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Meet Our People

Our Faculty

headshot of vanessa bester wearing a green sweater and smiling at the camera in front of a blue-gray backgroundDr. Vanessa Bester, EdD, PA-C (Program Director, Faculty)

Dr. Bester has been a practicing PA since 2003, where she began her career as a National Health Service Corps scholar, working in HIV primary care and infectious diseases. Her life and career have led her to practice in pulmonary, critical care, emergency medicine, cardiology, military medicine in Germany (as a civilian provider), and most recently, back to community health care in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Dr. Bester serves as the program director at Augsburg University’s PA program and teaches across all courses in her areas of expertise. She advocates for Minnesota PAs as a Director-at-Large for the Minnesota Academy of PAs and is actively involved in Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion research, presentations, and work through the national PA Education Association (PAEA) Diversity and Inclusion Mission Advancement Commission and as a PAEA/AAPA Research Fellow. Above all, Vanessa is dedicated to furthering the mission of the Augsburg PA Program.

For fun, Vanessa loves travel, being outdoors with her family and is an avid yogi.


Dr, Kurt DeVineDr. Kurt DeVine, MD (Medical Director)

Kurt Devine is nationally known for his work in Substance Use Disorder treatment and provider education, with over 34 years of clinical practice as a Family Medicine Physician.

Dr. Devine has been teaching Augsburg PA students through the ECHO Substance Use Disorder curriculum, supported by a Minnesota Department of Health grant, and is an active preceptor in Family Medicine to our PA students.


Eric Van Hecke, PA-C (Director of Student Engagement, PA Faculty)

After graduating from the Augsburg PA program in 2009, Eric served for one year in Iraq as a PA with the US Army. Returning in 2010 and for the following eight years, he continued his career in Emergency Medicine.

His passion for PA education has been a consistent theme throughout his career as he has precepted numerous students and has been a regular lecturer at several PA programs.

Outside of his work he enjoys spending time with his wife, Cyri and three children, Victor, Lily, and Stella. He is an avid endurance athlete and has completed several marathons including consecutive Boston Marathons and has completed two half distance and one full distance Ironman triathlons.


lindvall headshotKristen Lindvall, PA-C (Director of Academic Education, PA Faculty)

Kristen is a graduate of the Augsburg PA Program. She practices in General Surgery for HealthPartners with additional experience moonlighting in Urgent Care.

Within the program, Kristen leads the Pathophysiology and Clinical Medicine I and II courses.

She is also passionate about medicine in the developing world and travels to Haiti assisting in surgical procedures.

In her free time, Kristen enjoys spending time in nature with her husband and Vizsla dog.


Danielle SkoglundDanielle Skoglund, PA-C (Director of Clinical Education, Clinical Faculty)

Danielle received her undergraduate degree from South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD in 2007 and her Masters in Physician Assistant Studies in 2009 from Des Moines University. Danielle has a long history of practicing in urology, currently with HealthPartners.

Danielle has always had a desire to be part of a PA program and prior to starting as clinical coordinator, she was adjunct faculty for the program teaching in urology.

In her free time, she loves spending time outside golfing and traveling with her husband and 2 young children.


Ryane Lester, PA-C (PA Faculty)

Ryane received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and her Masters in Physician Assistant Studies in 2010 from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.

For the past 2 years she has been working in Orthopedics with Twin Cities Orthopedics. Ryane spent her early years in clinical practice in the emergency department in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband, two young children and their dog, making everyday memories.


headshot of Rachel ElbingRachel Elbing, MPH, PA-C (PA Faculty)

Rachel attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison for both her undergraduate degree and her Physician Assistant Degree. She then went on to complete the University of Iowa Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant Residency Program in Iowa City.

Rachel has been in the Twin Cities area since 2013 where she continued her work as an emergency medicine PA at multiple ERs across the Twin Cities and was a part of an amazing interdisciplinary Palliative Care team in St. Paul.

