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Staff Directory

St. David's Center Leadership

Our Executive Leadership Team, Senior Program Leadership, and Board of Directors.

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Executive Leadership Team

Julie Sjordal

Julie Sjordal

Chief Executive Officer

Julie brings nearly 30 years of experience to her role as chief executive officer. Over her 28 years at St. David's Center, she has held many roles in direct service, project management and leadership, invariably focused on our community's most vulnerable children and families. Prior to taking on executive leadership, Julie served as managing director of programs, oversaw the approximately 30 programs at St. David's Center and was instrumental in co-developing some of the most innovative programs and collaborative partnerships.

Julie earned her elementary education degree and special education certification from the University of Minnesota. She resides in Golden Valley with her husband, Dan, and their two children.

Erica Tennessen

Erica Tennessen

Chief Operating Officer

As chief operating officer at St. David's Center, Erica is responsible for the oversight of all center- and community-based programs and finance. Since joining the organization in 1997, she has worked in several program leadership positions providing direction to programs serving individuals with enduring special needs. Prior to St. David's Center, Erica worked with at-risk populations including adults with mental illness and children who have been victims of abuse or neglect.

Erica graduated from Providence College with a bachelor's degree in psychology. She resides in Eagan with her husband, Nate, and their four children.

Maureen Walsh

Maureen Walsh

Chief Advancement and Strategy Officer

As chief advancement and strategy officer, Maureen leads the fundraising, communications and marketing, community engagement and advocacy efforts of the organization, in addition to several initiatives that advance the field of early intervention. With a knack for building strong strategic partnerships and a solid program development and evaluation background, earned primarily in urban nonprofit settings, she brings more than 25 years of leadership experience to her role.

Maureen has bachelor's and master's degrees in social work from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She lives in Victoria with her husband, John, and their three children.

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Laura Dornik

Laura Dornik

Director of Policy, Training, and Talent

As director of policy, training & talent, Laura is responsible for St. David’s Center’s human resources function, managing a team of four. She brings more than eight years of human resources experience to her job, including expertise in performance management, employee relations, and benefits. She has worked in small and large businesses including Crutchfield Dermatology, Target Corporation, and Signature Bank.

Laura earned her bachelor’s degree in child psychology from the University of Minnesota and her Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certificate in 2011. She lives in Victoria with her husband, Matt, and three children.

Emily Walton

Emily Walton

Director of Administration and Health Information Management

As director of administration and health information management, Emily is responsible for the oversight of the Central Office of Resources and Enrollment (CORE), Medical Records, HIPAA Compliance, Electronic Medical Record (EMR) implementation, and Operations and Facilities. Emily began her career with St. David’s Center in 2007. Since her hire, she has been an asset to many teams, including Policy Training and Talent, Life-Phase Services, and CORE. Prior to St. David’s Center, Emily worked as a vocational rehabilitation specialist, providing workplace case management and support to adults with special needs.

Emily has a bachelor’s degree in vocational rehabilitation with a dual minor in vocational counseling and psychiatric rehabilitation from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She and her husband, Aaron, currently reside in South Minneapolis with their two daughters.

Senior Program Leadership

Cara Benoit

Cara Benoit, MA, CCC-SLP

Senior Program Director, Pediatric Therapies

Cara has been working as a speech-language pathologist for 19 years, with 18 years of experience in nonprofit organizations. For the past 11 years, she has been the clinical supervisor to the speech therapy team at St. David’s Center, while maintaining her role as an outpatient therapist and as a member of the Multi-Disciplinary Assessment Team.

Cara has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wyoming and a master's degree from Northern Michigan University. She has pursued a wide range of specialized training, including coursework in the areas of language, speech sound production, social communication, literacy, and feeding. Cara lives in Chanhassen with her two teenage daughters and son.

Candice Daulton

Candice Daulton

Senior Program Director, Early Childhood Education

Candice has been with St. David’s Center for 15 years and brings a holistic understanding of the organization to her leadership role in early childhood education. Prior to heading up our ECE program, she held a variety of roles in our life phase services and served as the director of human resources. She brings her passion for working in the social service sector to her position, and specializes in developing new leaders in the field and understanding emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Candice completed a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and has completed graduate-level study in business and nonprofit management. She lives in Blaine with her husband and son.

