Category Archives: Foundation impact

Technovation [MN]

TECHNOVATION [MN] TAKES SERIOUSLY THE FACT THAT GIRLS ARE UNDERREPRESENTED IN STEM. Technovation [MN] makes it possible for Minnesota’s girls to compete in the world’s largest global technology entrepreneurship competition. They inspire and enable teen girls to dream up, design, code and pitch mobile phone apps that solve a real-world problem.  Working with mentors, all-girl teams develop a real-world combination of technical and entrepreneurial skills.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Technovation [MN]’s CEO and Co-Founder, Shawn Stavseth.  Shawn has been instrumental in building this all-volunteer nonprofit organization over the past 6 years.  Having also attended a board meeting, I am impressed with her ability to embrace the organization’s successes and innovate for the future.

Technovation [MN] hosted Appapalooza on May 12th at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  Applapalooza is the finale of the Technovation Challenge in Minnesota. More than 80 teams of high school and middle school girls spent three months imagining, designing and building mobile apps to solve community problems to compete in this international app building challenge.

The 2017/2018 Technovation[MN] season came to a close with a record number of girls participating in the program as well as mentors, volunteers, judges, sponsors and donors.  As a way to say thank you to everyone who supports the organization,  Technovation[MN] invited all former and current mentors, volunteers, judges, sponsors and donors to attend our Community Appreciation Event on May 30 at the Science Museum in St. Paul. They also invited anyone who was interested in learning more about Technovation[MN] and how to get involved with the organization.

Exponential growth is expected in the 2018/2019 season. To learn more about how you and/or your organization can be mentors for the 12-week program beginning this winter, judges for the next Appapalooza in May 2019, or sponsors, here is a link to their website:


Women Business Owners Hall of Fame

TRAILBLAZERS. Advice from these business savvy entrepreneurs: Be the light, define success on your own terms, and do not let yesterday take too much of today. Good words to live by.

The theme of this year’s Women Business Owners Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was Lighting the Way. The event “recognizes Minnesota’s most successful  female entrepreneurs and their advocates who have made significant and enduring contributions to impact women’s entrepreneurial development.” It is established by the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and held at the Golden Valley Country Club on May 1, 2018.

Inductees were selected because they:

  • Made enduring contributions to Minnesota’s entrepreneurial community
  • Made an impact on women’s entrepreneurial development in Minnesota
  • Had a meaningful connection to Minnesota (place of birth, education, and/or business location)
  • Demonstrated leadership qualities or a spirit of entrepreneurial innovation that can serve as an inspiration to future generations of Minnesota entrepreneurs

This year’s inductees included:

  • Mary Jo Copeland, Sharing & Caring Hands
  • Cathy Cruz Gooch, Catalina Mexican Foods
  • Valerie Doherty, Doherty Staffing Solutions
  • Linda Hartinger-Lee, Anchor Paper
  • Beth Kieffer Leonard, Lurie, LLP
  • Robin Kocina, Media Relations Agency
  • Nancy Libersky, Minnesota District Office of U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Kathleen Meyer, Meyer Contracting
  • Nelle Palmer, Lowell Inn

They were introduced by other dynamic women including Senator Amy Klobuchar, Lilli Hall and Sonya Roberts.

This evening inspired the attendees to continue to work hard and pursue their dreams.

CornerHouse Blue Kids Breakfast

THIS SHOULD NEVER EVER HAPPEN TO A CHILD.  One in four girls. One in six boys.  And CornerHouse is there to listen and and support the victims of sexual abuse and those that have witnessed a violent event and their families.

The Blue Kids Breakfast this year was held at the Golden Valley Country Club.  Approximately 400 business leaders, elected officials, police officers, sheriffs, board members, community members and staff came together to support the work of CornerHouse.  The program featured three incredibly strong individuals sharing the stories of their children’s abuse.

  • Archelle Georgio shared the very recent story of her daughter’s abuse at a school dance.
  • Patty Wetterling shared the story of Jacob’s abduction, abuse and murder.
  • Jim George shared the story of his son’s abuse by a prominent neighbor.

