Bring Your Passion for Augsburg to the Alumni Board

Augsburg Alumni BoardIf you’ve ever had ideas about how to better engage the alumni at Augsburg or wanted to reconnect with your alma mater and current students, you would be a perfect candidate for our Alumni Board. Serving on the Augsburg Alumni Board is a fantastic opportunity to connect with other alumni and influence the programming we offer to our alumni, parents, and friends.

The Board allows you to become an Augsburg Insider and to build close connections with alumni from various class years and majors. As a Board member, you will regularly hear from the President and Senior Leadership. The board’s ideas and opinions have also been sought around topics such as the name change to Augsburg University and our next strategic plan.

The Alumni Board is currently accepting applications for volunteers to join the board and alumni are welcomed and encouraged to apply.

The board has different committees focused on all areas of engagement, giving and more for you to serve on and focus on what you are most passionate.

To  find out more you can read the job description or contact Alumni Director Katie (Koch) Code’01 at codek@augsburg.edu

the board at homecomingThe Board’s mission

The Alumni Board is a governing body of the Augsburg Alumni Association. The board exists to guide the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations of Augsburg University 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.

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It is the desire of the Augsburg Alumni Board that the board is well represented in regards to class years, colleges (day school, AU/WEC, graduate programs) community diversity and experiences. All applications will be reviewed in conjunction with the current make-up of the board at the time the application is received. In the event that you are not selected, your application will remain on file and you may be contacted later to gauge your continued interest.

It is the policy of this organization to provide equal opportunities without regard to race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual preference, age, or disability.

3M’s CFO Nick Gangestad ‘86 Shares Sound Advice for Augsburg Business and Accounting Students

Nick Gangestad talking to students and facultyEarly in his career, 3M’s CFO Nick Gangestad ‘86 created an excel spreadsheet to map out his professional development and possible future jobs. As a planner and an accountant, Gangestad jokes that excel seemed like the only application to use.

Augsburg’s Business Administration Department recently welcomed Gangestad to campus to share with students his advice as they begin their careers. The room was eager to hear about Gangestad’s vocational journey and the steps he found most valuable during his impressive career at 3M. Gangestad encouraged the students to have goals and a plan in mind and to share those goals with their future supervisors. He said there were a number of times in his career when sharing his future hopes opened doors to new and fruitful experiences.

Among the key takeaways from Gangestad’s talk were to establish a personal brand. Gangestad said there were more than 1000 accountants working at 3M back when he was just starting out at the company. He worked to establish a brand that was true to him but also differentiated him.

“I had a brand around being a teacher,” Gangestad said, “and that I could explain concepts to people that most other people couldn’t and I could do it in a way that people could understand.”

Gangestad talks to students and facultyHe told students that it’s important to try to be the first to do something and to think about what you want to be known for. He also encouraged them to take risks. Gangestad has enjoyed the times in his career when he has worked abroad and found value in the challenges and opportunities that made him uncomfortable allowing him to grow as a person.

Gangestad also mentioned the ways in which he has chosen to get involved and give back to his community which includes serving on the Board of Regents at Augsburg.

“The Business Administration Department is very grateful that a man as busy as Nick Gangestad would take so much time to share his extremely impressive vocational journey with our students,” Professor of Economics Jeanne Boeh said after the talk. “Our students left with so many good ideas and strategies for their career moving forward in addition to the important meta message of giving back to the community.”

About Nick Gangestad (from 3M’s Corporate Officer’s page)

Nick Gangestad, 3M’s chief financial officer, grew up on a farm in Iowa intending to pursue a traditional accounting practice. That’s certainly the path he started down, earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting followed by an MBA. But when he was in college, Nick participated in a corporate student program at 3M that started him down a different path. That was almost three decades ago.

“Three aspects of 3M changed my mind,” Nick recalls. “This place operates like a family. I saw opportunities to do it all while working for one company. And I liked how 3M developed people.”

Now, he’s such a big believer in the company that he has a framed copy of the McKnight Principles hanging on his wall at 3M headquarters. William L. McKnight was a longtime 3M CEO whose management philosophy – of allowing room for the kind of experimentation that leads to breakthrough innovations – has shaped the company.

Innovation is clearly appealing to Nick, who was the first student in his high school to buy a computer. He was almost certainly the first student to start his own business, when he began programming videogames and selling them to his classmates. But he also hasn’t wandered too far afield from his first love of accounting.

