Lauren (Grafelman) Lesser ’12, Alumni Board President
Lauren graduated in 2012 with a BA in Accounting and a minor in Spanish. While at Augsburg, she participated in the Augsburg University Band, Campus Ministries, and the Honors Program. She joined the YAC to stay connected with the university and to help others stay engaged and involved in the Augsburg community. Lauren currently works as a Finance Manager at Prime Therapeutics. Prior to working at Prime, she spent nearly 5 years with Thomson Reuters holding various financial analyst roles. Lauren graduated in 2015 from Hamline University with her Masters of Business Administration (MBA). Outside of work, Lauren enjoys traveling, running, reading, scrapbooking, and spending time with friends and family. Lauren, her husband, and their daughter currently reside in St Louis Park.
Navid Amini ’19 MBA, President Elect next term
Navid Amini is a Manager at Accenture’s Management Consultant practice under the division of Clinical Innovation. Navid also serves as the Lead Medical Examiner Investigator for Goodhue County through Mayo Clinic Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology. Navid obtained his MBA from Augsburg University in 2019 and his BSN from the University of Minnesota in 2010. Navid has served in numerous voluntary leadership roles including VP of recruitment for UnitedHealth Group’s Toast Masters Club, VP of operations for the Afghan Student Association & served with the St. Paul Police Department as a Reserve Police Sergeant. Navid is passionate about connecting communities, ideas & people to catalyze organic change in relationships & systems. Navid is a champion of innovation and disruptive thinking and these philosophies have helped him create a number of legacy programs throughout his 15+ years in healthcare.
Navid resides in Oakdale, MN with his three children Elise, Ehsan & Elena. Navid is a Reiki master’s in training & also a classical pianist.
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, 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.
Alex Beeby is a business litigation attorney at Larkin Hoffman. His practice focuses on bankruptcy litigation and also includes education and employment law. He has served as a head election judge for the City of Northfield since 2004 and is a 2006-07 Humphrey Institute Policy Fellow. Alex previously worked as a founding manager of a successful food cooperative and administering phone and data networks for small and large businesses.
Alex graduated in 2010 from Augsburg’s WEC program with a B.A. in History and Honors Religion. While a student, he presented a paper at an American Academy of Religion regional conference and took advantage of a study-abroad class in Eastern Europe. Alex then enrolled at Hamline University School of Law where he served as Student Bar Association president when the law school announced its merger with William Mitchell College of Law. Alex worked for state and federal judges and served on the board of the Mitchell Hamline Law Review before receiving his J.D. in 2016. He also serves on the Mitchell Hamline Board of Trustees, as president of the Mitchell Hamline Alumni Board, on the Northfield Hospital Foundation Board, and as Education Chair of the Minnesota Bar Association’s Bankruptcy Section. Alex also enjoys amateur photography and geeking out with his three children about anime, games, and current events.
Berlynn Bitengo is a recent graduate of Augsburg University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Business and Marketing and is currently an MBA student at Augsburg. In her time as an undergraduate student, she was involved in several activities on campus, including the Honors Board, Pan Afrikan Student Union, The Echo, The Augsburg Business Organization, Campus Kitchen, Augsem, Orientation Leader, Student Government, and working at the Department of Public Safety. Berlynn is joining the council because she believes it is important to show future, current, and past students that the university not only cares about them when they are attending the University but even after they have finished. Berlynn is looking forward to working with the other council members in connecting Augsburg Alumni over the coming years.
Evan Decker ’12 ’18 MBA
Evan graduated in 2012 with a double major in MIS and Management and in 2018 he earned his MBA with a concentration in Finance. In his time as an undergrad, he participated in several activities on campus, including football, the Augsburg Business Organization, and working in the IT department. After graduation, he pursued a career in information systems because it combined two of his passions: business and technology. He currently works at Calabrio, a software company in Minneapolis. Evan has stayed involved at Augsburg since 2015, first serving on the Young Alumni Council and then moving to the Alumni Board in 2019. Evan lives downtown and in his free time enjoys exploring the city.
Derek 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 applications. 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.
Jacquelyn Fritz ’11
Jackie graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Biopsychology. During her time at Augsburg, she worked as a student athletic trainer with many of the sports teams. The connections she made while working with the Augsburg team physicians from Twin Cities Orthopedics (TCO), led to her employment with the company following graduation.
