Alumni Board

The Alumni Board is a governing body of the Augsburg College Alumni Association. The board exists to guide the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations of Augsburg College in serving the valued alumni, parents and friends by providing resources and opportunities to engage alumni with the College and each other through consistent communication, inclusive programming, and intentional relationship building.

The Augsburg Alumni Association is looking for volunteers to serve on the board of directors. All alumni are welcomed and encouraged to apply. To apply or find out more, contact Alumni Director Katie Koch ’01 at

Yvonne Barrett ’93, ’00 MSW

Yvonne Barrett is the Deputy Director of the Office of Indian Policy at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. In her role, she works closely with Minnesota Tribal Nations, promoting government to government relations and enhancing tribal human services infrastructure. Previous to joining DHS, Yvonne spent over 20 years working in the Indian Child Welfare field at Hennepin County and Ain Dah Yung (Our Home) Center. She also has a philanthropic background as a Program Officer at Minnesota Philanthropy Partners and as a Board Member with Tiwahe Foundation, the first local American Indian Community Foundation and the Sundance Family Foundation. Yvonne completed her Masters in Social Work at Augsburg College, with an emphasis on program development, policy and administration. Yvonne is an enrolled member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and is a mother and grandmother.

Cyrus Batheja ’08, ’11 MBA

Cyrus BathejaCyrus Batheja, MBA, PHN, BSN, RN oversees Community Programs at UnitedHealth Group in the United Clinical Services division. His work impacts over 2 million members nationwide across 23 states. He is also the Executive Director of Batheja SLS which is focused on providing the finest care to vulnerable adults and children while promoting independence through a person centered approach. Cyrus earned both his BSN and his MBA from Augsburg College with high honors, and he is a Doctoral candidate at the University of St. Thomas.  His dissertation at the University of St. Thomas concerns executive nurse leadership in a rapidly changing health system.  Cyrus sits on the Sigma Theta Tau International Zeta Chapter (international nursing honor society) board of directors as the Treasurer.

Cyrus has received the Mpls/St Paul Magazine 2013 Outstanding Nurses award in Administrative Leadership, the Optum Hero! Award in the 3rd quarter of 2012, and he is a 2012 March of Dimes Minnesota Nurse of the Year.  Cyrus’ life mission to enhance inclusion and equality; As such, he is dedicated to empowering people to speak up, be heard, and to develop their talents for success, achievement and advancement.

Rick BonlenderRick Bonlender ’78

Rick is an Urban Studies graduate of Augsburg College and has completed the required coursework for his MBA at Metropolitan State University.  Rick began his professional career in community organizing as a senior at Augsburg, interning at the City of Minneapolis, with the nation’s first Community Crime Prevention program.  He also organized energy conservation block clubs and he was Minnesota’s first paid organizer of community gardens working first with Hmong vegetable gardeners for the Self-Reliance Center.  He then worked statewide in all forms of public gardening as the founder of the Minnesota Green program at the Minnesota State Horticultural Society.

Rick then transitioned from twenty years’ experience in building community and plying social capital into a successful career in business banking where he is a trusted advisor and leverages financial capital to help entrepreneurs launch their dreams, grow their businesses and reach their financial goals.  His customers help their communities grow as an employer, provider of needed products and services and through their contributions.  Sixteen years later he is now the Market President in Southern Minnesota for Deerwood Bank helping farmers and small business owners reach their financial goals.

Hannah DietrichHannah Dietrich ’05
Hannah graduated in 2005 with a psychology major and political science minor.  While at Augsburg, she participated in cross country, indoor and outdoor track, and women’s hockey.  Hannah was also a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, served as an orientation leader, was a RA in Urness Hall and a member of the grounds crew under Bruce Rowe.  She assisted Missy Strauch as a student athletic trainer and Nancy Steblay in a research project.

Hannah joined the Alumni Board to stay connected to Augsburg and to find ways to give back to the college.  Hannah says, “Much of where I am today is a direct result of the people I met and worked with at Augsburg, and the things I learned as an undergraduate. I am thankful to give back to a place from which I gained so much.”

Hannah’s husband Nathan Swanson ’05 is a fellow Auggie, as is her sister, Sadie Dietrich ’09 and brother in law, John Singleton ’09. She and Nathan enjoy spending their free time riding their bikes all around Minneapolis, indulging in the local coffee and ice cream shops, or snuggling on the couch with their rescue pups. Hannah works for Hennepin County doing program evaluation research and loves being able to connect with and give back to her community through her work.

