Board of Advisors

The Board of Advisors for the College of Arts and Sciences is a group of leaders in the Twin Cities and beyond guiding the initiatives and vision of the college in partnership with the Dean.

Lisa Anderson headshot CAS Board of AdvisorsLisa earned her MA in Counseling Psychology and BA in Journalism from St. Thomas University. Lisa serves as the Regional Director of Schools for the Healey Education Foundation and works on introducing business models of sustainability and growth to schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. She has nearly 25 years of comprehensive development, marketing and leadership experience. Prior to Healey, she was part of the Advancement Team at St. Thomas. Public Affairs Director at the Ronald House, Annual Fund Director at the March of Dimes and has consulted for numerous other non-profits in education, human service and healthcare. She also spent 5 years as the EVP of DOR, an Employee Assistance Firm that focused on Organizational Development, Change Management and Crisis Interventions.

She has held leadership positions on the following boards: Ordway, University of St. Thomas Alumni Association, Hammer Residences and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Thomas Flynn CAS Board of Advisor headshotDr. Flynn received a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry summa cum laude from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.  His MD was awarded by the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.   He completed an internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Washington University/Barnes Hospital in St Louis,  followed by  a  fellowship  in Hematology/Oncology at the University of Minnesota.

For seven years he was on staff in the Hematology-Oncology section at St. Paul  Ramsey  Medical  Center  and  a  member  of  the  University  of Minnesota Medical School faculty.  Since 1987 he has been in the private practice of hematology/oncology as a partner at Minnesota Oncology with a clinical practice based in Minneapolis.  Dr. Flynn served as the group’s President for 12 years, from 2001 to 2013.  Since 2012 Dr. Flynn has served as Chair of the National Policy Board of The US Oncology Network.

In addition to the College of Arts and Sciences Board of Advisors, he has been involved with the Angel Foundation since 2001, and has been a member of the board of directors since 2010, serving as board chair in 2014.  He also chairs the board of the Foundation for Cancer Care in Tanzania, and is a member of the Steering Committee for the Minnesota Cancer Alliance.

Dr. Flynn lives in Mendota Heights with his wife, Helen who recently retired from oncology nursing.   Their three daughters all work in medical fields, and one received an MBA from the University of St. Thomas.   Dr. Flynn enjoys travel, music, skiing and spending time at their lake cabin.

Ann Folkman CAS Board Member headshotAnn earned her B.A. in Journalism with a concentration in Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas, where she also completed coursework toward her M.B.A.

Ann is managing director of global marketing and corporate communications for CarVal Investors, a subsidiary of Cargill. She joined the firm in 2004 and is responsible for leading the group’s branding and marketing strategy and activities. Prior to joining Cargill and CarVal, Ann was director of public relations for Select Comfort, where she led corporate communications for the company. Before that, she owned her own marketing firm and spent several years in marketing communications at Padilla Speer Beardsley and with Burlington Northern.

She earned her accreditation in public relations by the Public Relations Society of America and served as the Society’s chapter president in Minnesota. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Convent of the Visitation School, where she chairs the marketing committee. She also serves on the board of directors of Urban Ventures where she chairs their marketing committee and formerly chaired governance. She has served on the steering and development committees for the University of Minnesota’s Lillehei Heart Institute annual gala.  She has served on the board of directors of the University of St. Thomas Alumni Association, and has been active in a number of other educational, civic and non-profit organizations.

Chris Heim CAS Board of Advisor headshot

‌‌‌Chris Heim received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science, and a Masters of Business Administration degree, in Marketing from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN.

Chris is CEO of HelpSystems, a role that he has held since 2015. HelpSystems is an Eden Prairie based software company with over 550 employees worldwide.

Prior to HelpSystems, Chris was CEO of Axium Software, a Portland Oregon based software company that was sold to Deltek to June of 2014.

From 2007 to 2012, Chris was CEO of Amcom Software which grew from $12 million to $52 million in revenue before being sold to Spok Corporation.

