EVP & General Manager, CENTRIC & President, BET Event Productions BET Event Productions
Paxton Baker is EVP and general manager of CENTRIC, BET’s complementary network targeting the African American and multicultural adult. Baker is also president of BET Event Productions, which produces music festivals, TV specials and concerts throughout the world. In 2006, he was appointed chairman of the Viacom Marketing Council, and for more than six years led more than 35 senior marketing and sales executives across all Viacom properties. In 2008, he co-founded the Viacom Programming Council, comprised of senior programmers from MTV and BET Networks, as well as Paramount Pictures. Prior to joining BET, Baker was president and founder of PKB Arts & Entertainment, which was purchased by BET in April 2000, retaining Baker as president of the newly formed company, BET Event Productions.
As general manager of CENTRIC, Baker has led programming initiatives that continue to win numerous awards, including more than 15 Telly Awards, a local Emmy Award, and in 2008, a GLAAD special recognition award for “fair and inclusive” programming. Baker is chairman of The U.S. Congressional Award, and sits on the boards of The U.S. Senate Preservation board of trustees, The Washington Performing Arts and The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
SVP, Talent Management Services Buffalo Wild Wings
Andrew Block has served as leader of talent management services since 2010. Since joining Buffalo Wild Wings, he has expanded his leadership role by defining a strategic vision for talent and transforming the talent management organization into centers of excellence. In addition, he has aligned and integrated the organizational and team effectiveness area with the broader talent management services organization, launched the internal communication function and created a talent management service center. He plays a key role on the enterprise leadership team. He has made significant contributions to business strategy, while keeping the organization focused on creating an ultimate experience for all team members. He has worked to ensure organizational capabilities are in place to meet the company’s aggressive growth strategies.
Before coming to Buffalo Wild Wings, Block was director of HR at C.H. Robinson Worldwide. Prior to that, he was with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage as director of HR and with Ecolab as human resources representative and compensation specialist. He started his career with Sony Corp. of America in 1993.
Block holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology with an HR concentration from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a master’s degree in industrial relations from the University of Minnesota.
SVP, Human Resources Valmont Industries, Inc.
Vanessa Brown is SVP of HR at Valmont Industries Inc. She is responsible for global human resources processes and programs within Valmont. She joined Valmont in 1973 in the HR department and has held progressively responsible positions within the human resources function in all divisions at Valmont. She was named VP of HR 2011.
Brown attended college at the University of Nebraska Omaha, majoring in business. Currently, she serves on the board of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce and the Nebraska Workforce Development board. She was past president of the Human Resources Association of Omaha and board member for the State Society of Human Resources.
EVP, Human Resources U.S. Bank
SVP, Human Resources Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Walter Chesley, JD
VP, Human Resources Hennepin Healthcare
Walter Chesley, JD, joined Hennepin County Medical Center as VP of HR in 2013. Most recently, Chesley was SVP of HR and development at Universal Hospital Systems. Previously, he served as VP of HR and CAO at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics. He has a record of developing positive workforce and organizational cultures in healthcare organizations and has successfully aligned human resources strategies and programs to improve employee engagement. His community service includes board leadership roles with the Ronald McDonald House Minnesota, Community Health Charities Minnesota, YMCA and other organizations.
Chairman of the Board and CEO Target Corporation
Brian Cornell is board chairman and CEO of Target Corp. He is responsible for Target’s global business, including nearly 1,800 stores in North America, target.com, more than 361,000 team members and millions of guests. Cornell leads the retailer’s 10-person executive leadership team in accelerating Target’s performance, advancing its digital evolution and delivering on its “Expect More. Pay Less.” promise to guests. He joined Target in 2014 after more than 30 years in escalating leadership positions at leading retail and global consumer product companies, including three CEO roles and more than two decades doing business in North America, Asia, Europe and Latin America.
Cornell has served on the board of directors for Polaris Industries Inc. since 2012, and is a past director for several other public companies. He currently serves on the board for UCLA’s Anderson School of Management board of visitors, providing strategic guidance to the dean in advancing the school’s mission, as well as the boards of the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Cornell earned a bachelor’s degree at UCLA and attended Anderson School of Management.
