Board of Trustees Roster

A copy of all correspondence is appreciated to:
Minnesota State Board of Trustees Office
Kari Campbell, Interim Board Director
30 7th Street East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101

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Asani Ajogun
30 7th Street East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651-201-1705

Technical College Student
Term Dates: September 22, 2020 - June 30, 2022

Asani Ajogun attends Hennepin Technical College (HTC). Previously, he earned his B.S. in pharmacy and studies zoology at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. He is the current president of the HTC Student Senate an alternate member of the HTC Student Life Board (SLB) and a student experience team leader. 

He previously served as Vice President of the HTC student senate, Vice Chairman of the HTC SLB, as well as a member of the student representative council and a special advisor to the President of the Junior Chanbers International (JCI) University of Ibadan chapter.

Gov. Tim Walz appointed Asani Ajogun as a student member to the Board of Trustees on September 22, 2020. His term ends on June 30, 2022.

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Alex Cirillo
10107 Brookhaven Drive
Woodbury, MN 55129-4800
Phone: 651-208-7342
cirilloac@gmail.com

At Large
Term Dates: July 15, 2018 - June 30, 2024

Alex Cirillo was the vice president of community affairs for 3M prior to his retirement in 2010. He had worked in different roles at 3M since he joined the company in 1979 as a senior physicist. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Wilder Foundation and MinnCAN and has been a member of the Itasca Project's working team since 2007. Previously, he served on the Board of Directors for the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota. Cirillo earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Catholic University of America and a master's degree and doctorate in chemistry, both from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Cirillo was reappointed to the Board of Trustees for a six-year term by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2018.

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Jay Cowles, Chair
275 Market Street, Suite 274B
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Phone: 612-359-9449
jay.cowles@minnstate.edu

Congressional District 4
Term Dates: August 26, 2014-June 30, 2020

Jay Cowles has served on the Board of Trustees since 2014, and is currently serving as the vice chair of the board. He is managing director of Lawrence Creek LLC, a private family investment company. Previously, he held several positions with Cowles Media Company, former owners of the Star Tribune newspaper, concluding as chairman of the Board of Directors. Cowles also served as chairman and president of the Women’s Pro Softball League, a startup sports enterprise that continues today as National Pro Fastpitch.

He is a founding and active member of the Itasca Project since 2004, and currently serves as a board member of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, Green Minneapolis, and the Mississippi Park Connection.  He also holds advisory roles at the University of Minnesota with the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Center for Transportation Studies. He has served a number of civic and arts organizations including the Saint Paul Foundation, the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Guthrie Theater, The Friends of the Saint Paul Library, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Cowles was appointed by Governor Mark Dayton in 2014 for a six-year term ending June 30, 2020.

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Dawn Erlandson
30 7th Street East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651-201-1705
dawnerlandson@gmail.com

At Large
Term Dates: July 15, 2018 - June 30, 2024

Dawn Erlandson, Minneapolis, is the president of Aurora Strategic Advisors, Inc., where she leads public affairs and marketing communications efforts for local, state, and national clients.

In October 2019, she became the chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Community College Trustees based in Washington, D.C.  Previously, she served as the chair-elect of the ACCT Board of Directors. Erlandson is also the board chair of UPSTREAM, a national environmental organization. She previously served as board president of the Minneapolis Community and Technical College Foundation.

Erlandson has served on the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees since 2012. Gov. Mark Dayton reappointed her to another six-year term in 2018.

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Jerry Janezich
30 7th Street East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651-201-1705
jerry.janezich@minnstate.edu

Congressional District 8
Term Dates: August 24, 2016 - June 30, 2022

Jerry Janezich, Side Lake, is a partner of a small business, Jerry & Tom’s Inc., a bar and restaurant in Chisholm. He attended Hibbing Community College and graduated from St. Cloud State University with a bachelor of science degree in speech. Janezich served on the Minnesota State government relations team for thirteen years. Prior to that, he served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1989-1992 representing District 5B and the Minnesota Senate from 1993-2000 representing District 5. He was Saint Louis county commissioner for 5 years.

Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Janezich to the Board of Trustees in 2016 for a six-year term ending June 30, 2022.

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Roger Moe, Vice Chair
30 7th Street East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651-201-1705
roger.moe@minnstate.edu

Congressional District 7
Term Dates: December 20, 2016 - June 30, 2020

Roger Moe, Erskine, is the current president of National Strategies, Inc. He previously served 32 years in the Minnesota Legislature, including 22 years as Senate Majority Leader. His legislative accomplishments include the creation of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership, the Midwest Higher Education Commission, and the Environmental Trust Fund. He has also served as the Vice President of Coleman/Christison, Inc., and as a mathematics teacher and coach at Ada High School.

Moe is a former member of the Policy Consensus Initiative Board of Directors, Debate Minnesota, the Minnesota Twins Community Fund Governance Committee, and the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Board. Senator Moe earned his B.S. from Mayville State University and an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Minnesota for his years of public service.

Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Moe to the Board of Trustees in December 2016 to fill a vacancy. His term ends on June 30, 2020.

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Javier Morillo
30 7th Street East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651-201-1705

Congressional District 5
Term Dates: September 22, 2020 - June 30, 2026

Javier Morillo is a research fellow with the Center for Innovative in Worker Organization at Rutgers University. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where he co-teaches a course on crisis communications with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. He previously served for 14 years as president of SEIU Local 26 and taught history and anthropology as a predoctoral fellow at Carleton College.

Javier also was an adjunct faculty at Macalester College. He is the creator and co-host of "Wrong About Everything," the only Minnesota bipartisan political commentary podcast.

Gov. Tim Walz appointed Javier Morillo to the Board of Trustees on September 22, 2020. His term ends on June 30, 2026.

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April Nishimura
30 7th Street East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651-201-1705
april.nishimura@minnstate.edu

Congressional District 2
Term Dates: July 15, 2018 - June 30, 2024

April Nishimura, Apple Valley, is a finance director at Ecolab with oversight of their Global Business Services continuous improvement and project management office. Previously, she served in multiple leadership roles at Ecolab in Sales, Marketing, and Product Development. Prior to that, she led sales transformation at GTE and Verizon Communications in its Hawaii, West Coast, Southwest, and New England markets.

Nishimura serves as an Ecolab Executive Mentor and previously served on the Dallas Asian Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt in Process Improvement and a Certified Scrum Product Owner. She earned a bachelor of arts from the University of Hawaii and her MBA from Pepperdine University’s George L. Graziadio school of Business.

Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Nishimura to the Board of Trustees on July 15, 2018. Her term will end on June 30, 2024.

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Oballa Oballa
30 7th Street East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651-201-1705

Community College Student
Term Dates: September 22, 2020 - June 30, 2022

Oballa attends Riverland Community College in Austin, MN. He is also pursuing a bachelor's degree in social work through Riverland Community College and the College of St. Scholastica. Currently, he works at Mayo Clinic Health System. He also serves as a member of the Austin Human Rights Commission and as an Honorary City Council member. Oballa is the former Student Senate Public Relations Coordinator and Student Senate President at Riverland Community College. Oballa also previously served as the Vice President and President of LeadMN, as well as the LeadMN Southeast Platform Representative.

Gov. Tim Walz appointed Oballa as a student member to the Board of Trustees on September 22, 2022. His term ends on June 30, 2022.

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Rudy Rodriguez
30 7th Street East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651-201-1705
rodolfo.rodriguez@minnstate.edu

Congressional District 3
Term Dates: August 24, 2016 - June 30, 2022

Rodolfo Rodriguez, Maple Grove, is vice president of diversity and inclusion for Ameriprise Financial Inc., and is a member of the LatinoLEAD organization. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in economics from the University of Illinois and his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Previously, Mr. Rodriguez was a senior director of multicultural marketing for MillerCoors, LLC in Chicago, a multicultural marketing director for General Mills, Inc., and a brand manager at Unilever.

Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Rodriguez to the Board of Trustees in 2016 for a six-year term ending June 30, 2022.