Chris began his career after St. Thomas at HighJump Software where he held a variety of roles before becoming CEO in 1997. Under his leadership, HighJump Software grew from $8 million in sales in 1997 to a run rate of $80 million in sales in 2006 and became the fastest growing company in their market space. In 2003, Heim was selected as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Jennifer Kinkead Headshot ‌Jennifer Kinkead graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a BA in Marketing in 1988. Over the past 28 years she has worked in sales in one capacity or another. In 2011 she started a business, JELLA World Artist Collections. This business was inspired by travel to Africa with Give Us Wings, a nonprofit that Jennifer is on the board of and has been involved with for 14 years. While in Africa she found that she could learn about the people and the culture by connecting with people in her search for art and artifacts. Jennifer procures items from all over Africa, Asia and Europe through her travels and sells these pieces to shops, galleries and directly to consumers.

Jennifer is also involved with the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, on their Ordway Connect Board, as well as her work with Give Us Wings as a board member.

Jennifer and her husband George have three kids. Their oldest, John, graduated from St. Thomas in 2015, Payton is a sophomore at Wake Forest in North Carolina, and their youngest, Mason, is a senior at Saint Paul Academy and Summit School.

Kelly Larmon updated headshot Board of Advisor

Kelly Larmon received her B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from the University of St. Thomas in 1997, her M.B.A from the University of St. Thomas in 2003 and her J.D. from Hamline University School of Law in 2006.

Kelly’s career has primarily been in the financial services industry, largely in legal and compliance roles. Currently, Kelly is Senior Counsel at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans in Minneapolis, MN.  While at Thrivent, she has been responsible for providing legal support for the following:  distribution of insurance products, creation of alternative distribution models and the topic of sales practices to seniors and working with vulnerable adults. Currently, Kelly focuses on new business development activities at Thrivent.  Kelly has also acted as Secretary and/or Chief Legal Officer for several subsidiary boards within Thrivent and was a member of the Thrivent Foundation Grant Review Team.  

In addition to serving as the Vice Chair for the College of Arts and Science Board of Advisors, she has been a member of the Women Connect Steering Committee at the University of St. Thomas, and also sits on the board of directors for WomenVenture.

Photo of Peter Leyden.Peter Leyden is a blend of public intellectual and serial entrepreneur who  has been following the story of our times and the front edge of tech innovation for his entire career. As a public intellectual, he’s been giving talks, writing books and articles and publicly interviewing thought leaders in various jobs over several decades. He’s been a journalist, a foreign correspondent in Asia, an editor of the original Wired magazine, the co-author of two books and a frequent keynote speaker.

Peter Leyden attended St. Thomas after growing up on its campus as his father, Donald, helped lead the college for 30 years into the 1980s. Since attending St. Thomas Leyden has forged an incredible, globe-spanning career of storytelling and discussing big ideas with remarkable people. Early in his career he worked at the Star Tribune and started the newspaper’s first beat to explain the internet, writing a 50,000-word special project called “On the Edge of the Digital Age.” He then moved to WIRED and became its managing editor while continuing to cover the technological boom of the 1990s and 2000s. Leyden has most recently worked for several pioneering organizations and founded a variety of start-ups, including the latest, Reinvent, that facilitates conversations with thought leaders around the world.

Headshot for CAS board member Brian McEnaneyAn Edina resident, Brian earned a BA in Finance from St. Thomas in 1985, as well as a mini-Master’s in healthcare technology, from St. Thomas. He has held a variety of sales, marketing and business development positions in the healthcare software and technology industries. He is currently with Alliance Healthcare Solutions representing GE Healthcare software solutions in the central United States. He has also worked as an industry technology consultant and participated in two healthcare technology start-up organizations.

Brian is an active community connector and has participated in a wide variety of civic volunteering positions with particular emphasis on public policy, the arts, and, of course, St. Thomas. He founded an organization that was dedicated to raising funds for and lifting the profile of smaller community charitable organizations.

Odeh Muhawesh is the Adjunct Professor and Associate at the Muslim Christian Dialogue Center at the University of St. Thomas where he teaches as a specialist in theology and Modem Middle Eastern history. He serves as a board member for the Norris Institute. He has written several books and publications and speaks across the nation on issues related to policy, theology, and business.

