There is much talk about the need for “innovation” – applying creativity to develop a unique approach or solution – in today’s world. However, the difference between innovators - those with ideas – and entrepreneurs is the inspiration to “do something” to bring those ideas to life.
The entrepreneurial spirit of six individuals will be honored by the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship during its 10th annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards celebration Oct. 19 at the Metropolitan Ballroom and Clubroom in Golden Valley, Minnesota.
The liberal arts education of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University is credited by all for the broad diversity on how they have made impact - whether in launching a new approach to solve a business gap, iterating a long-time business for growth or addressing a gap in society.
The 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winners are:
- The CSB Entrepreneur of the Year is Gina Shields Armada ’97, CEO of MHC Software;
- The SJU Entrepreneur of the Year is Chris Coborn ’81, CEO, chairman and president of Coborn’s, Inc.;
- The CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year is Kurt Vickman ’94, founder of the Good Grocer.
In addition to those award-winners, a trio of entrepreneurs who were selected in 2020 but not formally recognized because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be officially honored at the celebration. They are:
- Jennifer Dugan Roth ’91, CEO and co-founder at GrowthMode Marketing, received the 2020 CSB Entrepreneur of the Year award;
- Dennis Carlson ’86, chairman and CEO of WeDriveU, received the 2020 SJU Entrepreneur of the Year award;
- Angela Untiedt Jerabek ’90, founder and executive director of BARR Center®, received the 2020 CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Winners are selected from nominations of Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s alumnae/i who have successfully launched and led ventures by seizing opportunities while leveraging resources and initiating changes that create value with leadership influenced by the Benedictine Values.
Here’s a look at the three 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year award winners. (Bios of the 2020 winners can be accessed here.)
Gina Shields Armada
After graduating from CSB, Armada began her professional journey at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), where she worked for nearly a dozen years, primarily in the healthcare vertical.
In 2008, she joined MHC Software to lead product management for the company. Over the next 10 years, she served in additional roles across marketing, sales and operations until she was named CEO of MHC in 2019.
Within the last two years, Armada has overseen MHC’s acquisition of three companies as the team continues to expand its insight-driven workflow and content automation solution offerings for customers across the globe.
Outside of work, Gina enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching her three teenage kids play sports, coaching young athletes and mentoring women working through the integration of professional and personal responsibilities.
Coborn serves as chairman, president and CEO of Coborn’s Inc., a corporation of over 125 grocery, pharmacy, convenience, liquor, retail stores, online grocery ordering and delivery and central support facilities, headquartered in St. Cloud, Minnesota and operating across the upper Midwest.
The company’s family-owned business has annual sales in excess of $1.6 billion and employs about 9,200 people in five states. In 2021, the company celebrated its 100th Anniversary and was recognized as the Retailer of the Year by the Shelby Report of the Midwest.
Coborn serves on many industry boards and is a past member of FMI’s Board of Directors; past chairman of the National Grocers Association’s Board of Directors; chairman of Topco Associates’ Board of Directors; past chairman of the Minnesota Grocers Association’s Board of Directors and member of the North Dakota Grocers Association’s Board of Directors. Chris also serves on the board of Stearns Bank.
In 2017, Coborn was inducted into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame.
Vickman is a social entrepreneur, real estate developer and cultural innovator. As both a nonprofit and for-profit entrepreneur, he has built and lead successful start-ups for much of his life.
In 2002, Vickman founded the Upper Room community on the belief that a church should not just be about educating people but experientially engaging them to be a force for good in the world. Over the course of the next three years, Upper Room would grow from a few hundred people to over 1.000 attending weekly.
Vickman founded an innovative, social business in South Minneapolis called Good Grocer in 2011. As the country’s first volunteer powered grocery store, it is dependent on hundreds of volunteers to make fresh, quality food accessible and affordable to those in need.
To date, Good Grocer has over 500 volunteers who work monthly as cashiers, baggers and stockers in exchange for a 20% savings on their groceries.