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  • Ethics Day - Biographies
  • College of Business & Innovation

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  • Ethics Day Biographies

    Panelist Biographies

    Birch Burdick has been the elected State’s Attorney for Cass County (ND) since January 1999. He oversees 14 assistant attorneys and additional support staff who work on adult and juvenile criminal prosecution, mental health involuntary commitments, sexually dangerous individual civil commitments and child protection cases. He is also responsible for Cass County’s civil legal matters. Prior to 1999, Mr. Burdick prosecuted criminal cases for the City of Minneapolis and was in a private law firm handling general civil litigation and criminal defense. Before becoming a lawyer, Mr. Burdick was a nuclear engineer involved in the design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Hamline University School of Law.

    Ryan Cournea has been the District Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, Northern Lights Council since May of 2012. Mr. Cournea’s duties include recruiting, fundraising, and unit service for the Scouts in the counties of Cass, Clay and Traill. Prior to May of 2012, Mr. Cournea interned on the promotions team of Go Radio Broadcasting in Fargo. Ryan graduated from MSUM with a degree in Mass Communications (Public Relations Emphasis).

    Amber Ferrie, CPA, ABV, CFF, CMAP is a Senior Manager at Eide Bailly. She has more than six years of experience performing business valuations and other consulting services for estate and gift taxes, purchasing and selling businesses and litigation. Ms. Ferrie is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, North Dakota Society of Certified Public Accountants, Middle Market Investment Banking Association, Red River Valley Estate Planning Council. She earned a B.S. in Accounting from MSUM.

    Jenni Huotari, CPA, is a Partner at Eide Bailly. She has more than 10 years of public accounting experience and currently works as part of Eide Bailly’s Assurance Services group, which provides communication and training relating to new accounting and auditing standards, as well as reviewing and approving engagement consultations. She works frequently with SEC filings, including annual reports, periodic filings, follow-on offerings and debt offerings. Ms. Huotari is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the ND Society of Certified Public Accountants. She has also served as an instructor for the Firm’s and State Society’s continuing education programs. Ms. Huotari earned a B.S. in Accounting at MSUM.

    Lloyd Nelson, VP of Administration & Development, Evolution 1. Mr. Nelson leads the Financial, Human Resources and Administration teams of Evolution 1. He counsels the executive team on strategies for growth and is responsible for facilities management in both Minneapolis and Fargo. Prior to joining Evolution 1, Lloyd worked for Microsoft Corporation as a Director of Business Development and he also spent time as General Manager of the Enterprise Reporting Group for Microsoft Great Plains software. Lloyd holds an MBA and a B.S. in Economics from NDSU as well as management certifications from Harvard University and the University of Chicago.

    Paul F. Richard serves as Senior VP of Compliance, Legal and Public Policy for Sanford Health. He is licensed as an attorney in ND, SD, and MN and is a member of the State Bar Associations in those three states. He is also a member of the American Bar Association, the American Healthcare Lawyers Association, and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Mr. Richard recently completed 17 years as a member of the ND Board of Law Examiners. He currently serves on the board of directors of the State Bar Association of North Dakota Foundation and the board of directors of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce. He obtained undergraduate degrees in business economics and nursing from NDSU and received his law degree of the UND School of Law.

    Darrin D. Tonsfeldt, MS, LP, LPC, NCC, CEAP, SPHR [MN Licensed Psychologist, ND Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Certified Employee Assistance Professional, and Senior Professional in Human Resources] is a Division Director and has a background of program administration, employee supervision and clinical experience – as well as 20 years of experience in organizational consulting and planning. He provides oversight of The Village Business Institute, Regional Counseling Services, and Financial Resource Center programs along with consulting services that include: strategic planning, career, leadership, management, and executive coaching, corporate training and group facilitation, crisis response in the workplace, and organizational consulting.

    Matthew Von Pinnon, Editor, Forum Communications. Mr. Von Pinnon has worked at the Forum for the past 19 years, the last six as editor. He started at The Forum as a reporter intern, then worked as a copy editor and page designer before returning to reporting and editing. Mr. Von Pinnon grew up a block from MSUM and became a Dragon, where he was editor of the student newspaper and started the men’s soccer club. He graduated from MSUM with a degree in Mass Communications.

