BOARD OF DIRECTORS 2013 - 2014
Heather Manley - On Demand Services Group, Inc.
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 is the current 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.
Marnie Ochs-Raleigh - Evolve Systems
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.
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."
Jennifer Brigham - Brigham Group
Jennifer Brigham is the President and CEO of Brigham Group Staffing, providing services in temporary and permanent staffing from entry-level to management and technical staff. Jennifer founded the company in 1981. The company has grown to several offices placing thousands of employees at hundreds of job sites throughout Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. Brigham Group Staffing has been recognized as a business leader in the industry many times over, including the list of the region's Top 25 Temporary Employment Firms.
Stacie Usem - Lurie Besikof Lapidus & Company
Stacie is a partner at Lurie Besikof Lapidus & Company, LLP, an accounting and consulting firm providing a wide range of services for middle market companies, entrepreneurs, and high net-worth individuals. The firm employs over 100 professionals to offer sound business planning strategies and advice including tax planning and consulting, accounting and assurance work, back-office support, technology consulting, private investment banking, litigation, valuation, employee benefit and leadership consulting. Stacie oversees the firm's entrepreneurial services and internal accounting departments.
Heide Olson - All in One Accounting
Heide, a relational and inventive financial strategist, has spent 15 years building an unrivaled method to everything financial for busy leaders. Whether you need a CFO for the day or a steady accountant, Heide delivers expert financial oversight and higher returns, but more importantly peace of mind. Peace of mind that allows every business owner to focus on what they do best—grow their business.
As founder and CEO of All In One Accounting, Inc. Heide has mastered the art of financial connections. Her passionate pursuit of long-term relationships with is what drives the customized, hands-on implementation planning she's known for. With Heide, clients get the highest level of service from a trusted adviser who knows exactly what it takes to give any company the financial lift they need.
Chris Bedwell - Collaborative Office Solutions
Chris Bedwell is a Virtual Assistant and owner of Collaborative Office Solutions. She founded the company in 2003, leveraging her skills and experience gained during a career spanning over 18 years in the corporate environment. Her company provides association management services to a number of non-profit associations in the Twin Cities area. They also provide administrative, real estate, website maintenance, and bookkeeping services to a wide variety of clients ranging from large corporate clients to small business owners.
Special Events - Annual Gala
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.
Kirsten Kaufmann - Kate of Aragon, Inc.
Consulting for women entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses. Over
twenty years of business experience owning a multi-million dollar
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.
Member Services Director
Lynn R. Anderson - U.S. Bank
Lynn is a Relationship Manager in the Business Banking Division of U.S. Bank. She has been with the U.S. Bank Business Banking Division since 2003. She has a B.A. in Accounting and Management from the College of St. Benedict and has been in the financial services industry for 17 years. She previously worked with Ernst & Young LLP as a Senior Auditor and then spent a number of years in Investment Banking prior to joining U.S. Bank.
Lynn works with mid-sized companies in the Twin Cities with revenue between $1 million and $40 million. She provides a full service, one-on-one relationship with her clients offering the entire range of commercial banking solutions and addresses lending needs up to $8 million. She enjoys getting to know her clients businesses and being a proactive and consultative banking partner.
Education and Monthly Programs Director
Melissa DeLay - TruPerception
Melissa is known to her clients as the Message Maven and she specializes in good ways to deliver bad news. After 15 years inside corporate America at companies like 3M and Carlson, she broke out on her own to devise a series of offerings to help leaders manage their reputations through words, tone and gestures. Her company, TruPerception is a place where anyone can learn to master the art of making positive impressions, becoming confident and capable of handling even the most difficult situations.
Public Relations/Social Media Director
Buffie Blesi - KnowledgeSphere, Inc.
Both of Buffie's businesses – KnowledgeSphere, Inc (dba AdviCoach) and WorkAround, Inc. – are centered around helping other businesses to be successful. There is great alignment in what we are trying to achieve and collaboration has a way of helping us all to bloom. In 2012, she also started an event and initiative to get more businesses hiring called AccelerateMN (www.acceleratemn.com) which will have its second conference in August. Buffie has a very strong desire to help educate small businesses about the value of employees and why hiring more, paying them better and providing a great place to work is both good for them and their business as well as our economy.
Board MemberAimee 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.
