Nicole Griensewic Mickelson’s passion for public service is reflected in Region Nine’s accomplishments, including national innovation awards for transportation projects, communications and marketing, climate change, medical device manufacturing, and flood mitigation. As executive director, Griensewic Mickelson has made it a priority to foster collaboration and engagement by sharing Region Nine’s story both regionally and globally. At the third Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship tour, Griensewic Mickelson was asked to present to leaders from 28 countries, highlighting efforts and best practices from Region Nine. In 2018, Griensewic Mickelson was asked to be an ambassador for the Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, a two-year appointment, as well as selected to participate in the Transatlantic Cluster Initiative program.
Griensewic Mickelson is an active board and committee member for multiple organizations throughout Minnesota. Griensewic Mickelson is the immediate past President of the Greater Minnesota Partnership, and is an executive committee member for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies, where she serves as chair of the Governance Committee. Griensewic Mickelson also serves as secretary of Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota’s Governing Board of Directors and as chair of their Governance Committee and serves as an advisory board member for South Central College’s Center for Agriculture. Lastly, she serves on the executive committee for the MACS Board, Minnesotans for the American Community Survey Board of Directors.
Griensewic Mickelson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Elizabeth Kearney Woman’s Leadership Institute. She received the 2017 Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Her professional background includes extensive private sector and non-profit leadership experience.
Heather Bartelt joined Region Nine in November of 2019 as an executive assistant. Over the course of her 12-year career and several years’ experience supporting a successful sales team, she has developed a passion for working with individuals from various backgrounds. Heather completed her Bachelor of Science in Sociology at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Corree Stamschror joined Region Nine in August of 2018 as a communications specialist. With her expertise in marketing, social media, and communications, she will work to further increase Region Nine’s brand presence and impact throughout the region.
Originally from rural Southeast Minnesota, Corree is passionate about educating rural communities and entrepreneurs on marketing and communication strategies. Corree completed her Bachelor of Science in Marketing Communications at Bemidji State University, and holds multiple certifications relating to social marketing.
For the past thirteen years, Lu Vanderwerf has worked for Region Nine as the organization’s finance director. She has administrated the Region Nine’s Revolving Loan Funds for the last ten years, and serves as a member on the Board of the 504 Corporation.
Lu enjoys seeing the new ideas that come through the loan funds and watching them take shape and become businesses. She appreciates being a part of an organization that helps communities grow through new businesses, added jobs, and needed services.
Lu was raised in the New Ulm area and attended St. Cloud State University and Minnesota State University, Mankato where she earned a degree in accounting. Prior to Region Nine, Lu worked in the private sector for MCG and Parker Hannifin in New Ulm. She also served as the corporate credit manager for Norwood in Sleepy Eye. She currently lives in New Ulm with her husband of 38 years.
Linda Wallace is the Senior Financial Accountant/RLF Assistant at Region Nine. Wallace graduated from Minnesota State University Mankato, Mankato, with a Bachelor of Science in accounting and business administration along with a minor in business law. Wallace understands the accounting principles and the process of summarizing, analyzing, and reporting of transactions. For Region Nine, Wallace works to maintain the financial stability of the organization, prepares many financial reports for grant programs, and completes the organization’s annual audit.
Kristian Braekkan joined Region Nine in February 2018. His work relates to resource development, economic development, and industrial projects.
Kristian completed his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in 2010. His research on industrial relations spans a wide variety of contexts, such as steel, coal, health care, manufacturing, and service industries. He has presented and published his research domestically and internationally.
Shawn Schloesser joined Region Nine in February 2019. He works in community, economic, and workforce development as well as regional and local transportation.
Shawn, a native of Le Center, is a graduate of Austin Peay State University (BS) and Murray State University (MPA). He joined Region Nine after serving nine years on congressional staff for Congressman Tim Walz. There he provided outreach and engagement with veterans, service members, and their families; legislative policy development and implementation oversight with the House Veterans Affairs Committee; and community engagement for rural vitality and disaster support across the 21-county region. Prior to that role, Shawn retired from the Army after 23 years as a Chief Warrant Officer 4. He served in a variety of positions from radio repairman to Blackhawk helicopter pilot in the southern United States , South Korea, Germany, and Belgium. Shawn is an alumnus Policy Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, an alumnus of the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership program at Southwest Minnesota State University, and the past Board President of the Arts Center of Saint Peter.
Kyle Hoffman joined Region Nine in July 2019 as a community development planner. He works in community, economic, and workforce development as well as regional and local transportation.
As a fifth-generation southern Minnesotan and lifelong resident of the Mankato area, Kyle is passionate about serving his community. Prior to joining Region Nine, he served on the congressional staff of former Congressman (now Governor) Tim Walz, providing outreach, community engagement, and constituent services; acted as a legislative aide in the Minnesota State Senate, specializing in transportation and state government administration issues; managed a competitive state senate campaign in Greater Minnesota; and acted as a senior aide to a nationally-recognized congressional race. He holds a B.S. in Political Science from Minnesota State University-Mankato.
Joel Hanif joined Region Nine in September 2019 as a community development planner. His work includes community and economic development planning.
Joel is a native of Columbus, Georgia and a new transplant to Minnesota. Prior to joining Region Nine, he worked as a regional planner and community developer for the River Valley Regional Commission in Americus, Georgia. There, he worked on local and regional comprehensive plans, Community Development Block Grants, and other planning and grant projects. He became an AICP certified planner in January 2019. Joel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and a Master of Environmental Planning and Design from the University of Georgia.
Sam Smith joined Region Nine in March 2018. Smith has worked in rural business development and nonprofit leadership throughout southern Minnesota since 2010 after a five-year career as an award-winning newspaper reporter. He has supported growth at organizations as large as Mayo Clinic and as small as a corner grocery store. Throughout, his interests have focused on the intersection of entrepreneurship and sustainable development. He holds a B.A. in English, pre-medicine from University of Illinois and an M.S. in journalism from the same.
By Deb Moldaschel, Editor One topic in particular that stood out for Sleepy Eye is the need for English Language Learner (ELL) classes in town. In early November a large group of people from Sleepy Eye, Springfield, and New Ulm, gathered at the Sleepy Eye Event Center to participate in the Welcoming Communities Assessment. The […]