Nick began at 3M in 1987 as a systems analyst in the company’s finance office. He became a plant accountant a few years later, followed by financial analyst and financial manager roles in various divisions in the U.S., Latin America, and the Asia Pacific regions. In 2003, Nick was named vice president of Finance and Information Technology for 3M Canada. In 2007, Nick returned to Minnesota to direct corporate accounting for the company, followed in 2011 by a new role as corporate controller and chief accounting officer. In 2014, he was named 3M’s chief financial officer.

Outside of work, Nick and his family enjoy sailing, supporting the arts, home renovation, traveling and hosting travelers and – of course – cheering on the Minnesota Twins.

Alumni Spotlight: Augsburg Professor Goes Above and Beyond for Alumnus Will Walker ’17

Walker at HCMC
Walker at HCMC

Will Walker ’17 knew as a boy that his grandfather had experienced some kidney issues, but he had no idea that the disease was hereditary, or that one day it would send him on a critical ambulance ride from his Augsburg dormitory to HCMC (Hennepin County Medical Center).

As a boy growing up in the South, Walker had watched his family struggle to make ends meet. When he was 10, they moved to Minnesota, and he sensed the opportunity for a fresh start. Survival still had its challenges, but as a teen, Walker learned how to fend for himself. To avoid confrontations with neighborhood gang members, he found ways to dress and act that kept him “under the radar.” He developed a sense of “street smarts” that served him well.

Walker knew about Augsburg, and he learned more when some of his friends became students there. With some scholarship assistance, eventually, he himself became an Auggie. Inclined toward either the physician assistant program or a business degree, he chose business. He also became involved in sports.

At one of Walker’s business classes, an evening class, he asked his professor if she would teach him how to be a businessman. He sought her advice regularly, often after class as he walked her to her car in the parking lot as a safety precaution. Thus began an enduring friendship between Walker and his professor, Dr. Karen Tangen.

One day in the dormitory, tragedy struck. Walker began vomiting. He kept on vomiting and then couldn’t breathe. He knew this was severe. Something was definitely wrong, so he called 911. The ambulance came to the dormitory and whisked him away to HCMC.

Fortunately, Walker’s emergency was addressed by a seasoned pulmonary specialist, who happened to be on hand when Walker arrived at HCMC. He drained two-and-a-half gallons of fluid from Walker’s lungs. What he had vomited was not blood, but fluid. It was at this time that Walker learned about the hereditary disease that could shut down his kidneys—the same disease that had caused his grandfather’s problems years earlier. The physician told Walker that, when he had made the 911 call, he was within a couple of minutes of losing his life.

Walker and Tangen at graduation
Walker and Tangen at graduation

Walker’s name was put on the kidney transplant list. Though he was younger than most individuals meriting a spot on the list, he had shown himself to be very responsible—eating right, exercising regularly to keep up his strength, and following physicians’ orders. However, in order to be eligible to receive a kidney, he would need to have a sponsor and undergo a psychological exam—plus he would need to have all his wisdom teeth pulled since transplant patients are more prone to oral health complications. Tangen agreed to serve as his sponsor and she helped him find the resources to have the teeth pulled. But waiting for a kidney requires patience.

While waiting, Walker continued his Augsburg studies. In addition to managing his class load, handling a regular job, and working his student job in food service, he was also receiving kidney dialysis three times a week. Each four-hour dialysis session had to be capped off by a four-hour period of rest. The schedule was grueling, but he somehow managed it all. And he was nearing the finish line at Augsburg.

Then he got the call. HCMC had a kidney for him. The first person he called to “get down here right away” and join him was Tangen. Her mad rush to be there for him was successful, and the three-hour transplant surgery went well. He was put in isolation during recovery, and Tangen faithfully “guarded” his space, when his resistance would be low. He began taking 13 medications, a regimen he will need to continue the rest of his life. The recovery from surgery took two months, and two months after that, he graduated from Augsburg.

Walker shopping for interview clothes
Walker shopping for interview clothes

As Walker searched for employment, Tangen stepped in to help again. They went shopping together for appropriate interview clothing, practiced “lunch out” with a fictional prospective employer, and attended a job fair. She gave him tips on how to handle an interview, helped him write a solid resume, and showed him how to search online for jobs.

All the preparation paid off, and Walker’s search yielded his current position in finance for Abbott Hospital in Minneapolis, where he handles revenue and statements for the parking department. He and his new kidney are doing just fine.

