BOARD OF DIRECTORS 2015 - 2016
Marnie Ochs-Raleigh - Evolve Systems
Twitter: @marnieraleigh and @evolvesystemsus
Marnie Ochs-Raleigh is the CEO of Evolve Systems, Evolve Systems specializes in website development and merchant card processing. The two verticals mesh while working on e-commerce development and Level 3 merchant card processing for B to B transactions. Marnie has spoke at many venues and develops strategic partnerships with many different businesses Nationally. She is an active member on the board of directors for NAWBO, Alexandra House and Twin Cities North Chamber of Commerce.
She is also a Community Service Activist by volunteering for over 5,500 hours for our local community. As Founder and CEO of Evolve Systems she established her business to give back to the community in a special way. Evolve’s mission states that, "It's not just about doing business, it's about doing business responsibly. It's about being responsible to our employees, our clients, our community, and to every life we touch. It's not about the bottom line, but about the legacy your leave."
President Elect & Sponsorship Committee Chair
Buffie Blesi - We Spark Growth
Buffie is a serial entrepreneur with a voracious thirst to change the success rate of small business in MN and beyond. Each of her businesses are designed to provide the support, guidance and actual tools entrepreneurs need to leap over hurdles and sprint past obstacles. For more than 7 years Buffie and her team has worked with all levels of entrepreneurs from start-up to multi-generational family businesses through intense on-on-one coaching, outsourced back-office services, and co-working and shared office spaces as the founder of We Spark Growth and WorkAround Coworking. She has a strong passion for her clients and their success and has an extra special desire to help more social enterprises and women business owners achieve extraordinary results. As a business owner herself, she understands the traps and unique challenges all business owners face and has built her business around getting things done! She is an avid volunteer and champion of small business and is the President Elect of the National Association of Women Business Owners Minnesota Chapter and on the Small Business Committee for the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. Buffie can be reached at or 612-367-4076.
Heather Manley - On Demand Services Group, Inc.
Twitter: @HeatherODG and @dirtygoodness
Heather Manley is the President of On-Demand Group, an IT consulting and solutions firm headquartered in Minneapolis since 1996. She established DiversifyIT, Inc. in 2012 as a Managed Services Provider (MSP) bringing Fortune 100 opportunities to small diverse organizations in Minnesota. Heather enjoys growing her third business, Heather's Dirty Goodness, Inc., which is a spice company currently selling products at all Kowalski Markets and various boutiques around the Twin Cities.
Heather received the Young Business Woman of the Year Award in 2009 from NAWBO Minnesota, 2012 Women to Watch from Minneapolis/St. Paul Journal and 2012 and 2013 ICIC's Top 100 Fastest Growing Inner City Companies in America. She was NAWBO-MN Board President (2011-14), a member of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Steering Committee and founder of WEM - Women Executives in Minnesota. Heather has her MBA from the University of Phoenix.
Treasurer - Open
Finance Committee Director - Open
Secretary | Public Policy Director
Kirsten Kaufmann - Effective Business Management Group
Management Consulting for business owners - from start ups to family-owned. Over twenty years of business experience owning a full service landscape company in Chicago's North Shore area. Business Services firm devoted to developing positive growth strategies and change management platforms to excel your business to the next level.
Kirsten is an accomplished Business Executive who excels at developing and leading strong teams to drive profitability and success. Able to manage the big picture corporate vision with an eye on operations to ensure the entire team is focused on company goals. Excellent internal and external communication and client skills that help break down barriers and get things done. General business operations management with strong business development skills.
We Spark Growth - wesparkgrowth.com
We Spark Growth is an initiative spearheaded by Buffie Blesi. With 20 years proven success increasing efficiencies, reducing costs and creating strong effective teams, Buffie has a history of growing companies of all sizes – from Fortune 500 to small businesses – to growth and profitability. We Spark Growth is also joined by Graphic Designer and Marketing Guru, Devin Charbonneau.
