The Manely Firm, P.C. is excited to announce its new associate attorney, Alisha Esselstein. The Manely Firm proudly practices family law throughout the state of Georgia and has the unique expertise of handling international family law cases all over the world.
Esselstein is a graduate of University of Wisconsin Law School and received her undergraduate degree from Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota in International Relations.
About Esselstein, Founding Attorney Michael Manely said, “We are very excited about Ms. Esselstein joining the firm, her international experiences will add more depth and breadth to the diverse experiences of the firm.”
Esselstein has extensive past-experience working with human rights and advocating against gender-based biases and has lived on every continent in the world (except Antarctica) and gained immense experience and knowledge from her immersion in these cultures.
She says, “As your attorney, these experiences will allow me to understand the complexities of your situation and the legal knowledge to guide you through the processes to begin your new life.”
Esselstein will focus on Family Law and International Family Law in her new role with The Manely Firm, P.C.
Recently, WBUR 90.9 FM (NPR) spoke with María Belén Power ’07, Augsburg University alumni and associate executive director with the Chelsea-based environmental group Green Roots, about the groundbreaking work her organization is doing to tackle climate change.
“That [starting small] has really been an approach that we take in a lot of our projects,” says Power. “Piloting small scale and ensuring that we can replicate those models to really have a much broader impact.”
Green Roots is a community-based organization dedicated to improving and enhancing the urban environment and public health in Chelsea and surrounding communities. We do so through deep community engagement and empowerment, youth leadership and implementation of innovative projects and campaigns.
Since graduating from Augsburg University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, a few alumni have gathered monthly for a writing group. They affectionately call themselves the Dead Birds Writing Group, a name derived from the master’s program publishing house, Howling Bird Press. The group shares stories, studies writing techniques, and offers constructive criticism, all with an end goal of helping each other publish their writing.
“One of the best take-aways from the MFA program was that we were able to build a community of writers, with a variety of different talents in fiction, poetry, screenwriting, memoir, and publishing. The fact that we’re still meeting in person, over online chats, and emailing each other to workshop, is a testament to the teamwork habits we formed during our residencies and classes. It feels wonderful to still be collaborating on team projects together after nearly ten years,” says Jen Shutt ’13, MFA ’15
Last summer, the group worked on a unique writing prompt to write a flash fiction piece that contained the statement, “It could be anyone’s leg.”
“We ended up with a great collection of stories – ranging from humor to horror – and we decided to put them together in a book. We acted as editors for the stories, getting together to read through and discuss the collection. We were able to use many of the techniques our professors taught us in the MFA program,” says Amanda Symes ’09, MFA ’15.
“This has really been a fun romp through the writing, editing, and publishing process. It was sort of magical to see the writing prompt come to life in so many different stories. Going deeper into each one through editing them with Amanda and Jen [Shutt] drew on the workshopping skills we learned in the MFA program, and—confession—it may have been my favorite part. The group enjoyed the writing and publishing process so much that we are already discussing plans for our next writing prompt and publishing options,” says Jayne Carlson MFA ’16.
Knowing their professors would be excited to hear about the upcoming publication, the group also reached out to Professor Emerita Cass Dalglish – the MFA program’s founder – and asked her to review the collection. Professor Dalglish has this to say about their book:
“It Could Be Anyone’s Leg” is an anthology of eerie tales – flash reactions by a flight of writers after each has discovered bones lying so very near their writing desks. Did the bones belong to a human? A neighbor? A friend? A beastie of the insect species? Or some other creature who has become only a fraction of itself? These authors call themselves the Dead Birds Writing Group. Is it any wonder that we call a pack of crows a murder?”
On April 12, 2022, Augsburg’s Campaign Chair, Dr. Paul Mueller ’84 broke ground on the new state-of-the-art hospital that will be built in La Crosse. Paul Mueller is the Vice President of the Mayo Health Clinic System in Southwest Wisconsin. Numerous Auggies joined this special occasion!