Stephanie Combey

Stephanie Combey, MSW, LICSW

Senior Program Director, Children’s Mental Health Services

Stephanie provides strategic leadership in the area of children’s mental health services. She brings more than 20 years of program leadership and development in mental health services for children and their families. A Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, she has worked in a wide range of settings, including psychiatric hospital care, outpatient and county social work. Stephanie has been with St. David’s Center since 2005.

Stephanie holds a bachelor's degree from the College of Saint Benedict and a Master of Social Work from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She resides in Eden Prairie with her family.

Lisa Curtis

Lisa Curtis

Senior Program Director, Life Phase Services

Lisa’s career includes years of experience providing services for individuals with lifelong special needs. For the past 17 years, she has worked in a variety of capacities at St. David’s Center, most recently, as the senior director of Life Phase services. She has an extensive background in compliance, business analytics, process improvement, staff recruitment and retention. Her early career began in direct care, helping clients develop independent living skills.

Lisa’s educational experience includes studies at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Lakewood Community College and Normandale Community College, where she received a Graduate Associate in Arts degree. Lisa lives in Hopkins with her husband, Mark, and sons, both of whom are St. David’s Center alumni.

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Paula Frisk

Paula Frisk, MS

Senior Program Director, Home Visiting Programs

Paula oversees St. David’s Center’s Early Childhood Home Visiting program, the Infant Team program, and the Healthy Families program, in addition to working with the Metro Alliance for Healthy Families. Paula joined St. David’s Center in 1999 and spent twelve years in home visiting before becoming director.

With a master’s degree in applied psychology and a Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy, she has more than 20 years of experience working with families and children.

Kate Rickord

Kate Rickord, MA, LP

Senior Director, Foster Care and Adoption Services

Kate Rickord, MA, LP has more than 18 years of experience serving children and families through child welfare, school-based and parent-focused programs. She has a Trauma Studies certificate from the University of Minnesota and currently serves as the steering committee co-chair for Quality Parenting Initiative-Minnesota. Her areas of expertise include trauma, supporting regulatory capacity and identifying caregiver strengths and needs. Kate earned her master’s degree in counseling and psychological services from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and is a licensed psychologist under the MN Board of Psychology since 2009.

Vanessa Slivken

Vanessa Slivken, MA, LMFT

Senior Program Director, Autism Services

Vanessa oversees the Autism Day Treatment and Autism Spectrum Disorder Support Services (ASDSS) programs. She has been leading ASDSS for the past year, returning to St. David’s Center after a number of years in a variety of settings. She has more than twelve years of professional experience in the mental/behavioral health field, has co-founded an autism therapy center, and has consulted with local autism therapy centers, a residential treatment center, and a CTSS agency. Vanessa lives in Plymouth, with her husband and young son.

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Board of Directors, Executive Committee

Webb Friedly

Webb Friedly

Board Chair

Leader of Strategy and Innovation, Target Corporation

Webb Friedly developed an early appreciation for early childhood development shaped by his mother's active participation in starting and directing programs in rural Michigan. He has spent his career internally and externally assisting companies develop and execute their largest enterprise strategies and is currently a leader of strategy and innovation at Target Corporation. A graduate of Albion College, he earned degrees in math, economics and management. Webb and his wife live in Wayzata and have twin daughters who attended St. David’s Center’s Early Childhood Education program.

Alix Colehour

Alixandra Colehour

Past Board Chair

Vice President of Human Capital, Sleep Number

Alixandra Colehour has more than 25 years of leadership experience in organizations at various stages of business development. Currently vice president of human capital with Sleep Number, she is responsible for building a culture of strategic business partnerships, organizational effectiveness and talent management. She is pursuing a business degree from Capella University and received her certification in executive coaching from the Hudson Institute of Coaching. She has three children and four grandchildren and lives in Minnetonka.

John Feste

Treasurer & Chair, Finance and Risk Management Committee

Managing Principal, Marks Group Wealth Management

John Feste is the managing principal of Marks Group Wealth Management, a Minnetonka-based independent investment advisory firm. He is also actively involved with Children’s Hospitals of Minnesota, serving on their Mother Baby Task Force. Feste earned his bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University. He resides in Deephaven with his wife and two children. His son is currently enrolled at St. David’s Center, where Feste also attended preschool as a child.

Jana Simmons

Jana Simmons

Chair, Advancement Committee

Community Volunteer

Jana Simmons has extensive experience in not-for-profit governance, particularly in the healthcare arena. She earned a bachelor's degree from Yale University and a J.D. from Tulane University Law School. Jana was counsel and governance manager for Visiting Nurse Service of New York, a home healthcare agency, and also worked at Bingham Dana in New York City. She started and sold a dog product business featuring a puppy product she designed. She now resides in Plymouth with her husband and daughter.

