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, 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.
Griensewic Mickelson is an active board and committee member for multiple organizations throughout Minnesota. Currently, Griensewic Mickelson serves as 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 Joint 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 Minnesota Medical Manufacturing Partnership, as part of the EDA’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Program.
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.
Peter Bode is the executive assistant to the executive director of Region Nine. He recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Gustavus Adolphus College, minoring in Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies. He has worked with several presidential and regional political campaigns since 2012, and managed a successful state legislative campaign in 2016. Peter values working towards the betterment of communities’ democratic infrastructure, social justice systems, and equitable human development.
Corree Johnson 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. Linda graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a Bachelor of Science in accounting and business administration along with a minor in business law. She enjoys doing Region Nine’s annual audit and financial reports for the grant programs.
Jessica O’Brien is a community engagement manager at Region Nine. Her primary role is to coordinate community engagement sessions, planning activities and resource development within the region. Jessica has over 18 years of experience in public service initiatives, development of cross-sector teams and diverse partnerships, non-profit leadership, and project design and implementation. She works with state and federal grants, community convening and education, cross-cultural communications, and community development projects. Jessica previously served for five years as the Associate Director for Mankato Refugee Services at the Minnesota Council of Churches.
José William Castellanos joined Region Nine in February 2018 as a community development planner. His primary role with the organization is to assist in developing, planning, researching, implementing and managing diverse programs, and provide grant writing assistance for local units of government and others applying to state and federal programs.
José is passionate about his work, curious to find solutions for locally identified issues, and is greatly motivated by working on a diverse portfolio. He has led local, regional, national, and international public health, health promotion, and prevention initiatives to improve access to health care services. He has planned, designed, implemented, and evaluated multiple award-winning community-based participatory research projects and initiatives and was recognized by the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health with the 2006 Community Partner Star Award. José holds a M.D. degree from the National University of Colombia and earned a Ph.D. degree from the University of Minnesota.
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.
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.
Shawn Schloesser joined Region Nine in January 2019. His work is in regional and local transportation, economic development, community development, and workforce development.
Prior to Region Nine, Shawn served as the Veteran and Military Affairs Representative for Congressman Tim Walz from January 2010 until January 2019. During his career in the military, Shawn served in a variety of positions as both a Non-Commissioned Officer and a Warrant Officer at locations such as Fort Gordon, Georgia; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Seoul and Teague Korea; and Heidelberg Germany. He served as UH-60 Blackhawk Instructor Pilot, Pilot in Command, and Operations Officer for the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) Helicopter Flight Detachment in Belgium, directly supporting the Office of the Supreme Allied Commander – Europe. After 23 years in the military Shawn retired in 2009 and now lives in Saint Peter, Minnesota with his wife and two sons. Shawn holds a Bachelor’s degree in public management from Austin Peay State University and a Master’s degree in public administration from Murray State University. Shawn is an alumni Policy Fellow at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and alumni of the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (MARL) Program at Southwest Minnesota State University. Shawn is the past Board President at the Arts Center of Saint Peter.
The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation based in Owatonna has teamed with the Region Nine Development Commission and the Faribault Diversity Coalition to recruit minority-owned business leaders. Fifteen businesses are being sought out to take part in the 2019 Prosperity Initiative cohort. Eligible businesses include those operated by minorities, women, veterans, persons with disabilities and or […]
NORTH MANKATO — During his presentation on how farmers can and must take better care of ourselves, Dr. Amit Sood said addressing high stress levels begins in the initial moments of our days. Sood founded the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Resilient Mind program and has authored books on stress management, background which made him a […]
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