Speaker Bios

new_career_pathways_header2013 Career Pathways Forum




Sarah Caruso is president and chief executive officer of Greater Twin Cities United Way, the largest nonprofit social service agency in Minnesota and one of the largest United Ways in the country. Prior to joining Greater Twin Cities United Way in December 2009, Ms. Caruso served as president of the Minnesota Children’s Museum. In 2005, Ms. Caruso was appointed to serve as chair of the Early Care and Education Council. Ms. Caruso came to non-profit leadership from the business sector where she was a commercial banker and held various marketing roles at General Mills. Ms. Caruso has a Master’s in Business Administration from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Arts with high honors in economics from Smith College. She lives in Minneapolis and has three children.


Opening Remarks & Speaker Introduction

KatieClarkSiebenKatie Clark Sieben was appointed DEED Commissioner in October 2012. Prior to that, she served as executive director of the Minnesota Trade Office (MTO), which promotes the creation and retention of jobs and economic prosperity of the state. Katie was responsible for managing the overall strategic direction of the MTO which includes promoting the State of Minnesota and its companies in the global marketplace, introducing companies to foreign buyers and investors, building diplomatic relationships with international delegations and managing a staff of international trade representatives. Katie brings years of experience in business development and recruitment in the private sector with Target Corporation. In addition, she served as the director of community relations for a startup wind energy developer, National Wind, and as finance director for Mark Dayton for a Better Minnesota. Katie graduated from the University of Minnesota and was a recipient of the 2012 MSP Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” Award.


General Session

Vickie ChoitzVickie Choitz is a senior policy analyst on the Workforce Development team at CLASP and director of the Alliance for Quality Career Pathways. She focuses on state and federal policies that increase access to and success in workforce development and postsecondary education for low-income, lower-skilled adults. She provides technical assistance to state agencies on postsecondary, workforce, and career pathways policies and funding. Previously, she was a senior policy analyst at Jobs for the Future and the State Policy Director for the Lifelong Learning Account (LiLA) program at the Council for Adult and Experimental Learning. She has undergraduate degrees in political science and secondary education from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Garrett GrovesGarrett Groves is a Senior Policy Analyst at the National Governors Association, Center for Best Practices. His areas of focus include postsecondary, workforce and economic development policy, with an emphasis on advising governors and state and local leaders on initiatives to bolster talent development and align educational institutions and training programs with industry needs and state economic development strategies. Garrett has issue area expertise in efficiency and effectiveness measures in higher education, workforce and postsecondary data systems integration, performance measurement and return on investment analyses, and postsecondary to workforce transitions including career pathways and sector strategy initiatives. Preceding his work at the NGA Center, Garrett oversaw the rigorous evaluation of education and training programs in the Office of Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Labor.


Employer Panel

Erick AjaxErick Ajax became a third-generation metal-former when he joined his family’s precision metal-stamping company in the early 1980s. His efforts in re-shaping its human resources, employee safety, education, professional development and sales and marketing have helped to transform E.J. Ajax into one of the safest and most productive metal-stamping companies in the world. Erick has contributed to these successful outcomes by championing extensive investments in education and safety. In addition to his contributions to his own company, he has worked with manufacturing and educational organizations at both the state and national level to help to develop the pipeline of skilled workers required for the on-going vitality of the U.S. manufacturing sector. E.J. Ajax was a founding sponsor of the M-Powered program that helps to bring dislocated and disadvantaged workers into manufacturing careers. E.J. Ajax also participates in the National Institute of Metal Stamping (NIMS) apprenticeship program.

Laura Beeth_cropLaura Beeth leads Talent Acquisition at Fairview Health Services. Laura serves on the Governor’s Workforce Development Council, Minneapolis WIB, HealthForce Executive Alliance, Healthcare Education Industry Partnership, Central Corridor Anchor Partnership, Cedar Riverside Partnership, Education Boards, and the MN Hospital Association. Laura has received honors for her leadership in these efforts.



Don BoothroydDon Boothroyd is the Director of Manufacturing for Kellé Company in Minneapolis and has twenty years of experience in project and operations management. He has been featured by Adult Options in Education for developing training for entry level positions in manufacturing. Don is a founding member of the Board of Directors of The Makers Coalition.



