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Early Bird Registration: 
Now - January 31, 2020

MNFEA Members $140/person
Non-Members $180/person

Regular Registration: 
February 1 - March 8, 2020

MNFEA Members $160/person
Non-Members $200/person

Late/Onsite Registration: 
March 9-13, 2020

MNFEA Members $180/person
Non-Members $220/person

All fees include sessions, workshops, networking, activities and most meals.

Register Now

2020 Conference Speaker Bios

Meet The Speakers

Bill Svoboda, Co-Founder, CloseSimple
In 2003, Bill Svoboda founded his first online custom apparel business out of his college dorm room. By the time Bill sold the business, he had the privilege of working with everyone from Google, Facebook & LinkedIn, to colleges and non-profits across the country. Currently Bill is the co-founder of CloseSimple, a software that helps with Title companies communicate to Real Estate Agents, Mortgage Professionals and Consumers during the home closing process. Along with these businesses, Bill is a passionate speaker on the topics of 
both entrepreneurism, customer-engagement, customer experience, marketing and growth strategies.

Glenn Sanders, Protective Security Advisor, Region V (Minnesota District) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Mike Augustyniak, WCCO TV Meteorologist

Director of Meteorology Mike Augustyniak was drawn to Minnesota by a love of active weather, and the opportunity to forecast for some of the most weather-savvy television viewers in the country.  Since joining the WCCO team in 2008, he’s also been able to achieve a new personal record for the most cups of coffee consumed in a 10-hour period.

In addition to watching him on WCCO, you may have also seen Mike appear with Ellen DeGeneres on her nationally syndicated talk show, on the CBS Evening News, or on CBS This Morning. His work has been recognized with multiple Emmy Awards for broadcast excellence.

In his free time, Mike stays active by going to the gym, biking, rock climbing and playing with his Boston Terrier named Lola. He also enjoys traveling both around the U.S. and around the world. He has traveled extensively in the Caribbean, Spain, Morocco and Australia.

Jean Ryan, Founder/CEO, JRI
Jean Ryan is the founder and CEO of JRI, A Partnership Marketing Firm. A seasoned marketer, Jean has been identifying and developing strategic marketing partnerships for a long long time. As a matter of fact, she realized the value of sponsorships when she was very young. Always up for throwing a party, Jean learned quickly that the parties were way more fun if she could get someone else to pay for them. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Thomas, Jean started in hospitality management—managing great restaurants in Minnesota, Kansas City and Alaska. (Yes, Alaska has good restaurants!) With the goal of strengthening the bottom line, Jean would reach out to vendor partners to help off-set some of the restaurants’ costs by featuring their products in exchange for better pricing or marketing dollars. Back in the Lower 48, Jean started in Special Events at the Department Store Division of Dayton Hudson. When events started to get cut because of budget considerations, Jean took advantage of the situation by finding vendors/sponsors to fund the events...thus creating her new position as the Director of Partnership Marketing for the department stores. Never being a fan of being “managed”, Jean decided to give up her employee discount and start her own company. JRI, A Partnership Marketing Firm has been representing events and advising clients for over 20 years. Jean, along with her business partner (and older sister!) Mary, have been lucky enough to raise millions of dollars for some of the best events around. Currently JRI’s event portfolio includes Word Play (a new book festival in the Twin Cities), the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and the Cities 97 Basilica Block Party. In case you are wondering, Jean still likes to throw a good party!

Brad Ballinger, CINCINNATUS
Brad is a co-owner and principal at Cincinnatus, a Twin Cities-based consultancy 
that has been serving the non-profit sector for 34 years. Brad, in particular, performs most of the firm's work with associations, and has helped them with leadership transition, strategic planning, and board governance. Brad takes a lot of networking meetings, and is eager to share with us what he's learned from the other side of the coffee table.


Jim Leighton, Founder, RAIN
Jim Leighton is the founder of RAIN, a creative fundraising strategy agency based in the Twin Cities. Jim spent the last 20 years producing events in the nonprofit space helping to raise more than $52M for charity. He has been an active member of the events community, serving in several volunteer positions with the International Live Events Association, including a term as chapter president.


Kimberly Gottschalk, President, Sue McLean & Associates
Kimberly Gottschalk is President of independent concert promotions firm Sue McLean & Associates, booking, promoting and producing concerts throughout the Midwest. The company also serves as talent buyer for corporate and private events nationally. SMA has exclusively produced the longstanding Music in the Zoo series for more than 25 years and was also the exclusive talent buyer of the Cities 97 Basilica Block Party for more than 20 years. The company has been ranked as one of the Top 100 worldwide promoters multiple times. Kimberly’s previous industry experience includes serving as Vice President of Business Development at GMG Entertainment in Los Angeles, as well as partnering on her own music and events firm, Blonde Redhead Productions with clients such as ESPN, Target, Disney and Best Buy. Beginning her career as an intern at legendary local label Twin/Tone Records, Kimberly is proud to still be a passionate music fan, and in the words of her mentor and friend, Sue McLean, “Live music is good for the soul!”