Adrienne Kuchler EldridgeAdrienne Kuchler Eldridge ’02

Adrienne (Kuchler) Eldridge graduated in 2002 with a degree in Youth and Family Ministry. Her experiences and relationships at Augsburg College inspired the vocation of mentoring young people through hands-on learning and leadership. This has lead Adrienne to multiple professional experiences from an urban collaborative youth ministry program with Lutheran churches in St. Paul, to booking agent for a local Lutheran hip hop artist, to camping leadership and training for teenagers, to charter school administration. Adrienne now works in charter school administration at a small experiential learning high school. Adrienne is a graduate student at St. Catherine’s University in the Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership program with a concentration in ethics and leadership, focusing on leading and mentoring young people. As a member of the Alumni Board she seeks to represent students and graduates from the human services fields such as youth ministry, social work, and education through awareness of the great connections and opportunities that Augsburg College provides. She lives in Saint Paul with her family and enjoys every opportunity to get outside and be inspired by nature.

Derek-FrancisDerek Francis ’08 

Derek is a native of the Twin Cities and graduated from Augsburg in 2008 with a BA in Mass Communications and Broadcasting. He held a position with Student Paths where he presented lessons to high school students around preparing for post secondary education. Derek went on to the University of Minnesota and earned his MA in Counseling and Student Personnel. Derek is currently employed at Champlin Park High School. He was previously at North High School in Minneapolis for four years where he helped improve graduation rates and college applicatiosn. While at Augsburg, Derek enjoyed being a member of the basketball and football team. In his free time, Derek enjoys playing basketball and cooking. Derek joined the Augsburg Alumni Board because he truly sees Augsburg as a great school for students who desire a great education and a diverse environment.

Lori Higgins ’94, ’12 MAL

Lori Higgins graduated from Augsburg with a BA in International Relations and German. Without hesitation, she chose Augsburg College for her Master’s and earned her MAL degree in 2012.

In 2010 Lori was chosen as the first female chief executive officer for the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce, which is the 3rd largest chamber of commerce in the metro and serves over 700 businesses in the Anoka County area. As President, she oversees the advocacy, programming, operations and strategic vision of the organization.

Being an active community member is a passion of hers. She currently serves on several boards including the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. She joined the Alumni Board in 2016 because she feels a deep connection to the school and wants to help further its mission. She looks forward to developing an even stronger relationship with the institution as well as connecting with other alumni.

Lori lives in Blaine with her husband and two daughters.

Melissa HoepnerMelissa Hoepner ’92

Melissa Hoepner has more than 15 years of human resources management experience, providing leadership and coaching to employees, managers and companies. She has a passion for wellness, workplace flexibility and culture change. In her consulting practice she works with employers on employer branding, recruiting, HR process and policy development, legal compliance, benefits design & analysis, leadership team building, and wellness programs.

In her spare time she enjoys travel, cooking and networking. She also volunteers to help others with resume building, LinkedIn and job networking skills.

Jay HowardJay Howard ’03

Jay Howard graduated from Augsburg with a BA in Business Administration. Jay also earned his MBA from Hamline University School of Business in 2012. Involved in various aspects of sales management for the majority of his career, he is currently the Director of Global Sales for a Eden Prairie, MN-based software company called ICS and oversees all areas of business development.

Jay joined the Alumni board in 2015 because he wanted to give back to the school that helped shape him professionally and personally. Developing meaningful alumni and student relationships is his main goal, in hopes that continuing to build an already strong Auggie community will provide great value to the students at Augsburg.

Jay lives in Eden Prairie, and is a proud husband and father of two. He enjoys volunteering in his spare time, serving on committees for the American Marketing Association and giving time to Feed My Starving Children. Jay is a huge Vikings fan and season ticket holder and a dedicated runner, participating in half marathons.

Patricia JespersonPatricia Jesperson ’95

Patricia Jesperson, Chief Curiosity Officer, mMarple LLC. works with existing and prospective clients to provide a full complement of talent management services. Patricia has a career steeped in providing talent management and communication solutions to the C-Suite and Human Resource Professionals. Anchored in Diversity & Inclusion and Total Rewards, Patricia brings her experience of working with ProGroup (now KornFerry), a national leader in diversity and Inclusion services, and most recently with the international consulting firm of Arthur J. Gallagher.