Pictured here with hard hats and shovels are Jill Billings ’89 (Member of Wisconsin State Assembly), Sarah Erkkinen (Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement), Amy Alkire (Vice President of Advancement), Nancy Mueller ’85 (Augsburg Regent), Lisa Archer MAN ’17 (Chief Nursing Officer for Mayo, La Crosse), and Matt Entenza (Augsburg’s Board Chair).
Read an additional article about this exciting initiative and check out more photos from this historic event:
Lisa Archer (MAN ’17) started her role as the Chief Nursing Officer at Mayo Health Clinic Systems in Southwest Wisconsin in December of 2021. After speaking with her, you’d never know that this was her second full-time career! Lisa’s self-described unconventional pathway to nursing and healthcare administration is a reminder that one’s vocation can be fulfilled at any time. “I used to work in the IT industry as a business analyst, but personal events led me to pursue nursing,” Lisa shared. “When my grandmother fell and broke her hip and had to transition to a nursing home, I had a really impactful conversation with a nursing assistant.” The Nursing Assistant noticed Lisa’s dedication to her grandma and the round-the-clock care she was providing to her. It was during this time that Lisa reflected on how she could best impact people’s lives. “I wanted to allow other people to go home at night and feel secure in knowing that their loved ones were safe and being taken care of.”
Shortly after this encounter, Lisa took on the crucial yet daunting experience of returning to school. “At that point, I’m not even sure how long I had been out of school,” Lisa mused. After prerequisite work and earning her two-year ADN degree at North Hennepin Community College, she went on to St. Kate’s to earn her BSN. While working at the University of Minnesota, part of the Fairview Health System, Lisa knew she wanted to earn her master’s and Augsburg’s transformational leadership track in the Nursing Program seemed like the perfect fit. “The location and diversity of the campus were big draws for me,” Lisa shared.
Lisa shared how Augsburg’s nursing program challenged her perspective through coursework and clinicals. She described tending to homeless peoples’ wounded feet and working with women in the Somali community made her confront the difficult question of: How do you impart your healthcare knowledge to groups that may hold distrust with the healthcare system or might not be familiar with Western medicine? “Knowing how to meet people where they are at (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically) allowed me to figure out ways to connect that came from an open and non-judgmental place.”
Someone Lisa credits in helping her navigate tough leadership situations is Joyce Perkins. “I took a class about quantum leadership with her and I’ve never wanted to drop anything so badly in my life!” she exclaimed. “Nurses are typically very analytical people, and I had a hard time grasping the abstract concepts,” Lisa admitted. However, in hindsight, that class was one of the best experiences because it helped prepare her to be the leader that was needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lisa’s Auggie connections have followed her to Mayo Health Clinic Systems where she works in close partnership with Dr. Paul Mueller (’84), a fellow Augsburg graduate and the chair of Augsburg’s Great Returns Campaigns. “We have a triad leadership model. I’m the lead for nursing, Paul is the physician leader, and we also work with Mike Morrey as the administrative leader.” Lisa explained. “Paul is a great person to work with. We are like-minded in our approaches on how to address issues associated with healthcare and finding ways to provide equal opportunity and combat disparities.”
Strong administrative leadership is critical during times of crisis. “A lot of the work leaders do is behind the scenes. We’re either trying to reinvent healthcare, obtain resources, remove and reduce barriers or create new processes.” Lisa said. Figuring out how to keep frontline workers motivated when they are experiencing emotional, mental, and physical burnout is an equally challenging feat. “It’s really tough. I think every nursing track should have a class on wellness and how to create an individual resiliency plan.” For Lisa, leadership has its limits. Removing barriers for her staff and creating an accommodating work environment will only get people so far. True happiness and fulfillment in a job have to come from within. One long-term goal for Lisa is making nursing school a feasible option for anyone who has the aspiration to become a nurse. “Creating more accessible programs that fit people’s lives and ensuring the nursing profession in this region and beyond is delivering high-quality and safe care are important to me,” she expressed.
