Carlson School of Management

Call for Alumni Association Board Members

Are you a graduate of the MA-IR or MA-HRIR program at the University of Minnesota interested in being more engaged with your alma mater? Applications are now being accepted for membership on the CHRLSAA Board of Directors.

Alumni Association Board members are asked to:

  • Commit to a three-year term
  • Attend one strategic planning meeting in the fall, either in person or by phone
  • Attend 8 monthly meetings during the academic year, either in person or by phone
  • Serve on one committee each year

If interested, please complete a brief application and submit your resume and cover letter explaining your interest in serving on the Alumni Board by May 5, 2014 to


The CHRLS Alumni Association (CHRLSAA)

In addition to strengthening the relationship between alumni and the Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies, the Alumni Association promotes leadership in human resources and industrial relations by providing academic and professional learning experiences, facilitating access to the center's resources, and sharing professional opportunities.

The CHRLS Alumni Association works to build a community of alumni ambassadors by:

  • Connecting alumni in an effort to increase networks and deepen relationships
  • Promoting professional competence and leadership through ongoing learning opportunities
  • Facilitating alumni awareness and access to available CHRLS opportunities and resources
  • Communicating the benefits of involvement with other alumni and students

Current CHRLSAA Board Members (2013-2014)

vbnvbScott Albers, '93, Hurd Windows and Doors. Albers is Vice President of Operations and Administration at Hurd Windows and Doors. He chose to attend the HR/IR program at the University of Minnesota because he "wanted to be able to use my undergraduate degree in Psychology in a business context, and the MAIR program appeared to be the best way to do that." Albers said "the MA-HRIR program gave me an outstanding business foundation." He joined the CHRLS Alumni Board to strengthen his connection with the school and to give back. Albers' advice to students is to have perseverance. "The value you bring to an organization is realized during the difficult times. The determinant of long-term success is perseverance through the good and the bad."

vbnLaura Blomberg, '06, Target. Blomberg is an Organizational Effectiveness Manager at Target. She chose to attend the HRIR program because she wanted a career where she could focus on, and impact, talent as a business asset. She liked that the program offered a wide range of HR-specific and general business classes, so she could graduate with a broad base of knowledge. Blomberg said she decided to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board because, "I benefited so much from my time at Carlson, and I want to give back to the program that gave me so much." Her advice to current students is to take full advantage of the many resources available to them beyond the classroom. "Attend the networking events, participate in mock interviews, and engage your alumni mentor," she said.
dfgMary Jo Flan, '96. After graduation, some people don't take on the career their diploma intended for them. Part time graduate Mary Jo Flan chose to work with companies such as MCI/WorldCom, Qwest Lifetouch, and Korn/Ferry International-Leadership and Talent Development in non-HR positions. "It [the MA-HRIR program] taught me to think and to apply knowledge to various areas," she said. "HR impacts all areas of organizations and we need to think broadly." Flan joined the CHRLS Alumni Association Board to help ensure beneficial connections continue to be made with current students, alumni, CHRLS and the business community. "With the world of work going through many changes, there are many professionals, including me, who are looking to take advantage of on-going opportunities to learn and connect," Flan said. Her advice to students is "to learn from your education and experiences. It's the combination that will create your value to organizations in the future."

vbnghnKathleen Grosskopf, '02, Accenture. "I chose the HR-IR program at the University of Minnesota because it offered the most in terms of professional development through both a great location in a major city as well as the ability to take additional MBA courses in a top program," said Kathleen Grosskopf. She graduated in 2002 from the full-time program and works as a Senior Manager of Compensation. She said she feels the program prepared her well for her career in HR. "In addition to the academic development through the program, I was able to obtain real word experience through internships and a field consulting project," she recalled. "This gave me the ability to apply what I was learning while still in a full-time program." A desire to stay connected with other HR professionals led to her decision to join the Alumni Association Board of Directors. "I think it is important to stay connected to other HR professionals and have the opportunity to give back to a program that provided a strong foundation to my career," she said. "I hope to have the ability to share what I have learned during and after my time in the program with others." Speaking of sharing, her advice to current students is: "Make the most of every opportunity you have while in the program," she said. "This is your time to build the network that you will have for the rest of your career."

