Tag Archives: Minnesota Leaders

A Minnesota leader you didn’t know is a Metropolitan State alum: Kathy Wuorinen

Saint Paul’s Interim Chief of Police, Kathy Wuorinen

Kathy Wuorinen, a 2004 Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student, who graduated with a bachelor of science in law enforcement, was named interim Chief of Police. Her duties began with the retirement of Chief Tom Smith on May 10.

The appointment made Wuorinen the first woman to lead the Saint Paul Police Department.

Mara Gottfried reported in the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

“Wuorinen rose through the St. Paul Police Department’s ranks and now she’s poised to take the helm as the interim chief, where she’ll make history by becoming the first woman to lead the city’s police department, Mayor Chris Coleman announced Thursday.

“Wuorinen did not apply for the chief job, and said she plans to continue at the police department after her time as interim chief.

“As assistant chief, Wuorinen has been in charge of the police department’s support and administrative functions, which includes the training unit, bomb squad, research and grants, and human resources. She has worked throughout the department, including as  patrol officer, homicide investigator and commander of the narcotics and vice unit.
“She started the Rice Street beat, where officers focus their patrols on a geographic area with the goal of getting to know the community,when she was a sergeant in the Central District. The area holds a special place in her heart—she grew up just off Rice Street.
“Wuorinen, 52, has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s in business. She lives in Woodbury with her husband of 20 years, John Wuorinen, who is a St. Paul police sergeant in the internal affairs unit.”

Read more about Wuorinen in the Pioneer Press.

What leadership role will your Metropolitan State degree bring to your career?

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A Minnesota leader you didn’t know is a Metropolitan State alum: Sandra Pappas

President of the Minnesota State Senate Sandra Pappas

Named 2003 Alumna of the Year, Sandra Pappas has served the state of Minnesota with years of public service. She was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1984, where she served three terms. In 1990, the Hibbing native was elected to the Minnesota State Senate, where she continues to serve District 65. She is an activist and is involved in the environmental and women’s movements, and received her Master of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Pappas hasn’t forgotten college students’ needs. She championed numerous efforts to ensure the exceptional quality of Minnesota’s institutions and affordable access to its colleges and universities. She carried a number of initiatives including funding for the University of Minnesota/Mayo Biosciences Partnership; the introduction of an accountability framework for the state’s higher-ed institutions and the Minnesota Dream Act, which would allow all graduates of Minnesota high schools, including the children of undocumented immigrants, to attend Minnesota colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates. She has increased funding for first-generation college students, increased childcare grants, and college access programs.

Learn more about her current service by visiting her official webpage.

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A Minnesota leader you didn’t know is a Metropolitan State alum: Ramona ‘Mona’ Dohman

Top Cop: Minnesota’s Public Safety Commissioner

For the past four-plus years, this 1998 Metropolitan State graduate has claimed one of the state’s top public-trust posts—Minnesota’s Public Safety Commissioner.

At the time of her appointment in 2011, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that “Dohman’s passion and faith in justice have led her to blaze some trails. In every law enforcement position she has held, Dohman’s been the first woman—as an officer in two small-town police departments; in the Maple Grove Police Department, where she worked as police chief for the last 10 years; and now as the Minnesota Department of Public Safety commissioner.”

She prioritizes overseeing a $600 million budget, 2,100 employees and 14 divisions, including Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS), Minnesota State Patrol, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Dohman, who was named 2015 Alumna of the Year, credits Metropolitan State for stoking her career. Her university diploma, a self-designed degree in criminal justice administration, is on a wall plaque near the U.S. and Minnesota state flags that flank her desk. A nearby table showcases a photo of her and her husband’s three kids (now adults), and a surprising artifact.
“Mother Teresa is one of my role models,”Dohman says, nodding to a large silver peace symbol. “I never got to meet her, but she embodied peace and that’s what I pray and work for every day.”

She grew up poor in tiny Vesta in southwestern Minnesota. Instilled with a strong work ethic, Dohman and five siblings occasionally earned money by picking rocks, detasseling corn and other chores. Higher education was a moot point, as there wasn’t money to pay for college. Dohman also harbored serious doubt about whether she was college material.
But she took a chance and enrolled at Metropolitan State in 1989 while serving as a Maple Grove police officer. Dohman was drawn to the university’s prior learning credits, accommodating schedule and the ability to design her own academic program.

She applauds Metropolitan State for valuing people’s uniqueness and differences and regularly refers prospective students to the university. “I never felt like I paid money (for education) or that I wasn’t getting something in return,” she said. “In fact, I would have paid more, because the experience was that good.”

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A Minnesota leader you didn’t know is a Metropolitan State alum: Gary Cunningham

CEO of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association and “First Gentleman” of Minneapolis

Gary Cunningham, Metropolitan State’s 2014 Alumnus of the Year, is the president and CEO of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association, which supports entrepreneurs of color. For the past five years, Cunningham has been a member of the Metropolitan Council, appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton, to lead the council’s examination of equity in housing for minorities and the poor. He also serves as a trustee on the Metropolitan State University Foundation Board.

Cunningham’s past experience includes serving as a research fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the associate superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools. Cunningham graduated in 1990 with a bachelor of arts. He proceeded to attend Harvard University in 1992, where he received a master’s in public administration.

His wife, Betsy Hodges, is mayor of Minneapolis, making him the city’s first gentleman.

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A Minnesota leader you didn’t know is a Metropolitan State alum: Sandra Best

Minnesota Air National Guard Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Sandra L. Best

In February, alumna Air Force Col. Sandra L. Best became the first female general in Minnesota National Guard history when she was promoted to brigadier general. In her new position, Brig. Gen. Best will be the chief of staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard, responsible for command supervision, oversight and leadership of the 133rd Airlift Wing and 148th Fighter Wing to include all items pertaining to manning, operations, readiness, training and equipping of units in the Minnesota Air National Guard.

Best graduated from Metropolitan State University in 1988 with a bachelor of arts  emphasizing human resource management. Her post-graduate education includes a master of business administration from the University of St. Thomas, as well as advanced education in leadership, public affairs and military operations. She is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College. She was a Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Originally from Northeast Minneapolis, Best joined the 133rd Airlift Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard in 1984, as a personnel specialist and progressed through the enlisted ranks to technical sergeant. She was commissioned in 1991 through the Academy of Military Science at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tennessee. Best has deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2008.

In 2015, she attended the Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Leadership in Homeland Security Program. Her career includes both public sector and military service. She serves as the director of Strategic Relations and Mission Support Group commander with the Minnesota National Guard. She will continue to promote the benefits of lifelong learning and specifically the unique nontraditional environment geared for diverse working adults at Metropolitan State. Best and her husband of 27 years have four daughters and reside in rural Wisconsin. In her free time, she enjoys socializing with family and friends in the St. Croix River Valley.

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