Special Events Committee
Caren Schweitzer - Creative Resources
Caren Schweitzer is the President and founder of Creative Resources. Creative Resources was established in 1995 and sets out to deliver high impact promotional products – Creative Resources has led the industry in global supply chain innovation, peeling away unnecessary layers while saving clients time and money. The relationships fostered with overseas and U.S. manufacturers have proven instrumental in the ability to offer distinctive products, excellent pricing and superior quality. Caren has also made a strong commitment to greener business practices. Her team searches through an amazing array of eco-friendly product solutions to find the best of the best and incorporate them into every client presentation. Caren received the Wise Woman award from NAWBO in 2002 and was awarded NAWBO’s Established Woman award in 2009. Enterprising Woman of the Year award 2011 and currently sits on the advisory council of Enterprising Women.
Jennifer Wuollet - Lindquist + Vennum
Jennifer is a partner in the Corporate Finance and Mergers and Acquisitions Group at Lindquist & Vennum LLP. She focuses on representing private equity funds, their portfolio companies and closely held businesses on a wide range of complex corporate transactions, which include stock and asset acquisitions, divestitures, mergers and recapitalizations. Jennifer also provides general corporate counsel to a number of companies of on variety of issues including contract, finance, corporate governance, choice of entity, entity formation and other matters. Prior to entering the practice of law, Jennifer was an auditor at a certified public accounting firm. Jennifer’s experience in the legal and accounting fields allows her to have a unique and well-rounded perspective of the business issues faced by her clients.
Education and Monthly Programs Co-Director
Aimee D. Dayhoff - Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.
As a legal advocate for business, Aimée actively counsels clients in employment law litigation, insurance and construction litigation and a variety of general business matters related to bankruptcy and creditor workouts. She frequently represents privately held companies in disputes arising from breach of contract, discrimination, harassment, non-compete or retaliation claims. She also represents executive level employees in such matters.
Aimée is a strong advocate for women leaders and the legal profession through her tireless commitment to corporate and community organizations. She serves as a firm representative for the Law Firm Alliance, a network of law firms located throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the European Union. In the community, she is currently serving a four-year term on the Minnesota Humanities Center Board of Directors, is a member of the Minnesota Zoo Board of Directors, and is actively involved with the Women’s Leadership Council, a part of the United Way.
Aimée was named as one of the “50 Women in Business 2013” by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. She was also named to the Business Journal’s highly-competitive “40 under 40” list in 2011. She is a graduate of William Mitchell College of law, magna cum laude, and currently resides in Minnetonka with her husband and two children.
Education and Monthly Programs Co-Director
Jeri Parkin - Messerli & Kramer
Jeri Parkin focuses her practice on real estate, corporate and business law, assisting business owners and entrepreneurs execute transactions that are key to their success. Jeri has served as in-house counsel for a large online financial services and technology company, so she has a keen awareness of how valuable time is to business executives. Consequently, she prepares for discussions about pending transactions by identifying potential roadblocks upfront and laying out a path for reaching the intended outcome. She then presents the information in a succinct fashion so together she and her clients can focus on the strategic decisions in front of them.
Her work is often fast-paced. At the same time, Jeri understands that her role as legal counsel includes raising questions and issues that may require the business leaders to reconsider elements of their plans and assumptions. By balancing the need for timeliness with the careful consideration to detail and of a business’s long-term strategy and need to minimize risk, she provides her clients the essential advice required to move forward. Jeri is certified by the Minnesota State Bar Association as a Real Property Specialist, a prestigious title held by only two percent of attorneys practicing in her specialized field of Real Estate.
Lisa Granse Weglewski - Suds Sentry
Lisa has belonged to NAWBO since September of 2013. She says “(NAWBO has) brought about such significant changes in my business I feel compelled to share this organization with other women business owners. The growth opportunities NAWBO offers its members are just as amazing knowing history is being made in the members.”