sdfsJason Grosz, '06, Ecolab Inc. Grosz is Director, Talent Acquisition--Global Functions at Ecolab Inc. He chose to attend the HR/IR program at the University of Minnesota because he wanted to attend a program that offered the opportunity to work on real world projects with area companies. He said "by applying the skills and knowledge learned in the program, I was able to prove my value as a true business partner." Grosz decided to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board because "this is my chance to offer back what so many alumni have before me." His advice to students is to "enjoy your time in the program and on campus. It goes fast." Also, "appreciate the friendships and relationships you build. You never know when you may cross paths again or how you may be able to support each other in the future."

Ruth Harris, '96, General Mills, Inc.
Carrie Johnson Carrie Johnson, '97, U.S. Bank. Carrie Johnson chose to attend the HRIR program at the University of Minnesota because she decided her early career in sales would not fit her for the long run. "After a lot of reflection, assessment and informational interviewing, I decided to go into human resources," she said. "[The U of MN HR/IR program] was highly-rated. It gave me the flexibility to take classes part time and ease out of my sales career." Graduating in 1997 from the part-time program, Johnson worked until recently at True North Groups Institute before joining US Bank. She held previous jobs at American Express, Ameriprise, and other small businesses prior to her HR career. She said the MA-HRIR program gave her a solid foundation in all of the basics of human resources and that she was able to "immediately apply what I was learning." Johnson joined the CHRLS Alumni Association Board because she wants to give back to a program that has been meaningful in her professional life. She is curious to find out more about what is working well and where the Board can continue to make things better. Her advice to students is to "pursue work that you love, not what is expected of you, or what fits for someone else."

Kirk Keeney Kirk Keeney, '11, Wells Fargo. Keeney, a part time graduate of the HRIR program, currently works at Wells Fargo as a human resource consultant. He has held previous positions as the managing recruiter at Superior Search and a recruiter at Evenium. Keeney joined the HRIR program at the University of Minnesota because he wanted to garner a broader base of HR knowledge. "[The MA-HRIR program] provided me a lot of the underlying theory on why certain things are done and how certain things could be done better," he said. He joined the CHRLS Alumni Association Board because several colleagues at Wells Fargo had served on the board and had spoken highly of their experience. "I also am always eager to work and network with individuals from other companies and industries," he said. Keeney's advice to students is to "have a sound understanding of the challenges the business is facing, the direction the business is going and the barriers that may prevent the business from attaining its goals."

bdfhdMaysam Khorasani, '10, 3M. Khorasani chose to attend the HR/IR program at the University of Minnesota because it provided a well rounded education by offering a solid foundation of the core HR principles along with a good balance of business/MBA electives. The HRIR program at Carlson helped Khorasani in his Human Resources career because of the program's strong research focus. "The instructors brought very relevant, real-life experience and research case studies into the classroom," he said. "This allowed me to approach my work and career from different perspectives." Giving back to the HR/IR program was a large driving factor for Khorasani to join the Alumni Board, along with staying connected to fellow alumni, staff and students. His advice to students? "Build a strong educational foundation for yourself, because what comes after graduation will just keep building off of this foundation," he said.

vhjFaith Leicht, '04, General Electric--Capital Americas. Leicht is an Organizational and Talent Development Leader at General Electric--Capital Americas. Leicht chose to attend the HR/IR program at the University of Minnesota because she wanted to make sure she was "part of a program that not only helped build an academic skill set, but also prepared and supported its students for internship and full time job placements." She said the MA-HRIR program prepared her for her career in Human Resources by approaching concepts in a contemporary way while also having access to professional development events and networking. Leicht decided to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board because she believes that "membership on the Alumni Board is an opportunity to continue to give back to the program, as well as a way to continue to learn and share best practices while networking with HR leaders from various organizations." Her advice to current students? "Take advantage of the resources offered through the program."