They all talked about the abuse’s profound impact on their children and their families.

CornerHouse is a Child Advocacy Center located in Minneapolis and Rogers.  The organization provides forensic interviewing for children and vulnerable adults and related family services locally.  CornerHouse also provides training internationally.  I am a proud past Chair of the Board and Board Member for 9 years.  For more information, please see CornerHouse website at



Celebrating International Women’s Day

BRAVE, NOT PERFECT.   If I could only choose one thing to take away from this women’s leadership conference, it would be Kristi Hemmer’s message of empowerment to be “brave, not perfect.”  This really resonated with me.  I appreciated her description of the many times she chose the option that looked perfect on paper and then later realized she was miserable.  Once she started choosing the “brave” option, the one that was right for her, she had a good life.  She describes herself as “unapologetically me” and left us with the question…”What is “perfect” stopping you from doing today?”

This all-day leadership conference was held at the Millennium Hotel in Minneapolis and sponsored by ACG Minnesota, MNCREW and Corvus North.  It was targeted toward women leaders and aspiring leaders in commercial real estate, mergers & acquisitions, law, corporate finance, and nonprofit leadership. This first annual event was sold out.

The event began with inspiring talks by these women, each leaving the audience with thought-provoking questions:

  • Kristin Hemmer, Founder/President of AWEinc
    • What is perfect stopping you from doing today?
  • Amalia Moreno-Damgaard, Founder/CEO of Amalia LLC &
    • What are you doing to fulfill your dream?
  • Jennifer Smith, CEO and President of Innovative Solutions
    • Are you evaluating your decisions through your core value lens?
  • Sue Hawks, Best Selling Author
    • Are you using both your intellect and intuition to make decisions?

Keynote speakers included Diana Pierce and Crystal Washington.  Roundtable breakout sessions focused on negotiating for what you want, women in the boardroom and unlearning to learn.  On an individual level, be prepared and know your value were key themes.  Boards have precious few seats; therefore, they need to make sure that there is both a cultural and content fit.  For companies, boards are making strategic decisions and need board members that have advanced thinking, can work well with others, and can advance initiatives.

The day provided engaging and thought-provoking speakers, interactive workshops, and networking opportunities.  Special thanks to Pam Moret, Director/Chair of the Bush Foundation and Jeanne Crain, President and CEO of Bremer Financial Corporation for the opportunity to meet and connect further on a number of strategic topics including boards and innovation.

For more photos from this event, please see the Gallery.

The BOLD Awards

THE BOLD AWARDS celebrate industry’s boldest bets, daring strategies, innovative approaches, and collaborative leaders and teams.  This event recognized finalists and winners for their imagination and extraordinary efforts to grow Minnesota.

This was a gala celebration where inspiring stories were shared.  All of the organizations vying for the title of BOLDEST OF THE BOLD were here because they had created new business models, partnerships or services.  The energy in the room was palpable as the onsite voting results of the 300 in attendance were tallied.

The 2018 BOLD Award finalists and winners by category were:


  • Bunker Labs Minneapolis
  • Cookie Cart
  • Cornerstone (winner!)

Early Stage

  • Autonomous Tractor Corporation (winner!)
  • Foreverence
  • Roosevelt Energy

Corporate Small

  • Duke Cannon Supply Co.
  • HED Cycling Products (winner!)
  • Inspire Medical Systems

Middle Market

  • Bite Squad
  • Perforce Software
  • Ralco Agriculture (winner!)

Corporate Large

  • Kraus-Anderson
  • Restaurant Technologies (winner!)

The 6th annual BOLD Awards were hosted by ACG Minnesota and held at the Muse Event Center in Minneapolis.  Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) has chapters worldwide representing 14,500 members.  ACG serves 90,000 investors owners, executives, lenders and advisors to growing middle-market companies.  ACG’s mission is to drive middle-market growth.  Elements Group is a proud member of ACG.