Opus Distinguished Speakers Panel

Tuesday, February 21, 5:00 PM
Community Leadership and Innovation: Economic Development for the Common Good

Gain insight and analysis from:

  • Ravi Norman, CEO of Thor Companies 
  • Shauen V. T. Pearce-Lassiter, Director of the Center Cities Competitiveness Initiative 
  • R.T. Rybak, CEO and President of Minneapolis Foundation
  • Stella Whitney-West, CEO of Northpoint Health and Wellness Center

The panelists, along with other local thought leaders, will explore opportunities to more effectively drive economic development for the Twin-Cities urban population. The panel will discuss the status of current initiatives and explore ways Minnesota-based organizations and individuals can more inclusively engage in innovative solutions for the common good.


5-6 p.m.: Registration & Reception
6-7:15 p.m.: Program
7:15-7:30 p.m.: Q&A

About the Panelists

Ravi Norman, Panelist
Norman has been providing Executive leadership at THOR Construction for 10+ years, including presiding over their strategic direction as CEO over the past six years. Prior to his promotion, Norman managed the firm’s financial strategy and operations as CFO, as well as facilitated the firm’s strategic planning processes and outcomes. He possesses over 18 years of expertise in the areas of strategic management, organizational development and commercial finance. Ravi’s dynamic leadership style consists of an optimal mix of macro business strategy, management & organizational theory, and operational execution. Norman has collaborated with several Fortune 500 corporations and non-profits to develop innovative solutions to maximize diversity and inclusion within the supply chain.

Shauen V. T. Pearce-Lassiter, Panelist
Shauen V. T. Pearce-Lassiter is the director of the Center Cities Competitiveness Initiative, a partnership of the Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Regional Chambers of Commerce, the Saint Paul Port Authority, McKnight Foundation, Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, and GREATER MSP. As director, Shauen works with coalition partners and the private sector to improve economic outcomes for people and businesses alike, harnessing the coalition’s collective resources and expertise to advance prosperity through job creation and capital investment in the center cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

R.T. Rybak, Panelist
As President and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation Rybak oversees the management of nearly $700 million in assets and an average distribution of $50 million in grants.

Before leading The Minneapolis Foundation, Rybak served as executive director of Generation Next and served as mayor of Minneapolis from 2002-2013. Rybak is the author of "Pothole Confidential," a memoir about his 12 years as mayor of Minneapolis. A Minneapolis native, Rybak spent almost 30 years working in journalism, commercial real estate, publishing, and the Internet.

Stella Whitney-West, Moderator
Stella Whitney-West is Chief Executive Officer of NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center a federally qualified health center serving over 25,000 residents in North Minneapolis and Hennepin County.  NorthPoint provides comprehensive medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, laboratory, radiology, and human services. It has realized dramatic growth in patients, revenue, and mission effectiveness under her leadership. Ms. Whitney-West serves on the Twin Cities LISC Advisory Board, the board of directors for Stratis Health, the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), and is Board President for the Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers.

About the Contributors

Duchesne Drew, Contributor
Duchesne Drew is the Community Network vice president at the Bush Foundation. He oversees and integrates the work of the communications, community innovation and leadership programs teams. A key part of Duchesne’s role is building partnerships with related organizations and leaders as well as helping to link and grow formal and informal networks across the region. He’s working with Greater MSP and Make It. MSP. on efforts to recruit and retain professionals of color within the Twin Cities region. Duchesne serves on a number of boards including ThreeSixty Journalism, a University of St. Thomas program that works to diversify the field of journalism through helping high school students tell their stories.

Janine Sanders, Ph.D., Contributor
Janine Sanders Jones is an associate professor in operations and supply chain management. She previously worked as an industrial engineer and process engineer for Merck & Co. Currently, her research interests include quality management, process management and organizational culture. Her work has been published in Decision Sciences Journal, Journal of World Business, Business Process Management Journal and International Journal of Information and Operations Management Education. She currently teaches a variety of courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, including Introduction to Operations Management, Business Statistics and Operations Strategy.

Artika Tyner, Ph.D., Contributor
Artika R. Tyner is a passionate educator, author, sought after speaker, and advocate for justice. At the University of St. Thomas, Dr. Tyner serves as the Associate Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. She is committed to training students to serve as social engineers who create new inroads to justice and freedom.