Eric Miller, '12, Jostens. Miller is a senior Human Resources Manager at Jostens. He has also held positions at Toro, University of Minnesota and the Mounds View School District. Miller chose to attend the HR/IR program because he was at a point in his career where he valued the idea of re-engaging a more academic review of the profession, and "the program at the U of MN was a perfect way to do so." He valued that the content presented in his courses was a mix of contemporary practices and theories in the HR field while also staying grounded in some classical views. Miller decided to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board because it "provides a chance to positively influence the future direction of a strong and vibrant academic program." He added, "I can't wait to begin working with the other great HR professionals on the CHRLS Board." His advice to future students is that "relationships matter," and to "become a student of the business units or roles you serve."

David DahlgrenYogita Naik, ’02, AIG. Naik graduated from the full-time program in 2002 and is currently a Global HR Head, Senior HR Business Partner for Enterprise Risk Management. She said she choose to attend the program when she was completing a graduate degree from University of Mumbai, India and working for Johnson and Johnson. "I realized early on that I had strong technical skills in organization behavior and psychology," she said, "and I needed to strengthen my business acumen as an HR professional. The HR/IR program seemed to strike a good balance between research/application and HR/Business, and this was offered with a global perspective." She continued, "the HR/IR program is well regarded in the HR field and I was certain it would prepare me well and open up better opportunities for a young professional interested in pursuing a global HR career path in Fortune 500 corporations." She shared some advice for current students: "This is one of the most interesting times of your life where you are not only gaining professional and technical skills in HR/IR but if you pay attention, you will learn bigger life lessons. Have fun, make friends that will last you a lifetime, make mistakes, and enjoy the ride."

sTaryn Shawstad, '88, Chevron Corporation. Shawstad, currently a general manager of total remuneration at Chevron Corporation, chose to attend the HR/IR program at the University of Minnesota because she realized she needed additional technical knowledge to be successful. The program provided her with practical information on how to identify and address gaps in people processes that impact business success. She joined the CHRLS Alumni Association Board to "give back to a program that was instrumental in preparing me for my career." Her advice to students? "In addition to doing well at your coursework, take the time to establish a network of professional contacts that will help you the rest of your career."
Samantha SouthSamantha South, '10, Allianz Life. "The MA-HRIR program prepared me with a strong knowledge base of HR theories/practices as well as business principles which enables me to look at my work more holistically and from different perspectives," said Samantha South. Graduating from the MA-HRIR program at the University of Minnesota in 2010, she worked in workforce analytics at IBM and also interned with AMSOIL before joining Allianz. She chose to attend the program at the U of M because she found the program offered a balanced curriculum as well as a strong focus on internship and career placements. South decided to join the CHRLS Alumni Association Board because she appreciated the programs that the Alumni Association put on while she was a student and wants to do her part to give back. Her advice to students is "to surround yourself with people who challenge your thinking and deliver above and beyond the basic requirements for your projects."

David DahlgrenErika Williams, ’00, Baxter Health. "The HRIR program actually found me," Erika Williams said. "I was recruited during a graduate career fair and for three years I received information from the University of Minnesota," she said, "never thinking I would actually attend or end up graduating from one of the top HR programs in the U.S." She chose to attend not only because of the strong program, "but because of the conversations that I had with John Fossum, and the excitement in talking to a classmate who graduated from the same college and was already completing her first year in the HRIR program." She found that the program gave her a solid foundation of theory, "which helped me handle the real situational work issues which you can never learn from a book," she notes. Joining the CHRLS Alumni Association Board gives her the opportunity to be able to show her appreciation, and give back the knowledge that she’s gained over the last 11 years. To current students she says, "Spend this time nurturing who you are as a person. Know who you are and what you stand for, because there will come a time when you will be challenged in all of these aspects, and it will be up to you to show others who you are." Great advice, indeed!

kl;Shanequa Williams, '08, Pentair

Patricia Wyffels Patricia Wyffels, 92. Wyffels has worked with diverse industries including technology, biopharmaceutical, agricultural products and non-profit organizations. Wyffels previously served as Senior Director, Global Talent Acquisition at Hitachi GST before working as Global Manager, Human Resources for Chevron Oronite Company LLC.