    John Wegner is President of Municipal Builders, Inc. in Andover, MN. Mr. Wegner founded MBI in 1993 after 14 years of experience as an estimator and project manager for Barbarossa and Sons in Osseo, MN. Municipal Builders is a general contractor specializing in the construction of drinking water and wastewater treatment plants for municipalities in the Twin Cities area. John is a prior board member of the Associated Builders and Contractors, a predominant national construction organization.

    Presenter Biographies

    Don Berg graduated from MSUM in 1992 with an accounting degree and entered the United States Air Force as a budget/finance officer. After leaving the service, he has since held various leadership roles in nonprofit, private and publicly traded organizations and started his own consulting firm. Responsibilities over the years have included CFO, COO, Director of Business Development and President roles. Mr. Berg has spent time in the logistics, healthcare and media industries. These varied experiences have prepared him well for his current role as a business banker for US Bank. A proponent of lifelong learning, Mr. Berg went on to earn his master’s degree along with several professional designations over the years.

    Jason Flack is Project Manager at Comstock Construction. Mr. Flack began working for Comstock Construction full time in 2003, prior to that he worked for 8 years during the summer and part time in the construction management field. He has worked on several multi-million dollar projects, including (but not limited to) NDHC Museum Expansion in Bismarck, Lifecare Medical Addition/Remodel in Roseau, ND State Fair Grandstands, and several Walmart stores. Mr. Flack obtained his B.S. degree in Construction Management from MSUM in December of 2002.

    Curt Hibl is a Development Manager with Evolution1, a consumer driven health company, for the past three years. He was previously employed by Great Plains Software for 10 years and 8 years with Microsoft. Mr. Hibl graduated from MSUM with a degree in Computer Science.

    Kathy Cochran joined Infinity Software Systems in 2012 as Chief Operating Officer. Kathy has extensive operational and leadership experience in the Financial, IT/Software, and Professional Services industries. Her experience includes managing commercial finance portfolios and leading and supporting mergers & acquisitions, to change management processes and leading finance, operations and professional services teams.
Before joining Infinity, Kathy had extensive leadership responsibilities at Microsoft including: Regional Director of Real Estate and Facilities Americas; Director of Integration Management, Venture Integration; and Director of Dynamics Worldwide Partner Readiness and Training. Kathy joined Microsoft as part of the Great Plains acquisition in 2001. She has also served as COO for a technology software company and was the owner of her own company. (online presentation to OM class)

    Tracy Faleide is currently the Documentation Manager at Intelligent InSites, a software and services company headquartered in Fargo, ND. Prior to that, Ms. Faleide spent six years providing consulting and writing services as Owner/Operator of Bellwether Works after holding several leadership roles in Product Development and Marketing during her 20-year tenure at Great Plains Software and Microsoft. She graduated in 1986 from MSUM with a B.S. degree in Mass Communications/Public Relations. (online presentation to OM class)

    Jerry Bilse, MBA is currently the Director of Operations for Illume Candles in the Twin Cities. He has also served as Director of Operations for the Lean Enterprise Institute, Plant Manager of USP Structural Connectors, Director of Manufacturing and Engineering at Nystrom Building Products, among other operations related positions. He currently serves on the Operations Management Advisory Board for MSUM. (presentation in OM class at North Hennepin Community College)

    Jeremy Ripperger is the Director of Network Office Supervision at Northwestern Mutual in Fargo. He has been with Northwestern Mutual for over 7 years, and held the roles of Financial Representative and Director of Client Relations prior to his current role. Jeremy has his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of South Dakota and holds the designations of CLU (Certified Life Underwriter), ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant), and CASL (Certified Advisor for Senior Living) from the American College.

    Jason Seger is Vice President of Operations and Inventory at Border States Electric Supply in Fargo. Former positions include Director of Operations an Inventory and Purchasing Manager at Border States Electric Supply. Jason has an AS Degree in Electronics Technology from North Dakota State College of Science, a Bachelor’s degree in Operations Management from Minnesota State University Moorhead and an MBA from North Dakota State University.