Although she is still navigating her new role, the impact Lisa hopes to make in her field is resolute. “No matter who you are, everyone deserves access to healthcare,” Lisa reflected as she stated her desire to keep opportunities of centering safety, experience, and quality of care under her leadership. Leading with a safety lens is key to her philosophy. Tapping into more inclusive resources, and broadening accessibility gives Lisa hope for a safer and more equitable future in healthcare.
Colleen (Carstensen) Peterson aka “CeCe” graduated from Augsburg University in 2004 with a double major in Psychology and Religion and a triple minor. She has made it her life mission to help others see their strength through their trials and tribulations, something that she is infinitely familiar with. From being diagnosed with dyslexia at eight, being an Olympic-trained figure skater and enduring the abuse of her coaches, losing her brother at 25, to having a severely disabled son, CeCe has founded a non-profit and used art to find strength in challenging times.
The birth of CeCe’s son and her frustration with not getting the right adaptive equipment to learn, play, and grow inspired the creation of her non-profit, Children’s Organization of Lending Equipment (The COLE Foundation). This mission of COLE is “connect costly adaptive equipment from children with disabilities who outgrow the equipment to other children who need it, at no cost. COLE provides a resource for families to browse and then Lend from our library of equipment.”
Another outlet for CeCe has been her artwork. Her most recent work will be exhibited at Hallberg Center for the Arts (Wyoming, MN) from March 24 – April 16, 2022. Her intentions for her series, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes, are to reveal the struggle and loneliness but also the strength of womanhood. CeCe’s bold color palette creates the female form representing light, shadow, and space. Taking a closer look at each shape and stroke, the big and small events in life become a harmonious dance on canvas. 50% of the profits from each purchased painting will go to the COLE Foundation. Check out CeCe’s website: Www.CeCegallery.com.
Caryn Quist’s (’09) passion for science began in high school, “I had a teacher named Mr. Rogers, I kid you not!” Caryn laughed. “It was during this class that I fell in love with chemistry. Everything came to life for me in the lab.” When it came time to decide where to go to college, Augsburg was the perfect fit. “I loved the well-rounded aspect of a liberal arts education in the heart of Minneapolis,” Caryn shared. She graduated in 2009 with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Biology.
At Augsburg, Caryn participated in a research project through the Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity (URGO) program. “I worked with the Biology Department where we studied orchid cloning in partnership with a local greenhouse.” Caryn shared. Her involvement with URGO and working as an assistant to Dixie Shafer, Director of URGO, made a lasting impression. “Dixie strikes the difficult balance of holding very high standards yet leading with empathy,” Caryn said.
Dixie instilled the importance of networking which led Caryn to connect with a variety of professionals in her field. “I got lucky and met with a Chemistry professor at the University of Minnesota who was doing collaborative work in civil and environmental engineering. He picked up on my curiosity and told me to look into that area further,” Caryn reflected. She went on to earn her masters in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University in 2011.
CLEARING THE AIR
Caryn accepted a job offer in California after grad school and has remained there since. She spent the first few years working on several soil and groundwater cleanup projects in California’s Central Valley. “It was a great experience, but I eventually realized it wasn’t something I wanted to become an expert in,” Caryn said. This led to her transition to the industry side where she focused on environmental compliance at an Intel semiconductor fab. Later she pivoted to a local government agency strictly focusing on regional air quality. She applies all this experience to her current position as an Environmental Manager at Meta (formerly Facebook). “I took this job because I wanted to have a say in how data centers were being designed from an air emissions perspective and make sure we are being good stewards of local and regional air quality.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
The connection between air emissions and digital-driven corporations may not be given much thought by people, but it’s an extremely crucial component to operations and the decisions made now will weigh heavily on the future. “The data center sector is growing at a very fast clip and it’s very important to be cognizant of the environmental footprint they have during their entire life cycle,” Caryn stated.