Molly Larsen - Best Buy
Molly Larsen is the Supplier Diversity, Sr. Manager for Best Buy, Inc., headquartered in Richfield, Minnesota. In this role she is responsible for the expansion of opportunities for diverse suppliers in Best Buy’s procurement process. Additionally Molly is responsible for providing development opportunities, such as the mentorship program and workshops, for small and diverse suppliers in order to better position them to meet the requirements of Fortune 500 companies. Under her leadership Best Buy has received the Corporate Partner of the Year Award from the Women’s Business Development Center as well of the Mentor of the Year from the Metropolitan Economic Development Center. In 2013 Molly was recognized as one of the 25 Women in Power Impacting Diversity from Diversity Plus magazine.
Molly joined Best Buy in 2010 after serving as the Director of Operations for the Midwest Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) for over 9 years. During her time at the MMSDC she worked to certify ethnic minority owned companies and served as a liaison between these diverse companies and the corporate membership in the Midwest region.
Molly earned a Bachelor of Arts in degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from the University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, MN.
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.
Mary "Bumblebee" Pokluda - Bumblebee Personal Assistants
Mary “Bumblebee” Pokluda is the founder and Queen Bee of Bumblebee Personal Assistants, a company founded in 2007 and most recently awarded a Small Business Blue Ribbon Award from the US Chamber of Commerce. From a background in retail and event services, Mary created a hive of worker bees catering to the needs of busy professionals in the Twin Cities area. When not buzzing about for her clients, Mary is an active member of NAWBO, WIN, the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce and QUORUM. Mary is an active supporter of animal rights charities and hopes to launch a nonprofit of her own in 2013 that will serve military veterans. She lives between Minneapolis and St. Paul with her husband, Derek, and an adopted pit bull, Buzz.
Stacey Schmitt - GreenSlate Group
Stacey Schmitt, Profit Engineer for her company, GreenSlate Group, helps business owners with their financial and operational health. Over the course of her career in public accounting at PwC, Director of Finance at a Fortune 500 company and CFO for a local start-up, Stacey has become a leader in helping companies establish the core fundamentals they need to successfully manage their company growth. Stacey’s diverse experience in mergers and acquisitions, operations, finance and accounting, combined with her strong work ethic and street smarts, enables her to help her clients generate more profit, engineer efficient processes, manage and create more cash, and most importantly, create visibility, to allow her clients to be proactive in decision making.
Stacey graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire in 1995 with a BBA in Accounting and holds a CPA certification. Stacey and her husband, Steve, live in Minnetonka with their daughter, son, and yellow lab.
Kate Westermeyer, CPM - Cargill Inc
Kate Westermeyer joined Cargill September 2008, and serves as the corporate materials and services senior manager in Strategic Sourcing. In this role, Kate develops and implements the corporate materials and services sourcing strategies for North America, ensuring best practices are deployed across the sourcing lifecycle, securing stakeholder alignment and successfully implementing strategies and contracts across all business units and functions within the region.
Prior to joining Cargill, she served as the director of Strategic Sourcing for Carlson and was responsible for the design, implementation and measures for strategic sourcing programs to ensure Carlson’s achievements, sustainability and continuous improvement of world-class sourcing for all concepts.
Kate received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art from the College of St. Benedict and earned her Certified Purchasing Manager certification (C.P.M.) from the Institute for Supply Management. Kate has more than 20 years of procurement and sourcing experience.
Naomi Williamson - Sanctuary - the restaurant
Naomi financed and owns Sanctuary Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis - for which she received a NAWBO-MN Vision Award in 2012. Naomi also has a side consulting business writing and negotiating supply contracts related to aircraft manufacturing. Before opening Sanctuary, she was an owner/investor and COO of a successful bio-tech start-up called Access Genetics. She is a lawyer who practiced law in a large firm for a couple years before she joined Honeywell. She developed her business background by working in a variety of positions at Honeywell, including: Contract Management, Marketing, Sales, Total Quality and Supply Chain. She was a corporate V.P. when Honeywell was acquired by Allied Signal in 2000 and she decided to leave.
She opened Sanctuary in 2007 - the month the 35W bridge fell down and the year the recession began. As owner and treasurer, she was suddenly faced with the challenge of promoting a brand new restaurant in a brand new location on a shoestring budget! Long considered a "change agent" at Honeywell, her own ability to change, learn a new business and keep up with the times was tested. Her early use of Social Media to promote Sanctuary got her selected to speak on a Social Media panel with Jason DeRusha at Deluxe Check. She believes that continually learning and changing are the keys to staying young!
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