Executive Director of Human Resources Regions Hospital
With more than 20 years of professional experience, Kim Egan enhances Regions Hospital’s human resources department by planning and implementing strategies that align with the organizations mission and vision. She leads a number of areas and currently enjoys finding innovative ways to engage leaders and employees, which has contributed to Regions Hospital being recognized as a best place work. She is responsible for recruitment, compensation, benefits, organizational learning and development, and employee health and well-being.
Regional Manager - Enterprise Solutions Castlight Health Inc.
Patrick Feit is Castlight Health's regional manager of enterprise solutions, based in Minneapolis. He has 23 years of consumer engagement marketing and technology experience and has been privileged to work with many of the world's largest employers. Prior to Castlight, he held senior leadership roles in corporate development, product, marketing and sales at Young America, Digital River, 500friends and Rainmaker Systems. Feit is a University of Minnesota alumnus.
Finance Director - Human Resources Ecolab
Tina Grant is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and leads strategic projects within Ecolab’s HR function. Prior to her current role, she held positions within the company’s finance function, most recently as controller of human resources. In that position, she was responsible for several integration-related financial projects after the company’s 2011 merger with Nalco. She also served in several business unit controller roles, including textile care, during a time of business turnaround.
Grant is a summa cum laude graduate of Clark College, now Clark Atlanta University. She serves on the executive committee of the YWCA St. Paul board and also volunteers her time to Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts and Jack & Jill Inc., Minneapolis chapter.
President, Leadership and Talent Consulting Korn Ferry International
SVP & CHRO Land O'Lakes, Inc.
Loren Heeringa is SVP and CHRO of Land O’Lakes Inc., a $14B Fortune 194 food and agribusiness company. He has more than 30 years of HR and change management experience in multiple companies and industries. Prior to Land O’Lakes, Heeringa was VP of HR at Honeywell International’s global core business and VP of HR at the University of St. Thomas.
Heeringa has a B.A. in psychology from Hamline University and completed coursework for a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology at the University of Minnesota. He is a member of several boards, including co-chair of the board of governors of the CHRO Leadership Summit.
SVP, Human Resources CHS Inc.
Adam Holton is SVP of CHS human resources. Holton directs CHS global comprehensive human resources strategy including talent acquisition and talent management strategies, compensation and benefits, training and leadership development, and overall HR strategies to ensure the company has the human capital to help its customers succeed.
Holton joined CHS in 2014 from GE Healthcare where most recently he served as a senior human resources executive, leading HR functions for GE global services. He held a wide range of HR leadership roles including leading global HR teams in seven different regions, and designing and delivering strategies to support service productivity, consistent performance and growth. He was also responsible for talent and organizational development and design. Holton also spent time at Bank One, acquired by JP Morgan Chase.
Holton earned a bachelor of science in political science from the U.S. Naval Academy. He served for six years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantry officer, spending three years at Camp Pendleton and three years at Quantico. In 2004—2005, he led a reserve unit that deployed to Al Anbar Province, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Assistant Dean of Executive Education Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota
Chief Administrative Officer The Gavilon Group, LLC
VP - Human Resources Global Businesses Ecolab
Mary Kaul-Hottinger is VP of HR global businesses for Ecolab, the global leader in water, hygiene, and energy technologies and services that protect people and vital resources. With 2014 sales of $14B and 47,000 associates, Ecolab delivers comprehensive solutions and on-site service to promote safe food, maintain clean environments, optimize water and energy use, and improve operational efficiencies for customers in the food, healthcare, energy, hospitality, and industrial markets in more than 170 countries around the world. Prior to stepping into this role, she was VP of HR for global institutional. She joined Ecolab in 2007 and brings 25 years of HR experience and expertise to the organization.
Prior to joining Ecolab, Kaul-Hottinger worked for General Mills and Pillsbury for 12 years in various HR positions supporting their foodservice and retail business divisions, information systems, Canada, and supply chain. She began her human resources career at Minnesota Mutual Life Insurance Co., now Securian, in 1986.
Kaul-Hottinger is a summa cum laude graduate of St. Thomas University. She is on the board of the local Tubman organization.