Patricia divides time between Minneapolis and the Brainerd lakes area. She is an avid and enthusiastic volunteer: Chair of the MN Chamber, Education & Workforce Development Policy Committee, Augsburg College Alumni Board, MN SHRM State Council, and past board member with Human Resource Professionals of MN, along with numerous conference programming committees.Josh

Josh Krob ’08

Josh Krob graduated with a double major in business management and marketing while earning a minor in economics. An Auggie through and through, he earned his MBA in 2015 from Augsburg College as well. Professionally he works for a startup company called Gravie; they provide an innovative way to purchase health insurance for businesses. Prior to joining Gravie, he was an Employee Benefits Consultant within the Insurance Brokerage & Consulting Practice of Wells Fargo Insurance Services where much of his focus was centered on consulting strategies regarding the effects of Health Care Reform. He joined the Young Alumni Council in 2012 because he enjoys helping out fellow Auggies and looks forward to expanding our network in the community. Born and raised in Apple Valley, Josh currently lives in the southeast metro with his wife Chelsea and pup Jax.

Adriana MatzkeAdriana Matzke ’13

Adriana graduated from the WEC program in 2013, Cum Laude with a degree in Business Management. She also holds an Associates Degree in Accounting from Hennepin Technical College. She joined the Alumni Board as a way to give back to the school, and to help guarantee a WEC voice on the board. She is currently the Associate Director of Financial Assistance and Middle School Admissions Coordinator at The Blake School. Adriana has worked at The Blake School for 14 years.

Adriana lives in Maple Grove with her husband, Kelly and their two children Tyler and William. As a family, they enjoy camping at many of Minnesota’s State Parks. Her oldest son will graduate from Blake this Spring and will head to The University of Wisconsin Madison in the Fall.

Chau Tina NguyenChau Tina Nguyen ’08

Tina graduated from Augsburg in 2008 with a degree in international business and math.  While a student, she was active in ASA, ISO and Reslife.  She joined the Alumni Board because Augsburg has been a blessing in her life, having been here for her when she was trying to find her place in the world and now when she knows where she belongs and what she needs to do to fulfill her vocation.  She is happy to be giving back to the school that has given her the best time and best friends of her life.

Tina came to Augsburg as an international student and is thankful for the support she received from Jim Trelstad-Porter and Jim and Kathy Haglund.  She currently works at U.S. Bank as a model coordinator/modeler, and I has had the most amazing woman as her champion, Jenny Carlson, who was also introduced to her through Augsburg.  “I thank God and owe my life to Him for sending me everything I am blessed to have,” Tina says.

Janeece Oatman ’05

Janeece (Adams) Oatman graduated from Augsburg College in 2005 with a BA/BS dual degree in psychology and biology. While completing a pre-medicine academic track, she also picked up a minor in chemistry. During her time at Augsburg, she participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), served as President of the Beta Beta Beta Biology Honors Society, assisted underclassmen as an AugSem leader, and served as a multi-year supplemental instructor (SI) for the psychology department’s research methods classes. Janeece also has a passion for music; a deciding factor in choosing Augsburg was the music department’s willingness to allow her to participate in the jazz band and gospel praise group and apply for a performing arts scholarship, even though she wasn’t a music major.

Janeece elected not to attend medical school after graduating from Augsburg and instead found her vocation in the non-profit healthcare industry. Currently, she is the Development Director for the American Diabetes Association (ADA), serving the Minnesota Area. Since joining the ADA in 2009, she has led the rapid growth of the Twin Cities Tour de Curefundraising event to the million dollar level with strong support from volunteer committee members. She is the 2012 national winner of the ADA’s highly distinguished “RAM award,” recognizing her success in fundraising through retention, acquisition, and management, as well as a peer to peer mentor and member of the ADA’s product team.

Marie OdenbrettMarie Odenbrett ’01

Marie (Eddy) Odenbrett ’01 majored in English and minored in Nordic Area Studies while at Augsburg. Marie has worked in non-profit fundraising since 2007. Currently, Marie is a development officer with the Fairview Foundation.  Marie is married to Brent Odenbrett ’02, and they have two daughters Annika (11) and Emma Louise (8).  Marie’s interests include reading, crafts, traveling, and spending time with her family.  Marie wanted to join the Alumni Board to stay engaged with the alumni community and to encourage engagement and participation of other alumni.

Mary Prevost ’12 MBA
Mary Prevost

Mary Prevost graduated in ’12 with an MBA, after receiving her BA in Mass Communications with emphasis in Public Relations and News Editorial from Colorado Mesa University and an A.A.S. in Radio/TV Broadcasting from Central Wyoming College. Prevost has over a decade of experience in public relations and is owner of MJP Strategic Communications. Prevost was excited to join the Alumni Board to give back to the Augsburg community and help raise awareness of such a great institution. Originally from Wyoming, Prevost and her husband, Joel (also a ’12 MBA graduate), have made Minnesota home for several years and enjoy spending time cheering on the Vikings and Twins with their two kids.

