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2020-2021 Leadership Minnesota participant profiles

Minnesota’s economic engine is powered by more than 100,000 businesses, a diverse landscape interconnected in ways not understood by the casual observer. For a select group, Leadership Minnesota opens the window to a behind-the-scenes look at what makes our state’s economy tick. This exclusive program also helps you understand how public policy crafted at the Capitol impacts the vitality of each and every Minnesota company. By establishing a rich network of Minnesota business leaders, your shared experiences make you more effective leaders at your workplace.

Check back to this page as more of our wonderful 2020-2021 Leadership Minnesota participants are profiled!

 

 

Leadership MN Jim

Profiled on February 18

What is the best part about your current job/role in your company? 
Border States is an employee-owned company and the best part of my job is working with our employee-owners. We care so deeply about our company it shows in our passion every day. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in Minnesota? 
That is a tough question.  It depends on the season.  Winter months it is skiing and snowmobiling. Spring months it is fishing. Summer months it is water skiing, and fall months it is hunting. I embrace Minnesota!

What’s the first thing you want to do once things are “back to normal?”  
Meet with customers live!

Who or what are you inspired by?
I learn something new every day. It inspires me to keep up with technology and learn the business aspects of our company. There isn’t a dull moment. 

What’s something super interesting about yourself?
I have water skied when it was snowing.

What is your favorite part of your Leadership Minnesota experience so far?
My favorite part is meeting leaders across the state and learning about their businesses and experiences.
 

Jessica leadership Minnesota

Profiled on February 15

What is the best part about your current job/role in your company? 
The best part about my role at BMO is the people – internally and externally. I am customer-facing and it gives me energy and satisfaction to see my clients achieve their short-term and long-term goals and that my team helped them. I also do what I do because of my colleagues. We have built a great culture at BMO and I wouldn’t want to do what I do with any other team.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Minnesota? 
Go to the lake, be on the lake!

What’s the first thing you want to do once things are “back to normal?”  
Get together with family and friends and not worry about how many people can we include, do we need to be outside, do we need a reservation, etc.

Who or what are you inspired by?
I’m inspired by the resiliency of our community and people who live here.  

What’s something super interesting about yourself?
My husband and I own a brewery in southwest Minnesota called Bank Brewery. It is not named “Bank Brewery” because I’m a banker; rather, our taproom is in an old bank.
   
What is your favorite part of your Leadership Minnesota experience so far?
The people and connections I’ve made, a deeper understanding of the industries and businesses that help drive Minnesota's economy, and more aware of our state government/policies and the impact they have on our businesses.  


 

Andrea Todd Harlin

Profiled on January 25

What is the best part about your current job/role in your company? 
My favorite part of my job is getting to advocate for a family-owned, Minnesota grown small business. I believe small business is the cornerstone of our economy, and the people who take the risk to start their own company are what make Minnesota great.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Minnesota? 
I live along the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers where there are beautiful trails to walk or ride bikes. I have lived in the area for over 30 years and never tire of walking those trails and seem to find something new every time

What’s the first thing you want to do once things are “back to normal?”  
Enjoy shopping without a mask fogging up my glasses. 

Who or what are you inspired by?
People who take risks and bring innovative ideas to the table in order to solve a problem or keep their business moving forward. It’s easy to go along with the status quo, but to speak up and bring a new approach can reinvigorate a team’s mindset or business’ strategy.

What’s something super interesting about yourself?
I ran in the Disney marathon which involves runners to get up and start running well before dawn. The course took us through the various parks on the property and it was surprisingly peaceful to run through the mostly empty parks so early in the morning. I highly recommend it!

What is your favorite part of your Leadership Minnesota experience so far?
Being a part of this class during COVID-19 means we have had an opportunity to explore how businesses are responding to the new economy in which we find ourselves. Learning how companies are pivoting in order to serve their customers and provide for their employees has been really inspiring. Minnesota has many, many companies who truly care about their role within their community and are working overtime to protect it. It’s been wonderful to learn about the various industries within our state and how we can learn from one another. 


 

Nate

Profiled on January 18

What is the best part about your current job/role in your company?
Our organization focuses heavily on innovation and talent development. I love coming up with new solutions to our clients’ evolving needs while using those challenges to develop our next generation of leaders!

What’s your favorite thing to do in Minnesota?
Playing golf and gardening. I enjoy the challenge of outdoing myself on the golf course and then getting into a Zen state of mind in the garden.

What’s the first thing you want to do once things are “back to normal?”  
Belly up at the bar with my wife, at one of our favorite restaurants.  Bar La Grassa in the North Loop and Meritage in St Paul are 2 of our favorite experiences.

Who or what are you inspired by?  
The resiliency and persistence of so many of my staff. There are too many to name individually, but to watch them overcome some of life’s most daunting challenges, and then, continue to push themselves professionally, keeps my fire lit!