Lara Glaesman

Lara Glaesman

Secretary

Vice President and General Counsel, Coalesce Holdings

Lara Glaesman is vice president and general counsel at Coalesce Holdings. Her experience is primarily in the areas of creditors’ rights, bankruptcy litigation and commercial litigation. Her practice includes working with businesses in commercial disputes and at all stages of the debt restructuring and recovery process. She is a qualified neutral under Rule 114 of the Minnesota General Rules of Practice and has degrees in political science and geology from Millsaps College, a law degree from Hamline University School of Law and a M.A. in Public Administration from Hamline University. Lara is a published author, a pro bono attorney, a mentor and a community volunteer. She and her son live in Minnetonka.

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Board of Directors, Members at Large

Joe Biller

Joe Biller

Board Member

Managing Director, Sightline Partners

Joe is managing director at SightLine Partners, a private equity firm that invests in late-stage healthcare companies. Since joining SightLine in 2005, Joe has been actively involved in sourcing and completing several secondary and primary transactions in a number of areas within the healthcare industry. He is the father of three children, one of whom has unique needs and attends St. David’s Center. In addition, Joe and his wife co-founded the Shooting Star Foundation, whose mission is to provide financial assistance to Minnesota families for the care and development of children with special needs. Joe and his family live in Chanhassen.

Craig Budolfson

Craig Budolfson

Board Member

Managing Director, Fixed Income Institutional Sales, Piper Jaffray

Craig Budolfson is managing director of fixed income institutional sales at Piper Jaffray. He is in his 17th year with Piper Jaffray and is primarily responsible for the distribution of fixed income products to institutional accounts including insurance companies, large corporations, money managers and trusts. Craig is a University of St. Thomas graduate with a degree in business administration. He and his wife, a biology teacher in the St. Louis Park School District, have twins, both of whom attended St. David’s Center’s Early Childhood Education program.

Robbin Johnson

Robbin Johnson

Board Member

Community Volunteer

Rob Johnson worked for Cargill for 36 years as senior vice president of corporate affairs. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from Yale University, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and attended Yale Law School. During his years of leadership at Cargill and in the community, Rob also served as president of the Cargill Foundation, and as a research fellow at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. For the last several years, Rob has dedicated his leadership efforts to advocacy for policies that support early childhood development with the goal of narrowing the achievement gap in Minnesota. Rob and his wife reside in Wayzata and have two adult daughters.

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Board of Directors, Members at Large

Kate Lovrien

Kate Lovrien

Board Member

Principal, Health System Advisors

Kate Lovrien is a principal with Health System Advisors. Her experience in the healthcare industry spans fifteen years, including eleven years as a strategy consultant and four years in biotechnology. She is also a frequent author and speaker on developing system strategies focused on growth, effectiveness, relevance and capabilities as well as physician alignment and ambulatory development. Kate holds a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Health Administration from the University of Washington. She lives in St. Louis Park with her husband and son.

Tim McGough

Board Member

Executive Vice President and Principal, McGough Construction

As Executive Vice President and Principal of McGough Construction, Tim's diverse experience spans all areas of the business, including strategic planning, operations and business development. Throughout his more than 40-year career, Tim has served on several boards of directors throughout the community in industry, social service and health care organizations. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and currently serves as a board member of Greater MSP. Tim and his wife live in Mendota Heights.

Jeri Meola

Jeri Meola

Board Member

Vice President of Insights, PureSafety Group

For the past 29 years, Jeri was President of SMS Research Advisors, a custom market research firm. Recently, she joined PureSafety Group as the VP of Insights. As a market research professional, Jeri has mastered the "how, what, and why" of gathering voice of the customer insights. With these insights, companies are more purposeful in their decision making, allowing them to grow and prosper by fully operationalizing their customer experience. Jeri is nationally recognized within her industry as a member of Sterling Who’s Who, and has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). Jeri was born and raised in Ohio. She holds an M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Western Michigan University and a B.A. in Psychology from Edinboro University. When not working, you can find Jeri on the golf course.

Amin Mohamed

Amin Mohamed

Board Member

Regional Manager, Common Bond

Amin Mohamed is a Regional Manager at Common Bond. Amin holds a master’s degree in public health administration and global health from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from the Professional University of Utrecht. He was a Policy Fellow at Humphrey School for Public Affairs. He lives in Apple Valley with his wife and three children.