Aimee Peterson, Superintendent of Recreation, City of Maple Grove
For the past two years Aimee has worked for the City of Maple Grove, MN leading the recreation team as the Superintendent of Recreation. Previously, she worked for the City of Chaska, MN as a Recreation Supervisor/Manager for 15 years. Her 17+ plus years of experience in public government includes managing, coordinating and implementing a variety of special events, programs, camps and classes. Her work takes her inside large city facilities and outside into the city parks. Aimee was the lead staff on the development and execution of two inaugural large special event festivals, the Fire & Ice Festival, a 3-day event that included a curling bonspiel, live music, food and cold beer in Chaska and most recently a large ticketed concert event, Concert on The Lawn in Maple Grove, which included 4 large bands on one stage for one night with live music, food and cold beer. Aimee currently is on the Minnesota Park and Recreation Foundation Board (MRPF) and has served as secretary on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Recreation and Park Association (MRPA) from 2012-2015. In 2012, Aimee was the recipient of the Dorothea Nelson Award from the MRPA. The Dorothea Nelson award is presented to one female recreation professional with 10 years of more professional experience that has shown outstanding service in the areas of Parks and Recreation and to the MRPA. Aimee was also awarded the Horizon award in 2007. This award is given to an "up and coming" professional who possesses leadership skills, has made noteworthy contribution to the field of parks, recreation and leisure services and who is an active and vibrant contributor to the MRPA sections, committees and/or events. Aimee Peterson received her B.S. degree in Recreation Administration from St. Cloud State University.

Nate Rosa, Recreation Supervisor, City of St Louis Park  
In addition to managing event rentals, in-house events, Aquatic Park operations and a number of other programs for the City of St Louis Park, Nate is a proud father of 2 beautiful girls under age 2 and a husband of 8 years.


Sara Collins, Event Producer, Stone Arch Bridge FestivalSara is an independent event producer specializing in high touch corporate events and large public festivals. Sara has been leading the team that produces the Stone Arch Bridge Festival in Minneapolis for 20 years and Art in Bayfront Park in Duluth for 4 years. Corporate projects include national speaker events, conferences and fundraising gala / events. Collins also provides sponsorship sales and management for a variety of events and entertainment properties.


Cindy Lerick, CFEE
Cindy is an independent consultant, providing services to a broad range of festivals and events around the world. Most recently, her company, The ART of Events LLC provided management and production services to Cultural Festivals as they searched for a new Executive Director. Prior to that, she was the Executive Director of the Sausalito Art Festival in Sausalito, California; a position that she accepted in 2017 to help the organization through an internal transition period. Before that move, she served as the Executive Director/President of the Saint Louis Art Fair from 2009 - 2017. Before that, she was the Executive Director of the Uptown Association and the Uptown Art Fair (1996-2007). She also co-produced the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival from 2002-2004. She owned her road racing management and timing company from 1985-2004. Directing, Timing and producing at least one sporting event each weekend.


Scott Graden, New Scenic Cafe
Self-taught, Scott Graden turned his vision into a reality upon opening the New Scenic Café on the North Shore of Lake Superior between Duluth and Two Harbors, Minnesota. Since 1999, Scott has led the Café to provide high quality artisan foods while introducing the community to new cooking styles and cuisine. Through his tenacity and touch, Graden captures the essence of each ingredient to create truly excellent food. Many chefs are commonly asked, “Where did you study?” For Scott, study takes place on a sensory and daily level. By continually experimenting with ingredients and techniques, he has refined his understandings into an individual style that is simple, honest, and aware. Educating the community about quality and food has always been at the core of Graden’s philosophy. Throughout the years, Scott has shared his culinary knowledge and style by teaching not only in the restaurant with his cooks, but also in the public sphere. He has taught as a featured cook at the Minnesota State Fair, Blue Heron Trading Company (Duluth, MN), Kitchen Window (Minneapolis, MN), Whole Foods Co-op (Duluth, MN), and North House Folk School (Grand Marais, MN). In addition, he has taught at corporate retreats, for small groups, and for individuals. Graden’s passion for culinary arts, industriousness, and wry humor are revealed in his tutelage.

Stephanie Hansen, Mytalk1071 .1 @WeeklyDish Radio Show Host, @StephaniesDish.com Producer & Social Media Influencer, Curator Culinary market Stone Arch Bridge Festival and Art In Bayfront Park

Stephanie Hansen does Sponsorship Sales and Social Media Management for food brands. Stephanie writes a food and lifestyle blog www.StephaniesDish.com, and hosts the Weekly Dish Radio show on MYTalk 107.1 from 9-11 am every Saturday and is available as a podcast on Hubbard Broadcasting’s PodcastOne. Stephanie also produces her own podcast called Makers of MN about local makers and is a regular contributor on the Jason Show with @JasonMatheson on @Fox9. Stephanie curates the Culinary Markets at Stone Arch Bridge Festival and Duluth’s Art In Bayfront Park.