She began working at TCO in June 2011 and is still employed with there today. She works as a clinical and research assistant to a foot and ankle surgeon. She has been published as a co-author in multiple orthopedic foot and ankle journals for research pertaining to total ankle arthroplasties. In addition to her clinical role, she also works with the Regenerative Medicine team at TCO assisting in bone marrow aspirate procedures.
Jackie was previously a member of the Augsburg Young Alumni Council from 2015-2019. She has always enjoyed the opportunity to engage with current students, faculty, and alumni. She believes that the Alumni Board serves as a way to continue building relationships within Augsburg long after graduation.
In her free time, Jackie enjoys traveling, fishing and cheering on Minnesota sports teams. She currently lives in South Minneapolis.
Willie is a Sr. Treasury Analyst on the Capital and Liquidity Management team at Ameriprise Financial, a diversified financial services company that provides financial planning products and services. He began his career at Ameriprise by joining the Finance Leadership Development Program (FLDP) which is a two-year program that had him rotate through three different groups within corporate finance. Willie graduated from Augsburg in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in finance and was fortunate enough to study the European Union while studying abroad in Freiburg, Germany.
Willie kept himself busy while on campus where he was part of the Emerging Leaders Program, Kemper Scholars Program, Augsburg Student Activities Council, Student Government, and a student assistant for the Institutional Advancement office. During the ’20-’21 academic school year, Willie was the co-chair of the Augsburg Fund where he worked with Institutional Advancement to fundraise over $1m that was able to go into a general fund to support the overall student experience.
Willie joined the council in 2021 and is looking forward to what this group can accomplish over the coming years. Go Auggies!
Janice Gladden is a Manager in the Fulfillment – Recoveries Department at Target Corporation Northern Campus. In this role, Janice is responsible for leading her team to meet the needs of both our partners, guests, and 3rd party law firms and collection agencies, who collect on Target’s behalf. Her role also involves being an ambassador for change and assisting the team members through the change process.
Janice came to Target Corporation in 1995 and has had many roles, always coming back to her passion for working with individuals on their development. In 2011, during her second year as an Augsburg Weekend College student, she captained the Continuing Education Network to help those navigating being a full-time team member and a full-time student. Janice received a B.A. degree in Communications from Augsburg College in 2014, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and continues to provide mentoring and inspiration to others in the pursuit of higher education.
Janice resides in Eden Prairie with her husband Dan and has 2 grown daughters, Ashley and Whitney, living nearby. She welcomed a granddaughter in October 2019. Whitney is a graduate of the Augsburg Class of 2012 with a B.A. in Communications. She is a proud grandmother of one with another on the way in October! She enjoys all sports, especially baseball and the Pittsburgh Steelers, and looks forward to bringing her passion for developing others to the Alumni Board.
Robert Grace ’98
Pete graduated from Augsburg in 1992, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting and Finance and a minor in management information systems. He earned his degree through the Weekend College (now Adult Undergraduate) program. He recently retired from U.S. Bank where he was a Technology Group Manager for U.S. Bank in the Technology and Operations Services division in the Twin Cities. Pete and his wife Becky live in Andover, MN and have 3 grown sons who reside in the Twin Cities.
He is very active in his church and has served in several leadership roles, including as a Governing Board member for over 25 years, treasurer for 10 years, and chairman of the committee to celebrate the church’s 50th year anniversary in 2013.
Pete credits his AU experience at Augsburg as a pivot point in his career and wants to be more active in giving back to the Augsburg community. Students in the AU program are a vital part of the college and his desire is to expand the engagement of AU alumni in the life of the university.
Pete’s interests include reading, golf, spending time in northern Minnesota and all things Twins, Wild, and Vikings. He also enjoys spending time with family, especially his grandson and granddaughter.
Lori Higgins ’94, ’12 MAL, Former Alumni Board President
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.
Collin Katainen is the Director of General Studies at Yeshiva of Minneapolis; a private high school in St. Louis Park. As a school administrator, he oversees curriculum development, budgets, and staffing as well as teaching 12th-grade Economics and U.S. Government. Collin began his education career teaching middle and high school social studies; receiving his Secondary Social Studies License from Augsburg in 2010, and then his Master’s in Education in 2014. Collin is currently completing the Principal Licensure Program at Concordia University.