VP, HR Otter Tail Corporation
Paul Knutson is the top human resource officer at Otter Tail Corp., parent company to Otter Tail Power Co., BTD Manufacturing, TO Plastics, Northern Pipe Products, Vinyltech Corp. and Foley Construction Co. He has an extensive background in human resource transformation, HR strategy, leadership development and executive compensation. He has held senior leadership roles as VP of HR, corporate communications, and facilities at Oriental Trading Co. and as SVP of HR and organizational development at Pamida Inc., now part of Shopko. His additional experience includes leadership roles at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Lands’ End and owning his own human resource consulting business.
Knutson has a B.A. in psychology from Concordia College and an M.S. in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Nebraska, Omaha.
Frederick S. Koury joined Pentair in 2003 as SVP of HR and executive officer reporting to Pentair’s chairman and CEO. He is responsible for all human resource functions, communications and the Pentair foundation. Prior to Pentair, he was VP of HR for Limited Brands. He held a range of global human resource leadership roles during a 15-year career with PepsiCo Inc., and began his business career with The Chase Manhattan Bank in New York.
Koury received a bachelor of science in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He is a member of the HR Policy Association and the Human Resources Executive Council of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
EVP & Chief Human Resources Officer Target Corporation
Jodee Kozlak is EVP and CHRO for Target and a member of its executive committee. She sets the strategy for enterprise talent management and organizational design and alignment as well as team culture and employment brand. Her responsibilities support the corporation’s retail and credit card segments including stores, supply chain, headquarters and international operations.
Kozlak joined Target in 2001 as director of employee relations and employee relations general counsel. She was named VP of HR and employee relations in 2005 and EVP of HR reporting to the CEO in 2006. She is also a trustee of the Target Foundation. Prior to joining Target, Kozlak was a partner in the litigation practice of Greene Espel, PLLP. She also previously served as a senior associate at Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly and senior auditor at Arthur Andersen & Co. She is president of the board of directors of The Guthrie Theater and a member of the board of overseers for the Carlson School of Management. She is also on the board of OneVillage, a nonprofit focused on microfinance.
Kozlak received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the College of St. Thomas and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota.
VP, HR Taylor Corporation
Sheila Kramer is VP of HR for Taylor Corp., one of the largest privately held companies in the United States and a premier provider of powerful and intuitive products, services and expertise for more than half of the world’s Fortune 500 companies and millions of small businesses and consumers around the globe. Many of Taylor’s diversified family of companies develop interactive business, printing and marketing solutions, in addition to a host of business identity and loyalty programs.
Prior to joining Taylor, Kramer served as a VP of HR for a number of Lifetouch companies. Earlier in her career, she had a variety of HR roles at Twin Cities organizations including Pillsbury and Carlson Companies.
Kramer has a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management.
Human Resources Director Minnesota Vikings
Lisa Larson begins her 10th season with the Vikings in 2015 and directs the employee relations, benefits, staffing, performance management, compensation, compliance, workers compensation and safety for the Vikings staff. Larson’s responsibilities cover the Vikings players and coaches, full-time staff and more than 400 seasonal and part-time employees. She has more than 20 years of experience in human resources in varied industries, from insurance to printing and manufacturing. Before joining the Vikings in 2006, Larson spent 2004—2006 in human resources at Minnesota-based power sports giant Polaris.
A native of Minnesota, Larson attended Robbinsdale Cooper High School. She captained the North Hennepin Community College softball team before transferring to St. Cloud State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in management with an emphasis in human resources.
VP, Global Human Resources Smiths Medical
Ron Leonhardt leads the global human resources, corporate communications, and environmental health and safety functions for Smiths Medical. He brings a background of more than 18 years of HR and management consulting experience focused on optimizing the management of human capital for global organizations. He joined Smiths in 2009.
Prior to joining Smiths, Leonhardt held several leadership positions during his nine years with Target Corp. In 2006, he spent two years in Shanghai, China, establishing the HR organization to support Target’s global sourcing division and helped build Target’s business process outsourcing center in Bangalore, India. He began his professional career as a consultant with Arthur Andersen’s business consulting group and then with the strategic human capital consulting group at Deloitte & Touche.
Leonhardt holds a bachelor of science in foreign service and international economics from Georgetown University and a master’s in international business from Columbia University. He currently serves on the board of the Human Resources Executive Forum’s Minnesota chapter and the Japan America Society of Minnesota.
