7 People, 7 Passions, 7 Minutes

Come hear insightful talks from 7 passionate Auggies as we take over Sisyphus Brewing! This “mini-Ted Talk” style event is one you won’t want to miss!

When: July 7, 2017 at 7PM

Where: Sisyphus Brewing, 712 Ontario Avenue W., Minneapolis

TICKETS HAVE SOLD OUT! Look for the videos of the speakers once released and keep your eye on future alumni events!

Topic & Speaker Line Up:

Be You – Someone Else Isn’t an Option

Heather Cmiel ’02, Global Marketing Communications Strategist, 3M

After being what she thought was a communications agency lifer, two years ago Heather left 13 years of agency life behind to go corporate. She currently serves as the global marketing communications strategist within 3M Healthcare. Heather spends her free time as President of Minnesota PRSA and also leads a contemporary worship band. Heather has been referred to by many as spunky, hellcat, wild and fiery. Could it be she gets those descriptions because of the passion she holds for communications and its impact on business, how she keeps her husband on his toes or the fact at 6ft tall she isn’t afraid to wear heels?


These Kids Can Save Democracy (And So Can You)

Bob Groven, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Augsburg College

Bob Groven juggles many plates: associate professor and co-chair in the Department of Communication Studies, Film & New Media at Augsburg College, he is also co-founder and current director of the Minnesota Urban Debate League.  In his copious free time, he enjoys communication and political consulting where he recently helped run a successful and shockingly bipartisan state senate campaign.  Although some alumni may know him from his 12-year stint as Honors Program Director, he hopes memories of that time can be kept to outraged whispers or public court documents.


The Next Billion Dollar Business Is in Your Neighbor’s Garage

Justin Grammens ’96, Founding Partner, Lab 651

Justin lives at the intersection of emerging technology and leading communities on the Internet of Things. He is a founding partner of Lab 651, where he helps companies use sensors and intelligence to build smart, connected products. He is the owner of IoT Weekly, a free curated newsletter with industry expert perspectives on the Internet of Things, a co-founder of IoTFuse, a 501(c)(3) non-profit with the mission to position Minnesota as a leader on the Internet of Things and an adjunct professor at the University of Saint Thomas teaching a graduate level course on the Internet of Things.


Living Life as a Global Citizen through Diplomacy and Global Artistry

Trena Bolden Fields ’00, MFA ’16, Actor, Writer, Life Coach

Trena Bolden Fields is an international actor, speaker, career and life coach and writer who has performed in three different countries; Mexico, South Africa and the U.S. Trena is defining her work on her own terms as an actor and creative who helps other artists create career and personal success while she navigates the world as a “trailing spouse” of a U.S. Diplomat.


Intermittent Fasting: A Joyful Gateway to Weight Loss

Awale Osman ’15, Community Innovation Associate, Bush Foundation

Awale Osman has experienced much change–from war-torn Somalia, Kenyan refugee camps, learning English as a third language, to graduating with high academic honors. He has also created much change–expanding afterschool opportunities for Somali youth, impressing upon congress the value of federal TRIO programming, and activating safe spaces for women, people of color, and queer students. Awale is a philanthropist by trade, movie fanatic, charming fella and a health enthusiast.


The Essential Intersections of Liberal Arts, Engineering & Leadership

Dean Sundquist ’81, Chairman & CEO, Mate Precision Tooling

Dean Sundquist serves as Chairman and CEO of Mate Precision Tooling which is a global leader in the manufacture of tooling used in the sheetmetal fabrication industry.  As a Steve Jobs admirer, he is passionate about fusing together engineering and liberal arts and lives this mission out at Augsburg as an URGO sponsor of science students and as an active member of the Augsburg Board of Regents. When he is not busy working, this husband of 31 years and father of two, enjoys studying and practicing mindfulness, hypertrophy training and listening to rock and pop music of all kinds.


The Upside of Cancer

Stephanie Weiss, Director of News and Media Services, Augsburg College

Stephanie Weiss started her working life as the Page One editor of a daily newspaper … something she dreamt of since she was 11 years old. She transitioned into nonprofit public relations where she has been fortunate to identify with the missions of the organizations she has served. She isn’t good at following rules: real or implied. Away from work, she helps out the old lady across the street, works on local and state political campaigns, enjoys dark beer, mutts, open-water swimming, and riding an electric bike. Today she’s going to talk about her recent cancer diagnosis and how she hopes it has changed her for the better.