As an undergrad at Upper Iowa University; Collin’s focus was working with at-risk youth, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology with an emphasis in conflict resolution and adjustment. He is a graduate of the Paideia Institute at Augsburg and the Kaplan Professional School for Real Estate. Collin continues to work in Real Estate as a licensed Realtor for REMAX Synergy. Collin lives in Vadnais Heights with his wife and two children Dylan and Hayden. His personal hobbies include downhill skiing, golf, and travel throughout the Caribbean.
Jay Lepper ‘95
Jay graduated from Augsburg with a BA in History as well as completing the teacher licensure program in secondary social studies. While a student at Augsburg Jay was a member of the football team, was involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, participated in the phone-a-thon, and worked on campus in the football office. Jay also earned his MA in Education and completed the Principal Licensure Program at Saint Mary’s University. Jay has taught high school social studies, served as a dean of students, and coached football, hockey, and track and field in a 25-year career in secondary education. Jay is currently the Associate Principal at Burnsville High School. In his role, he serves as the administrator over activities, world language, social studies, career/technological education, and physical education/health as well as overseeing various other programmings, development and outside partnership areas.
Jay joined the Alumni Board in 2017 because he wanted to promote the values, mission, and goals of Augsburg, a school that positively developed and prepared him for the life and leadership that he would come to experience. Jay’s goal as a member of the Alumni Board is to act as an ambassador of Augsburg, promoting and planning opportunities for alumni to become involved with each other and with current students through various on and off-campus programs and events throughout the year, fostering an important relationship between alumni and the university.
Jay lives in Savage with his wife Natasha and five children. They enjoy spending lake time at the cabin and following their children as they compete in their various activities.
Teri graduated from Augsburg in May 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting. Teri earned her certified public accountant (CPA) license in March 2002. She currently is a Director CPA for John A. Knutson & Co., PLLP, which is a medium sized CPA firm located in Falcon Heights, MN and has been employed there since September 1997. She has an 18-year-old daughter, Sara, and a 15-year-old son, Michael, and lives in Little Canada, MN. She is very active in her church (located in Roseville, MN) by ushering at various church services and served on her church council for 2 years and recently finished another 2 years on the council as treasurer. Teri has been active in other various nonprofit boards. She was the treasurer of the Roseville Area league 2011 – 2017. Her past board positions in that League are president from 2005 – 2009 and program committee chair 2014 – 2016. She was also treasurer of the League of Women Voters MN 2015 – 2017. Other non-profits that Teri has held positions on are the Minnesota Territorial Pioneers (including treasurer from 2002 – 2004), and treasurer of the North Star Scouting Museum from 2003 – 2007.
Matt McEnery is a 2010 Political Science graduate of Augsburg, where he was a member of the StepUP program. While at Augsburg, Matt enjoyed playing on the Men’s Lacrosse team and exploring the Twin Cities. After graduation, Matt spent a year in Mobile, Al working with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps before returning to Minneapolis to attend St. Thomas Law School.
Matt is an Account Executive at Russell Tobin, a global specialty recruiting firm, where he focuses on developing relationships with companies from all business sectors in the Upper Midwest.
Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife and four children.
Carissa Miller ’13
Carissa Miller is a Consultant with Daugherty Business Solutions specializing in Agile Coaching. She has previously held positions in Technical Recruitment, Management, and Sales.
Carissa graduated from Augsburg in 2013 with a BA in International Business, she was on the Cross-Country Running team, co-captain of the Hockey team, and helped form Augsburg’s first women’s Lacrosse team. In her free time, Carissa volunteers weekly as a tutor with Reading Partners at Morris Park Academy. Her interests include Science Fiction, crafting with her Cricut, painting 3D prints, and loves attending video game and comic conventions. She lives in Oakdale with her fiancé Zach and spends her summer weekends at their cabin in Sturgeon Lake, MN.
Carissa is currently pursuing a Master of Professional Studies in Organizational Development and Change at Penn State University. Her interest in the Alumni Board was through involvement in Alumni/Student relations events like Auggie Take Out and Alumni/Student Networking Events. She credits fellow board member Jay Howard for encouraging her to apply and is very excited to give back to the school that gave her so many opportunities in life.