Rassoul DastmozdModerator Dr. Rassoul Dastmozd is the president of Saint Paul College—A Community & Technical College, one of the 31 colleges and universities in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the fastest growing two-year comprehensive community college in the MnSCU system. Prior to joining Saint Paul College, Dr. Dastmozd served as vice president of instruction and workforce education at Clark College, the second largest community college in Washington State. He started his teaching career at Indian Hills Community College. Beginning with his initial experience as a community college student and through his continuing professional experience as an educator, mentor and administrator in community colleges, Dr. Dastmozd has become a tireless champion of community colleges.


Lunch Panel

Jessie Hogg-LeslieJessie Hogg-Leslie is Senior Regional Field Director for the eastern United States at National Skills Coalition. She helps create multi-stakeholder coalitions that advocate for workforce policy changes at both the state and federal levels. She provides technical assistance to state partners in the areas of coalition-building, policy analysis and press outreach, and supports more intensive legislative and communications campaigns within targeted states. Prior to joining National Skills Coalition, Jessie was Manager of Strategic Resources and Public Policy for the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, where she built a statewide advocacy network and served as lead policy advocate within Kentucky, in addition to supporting ongoing policy efforts within Ohio. She was previously Deputy Director of Kids Voting Southwest Ohio.

Pat SchrammPat Schramm serves as the Executive Director/CEO of the Workforce Development of South Central WI. Throughout her career, she has worked on what she refers to as workforce system prototypes that have converted into major system changes that have been incorporated in some cases into statewide efforts. Among them were the: Design of Job Centers/One Stop System; the move to Industry Partnerships and Career Pathway training models; lead PI for South Central/Southwest WIRED Initiative. She is the recipient of Madison Magazine Brian Howell award for Excellence in Innovation 2011 and Wisconsin Association of Technical Colleges Boards Tech Champion award.

Brandt WilliamsModerator Brandt Williams is a reporter with MPR News’ Metro Unit. At MPR, Brandt has extensively covered city government, public safety and courts; race and justice; and livability issues in the city of Minneapolis. Before coming to MPR in 2000, Brandt was the executive editor of Insight News, the state’s largest African American-owned newspaper. He was with Insight for eight years. Brandt grew up in Minneapolis and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Speech Communications in 1991.

Byron Zuidema headshotByron Zuidema was appointed a Department of Labor Senior Executive in May 1998 and serves as the ETA Chicago Regional Administrator. Zuidema provides leadership and consultation with national, state and local officials in seeking workforce and economic solutions to meet the needs of employers and workers and develop thriving communities. He has also served on the Transition Team for the Secretary of Labor where he also served as Advisor on the American Recovery Act. He has also served as the DOL ETA Administrative Officer. As a leader he is committed to strong communities which develop the potential of every citizen to become a skilled worker and citizen engaged in the growth of neighborhoods and their regional economy. His public sector work includes extensive senior level experience at the local, state, and federal levels. His private sector experience includes working in the IT field with software and technology companies. He is an experienced speaker at a variety of workforce and community and economic development events.


Morning Workshops

Cynthia Bauerly was appointed deputy commissioner of workforce development at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development in January 2013. In her current role she leads the department’s work of enhancing economic prosperity through workforce training and readiness, ensuring that Minnesotans have the training and certification needed to fill the needs of employers across the state. Bauerly has extensive experience in law, management, and public policy. She has served in key leadership and management roles including as a Commissioner of the Federal Election Commission from 2008-2013, and as Chair of the agency in 2011. She also worked in the United States Senate developing and implementing a broad policy agenda that included working with the Joint Economic Committee of Congress to assess and identify solutions for economic and employment challenges. She has also worked in private practice in both Minnesota and Washington, D.C., most recently as a lawyer at Fredrikson & Byron in Minneapolis.