Terry Straub,  Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA) 
Terry Straub is the UMN Extension Master Gardener Program – Hennepin County Extension Educator, working with over 500 volunteers and supporting their horticultural education efforts throughout the county. Terry has worked as director for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of the Greater Twin Cities, volunteer program manager for the former Minnesota Office of Citizenship and Volunteer Services and the Minnesota AIDS Project. In addition to serving as board President of the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA), he is adjunct faculty for the University of St. Thomas’s Mini-MBA for Nonprofit Organizations. Terry received his Certificate in Volunteer Management from Hamline University.

Stacey Robertson,  Belay Creative

Stacey Robertson is a former TV news reporter turned digital media marketer. She’s always had a nose for a good story, and that talent translates well in today’s vigorous social media industry.  Stacey’s event experience includes having previously owned the #1 Kids Expo in the Twin Cities East Metro as well as volunteering 4 years with the Woodbury Days Council and Woodbury Days Board.

Karen Ybarra, Belay Creative
Karen Ybarra is a talented brand designer and graphic artist. Since 2002, she has been helping businesses and organizations accurately define and express themselves through dynamic design.  Karen has worked with dozens of clients, including 8 years of working with Woodbury Days Council where she is also a past Vice President.

Erv Haman, Owner - RES Pyro 

RES Pyro manufactures and sell fireworks and pyrotechnics for professional use. From their facility in Belle Plaine, they ship our product line to companies and independent-pyrotechnicians around the world.  RES Pyro also designs and facilitates custom displays for indoor and outdoor events throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa. 

Tracy Vanasek - RES Pyro

Tracey joined RES Pyro full time in 2006 and is now Director of Operations, Display Services. Since 2006, Tracy has been involved in more than 1500 fireworks events. In addition, Tracy oversees the production of all RES Pyro events. She also ensures that all RES Pyro events adhere to regulatory requirements. Tracy is also an accomplished show designer having choreographed and executed fireworks and pyrotechnic displays for more than 10 years.

Anna Tanski, President of Visit Duluth 
A lifelong resident of the Twin Ports, Anna graduated from UW-Superior with a degree in Communications.

Her professional career began at WDIO-TV, where she served as the morning producer of the first local newscast in the Northland.  Her hospitality marketing career began at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center when she joined the convention sales effort in August 1991.  Anna took the position as Director of Sales for Visit Duluth in 2005, where she was responsible for leading the city’s convention sales initiatives totaling $35 million annually.

In February 2014, Anna was named President/CEO of Visit Duluth, the official destination marketing organization for the City of Duluth.  She is responsible for overseeing Duluth’s marketing, branding and promotion which draws 6.7 million visitors to the city each year.

Anna was recently appointed by the Governor to the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council and also serves on the board of directors for the MN Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus and the Destinations International Advocacy Committee.

Anna is married to her husband Jason, a Sergeant in the Duluth Police Department and has two children, Allison 26, and Steven 20.  Even though she resides in Hermantown, she remains a steadfast Green Bay Packers fan.

Mark Rausch, Minneapolis Downtown Council 
As Director of Operations for the Mpls Downtown Council, Mark Rausch brings a background experience with major events including NFL Super Bowl / Pro Bowl, NASCAR, LPGA US Open, Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby and corporate event experience with companies such as Microsoft and Carlson Companies. In Mark’s current position as Director of Operations, this management experience is vital in organizing key areas involving pre-planning and on-site implementation. His attention to details in event logistics and personnel provide the highest level of solutions and client satisfaction along with meeting requirements for permitting, law enforcement, and government officials.

Steve Madson, SRO Productions 
Steve Madson is the Owner SRO Productions, Inc., an event company with over 45 years of music & entertainment experience in the Twin Cities. Steve purchased SRO in 2004 from the founder and placed a larger focus on event production & creation. SRO coordinates production for about a dozen events annually including the TC Summer Jam, Stone Arch Bridge Festival, and the Frozen Faceoff Fan Fest.

Jon Iannazzo, Atmosphere Events
Jon has been in the corporate events industry for over 27 years. He has been an independent corporate event producer since 2007, with key clients such as Medtronic, Andersen Windows, and CenturyLink.  Jon also collaborates with other great industry professionals on such events as The Stone Arch Bridge Festival, City Pages Beer Fest, Common Sound Music Festival, Twin Cities Summer Jam, and Holidazzle, to name a few.

Jon has been contracted to work with the company that provides transportation and logistical support for the Super Bowl and has work the last two in Atlanta and Miami.

Meghan Gustafson, mpls downtown council

With over 18 years of experience, Meghan is currently the Director of Events and Programs with the mpls downtown council (mdc) managing large-scale, public-facing, events like Holidazzle and Aquatennial. Prior to joining the mdc, she spent over 11 years at the helm of the events at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, including the Cities 97 Basilica Block Party.


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