Guillaume Paek ’00
Guillaume graduated from Augsburg with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2000. He began working as a paraprofessional in Minneapolis Public Schools while enrolled in the Collaborative Urban Educators (CUE)
During Guillaume’s time at Augsburg, he was involved in the Pan-Asian Student Group, and football. Guillaume was a part of the 1998 MIAC Conference Championship football team that made it to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III National Championship Playoffs. The mentorship he received from his football coaches were instrumental in carving out his current career path as an Athletic and Activities Director.) program at the University of St. Thomas. He taught in MPS for eight years before transitioning into the Athletic Director role at Minneapolis Patrick Henry, where he increased participation numbers and grade point averages of student-athletes over the course of seven years. He is currently the Athletics and Activities Director at Burnsville High School.
Guillaume is new to the Alumni Board and is excited to serve. His interest in the Alumni Board was piqued after attending a social between current Augsburg students and Alumni. The event impacted him and allowed him to recognize the positive impact Alumni could have on the university and its students. Guillaume currently lives in Brooklyn Park with his wife Vicki, and two boys, Colton & Oliver.
Mathew Shannon ’04
Mr. Mathew Shannon is an established human resource professional and currently works at Medtronic as the Senior Diversity Talent Acquisition Specialist. While growing up in Minneapolis, MN, Mathew realized that one of the keys to successful communities is the presence of positive leadership. Having a few key mentors in his life during transitional times was helpful in making important decisions. Mathew led by example as an All-State and All-American student-athlete in track and field throughout his high school and college careers. Mr. Shannon has his BA degree in Business and Communication Arts from Augsburg University located in Minneapolis, MN.
Mr. Shannon’s professional investments are currently centered on diversity and inclusion, project management, and talent acquisition. Mathew has a successful background in insurance sales, program management, and leadership/professional development. His sincere passion for making a difference in the lives of other people is a driving force that creates a positive synergy that Mathew shares with his colleagues and the communities he serves.
Mathew also serves on the alumni board at Augsburg University and facilitates professional development workshops to help others make their greatest contribution to society. Wellness is an important part of life and Mathew enjoys fitness challenges, photography, and music.
Dave Stevens ’90
Dave Stevens, born without legs in the late 1960s, was put up for adoption and was raised by two loving and supportive parents who instilled core values that helped make him the man he is today. In the years before adaptive sports, Dave played able-bodied sports and became a pioneer in his home state of Arizona.
Dave played basketball, floor hockey, volleyball, softball before becoming a three-sport varsity athlete at Wickenburg High School in Arizona. He was awarded a scholarship to Augsburg University in Minnesota. It was there he became the only legless player in college football history. His success eventually led to a tryout with the Dallas Cowboys and representing Team USA playing football in New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland.
Off the field, Dave enjoyed 30+ years in sports broadcasting, with duties ranging from reporter to video editor, to producer. He spent 20+ years working at ESPN, where he earned seven national sports Emmys. He has covered Super Bowls, World Series, Final Fours, and anything in-between.
Dave is a sought-after motivational speaker for corporations, schools, sports, and civic organizations and is a reporter for The Disability Channel. In his spare time, he volunteers as a board member for NubAbility Athletics, which puts on sports camps for “Limb-Different” Athletes. He also co-hosts the Celebrity Amputee Golf Classic in Florida and is an Ambassador Athlete for the Dave Clark Foundation, putting on free clinics with Minor League baseball teams for differently-abled children. In 2021 Dave became a professional in residence at Quinnipiac University and oversees the new Ability Media initiative at the college to teach media and production to disabled students and create job opportunities and careers. Dave is a father of 3 teen boys and resides in Bristol CT.
Schuyler is an Associate Attorney at Berg Myers Law Offices in Hopkins, Minnesota. The practice areas she specializes in are probate, estate planning, guardianships, and Native American law. Schuyler previously worked for two and a half years as a Staff Attorney for the Ho-Chunk Nation, a Native American tribe in Wisconsin. Schuyler grew up in Northfield, Minnesota, where she attended a Spanish-immersion school. Schuyler received her undergraduate degree from Augsburg University in 2010 with focuses in History, American Indian Studies, and Spanish. She earned her law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul (now Mitchell-Hamline) in 2016. Skye, as her family calls her, lives in St. Louis Park with her husband and son.
Not Pictured (bios and pics coming soon!)
Anne O’Keefe-Jackson ’01. MAL, MBA ’18
Raymond Kidd ’09
Arianna Antone-Ramirez ’20