Dr. Muhawesh has founded several very successful businesses over the course of 26 years, developing products for software and service companies in the IT field. He has led both private and publicly traded companies and has created thousands of jobs in the state of Minnesota and elsewhere. One of his companies was listed among the 100 fastest-growing privately-held companies in the United States. He currently serves as honorary Co-Chairperson of the Congressional National Business Advisory Council in Washington, D.C.

Headshot for Ozzie Nelson, board member.John “Ozzie” Nelson Jr. is Chairman and Co-CEO of NELSON, a design, architecture, branding and consulting services organization operating across the country and globe. As CEO of the firm for 15 years, Ozzie guided NELSON through unprecedented growth to become the third largest provider of design services to corporate America as ranked by Interior Design magazine. In early 2018, Ozzie embarked upon a new role as Co-CEO alongside Jim Tippmann of FRCH, a recent merger, to jointly focus on further strategic growth, design excellence and maintaining a dynamic company culture across NELSON.

Ozzie joined his father’s 15-person interior design firm immediately upon graduating from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in Business Administration in 1987. Under Ozzie’s direction, the firm expanded from a one-office, traditional design firm with a single core competency to its current state of more than 25 locations, 10 different practice areas, and multiple fully integrated service lines. Since Ozzie became CEO of NELSON in 2003, the firm has executed more than 40 merger/acquisitions, taking NELSON from the rank of #37 in the industry to “Top 10” with a growth of more than 500 percent. Today the firm is a key partner to top companies including Cisco, Nielsen, Google, Express Scripts, AstraZeneca, and Verizon.

Ozzie consistently demonstrates a firm commitment to the design industry and the community. Among his many philanthropic activities is his tenure as a past trustee and two-time board chair of Students Today, Leaders Forever (STLF), chair of the Young Presidents’ Organization’s (YPO) Twin Cities Chapter, and co-chair of the Heart Advisory Committee of the University of Minnesota's Medical Foundation. He is a member of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Minneapolis Club. His innovative approach to the design business has put Ozzie in high demand as a speaker for organizations including Design Colloquium, InterPlan, CoreNet, the AEC convention, NeoCon, and the annual conference for the Internal Society of Facilities Executives.

Headshot for Jim Nikolai, board member.Jim Nikolai earned both his BA in Political Science (2004) and his MA in Public Policy and Leadership (2011) from the University of St. Thomas. He was a 2016-2017 Policy Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Jim has spent his entire career with U.S. Bancorp in Minneapolis. In his current role as Vice President of State Government Relations, Jim leads the company’s legislative advocacy initiatives across a multi-state region. He also manages the company’s programs to inform and engage employees in the political process.

Jim has served in various civic leadership roles in addition the CAS Board of Advisors. He currently serves on the board of directors at the Bridge for Youth and the Citizens League. He previously served on the boards of St. Stephen’s Human Services and the Minnesota Political Science Association.

Jim lives in West St. Paul with his wife, Jamie (St. Thomas 2003), who teaches 7th and 8th grade science at Falcon Ridge Middle School in Apple Valley. They have two sons, Andrew and Sam, that attend Nativity of Our Lord School in St. Paul.

CAS Board of Advisor Harold SlawikHarold Slawik received his B.A. degree from the College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1982 with a major in Philosophy, and his J.D. degree from the William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1988.

Harold is a business attorney, consultant, and angel investor focusing on software and hardware technology companies in Minnesota and California. Harold currently is a partner with New Counsel, PLC, a business law firm in Minneapolis that he founded in 2006. Harold previously worked legal and corporate development roles for two high-profile, venture-funded startups in Silicon Valley, Diba, Inc. and Niku Corporation. He also worked for Sun Microsystems, Inc., a Fortune 500 computer software and hardware company now owned by Oracle Corporation.

