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Meet Our People

Our Faculty

waist up photo of Vanessa Bester who is smiling and crossing her armsDr. Vanessa Bester, EdD, PA-C (Program Director, Faculty)

Vanessa Bester, EdD, PA-C, DFAAPA serves as the PA Program Director at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. With a career spanning since 2003, she began as a National Health Service Corps scholar, specializing in HIV primary care and infectious diseases. Dr. Bester has worked in diverse medical settings, including pulmonary, critical care, emergency medicine, cardiology, and military medicine in Germany. In her current role at the Augsburg University Health Commons, she supports community health and well-being in the Cedar-Riverside and Harrison neighborhoods of Minneapolis.

As Program Director, Dr. Bester teaches across courses at Augsburg University and serves as the Secretary on the Minnesota Academy of PAs Board of Directors, advocating for Minnesota PAs. She is actively involved in justice, diversity, and inclusion initiatives at both local and national levels, contributing to the PAEA Diversity and Inclusion Mission Advancement Commission. Additionally, Dr. Bester is a national PAEA/AAPA Research Fellow and is honored to be recognized as a Distinguished Fellow of the AAPA.

Dr. Vanessa Bester is the Principal Investigator for several grants focusing on enhancing PA student training and support. These initiatives also support preparing students to treat substance use disorders, integrate point-of-care ultrasound into daily practice, and provide comprehensive telemedicine care. Her dedication to addressing healthcare disparities and advancing PA education is evident in her work and realizing the mission of Augsburg University and the PA program.

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


picture of dr. young smiling at the camera while wearings scrubsJames Young, MD (Medical Director, Faculty)

Dr. Young graduated from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in 2001. He went on to complete his training in Family Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine – Kasson Mayo Family Practice Residency in 2004. He has been in private practice since that time working primarily in the field of Hospital Medicine, where has spent the majority of his 19 years in practice. In addition to being a Hospitalist, Dr. Young has served in the United States Air Force through the 133rd Airlift Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard. During that time, he was assigned to a CBRNE Response Force, designed to respond to chemical, biological, nuclear/radiological and other threats.

Dr. Young has interests in disaster medicine, bariatric medicine, clinical process improvement, clinician wellness and burnout prevention, and the management of chronic disease. However, one of his greatest passions is teaching and training others to enter the practice of medicine. Assuming the role of Medical Director for Physician Assistant Studies at Augsburg, Dr. Young is excited to leverage the years of experience in the field to guide and grow students as they enter the medical landscape.

In addition to his love of medicine, Dr. Young enjoys spending time with his family where he is a proud Hockey, Football and Lacrosse Dad. He also enjoys reading history, walking/hiking and exercise, astrophotography, kayaking, and is an unrepentant Trekker.

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Kristen 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!


Mike Butler, PA-C (Clinical Faculty)headshot of mike butler smiling at the camera in a shirt and tie

Mike earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire in 2006 then pursued a career in public service working in both Fire and EMS. In 2017 he earned an MPAS from the University of North Dakota beginning a career in Family Medicine in the Twin Cities.

His commitment to preventative care and wellness across the lifespan called him to Family Medicine where he found his passion for teaching while precepting students in the clinical setting.

Outside of work Mike enjoys being active in nature with his three children including yearly trips to the BWCA, exploring MN state parks and downhill skiing.


headshot of Mary Ruggeri smiling at cameraMary Ruggeri, MEd, MMSc, PA-C (PA Faculty)

Mary graduated with a Master of Medical Science from the Yale School of Medicine PA Online Program. She began practicing clinically as a PA in outpatient psychiatry and then transitioned to a role in dermatology and aesthetic medicine.

Prior to becoming a PA, Mary earned her undergraduate degree from Loyola University of Chicago, participated in a two-year service program, teaching in an under-resourced school in Austin, TX, and earned a Master of Education degree from the University of Notre Dame.

As a former teacher, Mary’s interest in learning environments and student wellness has inspired her involvement in several related research initiatives. She has experience in PA education as an Assistant Professor Adjunct and Clinical Coordinator with the Yale School of Medicine PA Online Program. Mary has served on the Physician Assistant Education Association’s (PAEA) Future Educator Development Steering Committee and PAEA Board of Directors. Mary is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Health Sciences.

Mary enjoys spending time with her family, recreating favorite recipes from Austin restaurants, searching for vintage treasures at estate sales and antique shops, and spending time at the lake.

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.



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.

tegan presley smiling at the camera and standing outsideTegan Presley, PA-C (Adjunct Instructor)

Tegan received her Bachelor of Science in chemistry and biology from Hamline University in 2008, and her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Augsburg College in 2014. She has spent most of her PA career caring for underserved populations in community health centers and has recently expanded her role to include Associate Medical Director of a local Federally Qualified Health Center.

Her specific area of interest is serving persons with substance use disorders- combining a passion for primary care and serving underserved populations to achieve health. Additionally, she enjoys serving generations of families in both chronic disease management and preventive care. Her commitment to ongoing education grew while precepting students in the clinical setting. She is now privileged to continue educating future providers with Augsburg Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program.

Outside her professional goals, Tegan fancies herself an aspiring athlete participating in multiple sprint triathlons and running races. She balances physical activity with attempts at baking including the elusive sourdough. Helping her enjoy all the baked goods are her supportive husband and two young children. She is an active volunteer with programs for youth seeking future careers in medicine. When able, she enjoys cheering for Minnesota sports teams especially the Aurora FC.

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

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 Coordinator)

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.


mollie lohmann in a navy blue dress smiling at the cameraMollie Lohmann (Administrative Assistant)

Mollie graduated from Augsburg University in 2023 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and History and minor in Medieval Studies. After working for Augsburg’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program, as a student worker, they have stayed with Augsburg after graduation and moved across the street to the PA Program as a full time assistant.

In their free time time, she enjoys reading, crocheting, writing and painting and can be found listening to musical numbers.


headshot of adriana hidalgoAdriana Hidalgo (Clinical Lead Coordinator)

Adriana joined the Augsburg PA staff in April 2023 after previously working for The Marsh, a Center for Balance and Fitness as a scheduler and assistant Spa manager. Prior to her wellness experience, she also worked as an underwriter for Allstate.

In her free time, she enjoys biking, cooking, gardening, photography, attending live music events, and spending as much time as she can in the Boundary Waters hiking and camping.


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, playing video games, and hanging out in nature.