What’s something super interesting about yourself?  
I view myself as a very measured and rational decision-maker. Then I met my future wife at a conference in Las Vegas. I blew off my return flight and a family cabin trip and told my mom this could be BIG! 30 days later we were engaged, and six months after that we were married. That was about 10 years ago and we’re still truckin’.
 

 

Dana Johnson

Profiled on January 8

What is the best part about your current job/role in your company?
When I first joined Pediatric Home Service in 2006, we were much smaller than we are today. I was concerned that I would tire of working for the same company with the same services. But here we are today, 15 years and counting, and I've loved every minute. The care we provide to the medically complex population is incredible. I'm proud to be on a team with unmatched compassion and dedication to our patients. While so much has changed in the past 15 years, the one thing that has remained constant is the focus on the unique needs of each child. It is an honor to lead the marketing efforts for a company that I know provides care better than anyone else. Our culture, our care, and our passion are what keep me engaged in my role each day.  

What’s your favorite thing to do in Minnesota?
I will never pass up a sunshiny day on the boat and cabin time with family and friends. 

What’s the first thing you want to do once things are “back to normal?” 
Enjoy a meal in a restaurant with a large group of friends. Eating great food, enjoying beverages, and just being together. 

Who or what are you inspired by?
I am inspired every single day by my team. I'm lucky to work with individuals who not only work incredibly hard but have fun while doing it. 

What’s something super interesting about yourself?
I love woodworking and home projects. The dangerous side of this is that I also have little to no fear about diving into something that is likely over my head. YouTube videos sure can give a girl a lot of confidence. I've built furniture, remodeled our basement, and laid flooring through our whole house, and still enjoy it all. 

What is your favorite part of your Leadership Minnesota experience so far?
The best part of Leadership Minnesota has, hands-down, been the connections. That's the extrovert, or "orange" in me coming out. (Don't know what I'm talking about? It's a leadership Minnesota thing, I guess you'll have to join next time to discover your true color.) But in addition to getting to know an amazing group of individuals, I've personally and professionally benefitted from the exposure to such a wide variety of local industries. I've worked in pediatric home healthcare for my entire career. It's been eye-opening to get out of my bubble and immerse myself in a different industry in such a short period of time. Having these new experiences and perspective makes me a stronger teammate and employee. 


 

 

sean keefer

Profiled on December 28

What’s your favorite thing to do in Minnesota? 
I have really enjoyed Northern Minnesota, notably the State Parks around Two Harbors. Hiking these parks, fishing or just sitting around a campfire with the family, staring at the stars.

What’s the first thing you want to do once things are “back to normal?”  
Attend a football game, or coach sports at my children’s sports. It gets me out and exercising, but also is rewarding. 

Who or what are you inspired by?
I draw most my inspiration from history. Learning different languages, cultures and lessons they learned has been very relevant to my current role in government relations. 

What’s something super interesting about yourself?
I spent two years in Buenos Aires studying, working and teaching. I married my wife there, and am fluent in Spanish. Also, I wrote a book, “The Basque Decoy”, a historical fiction based in Spain. Not a best seller just yet! 
 

 

Lamar Newburn

Profiled on December 18

What is the best part about your current job/role in your company?  
The people!  As a commercial real estate broker and owner since 2004, relationships are everything. I am the youngest and most recent broker in my office to be promoted to Principal this fall, and have a hand in the continued growth of our office which has doubled in size since January 2020. The tremendously talented team within our shop, breadth of expertise, and drive to serve our clients to the highest degree is humbling and an honor to be a part of.
 
What’s your favorite thing to do in Minnesota?  
I enjoy putting my mid-teens golf handicap up to the test at new golf courses all over the state. Prior to the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, I did not know the depth to which Minnesotans are entrenched into the golf scene but it is truly impressive. If you’re looking to fill out a foursome, I happily welcome all invitations to play a new course…call me!  Additionally, I appreciate time at “the cabin”. Whether it’s time at a friend’s abode, or our own, getting out of the Twin Cities to take in the outdoors is food for the soul.
  
What’s the first thing you want to do once things are “back to normal?”  
I cannot wait to attend live concerts at First Avenue and/or The Armory again.  
 
Who or what are you inspired by?  
The board game, Monopoly. I strive to play the perfect game but it hasn’t happened yet! That said, I have found that there are a number of lessons learned and strategies a player can employ in the game that are also relevant in daily life. A couple of lucky rolls can help too, which again, holds true in the real world.
 
What’s something super interesting about yourself?  
As a former Div. I college football player, there was a time when single repetitions of bench press, squat and power clean combined to total more than 1,000 pounds. Today, knee and back issues steer me towards musical performance as a vocalist and guitarist in a variety of ad hoc real estate rock bands. In full football pads my sophomore year, I sang the national anthem at the homecoming game against Yale, then trotted back to the sidelines to play the game which we won by 1 point (and a blocked field goal as time expired). My vocal cords needed to be warmed up that day!