Lisa has a degree in marketing and design. She has worked at Wells Fargo and charitable organizations in marketing and other roles. She took on her father's business in 2009, expanding prior traditional marketing knowledge base with that of the ever changing world of technology. “It is here that we can better reach out other woman business owners who can be better served by the mission of NAWBO to grow their businesses and themselves as well. Through technology we are better able to increase the reach for NAWBO to a greater number of women without expense.”
Lisa has a variety of other Board experience, and can commit the required 4 hours per month to NAWBO-MN.
Mary Albright - Mary Albright Consulting
Expect inventive strategies when working with Mary Albright. She brings unconventional solutions for conventional problems. In fact, in certain circles, she's MacGyverMary.
Mary started out in geological engineering, but has been a serial and multi-passionate entrepreneur for almost 20 years. As one of the elite group of Fascinate Certified Advisors, she provides individual coaching to business owners and professionals and also facilitates team engagement training sessions for business, corporate and organizational teams using the Fascination Advantage System. The Fascination Advantage System is personal branding and marketing based. It tells you how the world sees you and how you are distinctly valuable.
She's also a business strategist and works with a small number of clients to build business infrastructure to support growth to the next level of prosperity.
In her community, she serves in the Civil Air Patrol, the auxiliary to the United States Air Force. Capt. Albright is the Deputy Commander for Cadets and Professional Development Officer at the Anoka Composite Squadron, and is the commander of the 2015 Minnesota Leadership Academy.
Mary resides in the north metro with her husband, Bryan, and their two children.
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Melissa Kjolsing, Director, MN Cup
Melissa Kjolsing (coal-sing) is the director of the MN Cup, the premier resource for early stage entrepreneurs in Minnesota. During her time as director of the program, the MN Cup has expanded its support of entrepreneurs by offering events and educational programming throughout the year including a Women’s Initiative, the development of a food innovation community and Social Entrepreneurship Series. Melissa is responsible for all aspects of the program including its relationships with 50+ sponsors and over 350 volunteers. Melissa brings a background in business development and marketing to the program, having worked for Fredrikson & Byron and The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota. Melissa has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Minnesota State University, Mankato and is currently pursuing an MBA at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.
Mary Nutting, Owner & President - CorTalent
Mary Nutting is Owner & President of CorTalent, a national recruitment consulting firm located in Minnetonka, MN. Mary helps growing companies find, select and retain top talent with an emphasis on culture and values fit. CorTalent’s expertise is in manufacturing & distribution, technology and sales as a discipline across all industries. CorTalent’s services include search, recruitment process training and consulting, talent assessment, and orientation & onboarding.
Mary has over 30 years of business experience with the first half spent in a variety of management roles in Information Technology and Financial Services. She worked for a Global Human Capital company and helped create a new Executive Search practice and from there started her first recruiting company called MAIN Consulting. Mary is passionate about using her industry knowledge to help promote ‘people at work’. She volunteers her time at local career transition groups and partners with educational systems and the Minnesota Workforce to help strengthen their various career programs. She has a special interest in encouraging young women to get interested in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) careers.
Board Member: Non-Voting
Pam Barley - Cargill
Pam grew up on a small, family farm in Iowa. She graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Management Information Systems, which led her to an internship with Cargill in Minnesota. Since joining Cargill in 1996, she has played a variety of roles in Information Technology (IT) and Strategic Sourcing.
After completing her MBA at the Carlson School of Management, she took a role sourcing IT, where she found her passion for negotiations! Currently, she is the Sourcing Director for Plant Services in North America where she is leading an effort to provide integrated facilities management to our facilities in the United States and Canada. She also serves as a Cargill Supplier Diversity champion, where she has an opportunity to build relationships and help others be successful while also supporting Cargill’s journey to the Billion Dollar Roundtable. Her favorite quote says a lot about her – Everyone you meet knows something you don't know ~ Be willing to learn from them!
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