 

–by Cheryl Crockett ‘89

Lois Hofstad Esselstrom Ph.D. ’58 Publishes “An Intimate Journey with Our Father: Walking and Talking with God”

Book cover for An Intimate Journey with Our FatherAlumna Lois Hofstad Esselstrom, Ph.D., has recently published “An Intimate Journey with Our Father: Walking and Talking with God,” available on Amazon for purchase. Before earning her bachelor of arts from Augsburg in 1958, Lois grew up in the home of a pastor and educator and says her family walked and talked with God through Bible reading and prayer. She went on to earn both an M.A. and Ph.D. from Western Reserve University. She has been a church parish worker, a publish school teacher and a professor of English at Indiana University South Bend. She and her husband Michael Esselstrom have two children and are now retired in Florida.

About this Book (from the author)

To walk life’s road with the Almighty God, engaged in intimate conversation with Him? Can it be? As astonishing, indeed shocking, as this concept is, it is simple enough for a child to experience. I know because I was that child. When I was very small, Mother found me on a chair talking to Someone she could not see. “Who are you talking to?” she asked. “I’m talking to Jesus. You said He was here.” Ever since that day decades ago I have known that I may talk to Jesus, or more precisely, with Jesus, with God. God chooses to engage with children, men, and women in intimate dialogue. Sometimes He initiates the conversation through words of the Bible as we read or remember them. Sometimes words from morning devotional reading steady me all through the day. Our answer is amazement and gratitude. Or we speak to Him first, through conscious prayer or through longings which He hears in our hearts. He answers according to what is best for His child. Jesus was very specific about God’s intentions. He said that He and His Father would “come and make our home” with those who love Him. It occurred to me that God, Who is Love, may enjoy being welcomed to be at home in our personal lives even more than we limited mortals can rise to being glad He has come. Thus, as the almighty God lives in our lives, we, together with believers of all ages, bear witness to the reality of An Intimate Journey with Our Father: Walking and Talking with God.

Augsburg Hosts Bruce Shoemaker ’82 Book Launch for “Dead in the Water: Global Lessons for the World Bank’s Model Hydropower Project in Laos”

Dead in the Water coverSponsored by the McKnight Foundation and the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, a book launch for the release of “Dead in the Water: Global Lessons for the World Bank’s Model Hydropower Project in Laos,” by Bruce Shoemaker ’82 will be held on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Student Art Gallery in the Christensen Center.

The book “offers a new understanding of Laos in a difficult period of nation building and development [and] a vital lesson to policy planners, scholars, and INGOs encountering the illusory success of a globalizing economy,” according to the forward by Yos Santasombat.

About the Author

Bruce ShoemakerBruce Shoemaker is an independent researcher based in far northern California who focuses on natural resource conflict issues in the Mekong Region. Among his current projects is the preparation of an edited volume on the World Bank’s involvement in the Nam Theun 2 hydropower project in Laos, to be published by University of Wisconsin Press. He has lived in Laos for eight years and Thailand for three while working for a number of NGOs and subsequently was employed, for more than ten years, as the program advisor for the Southeast Asia Grants Program of The McKnight Foundation, helping the foundation focus its grant making around natural resource rights issues as well as support for Indigenous Peoples organizations and other grassroots community organizing. He has a particular interest in the impacts of large hydropower projects on the lives and livelihoods of local communities in the Mekong Region and has authored or co-authored numerous articles and reports in this field.

Meet Distinguished Alumni Award Winner David J. Melby ‘68

David Melby '68David J. Melby ’68, Ph.D., is a psychologist, executive leader, professional volunteer, and advocate who embodies faithful service in true Augsburg University form.  Melby attended Augsburg, graduating in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and philosophy. Following his graduation, Melby attended graduate school in counseling psychology at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, receiving both MA and Ph.D. degrees.

Melby’s career centered around providing and promoting the development of outpatient community mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities services for people of all ages, as well as adult residential services. In 1974, he joined Mental Health Services of Franklin and Williamson Counties, Inc. (now known as Centerstone of Illinois) as a clinical psychologist. His role expanded the following year to include that of division director of mental health services; he served as CEO of that agency from 1996 until his retirement in 2006. Prior to his retirement, Melby served six years on the board and one year as president of the Illinois Association of Community Mental Health Agencies.

One of Melby’s nominators says, “His professional leadership in community mental health has made the lives of many who struggle with these issues brighter and more hopeful because of his nearly 50 years of service. David brings a selfless approach to volunteerism that inspires and supports those in our community’s efforts to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve.”