Brad RandallBrad Randall ’13

Brad graduated from the WEC program in 2013 with a degree in Management. He joined the board as a way to expand his own experience and as a way to ensure the adult programs are more included in the Augsburg experience. He is currently a Mechanical Maintenance Planner at the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant owned by Xcel Energy. He has worked in various positions at the plant for the last 15 years. Brad previously served nine years as a Cavalry Scout with the U.S. Army and Minnesota National Guard along with two deployments to Bosnia-Herzegovina. He has also served as a volunteer on two different fire departments in the past.

Brad currently lives in Big Lake with his wife, La Tosha, and their two rescued pit bulls, Gus and Ziva. He is an active member of the Zuhrah Shrine Horse Patrol supporting the local Shriners Hospitals for Children- Twin Cities and a Mason in the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. Brad and his wife enjoy traveling as often as they can and supporting animal conservation groups. His wife is also a graduate of Augsburg having received her MBA in 2012.

Nick RathmannNick Rathmann ’03

Nick Rathmann serves as Athletic Director at The Blake School, an independent college prep school in Minneapolis, MN.  The Blake School has 34 varsity programs and competes in the Independent Metro Athletic Conference.  It has won the Minnesota State High School League Challenge Cup for the past four years which recognizes excellence in athletics.  Prior to his appointment as Athletic Director, Rathmann served as a Social Studies Teacher along with head boys basketball coach, assistant baseball and football coach responsibilities for 8 years.  He also worked in the front office of the St Cloud River Bats in the Northwoods League.

Nick proudly graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis MN with a BA in Education while playing both basketball and baseball.  He credits several faculty members and coaches for having a major impact in his life. Recently, he completed his MA in Sports Management and Administration from Concordia University St Paul.  Nick lives in Eden Prairie with his wife, Shannon, step son Max, and daughter Lyla.

Meg Schmidt-SawyerMeg Schmidt-Sawyer ’00

Meg grew up in St. Paul, MN and graduated from Augsburg College in 2000 with a major in business administration and a minor in management information systems. She held a variety of corporate jobs before joining a non-profit organization called Youth Encounter in 2008. Before working at Youth Encounter, she worked in marketing communications for a research company, a manufacturing company, U.S. Bank, a division of Sprint and in PR for the Minnesota Vikings. While at Augsburg she participated in women’s hockey, golf, and softball. She was also a member of Campus Ministry, Student-Athlete Mentor Program, and FCA – Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership team. Meg was inducted into the Augsburg Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012 for women’s hockey. In her free time, Meg enjoys photography, scrapbooking, and spending time with her two boys and husband. She still plays competitive hockey with ten of her teammates from Augsburg.

Greg SchnaglGreg Schnagl ’91

Greg Schnagl is a Minnesota native who graduated with a BA in Management and Minors in Economics and MIS. Post-graduation, Greg changed career paths and earned his teaching certification at the University of Guam. Since 1992, he has held teaching positions with various schools across MN, VA, and Guam. Greg is currently employed at Hamline University where he is part of the team in the Offices of Clinical experiences in the School of Education guiding teacher candidates to licensure. He joined the Alumni Board in 2014 because he is passionate about supporting Augsburg students in their transition into the workplace as he furthers the mission of Augsburg. Greg lives with his wife, Molly (’92), and two teenage children in Lino Lakes and enjoys spending time with his old, Auggie football buddies.

Howie SmithHowie Smith ’80
Howie graduated in 1980 with a double major in Social Science Education and Physical Education/Coaching. He is a Sr. Manager, Talent Development for Ameriprise Financial and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Leadership at Augsburg. Howie lives in So. Mpls, and has three children, two of which also graduated from Augsburg (Austin Smith ’14, and Alexandra (Ali) Smith ’15). He is passionate about Augsburg, having also served on the Parent and Family Council, and views his service on the Alumni Board as one more way to give back in terms of his time, talent and treasure. Howie says, “ I will always be a part of the Augsburg family, staying active on campus in the lives of the students and the advancement of the college!”

Jill WatsonJill Watson ’10 MBA

Jill joined the board to deepen her personal connection to the college. As an MBA student, there wasn’t necessarily a deep rooted connection to what it meant to be an Auggie, but she felt there could be more to it. Upon joining the board, Jill found a passion she wishes she had found as a freshman! She says, “The community is full of compassion, and welcoming to all; it made me want to be here more, get more involved, and build connections with more people at the college — student, faculty, and staff!”

Jill is an IT Business Analyst Consultant working with clients across the country, in various industries.  When not working, she teaches yoga and occasionally coaches a CrossFit class.  She enjoys spending time outdoors getting fresh air.  Jill plays volleyball year round, and in the summer she likes to golf and bike; her winter sports are downhill skiing and snowshoeing (Mother Nature permitting).