VP, Global Operations Korn Ferry International
EVP, Human Resources Ecolab
Laurie Marsh is EVP of HR for Ecolab Inc., the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services that provide and protect clean water, safe food, abundant energy and healthy environments. Ecolab’s 47,000 employees deliver comprehensive programs and services to the food, energy, healthcare, industrial and hospitality markets in more than 170 countries. Previously, Marsh served as VP of total rewards and HR service delivery and technology.
Prior to joining Ecolab in 2011 through a merger with Nalco Holding Co., Marsh was Nalco’s EVP of HR. During her 20-year career with Nalco, she held several positions within the company’s human resources function, including manager of employee benefits, director of workplace planning and staffing, and division vice president of compensation. Marsh also was president of the Nalco Foundation, a role she assumed in 2003 and held until 2012 when the Nalco Foundation was merged with Ecolab.
Marsh has a bachelor of science in interior architecture and design from the University of Wisconsin.
SVP, Human Resources 3M Company
Marlene McGrath focuses on employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, and leadership development in her current role as SVP of HR. Under her direction, 3M has consistently placed on the Best Companies for Leaders list compiled by Chief Executive Magazine and climbed the ranks of Aon Hewitt’s Top Companies for Leaders and Hay Group’s Best Companies for Leadership lists. McGrath began with 3M more than 20 years ago, as a lawyer in the company’s legal department. She also served as a director and VP of HR before being named to the organization’s top spot two years ago.
VP, Human Resources Andersen Corporation
Nancy Merritt is VP of enterprise services. She is responsible for the functions of the enterprise total rewards, compensation and benefits, design and administration, safety and disability management, facilities and security, internal communications, and HR technology services and workforce analytics.
Prior to joining Andersen, Merritt spent nine years with Honeywell and five years with Alliant Techsystems. She held a variety of roles in training and development, staffing, college relations, and compensation. She joined Andersen in 1995 and has held a series of progressively responsible positions in compensation, benefits, mergers and acquisitions, and employee relations.
Merritt has a bachelor of arts in communications and sociology with an emphasis in human resources management from Augsburg College.
Associate General Counsel Employment Ecolab
At Ecolab, Joanne Mullen manages all aspects of employment law issues including litigation, EEOC, Department of Labor and other charges, union and labor consult, job classification issues, policy development and implementation, long-term strategic human resources planning, and other employment-related issues. She works closely with and manages outside counsel from around the country and is accountable to senior leadership regarding the health of Ecolab’s employment policies and practices.
Mullen has practiced in the employment law field for more than 25 years, first in private practice and then in her own business where she worked with large and small corporations, colleges, and universities on varied issues including policy development and implementation, employment-related issues, workplace satisfaction training, mediation facilitation, and compliance reporting. She’s been recognized by her peers as a Leading Minnesota Women Attorney and has been honored by the Minnesota State Bar Association as Attorney of the Year. She is a frequent speaker around the country regarding current employment law issues. Mullen has served on many nonprofit boards including her alma mater, St. Catherine’s University, where she is vice chair.
VP, Human Resources Pella Corporation
In 1999, Karin Peterson was named VP of HR. She reports to the president and CEO. She joined Pella in 1986 as the Boston sales branch’s manager of finance and HR. After five years, she moved to Chicago as subsidiary division controller with responsibility for finance, HR and automated systems. After two years, Peterson was assigned to a systems automation project and led the business design and support aspects of systems that focused on integrating Pella with the sales branches. In 1998, she was promoted to VP of finance and HR at Pella’s second acquisition Viking Industries in Portland, Oregon. Prior, she spent five years with FRAM Corp. and four years selling computer systems with Landmark Development Systems and NCR Corp.
Peterson graduated from Upsala College with a bachelor’s degree in economics. She currently serves on the Central College board of trustees and chairs the Senior Leadership Development and Compensation Committee for Central. She is a member of the Lean Government Collaborative for the State of Iowa. She was recently named the 2014 Iowa Lean Champion by the Iowa Lean Consortium in honor of the significant contributions made to Lean practices for 10 or more years.
VP, Human Resources Apogee Enterprises, Inc.
CEO Land O'Lakes, Inc.