For almost two decades, David has served as a volunteer for the American Heart Association (AHA).  He twice served as chairperson of the Southern Illinois Heart Walk and once of a Southern Illinois Heart Gala, raising awareness regarding heart-healthy lifestyles and fundraising for heart research, education and life-saving equipment, such as Automated External Defibrillators in public places. He currently serves as a member of the Illinois Advocacy Committee of the AHA, advocating for a heart-healthy state and federal legislation.

Throughout his career, Melby has been influenced by his father’s ministry and involvement in clinical pastoral counseling and the death of his infant brother, who was born with a heart defect and Down Syndrome. He was also motivated by the growing needs of his parents in their last years. He has consistently demonstrated his concern for people marginalized in society, often the poorest, sickest, and most stigmatized among us.

In retirement, David has become more involved in the work of not-for-profit and governmental agencies whose missions he supports. They include multiple terms on the Williamson County Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, including as chairperson, and on the River to River Residential Communities Board, providing independent living, assisted living, supported living, and memory care services for seniors in multiple communities across southern Illinois. He has served since 2012 on the Board of Directors of Centerstone of Illinois, one of five Centerstone state service entities that, collectively, comprise one of the largest and most influential not-for-profit behavioral healthcare enterprises in the nation. Since 2014, David has also served as a board member and, now, current board chair of the Centerstone Research Institute (CRI), based in Nashville. CRI is currently developing evidence-based best practices for addressing the national opioid crisis, developing its first Center of Excellence for the treatment of depression, and reducing the “science-to-service cycle” in the treatment of behavioral health disorders.

Melby exemplifies servant leadership and the Augsburg value of being educated to serve.  For decades, he has served his church community in many capacities, including as president of the church council for over 10 years, co-chair of the building committee during construction of a new sanctuary, and delegate to the 2013 ELCA churchwide assembly. Whether through his contributions to the field of behavioral health care or his volunteerism, David has worked tirelessly to serve his community and embodies the values we work to instill in Auggies. In his life as a thoughtful steward and responsible leader, he has used his skills and gifts to impact communities and create healthier, more fulfilling lives for all.

Meet Distinguished Alumni Award Winner Brynn A. Watson ‘89

Brynn WatsonBrynn A. Watson ‘89 is an award-winning leader in the aerospace industry, nationally recognized for her technical expertise, executive leadership, and advocacy for STEM education. She currently serves as Lockheed Martin’s vice president for the Future Enterprise Program overseeing the corporation’s transformational digital technology operations.

In her nomination letter, the Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE) Council said, “Brynn’s accomplishments during her career at Lockheed Martin stand for themselves. We are so proud to see an Auggie woman pioneering for other women in STEM.”

Watson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, in mathematics from Augsburg University and a Master of Science in applied mathematics from the University of California at Riverside.

In prior leadership roles at Lockheed Martin, Watson was vice president of Navigation Systems Operations and deputy for the Global Positioning System (GPS) III program for Lockheed Martin Space. GPS III is the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation program improving position, navigation, and timing services to all users.  Before that, she was vice president of an engineering organization in the Space line of business leading more than 5,300 engineers, responsible for personnel management and development, engineering and technology strategy, engineering processes, tools and training, and product technical validation. Prior to that assignment, she served as director of software engineering, responsible for the execution and strategic direction over 1,200 software engineers; leading a strategic initiative focused on maximizing digital integration and end-to-end system modeling. Additionally, she served as director of engineering, collaboration, and operations for Corporate Engineering and Technology, and deputy to the vice president of Engineering.

Watson began her aerospace career as an engineer at Aerojet Electronic Systems in Azusa, Calif., where she held positions in a variety of systems and software engineering areas.

Watson is a member of Women in Aerospace, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Lockheed Martin Women’s Impact Network.

She has been recognized for her leadership, receiving the 2013 Lockheed Martin Space NOVA Full Spectrum Leadership Award; the 2012 Tribute to Women Honor by the YWCA of Silicon Valley; and the 2008 Lockheed Martin Space Ed Taft Diversity Leadership Award. In 2015, Watson’s essay, “A Look Inside Lockheed Martin’s Space-Age Operations,” was published by the Harvard Business Review.

Watson’s enterprising spirit and accomplishments mirror the tenacity of Auggies around the world, who, through study, experience, and hard work, ascend to prestigious positions among today’s leading companies.