Karin Nelsen

Board Member

Vice President of Legal and Human Resources, Minnesota Vikings

Karin Nelsen joined the Minnesota Vikings as vice president of legal and human resources in 2016 after 18 years with Cargill. Karin joined Cargill in 1998 and supported a broad range of businesses and geographies during her tenure. After working in Minneapolis for nine years, she moved to Moscow in 2007 to serve as lead lawyer for Russia and then on to Geneva, Switzerland as European deputy general counsel, before heading to Singapore where she was named Asia Pacific general counsel. She returned to the United States in 2012 to work as North America general counsel. She received her law degree from the University of Iowa Law School (1993) and earned her undergraduate degree in accounting from Minnesota State University, Mankato (1987), and was recently elected as a member of the American Law Institute.

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Board of Directors, Members at Large

Kristin Madgett

Kristin Schwarze Madgett

Board Member

Chief Operating Officer, Madgett and Peterson, LLC

Kristin Schwarze Madgett is the COO at Madgett and Peterson, a federal civil litigation law firm. She studied neuroscience and developmental psychology at the University of Minnesota and did graduate work in marketing and strategy at Cornell University. Kristin has served in leadership roles with the Junior League of Minneapolis, the LEAD Project, the Minneapolis Club and the Guthrie Theater. She lives in Orono with her husband and their twin boys, who are current students at St. David’s Center.

Debbie Stofer

Debbie Stofer

Board Member

Community Volunteer

Debbie Stofer has served as both a volunteer and staff member of the Guardian ad Litem program for Hennepin County, working with hundreds of client families and numerous attorneys, social workers, and service providers as part of being a court advocate for neglected and/or abused children. She also is a group facilitator for the Downtown Coalition for Grief Support, and has volunteered with Minneapolis Children’s Hospital, the University of Minnesota Children’s Cancer Research Fund, and the Edina Board of Health, among others. She holds a bachelor’s in social work from the College of St. Catherine. Debbie lives in Edina with her husband; they have five sons and seven grandchildren.

Rafael Vasconcellos, M.D.

Board Member

Senior Vice President Medical Affairs, UnitedHealth Group

Born in Brazil, Dr. Rafael Vasconcellos relocated to Minneapolis in 2014 upon accepting a position as Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at UnitedHealthGroup. He has held several leadership positions since earning his medical degree in 2001, including serving as Medical Director of Hospital Pró-Cardíaco, a major cardiac center in Rio de Janeiro. Rafael also served for 13 years as a physician with the Rio de Janeiro Fire Department Air Rescue Unit, performing over 300 air medical evacuations during his tenure. Rafael and his wife live in Plymouth with their four-year-old daughter and three-year-old son.

Allison Wert, M.D.

Board Member

Physician, HCMC

Allison Wert, M.D., is a staff physician in the Department of Medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC). Her work at HCMC focuses on health disparities, complex internal medicine and graduate medical evaluation. She is also an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Allison earned her bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School. She completed her residency in internal medicine at HCMC. Allison resides in Deephaven with her husband and three children; one is a St. David's Center alumnus and two are current St. David's Center students.

Anna White-Lovely

Anna White-Lovely

Board Member

Senior Communications Lead, Cargill

Anna White-Lovely is the senior communications lead for Cargill’s Energy, Transportation and Metals enterprise and Cargill Risk Management. She has more than 20 years of experience in public relations and marketing, including serving as public relations manager for Select Comfort and spending nine years with CarVal Investors, during which time she launched the CarVal Investors brand. She holds a B.A. in public communication from Luther College and an M.A. in speech communication from the University of Minnesota. Anna lives in Eden Prairie with her husband and three sons, each of whom attended the early childhood education program at St. David’s Center.

Nathan Whittier, PsyD, ABPP

Board Member

Consulting Psychologist and Partner, SKS Consulting Group

Dr. Whittier is a Board Certified Organizational and Business Consulting Psychologist, a credential recognizing advanced training and competence within the specialty. In his work at SKS Consulting Group, he collaborates with a variety of organizations to enhance the quality of decision-making in the areas of selection and leadership development. Nate is excited to be a member of the board at St. David’s Center. His wife, Kishon, is a mental health professional working in St. David’s Center's Parent-Child program, and his three children have all benefitted greatly from their experience in the Early Childhood Education program. His experience as a parent at St. David’s Center has been outstanding, and he looks forward to engaging with the organization in his capacity as a board member.

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