Climate change and environmental justice are two interconnected issues that are central to the future trajectory of the civil and environmental engineering field. “Environmental justice is the concept that while everyone has a right to be protected from environmental pollution and live in a clean and healthy environment, studies show a strong disparity of who has access to that along lines of race, income, national origin, and language proficiency. Environmental justice populations continue to be vulnerable to the health risks associated with living in polluted areas and are also commonly disenfranchised to do anything about it politically. Climate change is projected to exacerbate all of this.” Although we have a long way to go in confronting these issues, the good news is that many are stepping up to collaborate in government, the private sector, nonprofits, and academia. Consumers have also become more savvy about greenwashing tactics and are starting to understand the lifecycle footprint of our everyday lives.
When asked what kind of legacy she wants to leave behind, Caryn simply stated: “Creating tangible changes on the road to a more sustainable future for future generations. For example, the data center industry, like many others requiring 24/7 operations, still heavily relies on backup diesel generators. I’d like to eliminate that need some day and work myself out of a job!”
Grant Niver graduated from Augsburg in 2013 with a degree in Communication Studies. He credits the decision to make the transition to Minnesota from his home state of Alaska as the top three decisions he has ever made. “Moving allowed me to experience living in a new state and I met my wife down here,” Grant shared. He also has strong family ties in the state with both his parents growing up in Prior Lake. Although he only spent two years at Augsburg, he developed lasting friendships and discovered his entrepreneurial drive through the courses he took. “In the more advanced communication classes, we talked a lot about marketing, business, and how to build your brand,” said Grant. And it was in these classes that the idea to start a business with his family began.
Starting when he was 11 years old, Grant has fished in Bristol Bay, Alaska on his family’s boat, Surrender. “I would always get seasick growing up, so fishing was never a favorite activity of mine,” he reflected amusingly. As he found his sea legs, Grant’s passion for catching fish (specifically salmon) and educating others on sustainable fishing grew. “One year, I brought back around 200 pounds of salmon for friends and family in Minnesota and it grew progressively from there.” Surrender Salmon was established in 2017 with the goal of bringing the world’s best wild salmon to Minnesotans, directly from the fisherman. Grant’s father, Mark, runs the boat and Grant and his two younger brothers, Blake and Bryce, make up the crew on deck.
Sustainability is a core tenet to the Surrender Salmon business. “We work closely with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.” Grant said. Bristol Bay is heavily regulated since it is the world’s largest sustainable salmon run. It accounts for roughly 75% of the world’s sockeye salmon supply. “They literally count each and every salmon that escapes up the river to spawn in the lake. Once they reach the targeted “escapement number”, the fishing season is open and we are fishing around the clock.” There is a short window to catch fish, and a typical run is from mid-June through the end of July. Flash freezing the salmon within 12-24 hours of catching it is crucial in making sure it stays fresh for consumers for up to two years. “If you’re buying salmon in the Midwest, it’s best to buy frozen and even better to know who caught it,” Grant said. On top of sustainability, all of the packaging they use to ship their salmon is 100% recyclable!
OPERATING A SMALL BUSINESS
Surrender Salmon previously worked with local businesses such as Lunds & Byerlys in 2018-2019, as well as other local restaurants, but they have since switched to e-commerce. “It was a hard pivot to make, but it has allowed us to have a more robust business where we could be in more control,” Grant said. Since transitioning to online-only purchases, they have been able to expand to nationwide shipping. “Our first shipping with FedEx is something I am extremely proud of. We’ve come a long way since tabling at farmers markets, gyms, and hand-delivering all of our orders,” Grant said. “Starting a business can feel insurmountable, but for anyone interested in pursuing this path, I recommend two things: 1) find a good mentor, and 2) find someone you can trust as a business partner. Having those resources will make a huge impact.” In fact, one of Grant’s high school friends, Stuart Krueger, moved to Minnesota in 2016 and has taken the lead on helping Surrender Salmon’s marketing and reach. “We definitely would not be where we are today without him.”
Now that Grant’s business has grown in recent years and he has found himself shipping salmon to some Auggies, he is thrilled to share his family’s story with more people in the community. “I am so grateful to Augsburg and I’m appreciative of any opportunities to pay it forward and make more connections by raising awareness about what Surrender Salmon is all about.”