Rachel has over 10 years of experience with Emergency Medicine and Palliative Care, but she is particularly interested in global health and how socioeconomic, political, and cultural factors can play a role in both individuals and communities’ health. She is thrilled to be a part of the PA program at Augsburg!

Our Adjunct Faculty

Headshot of Miranda LaCroix
Miranda LaCroix, PA-C (Adjunct Instructor)

Miranda completed her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and her Masters in Physician Assistant Studies from Augsburg University in 2021.

Since graduation, she has been working on increasing her knowledge base as a Hospital Medicine Advanced Practice Clinician Fellow at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. An advocate of continuing education, Miranda is excited to learn and grow along with the students at Augsburg.

Originally from Wisconsin, Miranda enjoys spending her free time rooting for the Brewers, Bucks, Badgers, and Packers. She’s also an avid animal lover and has two cats.


Dr. David Wen, MD (Adjunct Instructor)

Dr. Wen attended Carleton College for his undergraduate education and later received his MD from the University of Minnesota Medical School. He completed his residency at Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York, and also participated in the Brunschwig Rotating Residency at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City.

Dr. Wen specializes in Obstetrics and Gynecology and currently provides care at Allina Medical Clinics in Farmington, and St. Paul locations. His philosophy of practice is to minimize unnecessary tests and procedures. His practice is centered on providing care throughout all phases of a woman’s life. Dr. Wen is part of our clinical faculty and mentors students during their clinical phase.

In his free time, Dr. Wen’s interests include traveling to other countries and experiencing their cultures and food.


headshot of Brittany StrelowBrittany Strelow, PA-C, DMSc (Adjunct Instructor)

Brittany received her BS in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 2008, her MS in Physician Assistant Studies from Pace University in New York, NY in 2011, and her DMSc from University of Lynchburg, VA in 2021.

Brittany has been a PA since 2011 with clinical practice in hematology, family medicine, and internal medicine. She has published peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, abstracts, posters, and presented locally, nationally, and internationally. She has received POCN Top PA: Internal Medicine as well as Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA) Preceptor/Mentor of the Year.

She is active with leadership in both state and national PA chapters, but in her free time, she is a mom to two kiddos and has a loveable chocolate lab. Her hobbies include scrapbooking and cake decorating, and she also has been an avid volunteer for the American Cancer Society.


headshot of kelsey reif in a striped shirtKelsey Reif, PA-C (Adjunct Instructor)

Kelsey Reif is originally from Minnesota. She attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH and received her undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry. She then went on to Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI and graduated in 2016 with her master’s in Physician Assistant Studies, returning home to MN to practice.

Kelsey started working September of 2016 as a surgical PA, focusing on general and colorectal surgery. She has a particular interest in robotic surgery and assists in these cases frequently. She also spends her time managing patients in the hospital as well as seeing patients in the outpatient clinic setting.

Kelsey has been a leader for PA students since working at HealthPartners. She overseees the PA students during their rotation with general surgery and has very much enjoyed giving back as an educator. This has now evolved into joining the Advance Practice Clinician Advisory Board as champion for advanced practice provider students at Regions. She has further advanced her education career as an adjunct faculty member with Augsburg’s PA Program.

In her spare time, Kelsey enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids. She also enjoys being active with biking and running, spending time outdoors, traveling, cooking, experiencing new restaurants, and attending live music events.

Merari Morales Rosales
Merari Morales-Rosales, MBA, MSPAS, PA-C (Curriculum and Clinical Mentor)

Merari serves on the PA Advisory Council as our Curriculum and Clinical Training Mentor and represents the Augsburg PA Alumni perspective through facilitating small group teaching, lectures, mentoring students, and advising the PA program on policy and admissions practices from a diverse and critical lens.

Merari completed his undergraduate degree from Metropolitan State University, a Masters of Business Administration from St. Thomas University, and his Masters in PA Studies from Augsburg University in 2021. After completing his PA degree, Merari became one of Augsburg’s inaugural Graduate PA Fellows and is a nationally certified PA in the US and Canada.

In his free time, Merari enjoys outdoors activities such as hiking, whitewater rafting, photography, and visiting state and national parks.