Policinski has more than 30 years of experience in the food industry. He joined Land O’Lakes in 1997, and was appointed president and CEO in 2005. Prior to joining Land O’Lakes, Policinski held leadership positions with Kraft General Foods, Bristol-Myers Squib and The Pillsbury Co.
He is a member of board of directors of several industry associations including Grocery Manufacturers Association, National Milk Producers Federation and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. He is involved in local community boards Greater Twin Cities United Way and Trustee of University of Minnesota Foundation. He is also a member of the board of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign, Xcel Energy and Hormel Foods.
Policinski earned his MBA from New York University, and his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame.
Vice President, Global Talent Solutions 3M Company
Jan Shimanski is currently VP of 3M’s global talent solutions, a position she’s held since 2014. She was most recently VP of 3M global marketing excellence. She rejoined 3M in 2008 after a 12-year career at Medtronic Inc. At Medtronic, she was most recently VP of marketing for Medtronic’s $1B diabetes business. She had several other positions including VP of corporate strategy working directly with two CEOs, and VP and general manager of Medtronic’s blood biologics business. Prior to joining Medtronic, Shimanski worked at 3M for 10 years in a variety of healthcare marketing positions.
Shimanski has her B.A. and MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in business from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
Joanna Starek Ph.D
Senior Partner RHR International, LLP
Dr. Joanna Starek is a senior partner with RHR International, an international firm of management psychologists and consultants. A Ph.D. psychologist with expertise in leadership and organization effectiveness, she specializes in CEO transitions, facilitating the development of high-performance teams, and developing executives for C-suite roles. Since joining RHR International in 2004, she has had the privilege of helping executives and their teams deliver business results in complex, highly competitive environments. Her current client work is focused in the technology sector, retail, consumer products, financial services, and private equity. She currently manages several of the firm’s largest clients, where she leads teams that consult to a number of boards, CEOs and global leadership teams.
Starek’s clients suggest she has an uncanny ability to hone in on what is most critical to the development of individuals and their teams. Prior to joining RHR, Joanna was a faculty member at the University of Colorado Boulder. Some of her research on self-deception and performance was featured on NPR’s Radiolab.
Starek received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Colgate University, her master’s from the University of Colorado Boulder and her Ph.D. from Colorado State University.
Carol Surface, Ph.D.
Chief Human Resources Officer Medtronic plc
Carol Surface is currently the chief human resources officer for Medtronic. Previously, she was EVP and CHRO for Best Buy Co. Inc., a multinational retailer of technology and entertainment products and services. In that role, Surface was responsible for directing and developing the company’s overall human resources strategy including global talent attraction, staffing and retention, leadership development, diversity, organizational design, employee education and development, compensation and benefits, and employee relations. She also had oversight of Best Buy’s legal department.
Prior to joining Best Buy in 2010, Surface spent 10 years at PepsiCo where she held positions as organization and management development director, human resources vice president, and senior vice president of human resources and chief personnel officer for PepsiCo International. In her most recent Dubai-based role, Surface was responsible for all aspects of human resources across the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Africa.
COO Minnesota Vikings Football
Kevin Warren was named COO of the Minnesota Vikings in February 2015. His extensive experience in all business facets of the organization creates the perfect foundation for him to lead the business operations of the organization. He will create strategic efforts for all departments and, along with Mark Wilf and Zygi Wilf, set the vision for the business component of the organization.
Warren is the highest-ranking African-American executive working on the business side for a team in the NFL and is the first African-American COO in the NFL. In 2013, his reputation and NFL experience were recognized when he was named a member of the NFL Committee on Workplace Diversity, which is committed to enhancing and promoting diversity at every level of the NFL. In 2015, Warren enters his 17th season in the NFL and his 11th season with the Vikings. Most recently, Warren was the Vikings’ EVP of legal affairs and chief administrative officer. Prior, he worked with the international law firm of Greenberg Traurig from 2003—2005.
Warren earned a bachelor’s in business administration from Grand Canyon University, a master’s in business administration from Arizona State University, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Notre Dame School of Law.
VP, Services Product Management Appirio
Harry West is a human capital management strategy consultant, joining Appirio after the company’s acquisition of Knowledge Infusion. He helps clients develop strategies around talent management, workforce service delivery, and how to get the most from technology solutions such as Cornerstone OnDemand, Workday, and salesforce.com.