Access: It can change your life

Danielle Stellner smiling on a roof in St. PaulAs a child growing up in Chicago, Danielle Stellner ’07 heard mixed messages in her community about the importance of education. But in her family–a family of modest means–there was never any doubt that excelling in school was non-negotiable. Her mother made that clear.

Then, at the age of 18, Stellner herself became a mother. She knew her son was a real blessing. She also knew she yearned for something more in life, but she wasn’t sure what.

As she looks back over the years now, she is impressed at how dramatically access can change one’s life and trajectory. Access to college, access to job opportunities, access to mentors.

Stellner stands with her partner above the ruins of Machu Picchu
Danielle and her partner Herbert on a trip to Peru

One such mentor for Stellner was Erik Nycklemoe, an early supervisor in her career whom she sees as the first person to care about her career and life development. He made it possible for her to earn her B.A. from Augsburg, she says, making her the first in her family to earn an undergraduate degree. Access to evening/weekend study at Augsburg’s Weekend College (now Adult Undergraduate program) was a real break for Stellner, who needed to balance studies with being a working mom.

Moving to Minnesota in search of a safer life for Deion, her three-year-old son, Stellner landed an internship at a 24-hour news station in downtown Minneapolis, then moved on to editing, producing, and hosting. This experience helped hone her skills in content creation and delivery, and she later joined Minnesota Public Radio (a “happy accident”), where she now serves as Managing Partner of Business Planning. She sees public radio as more relevant today than ever. “You can trust public radio to rise above the pack and provide not only relevant news without slant, but arts and cultural programming that consumes you,” she says, and then quotes Thomas Jefferson: “…wherever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government….”

She also found time to complete an MBA from the Carlson School of Management, where she had access to another mentor, Lisa Bittman–a Godsend, and a grounding force through some tough years, she says.

In the whole process, Stellner fell in love with Minnesota and with her now-husband, Herbert Stellner, and they later welcomed two more children into the family, Herbert Stellner IV (9) and Clara Gem Stellner (7).

Stellner poses in cap and gown with her three children
Stellner completed her MBA at the Carlson School of Management

Stellner recalls her student days at Augsburg with gratitude, especially the fantastic lecturing of Dr. David Matz (sociology). In recent years she has reconnected with her alma mater, thanks to Shelby Andress ’56, who introduced her to the Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE) group–”the most incredible group of women I’ve ever met,” says Stellner. She is grateful to now be serving as co-chair of the AWE Council.

Stellner also serves on the board of Friendship Academy of the Arts, a blue-ribbon school that serves predominantly African American students, and on the board of Isuroon, an organization committed to self-sufficiency of Somali women and their families. Recently elected board secretary, Stellner is drawn to the organization by its dedication to changing the narrative that is portrayed in mainstream media to one that more accurately reflects the true family values of Somali culture.

Even with a demanding work schedule, Stellner and her family manage to keep a garden, and take delight in eating the fruits of their labors. But they wouldn’t mind some additional time with no agenda–time for family play, reading for pleasure–and perhaps a few extra hours of sleep. During Homecoming this fall, Stellner will be honored with Augsburg’s First Decade Award.

–by Cheryl Crockett ’89

Auggies Travel to Thailand and Cambodia

Auggie travelers ready to tour Thailand and Cambodia: Laureen Mathison and Renee Weaver, Jill Watson '10 MBA, Arthur (Dan) Cherryhomes '73 and Pat Collins, Sharon Carlson '72 and Susan Carlson, Deborah Dehnhoff Krofa '96 and Beth Daigle, Marcia Schneider '65 and Joyce McGlaston, Ava Beilke '14 and Laurie Powless, hosts Jack and Kathy Swanson. Not pictured: David Ishida '12 & Kathryn Lawson Ishida.
Auggie travelers ready to tour Thailand and Cambodia: Laureen Mathison and Renee Weaver, Jill Watson ’10 MBA, Arthur (Dan) Cherryhomes ’73 and Pat Collins, Sharon Carlson ’72 and Susan Carlson, Deborah Dehnhoff Krofa ’96 and Beth Daigle, Marcia Schneider ’65 and Joyce McGlaston, Ava Beilke ’14 and Laurie Powless, hosts Jack and Kathy Swanson. Not pictured: David Ishida ’12 & Kathryn Lawson Ishida.

