policy related to international economics. During Jennifer's tenure, Jubilee USA was featured in thousands of outlets across the globe. She also worked on key issue areas including tax, sovereign debt, and international financial institutions. Jennifer graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota, with a degree in Political Science and German. She studied international relations at the University of Salzburg, Austria then she worked at the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina where she authored an article concerning the 1992-1995 genocide. Jennifer currently lives in Washington, DC and works to develop a global platform for Arab development and strengthening ties in and between the Arab World and its Diaspora.


Chris Van Guilder

Supervisor of Customer Experience, Starkey Hearing Technologies

Van Guilder is the Supervisor of Customer Experience at Starkey Hearing Technologies, where he has worked since 2013. In this position, he works with a team to plan, organize, and execute customer training meetings, classes, and programs and also supports various missions and events for the non-profit Starkey Hearing Foundation. Programs average 150 attendees and take place throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, with the largest attended by over 3,500 people in Las Vegas every two years and has included both Presidents Clinton and Bush. Prior to working at Starkey, Chris developed an extensive knowledge of and experience in public relations, crisis management, media writing, public speaking and grassroots organization through several years' work in the political industry. Van Guilder has worked in communications roles for statewide races in multiple states, the state legislature, and independent political action groups. In addition to directing communications strategy, Chris has several years' experience serving as an on-the-record spokesman for his previous employers, ranging from a major party-endorsed gubernatorial candidate, a State Senate Majority caucus, and a United States Congressman and candidate for the U.S. Senate. In addition to his current occupation, Chris stays involved politically by serving as a partner for the Iron Oak Group, a firm that provides political consulting, strategic communications, and public relations services to Republican candidates throughout the country at all levels of elected office.


Ashley Ver Burg

Transportation & Environmental Planner, Kimley-Horner & Associates, Inc.

Ashley Ver Burg works as a consultant in urban, transportation, and environmental planning for Kimley-Horn. She graduated from CSB in 2010 with a degree in Environmental Studies and French. After spending a summer working for the Metropolitan Council on regional transit way planning, she moved to France to teach English for seven months. At Kimley-Horn, Ashley has worked on a variety of multimodal, freight rail, scenic byway, bicycle/pedestrian, and transit projects-including light rail transit, bus rapid transit, streetcar, and commuter rail. She specializes in research and analysis with an emphasis in public involvement, strategic planning, project scoping, alternatives evaluation, grant writing, GIS mapping, environmental documentation, website development, and social media management. Ashley is a strong advocate for women in business, transportation, and the STEM fields.


Dick Virden

Diplomat in Residence, Department of Political Science, CSB/SJU  

Dick Virden retired from the Department of State in 2004 after more than 38 years in the Foreign Service, the final two as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Brasilia.  He had a previous tour in Brazil (1972-1974) as well as postings in Portugal (1986-1990), Romania (1990-1993), Poland (1977-1980, 1994-1997), Thailand (1967-1969, 1980-1983) and Vietnam (1970-1971). A graduate of the National War College, Virden also served on the faculty of that senior service college for two years and as a diplomat-in-residence at Georgetown University, where he created and taught a course on the evolution of public diplomacy. A native of Minnesota, Virden now lives in the Minneapolis suburbs. From 2004 to 2013 he served as diplomat-in-residence at his alma mater, St. John's University, and its sister college, St. Benedict's. He is a frequent contributor to local media and speaker in the Minnesota International Center's Great Decisions series.


Amy Walstien

Director of Education and Workforce Development Policy and Elections, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

Amy Walstien is a 2000 graduate of the College of St. Benedict and a 2004 graduate of William Mitchell College of Law 2004. Currently the Director of Education and Workforce Development Policy for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Amy is responsible for policy development in these issue areas as well as lobbying at the state Capitol. Amy also manages election efforts and campaign finance issues for the Minnesota Chamber. Previously, Amy served as the Committee Administrator for the Minnesota Senate Finance Committee and as the Director of Government Relations for the Minnesota Department of Education. Prior to her work in public policy, Amy worked as an attorney representing small and mid-size businesses in the areas of corporate planning and transactional law, election law, estate planning and probate, securities offering and compliance, and federal/state legislation and policy.


Mike Zumwinkle

Senior Program Officer, The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation

Zumwinkle is an experienced corporate and government affairs leader. Formerly, he was the director of government relations for Cargill, where he was responsible for government relations impacting the company's food and agriculture business. He was with Cargill's Corporate Affairs division for nearly 15 years. Previously, Zumwinkle worked for SJU in institutional advancement and the U.S. Department of State. He has also held a year-long U.S. Department of State Fascell Fellowship in East Germany. A native of Saint Cloud, Minnesota, Zumwinkle received a bachelor's degree in government from SJU, attended the University of Leipzig and earned a Master's Degree in public affairs from the University of Minnesota. Zumwinkle also attended the National Security Seminar at the U.S. Army War College and serves on several boards.