Elizabeth Creamer is the Director of Education and Workforce Development for the Office of Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell. In that capacity, she provides leadership to Virginia’s Workforce Development and Career Pathways System, helping to align efforts between Education, Commerce and Trade, and Health and Human Services. During her 18 months with the administration, she has worked with nine agencies and the Council for VA’s Future to develop an annual, cross agency score card on VA’s progress in key indicators of work and career readiness, expanded sector strategies and career pathways to address skills shortages in key industry sectors, and driven policy to expand role of the Virginia Workforce Council to reflect all ages and populations of Virginia’s future and current workforce: from middle school career and technical education students to incumbent, displaced, and transitional adult workers. Prior to her appointment, Elizabeth Creamer served as Assistant Vice Chancellor, Career Pathways and Workforce Development Programs, Virginia Community College System (VCCS).

Jaclyn P. Dowd (Jackie) serves as Special Assistant to the Governor for Workforce Innovation. In her capacity, she sits on Governor Mike Pence’s cabinet and serves as an advisor to the Governor on workforce issues. She directly oversees implementation of the Indiana Career Council where she serves as Executive Director, and is responsible for the establishment and oversight of the Indiana Works Councils. Prior to this position, Jackie served as the Deputy Commissioner of Policy, Education and Training for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Before joining the State, Jackie served for five years as project director for the Internship and Career Services department at Butler University. Additionally, Jackie served as the former director of constituent services for a U.S. Congressman where she worked for seven years. Jackie has experience in policy transformation and implementation; curriculum development and instruction; state-wide reform advocacy; employer outreach; development of collaborative partnerships; and creation of counseling and assessment strategies for application one-on-one and in group settings.

Jennifer Foster is the Associate Vice President for Adult Education and Workforce Development/State GED Administrator at the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB). She serves as the State Director for Adult Education and Family Literacy for Illinois and GED Testing. Jennifer has been with the ICCB for the past 13 years and in adult education for more than 24 years. She oversees approximately 90 state and federally funded Adult Education and Family Literacy programs as well as 78 GED Testing Centers in Illinois. Jennifer participated as a partner in the Illinois Shifting Gears Initiative, a Joyce Foundation sponsored project; serves as the Chair of the National Professional Development Consortium (NAEPDC) and the National Council of State Directors of Adult Education (NCSDAE); a member of the National Career Pathway Technical Work Group and the National Reporting Standards Technical Work Group, and has recently worked with the system of adult education to release a new Strategic Plan for Adult Education titled, “Creating Pathways for Adult Learners”. She also has worked on several transition initiatives that examine using “Bridge Programs” as a method of linking more students without a high school diploma or who lack English language skills to postsecondary education occupational pathway programs and the workforce. Jennifer is currently working as the Project Coordinator for the Illinois Accelerating Opportunity Initiative, Jobs for the Future Initiative, a project that blends basic skills and CTE education programs in a high demand occupational area.

Karen Gerdin is a Workforce Education Program Manager for St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS), Adult Basic Education (ABE). Karen has worked for SPPS for 16 years. She has a Master Degree in Adult Basic Education and Human Resource Development from the University of Minnesota.

Tim Harmon is CEO of Workforce Enterprise Services, Inc. a management consulting firm. He has been a consultant to the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) for several years, most recently leading the development of career pathway metrics for the Alliance for Quality Career Pathways.

Jeremy Leffelman is the Assistant Director of the 360° Manufacturing and Applied Engineering ATE Regional Center of Excellence led by Bemidji State University since 2011. He serves as the business outreach/liaison, consortium partner point of contact, as well as being responsible for managing the eTECH program and leads the Pathways Team for 360°. Leffelman spent six years with Jennie-O Turkey Store, a leader in the food processing industry (Hormel subsidiary). He held industrial engineering positions at 3 different facilities, responsible for capital expenditures, budgeting, and process improvements, and was chairman of the ergonomics committee. He then relocated to Bemidji, MN, and worked for TEAM Industries, a manufacturer of drive train components for large manufacturers such as Polaris, Yamaha, and Arctic Cat. Leffelman served in the Minnesota Army National Guard from 1995-2001. He was a team leader, and also conducted training for other soldiers based in Bemidji, MN.