Karim El-Hibri ’06 will be one of the newest members of Augsburg’s Board of Regents. He is the President of East West Resources Corporation, a small investment firm, as well as a trustee for the El-Hibri Foundation, a philanthropic organization that empowers Muslim leaders and their allies to build inclusive communities.
Karim is also a graduate of Augsburg’s StepUP program.
Karim’s path to a higher education was not clear-cut from the beginning. After a year at American University, he was forced to drop out due to failing grades. Knowing he needed to enroll in a treatment program, Karim sat down with his parents and discussed his options. They discovered the Wilderness Treatment Center, a place Karim found to be a very positive experience. After successfully completing that program, Karim was encouraged to go to a halfway house in Minneapolis called Progress Valley.
“I had no idea where Minneapolis even was, but I was learning that I needed to follow my higher power’s goal, so I went to Progress Valley for three months. They recommended I move on to Sober Living and I believe God speaks through the people around us, so I followed that recommendation. Sober Living is where I heard about Augsburg’s StepUP program,” says Karim.
Karim met Dave Hadden, former assistant director of StepUP, and Patrice Salmeri, former StepUP Director, both whom he credits as instrumental to his recovery. He says Patrice helped him become the student he wanted to be, but more importantly the person he wanted to be.
“Because I had failed engaging in school before, there was this drive to return to academia and thrive. I wanted an opportunity to prove that I deserved this second chance,” says Karim. “I was blown away by StepUP and having a community of peers who were sharing similar challenges, providing this counter-culture to the typical college partying experience. That network provided structure, and we didn’t want to let the community down.”
Karim took a variety of classes in his two years at Augsburg, including two that left lasting impressions.
“There was the Medieval Studies class with Phil Adamo, where we dressed up in medieval attire and walked around campus. And my biology class with Bill Capman experiencing the saltwater tanks with live coral and clownfish laying eggs, I’ve never seen anything quite as impressive.”
He was also a student fundraiser for the Oren Gateway Building. Karim spent a lot of time making sure that the building’s fundraising campaign was a success, knowing Augsburg would be able to house StepUP students in a safe and sober living space.
Karim graduated from the StepUP program in 2005 and in 2006 he transferred back to American University’s School of International Service to graduate with a degree in International Studies. Despite not graduating from Augsburg, Karim continued to stay engaged with the university.
“Augsburg’s culture and values align with our family’s values and has been a major motivator to stay engaged.”
In 2012, Karim brought his mentor, Professor Abdul Aziz Said, to the 24th annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum. Professor Said was a professor at American University, teaching the value of peace and ecological balance, dignity, political pluralism, and cultural diversity.
“Augsburg is such a beautiful example of what a collegiate community can be. Augsburg has a culture of peace, which makes sense why the Nobel Peace Prize Forum was hosted on campus. Professor Said told me, ‘Why not expand Augsburg’s curriculum to teach peace?’ which has been a personal passion of mine ever since.”
Karim served on StepUP’s Advisory Board for a few years and is excited to begin his work on Augsburg’s Board of Regents this fall. He believes his work with East West Resources and the El-Hibri Foundation have prepared him for this new role.
“I’m fortunate because I get to work with my family; my father is the chairman, my mother and sister are on the Board of Trustees of the El-Hibri Foundation. And at East West Resources I love that I get to focus on so many different opportunities, and we get to bring our values into every business in which we engage. I am proud to say that East West Resources only focuses on businesses that have a humanitarian dimension – enhancing people’s lives in one way or another.”
Karim is grateful to Board Chair Matt Entenza and President Paul Pribbenow for the opportunity to become a Regent on Augsburg’s Board and deeply appreciates their confidence.
“I am deeply honored to participate in any way at Augsburg. I didn’t graduate from Augsburg, but the two years I was a student had such a profound impact on me,” says Karim. “StepUP saved my life. It is more than just an education; Augsburg really had an impact on who I am today.”