HR Tomorrow Conference

HR Tomorrow Conference

Friday, April 11, 2014 - "Tools for Tomorrow: Evolving Your HR Skill Set"

As an Alumni Board, we also coordinate this annual conference to provide a venue for the exchange of ideas, a professional and academic learning experience and an on-going connection to the CHRLS. This is a premier event that attracts over 300 attendees each year, and offers professional development as well as the opportunity to network with alumni, faculty and peers in the HR and business community.

2012-2013 Professional Development Workshop Series

The CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors is committed to the ongoing professional growth of alumni, current students and other HR practitioners through professional development events. In 2012-2013, we offered a free workshop series on a variety of topics.


Workshop Three - "The Expatriate Experience"

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Guest speaker Pamala Pappas Stanoch, President and Founder of The Athena Group International, presented a look at the four different cycles of the Expatriate: the Selection Process; Signs of Success; Training and Development of the Employee in their Role; and Re-Patriation. Pappas Stanoch founded The Athena Group International, a consortium of global talent designed to meet the needs of clients expanding their global operations, in 2003. The Athena Group provides coaching, strategy, global network design, and other resources to its international clients. She also founded Window on the World, Inc., to serve as a cross-cultural communications organization.The speaker completed a B.A. in French and in Foreign Language Education, a B.S. in International Relations, and a master's degree in Cross-Cultural Communications from the University of Minnesota and the Universite' Catholique de L'Ouest, Angers, France.

Click here to watch a video of the workshop. Pam Pappas Stanoch's slides are available here.



Workshop Two - "From Minneapolis to Mumbai: Key HR Learnings"

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Guest speaker Rebekah Ferguson, Human Resources Director at General Mills, spoke about her two-year global assignment with General Mills in Mumbai, India. She provided an overview of GBS (Global Business Solutions) India, and highlighted various HR focus areas including recruiting, retention, learning and development, compensation and benefits, and culture. She also shared some of her expatriate experiences. Ferguson has been with General Mills for 15 years, in a variety of HR leadership roles, across multiple U.S. manufacturing locations, World Headquarters, and a global assignment in Mumbai, India. She is currently HR Director for the Finance organization. Ferguson attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earning a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree from the School of Labor and Employment Relations.

Click here to watch a video of the workshop. Rebekah Ferguson's slides are available here.



Workshop One - "International HR: A Global Perspective"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Guest speaker Paula Cooney, Director of HR Strategic Programs for the H.B. Fuller Company, provided insight into her HR experiences from an international perspective, and discussed selection, job elimination, working across countries with vastly different employment laws, and her experience as an ex-patriate in the U.S. Cooney is Director of HR Strategic Programs for H.B. Fuller Company and is responsible for world-wide people growth including talent management, leadership development and employee engagement. Prior to joining H.B. Fuller Company she spent 13 years with Intel Corporation in a variety of human resource positions, including Director of the Intel Learning & Development, a global organization charged with enhancing Intel performance. She joined Intel Ireland in 1997 and completed two expatriate assignments in the US before moving permanently in 2004. Prior to joining Intel in 1997, Paula was an Employee Relations Executive with the Irish Business & Employers Confederation, an associate lecturer in the National College of Industrial Relations in Dublin, and started her career in the Houses of Parliament in Ireland. Paula holds a Diploma in Personnel Management from the National College of Industrial Relations in Dublin, Ireland, and a Masters in Human Resource Management & Industrial Relations from the Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business, University College Dublin.


Click here to watch a video of the workshop.