Bruce Lindberg, executive director of Advance IT Minnesota. Prior to his current position, Bruce served in various leadership roles at Inver Hills Community College from 1995 through 2006 as dean of business, dean of student services and executive director of business partnerships. He also spent eight years in higher education with the Graduate School of Business at the University of St. Thomas, and served in management positions with the YMCA of Metropolitan Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Public Schools. Bruce holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in business administration. Recent volunteer work includes serving on the board of directors for Minnesota Computers for Schools and the Upper Midwest Security Alliance.

Bryan Lindsley is the Executive Director of the Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Workforce Innovation Network (MSPWIN), a philanthropic collaborative seeking to strengthen the workforce in the seven-county Minneapolis Saint Paul region. Prior to working for MSPWIN, Bryan was executive director of the Governor’s Workforce Development Council from 2009-2013. He has also worked as a policy analyst, employment counselor and research consultant. Bryan studied race, apartheid and nation-building in southern Africa, and the economics of fair trade coffee in Guatemala. He has a bachelor’s degree in social justice from St. Olaf College and a master’s of public policy with a concentration in community and economic development from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He is an alumnus of the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute.

Joel Luedtke is Senior Program Officer at The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota. In this role he helps design and manage the Foundation’s grantmaking initiatives. Joel also serves as the point person for the Foundation’s funding strategies in the areas of employment and education. Since 2011, he has managed the Phillips Sectoral Employment Initiative and the Foundation’s AmeriCorps*VISTA program. Joel joined the staff as a Program Officer in 2007 and served in that capacity through 2010. During these four years, he had the opportunity to work closely with dozens of Foundation grantees working in a wide array of issue areas. From 1999 to 2007, Joel served as the Director of the Minnesota Council of Churches’ Refugee Services program.

Joe Mulford, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU)

Mary F. Rosenthal is the Director of Workforce Development for HealthforceMinnesota, one of Minnesota’s four Centers of Excellence launched by the Minnesota State College and University System. Her attention is currently focused on initiatives in long term care, mental health care and with community health workers. She came to HealthforceMN from her position as the director of the SEIU 1199NW Training and Education Fund, a union-management Taft Hartley fund for health care workers in the state of Washington. Prior to the Training Fund, she directed the Phillips and East Metro Health Careers Institutes (Twin Cities), community based workforce development organizations, building career ladders for entry level health care workers.


Afternoon Workshops

Krista Hoekstra, MA, RN is the Director of Nursing and Health Sciences at Pine Technical College, in Pine City, MN. She earned a baccalaureate degree in nursing from Bethel College, a Master’s degree in Nursing Education from Bethel University and is currently a doctoral student at Bethel University. Krista has held professional positions in staff and leadership roles in long term care nursing, home care and public health. She taught adult medical/surgical, psychosocial and maternal child health to practical nursing and undergraduate baccalaureate nursing students and has held leadership positions in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system in practical nursing and associate degree nursing programs. She currently oversees the nursing programs as well as the Medical Assistant and other health career programs. She has maintained her expertise in the leadership of the Practical Nursing and Associate Degree Nursing programs through Co-Chairing the Minnesota Associate Degree and Practical Nurse Directors Association. Krista is active in state wide leadership projects with MnSCU, MN Board of Nursing and other organizations.

Nancy James, director of workforce services, manages HIRED’s full range of programs for job seekers and employers throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area. In 2005, she was instrumental in creating a partnership with Hennepin Technical College (HTC) that led to their successful bid for receiving funding from the National Association of Manufacturers Center for Workforce Success Manufacturing Institute. Together, HIRED and HTC created a sector training model program (M-Powered) for the precision metalforming manufacturing industry that won various awards including a Recognition of Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Labor in 2008. She has consulted on sector-based projects within the state, across the country and in the nation of South Africa. Nancy has 30 years’ experience in workforce development. She attended Black Hawk College and the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management where she completed non-profit management certification. Nancy is a 2007 Marano Fellow of the Aspen Institutes Sector Skills Academy.