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Kathy Sheran
30 7th Street East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651-201-1705

Congressional District 1
Term Dates: September 22, 2020 - June 30, 2026

Kathleen Sheran served three terms in the Minnesota Senate representing District 23 and 19.  While in the Senate she served as a Majority Whip, Vice Chair for Higher Education, and Chair of Health, Human Services and Housing. Prior to serving in the Senate, Senator Sheran was on the faculty at Minnesota State Mankato teaching in the School of Nursing. Additionally, she was an equity partner in SMR, a real estate development and management company.  Senator Sheran has a long history of service, including 16 years as President of Mankato's City Council, and most recently as Chair of Minnesota's Insurance Exchange.

Gov. Tim Walz appointed Kathy Sheran to the Board of Trustees on September 22, 2020. Her appointment ends June 30, 2026

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George Soule
30 7th Street East
St. Paul, MN 55101
651-201-1705
George.Soule@minnstate.edu

At Large
Term Dates: July 15, 2018 - June 30, 2024

George Soule, Minneapolis, is a judge of the White Earth Tribal Court of Appeals and a founding partner of Soule & Stull LLC, where he is a civil trial attorney handling cases involving product liability, commercial, and negligence claims. He earned his B.A. from Minnesota State University Moorhead (formerly Moorhead State University), and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Previously, Judge Soule was a founding and managing partner at Bowman and Brooke LLP, and an associate at Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett.

Judge Soule is a member of the boards of the Division of Indian Work and the Infinity Project, and he has served on the board of the Minnesota State University Moorhead Alumni Foundation. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Society of Barristers, and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He serves as a mentor at the University of Saint Thomas Law School and is a past chair of the Commission on Judicial Selection.

Soule was reappointed to the Board of Trustees for a six-year term by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2018.

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Cheryl Tefer
30 7th Street East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651-201-1705
cheryl.tefer@minnstate.edu

Congressional District 6
Term Dates: August 24, 2016 - June 30, 2022

Cheryl Tefer, Andover, is a former professor at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, where she taught nursing for 26 years. She earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Iowa, her master of science degree in nursing from the University of Minnesota, and did post-graduate work at the University of Minnesota. Tefer served on a strategic planning committee for Anoka-Ramsey Community College and Anoka Tech, as well as the academic affairs and standards council at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. She was named Minnesota State Board of Trustees educator of the year in 2014.

Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Tefer to the Board of Trustees in 2016 for a six-year term ending June 30, 2022.

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Michael Vekich
3924 Natchez Avenue South
St. Louis Park, MN 55416
Phone: 612-709-6262
vekich@vekich.com

At Large
Term Dates: August 24, 2016 - June 30, 2022

Michael M. Vekich, St. Louis Park, is CEO of Vekich Chartered in Minneapolis; a member of BNCCORP’s Board of Directors; and chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which oversees U.S. Bank Stadium. He earned his associate degree from Hibbing Community College and Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting and business administration from the University of Minnesota.

Widely known as the go-to-guy, Vekich is an experienced senior executive known for innovative and effective leadership of complex organizations. Previously, he was the chairman of HF Financial Corp (NASDAQ: HFFC) and Home Federal Bank; executive chairman, president, and chief operating officer of Skyline Exhibits in Eagan; CEO of Vekich Arkema and Company; president of The Bank Holding Company; and chair of the Minnesota Board of Accountancy, where he currently serves as the secretary/treasurer.

Vekich has also served as the vice chair of Minnesota Ballpark Authority; as a member of the Rochester Higher Education Development Committee; and as a founding member and vice chair of the Minnesota Higher Education Services Council.

Vekich was a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2002, and he served as chair for four years. Gov. Tim Pawlenty appointed Vekich to the Board of Trustees in 2010 for a six-year term. Gov. Mark Dayton reappointed him to the Board of Trustees in 2016 for a six-year term ending June 30, 2022.

Kari Campbell
Interim Board Director
Phone: 651-201-1705
kari.campbell@minnstate.edu

Dan Drain
Executive Assistant to the Board
Phone: 651-201-1706
daniel.drain@minnstate.edu