Harold has served in various civic and volunteer roles over the years in addition to his work with the University of St. Thomas, including his current position on the board of the Catholic Community Foundation. Harold and his wife Sharon have three grown children and reside in the south suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota

Since February 2, 2015, Father Larry Snyder has served as the Vice-President for Mission at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

Prior to that, he served as President of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), the national office of more than 160 local Catholic Charities agencies nationwide that provide help and create hope to more than 9 million people a year, regardless of their religious, social, or economic backgrounds. Since joining CCUSA in 2005, Snyder was responsible for leading the overall direction of the Catholic Charities movement and the strategic leadership of CCUSA. He oversaw CCUSA’s work to reduce poverty in America, encouraging government, business, and academia to raise the issue of poverty in the national conversation.

Snyder is the author of Think and Act Anew: How Poverty in America Affects Us All and What We Can Do About It. The book calls on our nation to commit to supporting innovative approaches to combating poverty and spotlights effective and efficient programs being run by Catholic Charities agencies across the country.

Just six months after his arrival at CCUSA, Snyder led the network’s response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, in which more than 110 Catholic Charities in the Gulf Coast and beyond provided immediate and long-term aid to more than one million hurricane victims. Over his past decade of leadership, CCUSA has led responses to natural and manmade disasters, helped establish a bold partnership that led to the creation of a first-of-its-kind domestic anti-poverty lab, acquired a new permanent national office, launched a national social innovation initiative, and continued to serve as an advocate for the poor before Congress and the White House.

In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Snyder to the President’s Advisory Council of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In addition, he has been recognized three times by The Non Profit Times in its “Power and Influence Top 50” of non-profit leaders. In 2007, he was named to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which oversees the Church’s charitable activities around the world. He was also president of Caritas North America from 2006-2011.

Prior to joining CCUSA, Snyder served as executive director of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the largest private provider of social services in the Twin Cities. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1988 and was a high school teacher for eight years prior to joining the seminary.

Snyder earned a bachelor’s degree from Illinois Benedictine College in Lisle, Ill. He also holds a master’s degree of divinity from the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity and a master’s of public administration from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is also the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from DePaul University, as well as from St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania.

Snyder currently serves on the board of the Northwest Area Foundation. He also served as the former chair for Leadership 18 and the on board of Independent Sector.

Niels Sorensen CAS Board of Advisor headshotNiels Sorensen graduated from the College of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry, and from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1974 with a Doctor of Medicine.

After graduating from medical school, Sorensen interned at Baylor University Medical Center, in Houston, Texas. He completed his surgical residency training at Ramsey County Hospital, now known as Regions Hospital, and is currently a general, and laparoscopic, surgeon for Allina Health Systems in Forest Lake, Minnesota.

In 2006, he and his wife Carol endowed a scholarship for students majoring in biology, chemistry, or engineering who are also planning on attending medical school after graduation. Sorensen is also helping to create a mentorship program for pre-medical students at St. Thomas.

Kelley Thomes Ries CAS Board of Advisor headshotKelley Thomes Ries received her undergraduate degrees in Journalism and Sociology from the University of Minnesota in 1995 and her M.B.A from the University of St. Thomas in 2004.

Kelley’s career in consumer marketing has included both agency and client side experience. After more than six years at Haworth Marketing, Kelley took on a leadership role with her client, Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. In her 15 year tenure leading marketing efforts for the state’s second most visited attraction, Kelley led the areas of advertising, media relations/crisis communications, promotions, direct marketing, loyalty club, group sales/catering, call center and entertainment. Kelley left her role of Vice President of Marketing at Mystic Lake and joined UnitedHealthcare as Vice President of Marketing Strategy in 2016. In this current role, Kelley is responsible for the welcome experience of nearly 27 million commercial members. Kelley has a passion for education and in 2017 served as adjunct instructor at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business teaching the ‘intensive core’ marketing course.

Kelley and her husband, Jerry (UST ’92 and UST M.B.A ’01) have two girls who attend Shakopee Area Catholic School, where Kelley serves as Advisory Board Secretary. Kelley is an active volunteer with the Aim Higher Foundation which raises scholarships for k-8 Catholic education, has served as a mentor to Carlson School of Business students since 2015 and been a Junior Achievement Volunteer since 2008.