Augsburg alumni, friends, family, and one li’l Auggie Eagle are on their way to Thailand and Cambodia today. The tour will be led by Augsburg English professor, Kathy Swanson, and her husband, Jack, who are both fluent in Thai and have hosted five trips to Thailand with Augsburg students.

This morning, alumni director Katie Koch ’06 met up with the happy travelers at MSP airport to wish them a safe and exciting trip! Alumni Board President Jill Watson ’10 MBA is carrying the same little Auggie that Katie Koch took on last fall’s alumni trip to Germany. Auggie Eagle will continue to share updates on Facebook.

Small plush toy bird buckled into an airplane seat
Li’l Auggie Eagle, all tucked in for a Hong Kong-bound flight.
Jill Watson is carrying the same little Auggie that Katie Koch took on last fall’s Augsburg trip to Germany.

2001 Alumni Visit Campus … and You Can Too

In my role as Alumni Director I have the opportunity to meet with amazing Auggies to share their journey and their connection to Augsburg.

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to spend some time with some friends from the class of 2001. There is something really special that happened on the 5th floor of Urness in the fall of 1997. A group was formed that has stood the test of time and location. I know that so many of you have similar experiences and groups of friends you still see regularly for brunch or not-regular-enough get-togethers.

One of the things that was important for this group was to spend some of their precious time together at Augsburg visiting and reconnecting with the campus and some of the people that make Augsburg so amazing.

We walked around and saw classrooms, shared memories, remembered others, laughed, and spent some money in the bookstore.

One thing this visit cemented to me is how important it is to visit Augsburg. In this era of social media, we sometimes think that we know what’s going on at Augsburg. But there is something about being here physically, seeing the campus, smelling it … you wouldn’t believe how some things smell just the same (Urness) and how it makes the memories come flying back. As we approach Homecoming, I ask you to remember that it is important to come back and be here, to experience the campus and the activities you enjoyed with your friends and classmates. You don’t have to take my word for it, but I invite you to take theirs.

If you’re looking to tour campus with your favorite classmates, be sure to let me know.

Katie Koch ’01
Auggie Alumni Director

Rochester Alumni Gathering is July 17

Rochester Auggies are EverywhereCalling all Rochester Auggies!
Please join us on Sunday, July 17, from 4-6 p.m. for a first-ever alumni family picnic in Rochester with hot dogs, hamburgers, fix-ins and sides at Soldiers Field Park. We’ve rented a shelter—please bring lawn chairs and lawn games to enjoy! The gathering is free, but please register all guests so we can plan appropriately for food. Hosted by Alumni Relations, the Alumni Board, and Rochester campus staff.

Auggies Win at the Twins

Auggie Night at the Twins was a rousing success on June 22. Tickets in the Auggie block above home plate sold out for the event jointly sponsored by the Augsburg Alumni Board and Young Alumni Council.

The annual night out at the ballpark began with a pre-game reception at the nearby Kieran’s, with a short program hosted by Nick Rathmann ’03 and featuring Robert Grace ’98, who operates Be Graceful Bakery, with a concession booth at TCF Bank, Target Field, and the new US Bank Stadium. Then 75 Auggies watched the Minnesota Twins take on the Phillies and WIN. Special thanks to Nik Linde ’15 for taking the photos.

Alumni Teachers May Qualify for Help with Student Loans

Education_HeaderTeachers working in designated teacher shortage areas in Minnesota may now qualify for help with their student loan payments. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) recently announced an assistance program for teachers with student loans.
The Minnesota Teacher Shortage Student Loan Repayment Program, created in 2015, is intended to encourage teachers to teach in Minnesota in designated shortage areas by providing assistance with their student loan repayments.
In general, applicants must currently:
  • Hold a teaching license issued by the licensing division in the Minnesota Department of Education on behalf of the Board of Teaching
  • Be employed by a school district to provide classroom instruction
  • Teach in a designated teacher shortage area; and
  • Have outstanding qualified educational loan debt.
Qualifying teachers who apply by June 30, 2016, may be eligible for repayment assistance of $1,000 per year, up to a total of $5,000. OHE estimates that 194 awards will be made for the 2015-2016 award year, with as many as 1,940 annual awards made through 2019.
The Teacher Shortage Student Loan Repayment Program application is online here.
Please share this information with interested friends or colleagues. For more information, contact Sandy Connolly at 651-259-3902 or by email at sandy.connolly@state.mn.us.