2011-2012 Professional Development Workshop Series

The CHRLS Alumni Association Board is committed to the ongoing professional growth of alumni, current students and other HR practitioners through professional development events. In 2011-2012, we offered a free workshop series on a variety of topics.

Workshop Two - Total Employee Engagement: How Do We Get That?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012
5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

We know our employees are not fully engaged, but may not have an action plan to turn this around. Organizations are becoming more adept at measuring employee engagement, but acting on the data and achieving an ongoing highly engaged workforce is still a challenge for many HR professionals.Through qualitative research and a live case study at a Fortune 500 company, our speaker developed a continuum which defines the stages of employee engagement. She shared this continuum along with the critical foundational elements that must be present at an organization to drive high engagement. She also discussed the levers found to have the greatest impact on achieving and maintaining the optimal level. Guest Speaker Kathy Carlson is the Director of Learning and Development at General Mills, Inc. (GMI). She has been in the learning and development area for nearly ten years and prior to that held roles within the quality organization of GMI for 13 years. Kathy earned her Ph.D. in Human Resource Development from the University of Minnesota. She also holds an M.S. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Minnesota, and a B.S. in Chemistry and Business from the University of Wiscsonsin - LaCrosse.Her current affiliations include ASTD, ASTD Director's Forum, Conference Board on Employee Engagement, and Fredrickson Round Table. Her certifications include Hogan Assessment, e-learning, Instruction Design, Generations in the Work Force.


Workshop One - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Social Media (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Thursday, October 27, 2011
8:00 to 10:00 AM

Our three guest speakers provided insight on the influence of social media on core HR functions, from recruiting to workplace conduct to how team members from companies are representing themselves in the virtual space (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.) of social media. We welcomed three experts in the field who shared their perspectives into what is currently happening, and what to anticipate with respect to social media. They are:

  • Sukie Crawford - Senior Process Business Partner, Target
  • Julie Melander Holmes - Senior HR & Employment Law Consultant, Trusight
  • Gene Sheih - Senior Counsel, Wells Fargo & Company


Alumni Mentorship Program

2014 Alumni Mentorship Program

The CHRLS Alumni Association is currently seeking participants for the 2014 Alumni Mentorship Program, which will run from February through December 2014. The Mentorship program provides alumni the opportunity to help shape future HR leaders while building their own coaching and leadership skills.

Mentors are required to have at least two years of HR work experience, and be willing to connect with their Mentee once a month from early February through early December 2014.

The Mentoring Program Kick-Off will be held on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 from 5:30 to 7:00 pm at the Carlson School of Management. Out-of-town Mentors will be able to participate through video and/or conference call.

To sign up as a Mentor, please visit this link. And, to read more about how the Mentorship Program has benefitted both students and alumni, check out this article.

Direct questions to Thank you for your support!


Centerpoint Newsletter

Centerpoint is a publication for alumni, friends, faculty, and staff of the Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies, and is published electronically several times per year. To make sure you receive the newsletter, please send your updated email address to

"Where in the World" Wednesdays

1976 MA-IR graduate Hilton Blake is currently retired and living in South Africa. His most recent job was at the Standard Bank of South Africa (SBSA), the largest in the Republic of South Africa (RSA). He was recruited to set up and manage Assessment Centres for middle and senior managers with a staff of 12 graduates. In addition to numerous countries around Africa, Blake has traveled to Australia, Egypt, England, Spain and Greece, to name just a few. He remains in frequent contact with most of his good friends he made in the MA-IR program by e-mail and Skype.


Membership in the CHRLS Alumni Association is open to all HRIR graduates and undergraduate alumni; there is no application process or membership fee, and graduation is not required. To serve on the Board of Directors of the CHRLS Alumni Association, members must have completed all requirements of the MA-IR or MA-HRIR program and been granted their degree. Please contact for more information.


Centerpoint Newsletter

A newsletter for alumni and friends of the Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies.

Read More »

Let's Get Social!

Give  Contact  Visit

A to Z Directory | Faculty Directory

321 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55455 | 612-625-0027 | 877-625-6468