Brendan C. Kelly, Senior Social Science Research Analyst, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Richard P. Kelly has more than 20 years of experience at Hennepin Technical College working with manufacturing companies creating customized education, training and consulting solutions. He specializes in working with industry clients to develop manufacturing quality and productivity programs including Lean, Six Sigma, production optimization, operations, and workforce development. He has worked collaboratively with institutions throughout Minnesota to develop education programs. He serves as the Program Director for the nationally recognized M-Powered sector initiative, the Youth Offender Apprenticeship program, and the INTSIMBI Project for the National Tooling Initiative, South Africa. In this capacity Rich has been invited to present at several state and national conferences. Rich is proud to be a product of the Minnesota State College and Universities system (MnSCU). He has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Metropolitan State University, where he has also served as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Business Management, and a Bachelors of Arts from St. Cloud State University.

Nick Maryns manages the Governor’s Workforce Development Council (GWFD) Return on Investment Initiative to develop a performance framework for workforce programs statewide. Nick also facilitates policy development and communications for the Council. He has worked as fellow at the Congressional Hunger Center and as an Americorps volunteer in the Minneapolis Public Schools. He has a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Janet M. Paulovich is the Director, English Language Learning and Adult Education and the STEM Bridge Team Lead on the National STEM Consortium Project at AACC. She manages the adult education, ESL and non-credit world languages programs at AACC. In addition, she has been leading the development of an innovative, two-part STEM Bridge designed to bypass traditional developmental education in five new credit STEM certificates currently in development on the National STEM Consortium project. STEM Bridge is designed to contextualize remediation within the STEM programs, quickly building the math, reading/writing, computer skills, and critical thinking skills of underprepared students entering the STEM career pathways.

Brian Paulson is director of innovation strategies at Greater Twin Cities United Way. He has 10 years experience in the social service sector in a variety of positions, from direct practice social work with low income children and families, to more macro practice social work in managing programs, program development and grant making. Brian coordinates United Way’s work in measuring Return on Investment, pay-for-performance models, career pathway programs for low-income populations, and social enterprise. He is also actively engaged in multiple system change efforts related to workforce development including FastTRAC, the Governor’s Workforce Development Council ROI Analysis, and Heading Home Hennepin and Ramsey efforts focused on employment outcomes for homeless community members. Brian is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s School of Social Work with a focus on community practice social work.

Raymond Robertson is Professor of Economics at Macalester College. His research focuses on the union of international, labor, and development economics. He has been published in the American Economic Review and others academic journals. He serves on the advisory board at the Center for Global Development and is a member of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP). He is currently the chair of the US Department of Labor’s National Advisory Committee on Labor Provisions of Free Trade Agreement (NAC). His current work focuses on the effects of the ILO’s Better Work program in Cambodia and other countries, as well as other issues relating to the effects of globalization on workers. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas after spending a year in Mexico as a Fulbright Scholar.

Stefanie Schroeder is Dean of Economic and Work Force Development at Pine Technical College in Pine City, Minnesota. Stefanie brings over 20 years of leadership experience in the private non-profit sector and higher education. She oversees numerous federal and state grant initiatives, customized training and continuing education, employment and training center, early childhood and child care coalitions, and an entrepreneurial department, the Johnson Center for Simulation, which created the Beyond the Classroom: What you really need to know to make it as a CNA semi-serious game. This semi-serious immersive game was designed to augment current training of Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs, in acquiring the interpersonal and psychosocial skills their new career will demand. She is also active on numerous committees and boards, currently serving as board trustee of AllinaHealth Cambridge Medical Center.

Scott J. Sheely has been the Executive Director of the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board, one of 22 such boards in Pennsylvania, since 2000. Vocationally, he has worked as the human resources director of a large mental health agency, the operations manager of a nursing home chain, the associate pastor of a church, and the owner of a regional wholesale jewelry business. A graduate of Franklin and Marshall College in government, Wright State University in mental health counseling, and United Theological Seminary in pastoral counseling, Scott is currently a doctoral candidate in adult and workforce education at Penn State University.

Jen Vanek has been working in the field of adult English as a Second Language since 1995. Jen has supported learners on college campuses, adult learning centers, workforce One-Stops, and in factories. Her recent work centers on research, creating online content for ABE learners, and supporting the professional development of teachers in digital literacy, distance learning, and adult career pathways.