Chasing Justice: Rachel Engebretson ’98

Rachel EngebretsonAs an immigration lawyer at Binsfeld & Engebretson P.A., Rachel Olson Engebretson ’98 is fulfilling her dream of “chasing justice.” Though she serves a diverse clientele from around the globe, many who seek her help are attempting to reunite their immediate family members, a process that requires advance permission in order to live their lives together in the U.S. She is passionate about helping them.

Though most people believe it is a crime to live illegally in the U.S., in most instances it is not. Immigration law is civil, administrative law.

Likely, Engebretson’s resolve to help these families can be traced back to her childhood. Growing up as a “PK” (preacher’s kid) in Watertown, S. Dak., she moved with her family to Granite Falls, Minn., in 1978 when her parents felt the call of the soil and the rural suffering community’s need for young blood to find new life. Those were the days when family farmers either “went big” or found another way to pay their bills—so there were challenges. During these formative years, Engebretson also became aware of international relations, and was particularly concerned about the civil wars in Central America and illegal arms-dealings there. The lessons learned from her parents—especially with regard to a commitment to human rights and the value of diversity—fit squarely into what she later learned was required to handle immigration issues. Continue reading “Chasing Justice: Rachel Engebretson ’98”

LinkedIn Alumni Group Merging with Augsburg College Group

linkedinFor those of you who attended the Auggie Networking Event on Tuesday, February 9, in Hoversten Chapel, a highlight was the demonstration of using the College’s LinkedIn group to reach out to other alumni or students. Join the Augsburg College group and increase your ability to connect with other Auggies across every field. For those who are open to being contacted for networking or mentoring, join the sub-group Auggie Student-Alumni Connections. Note: you must be part of the Augsburg College group first. For tips on connecting with Auggies across all disciplines via LinkedIn, see the how-to guide shared at the networking event.

The Augsburg Alumni LinkedIn group is in the process of merging with the College’s group. If you’re not already connected with the Augsburg College group now, do so today. The Augsburg College Alumni group will close at the end of April 2016 in an effort to form the most robust group for building connections among Auggies everywhere.

We ♥ All Auggies

We hear so many stories of lifelong partnerships found at Augsburg—couples who met in their first year, in class, at the Chin Wag, or working on campus—we’re tempted to call Augsburg cupid. Or just lucky to play host to a lifetime of heart-enriching connections of all kinds—lifelong friendships, mentorships, and partnerships. We put a call out on social media to share a photo with Augsburg Alumni if you met your mate at Augsburg College. Thank you to all who shared your photos and stories. This Valentine’s Day, the Alumni Association sends love to Auggies everywhere!

lovebird-collage2016Auggie lovebirds include: Kari Aanestad ’08 and Brian Krohn ’08, with Sean Stanhill ’08, Krista Costin ’08, and Ryan Lisson ’08; Alissa Blood-Knafla ’07 and Patrick Knafla ’04; Anjie (Tonolli) ’93 and Tac ’91 Coplin; Carol (Pederson) ’72 and Wayne ’71 Jorgenson; Caitlin Hozeny ’09 and Seth Lienard ’11; Abby (Johnson) ’05 and Zac ’03 Schnedler; Alisha Esselstein ’15 and Tyler Dorn ’15; Simoné (Johnson) ’91 and Alex Gonzalez ’90; Shannon Connaughton ’13 and Erik Grindal ’13; Cherie (Elliott) ’03 and Brad Christ; Ross Murray ’00, MBA ’09 and Richard Garnett ’07, MBA ’09; Joanne (Varner) ’52 and Harvey ’52 Peterson; Heather Johnston ’92 and Jason Koch ’93; Lisbeth (Jorgensen) ’70 and Earl ’68 Sethre; Joan (Moline) ’83 and John Evans ’82; Hayley Thomas ’12 and Emerson Ball ’14; Becky (Bjella) ’79 and Jeff ’77 Nodland; Barbara (Beglinger) ’63 and Dean ’62 Larson; Laura Schmidt ’11 and Patrick DuSchane ’13; Pam (Hanson) ’79 and Mark ’79 Moksnes; Christine ’09 and Cody ’09 Tresselt-Warren with Noah; Denielle Johnson ’11 and Tim Stepka; Jennifer (Feine) ’94 and Erik Hellie ’93; Molly (Fochtman) ’92 and Greg Schnagl ’91; Bev (Ranum) ’78 and Dennis ’78 Meyer; Nancy (Mackey) ’85 and Paul ’84 Mueller; Emily Crook ’07, MAE ’15 and DJ Hamm ’08, and many hundreds more!