Alannah Zheng headshotAlannah Zheng, MSPA, PA-C (Adjunct Instructor)

Alannah received her BS in Biology and BA in Spanish from Northwestern College in St. Paul in 2014 and her MSPA from Bethel University in 2017.

Alannah has over 5 years of experience in sexual and reproductive health and family medicine. She is passionate about the PA profession and serves as a Director-at-Large for the Minnesota Academy of PAs. She recently finished courseworkd to become a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and is working towards becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She is very much looking forward to her first adjunct role at Augsburg!

Alannah loves teaching and learning and would tell you that she is interested in everything! Outside of work, Alannah loves to cook, bake gluten-free recipes, crochet, work with her husband in the family restaurant, and spend time with her cats, Calliope and Copernicus, and chihuahua, Ruby.


headshot of Megan JohnsonMegan Johnson, PA-C (Adjunct Instructor)

Megan received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Masters in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Iowa in 2010. She has served in many roles in the fields of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Chicago, the Mayo Clinic and her current outpatient practice in the Twin Cities. She was appointed Academic Instructor by the Mayo Clinic and published original research in the Obstetrics & Gynecology green journal.

Megan has a deep-seated passion for Women’s Health and specializes in surgical management. In her free time, she enjoys spending time at the lake alongside her husband and 3 children.


headshot of mara czajaMarah Czaja, PA-C (Adjunct Instructor)

Marah is a family medicine trained and board certified Physician Assistant with an interest in addiction medicine. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Spanish from Berea College in Berea, Kentucky in 2012 and a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree from Elon University in Elon, North Carolina in 2016. Marah has nearly 7 years of experience working in community health centers with a focus on primary care and addiction medicine in underserved communities. She has a deep passion for supporting folks in their journey of recovery from substance use.

Marah is committed to provide high-quality, trauma informed, patient centered care. She believes that patients are the experts of their body and mind, and her role is to provide therapeutic education, knowledge, and options for healthcare. She is very excited to be a part of the Augsburg team and help train future leaders in healthcare.

In her free time, Marah enjoys spending time with her dog, cats, and chickens, hiking and exploring new state and national parks, kayaking, spending time with family and chosen family, and reading a good book!


Our Staff

Stacey HegrenesStacey Hegrenes (Administrative Assistant)

Stacey joined the Augsburg PA staff in August 2018 after previously working for Gethsemane Lutheran Church and School. She has experience working in the healthcare field, as a former medical assistant in a cardiology office for a number of years. Stacey is excited to bring her work experience to Augsburg.

In her free time, she is an avid knitter and enjoys spending time with family, cooking, reading and traveling.


Sherrie LuetgersSherrie Luetgers (Program Manager)

Sherrie is a graduate of Augsburg College with a Bachelors degree in Music Education. She has 18 years of experience in healthcare working as a HUC, EKG tech, and Emergency Room Tech most recently in the Emergency Department at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Sherrie spends most of her free time volunteering for, and singing with One Voice Mixed Chorus, Minnesota’s LGBTA chorus.




Erika Skogen headshotErika Skogen (Clinical Lead Specialist)

Erika completed her Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Elementary Education with a Math Endorsement from the College of Saint Benedict in December of 2016. Upon graduation, she began teaching middle school math for over three years before briefly stepping away from education.

After a year of working as a Project Coordinator, Erika is excited to put her passion for education back to use by assisting in creating the best learning opportunities for the Physician Assistant Program at Augsburg.

In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, running, and playing various sports with her friends and family.

Katie Olsen in black turtleneckKatie Olsen (Administrative Assistant)

Katie completed their Bachelor’s of Science (BS) in Technical Communications with a minor in Performing Arts at Iowa State University. After graduation, they pursued work with MLT Group, a local web development company.

After five years with web marketing, they are looking forward to branching out and using their skills to support higher education and volunteer outreach within the PA program at Augsburg University.

In their spare time, they enjoy reading, sewing, video games, and playing tabletop role playing games with friends.