Watson credits her time at Augsburg as helping her to think big and believe that she can accomplish anything with hard work and perseverance. She also feels that her strong advocacy for women was built by the dedicated women she interacted with during her time at the university.

Homecoming Auggie Talk: A Hagfors Center Pilgrimage – Hosted by AWE (Augsburg Women Engaged)

Auggie Talks, Hagfors BuildingSaturday, Oct. 13 from 3 – 3:45 p.m.

Join Auggie women on a special exploration of the new Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion. This tour, led by Religion professor Marty Stortz, will begin with reflection in the Gundale Chapel, highlighting the vocational journey of Augsburg students; then a visit to the Food Lab; and along the way, reflect on the inspirational art that captures the intersections between science, business, and religion.

About Auggie Talks:

They’re back by popular demand! Join us for 30-minute, insightful sessions presented by professors and fellow alumni on topics spearheaded by your class reunion groups. Talks will be published as they become available on social media and in upcoming communications.

Space is limited. Please register today for Auggie Talks.

Other Auggie Talks:

Homecoming Auggie Talk: The Study Abroad Experience, Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow – Hosted by the Class of 1978

Register now for Homecoming!


Auggie Talks, Auggie Eagle abroad in GermanySaturday, Oct. 13 from 1 – 1:45 p.m.

Auggies from the class of 1978 have traveled the globe studying in places like Norway, Central America, and London. The opportunities to study abroad while at Augsburg have shaped their lives and the lives of many of its graduates. Join the class of 1978 as they reflect on their own study abroad experiences and examine Auggie global education of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

About Auggie Talks:

They’re back by popular demand! Join us for 30-minute, insightful sessions presented by professors and fellow alumni on topics spearheaded by your class reunion groups. Talks will be published as they become available on social media and in upcoming communications.

Space is limited. Please register today for Auggie Talks.

Meet Spirit of Augsburg Award Winner Grace Kemmer Sulerud ’58

Grace Kemmer Sulerud '58Grace Kemmer Sulerud ’58 has displayed faithful service to Augsburg University across her time as a graduate, librarian, faculty member, and alumna. She personifies Augsburg’s deep sense of calling to humbly serve others in a variety of ways, with joyful dedication.

As a dedicated volunteer, her nominators say, “You will find her wherever an extra hand is needed.”

Determined to gain a full education, Sulerud worked and saved money to go from her hometown, Williston, North Dakota, to Augsburg, as it was the college of the Lutheran Free Church. Sulerud’s Augsburg education and excellent professors prompted her to experience life in the Twin Cities, exploring the state capitol and fine arts like symphony concerts and plays. She made lifelong friends and enjoyed being on the staff of the student newspaper, The Echo.

After graduating from Augsburg in 1958, she was an elementary librarian and junior high English teacher in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. From 1961 to 1964, she was an elementary librarian in U.S. Air Force Department of Defense Schools in Tokyo, Japan; Tripoli, Libya; and Wiesbaden, Germany. This gave her an opportunity to travel around the world with a stop in India to visit a friend, Maxine Berntsen, another distinguished alumna of Augsburg. After returning to the United States, Sulerud studied for a master’s degree in Library Science (1968) and later received a master’s degree in English (1970), each from the University of Minnesota.

During her many years as Augsburg’s Collection Development Librarian and faculty member, she was committed to the learning of students. She served two terms as the treasurer of Augsburg Associates, from 2003 to 2007 and 2011 to 2017, ensuring they raised funds for Augsburg student scholarships. Her interests and energy lead her to participate in travels to Cuba with the Delegation For Friendship Among Women, and to Ethiopia supporting the efforts of REAL, Resources for the Enrichment of African Lives, an organization that helps girls stay in school.

In Minneapolis, Sulerud is a member of Trinity Lutheran Congregation located on Riverside Avenue, a congregation associated with the founding of Augsburg, where she sings in the choir, leads the monthly quilter’s work session and has participated in activities with Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing.

With her late husband Ralph, long-time Augsburg biology professor, Sulerud has remained a supporter and enthusiast for all things Augsburg. Though she retired from Augsburg in 2003, she continues to stay involved at important university events: the recent grand opening of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion; Homecoming festivities; Velkommen Jul; and Advent Vespers.

Sulerud lives out the Spirit of Augsburg Award and exemplifies Augsburg’s historic mottos consistently: “Education for Service” and “The Truth Shall Make You Free.” Her loyalty, dependability, and generosity enable Augsburg to carry forward with hearty conviction, intellectual rigor, and relational connectedness.