• 2017 CED Speakers and Panelists

    Neel Kashkari, president, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

    Neel KashkariNeel Kashkari took office as president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis on January 1, 2016. In this role, he serves on the Federal Open Market Committee, bringing the Fed’s Ninth District’s perspective to monetary policy discussions in Washington. In addition to his responsibilities as a monetary policymaker, Kashkari oversees all operations of the bank, including supervision and regulation and payments services.

    Kashkari began his career as an aerospace engineer at TRW in Redondo Beach, California, where he developed technology for NASA space science missions. Following graduate school, he joined Goldman Sachs in San Francisco, where he helped technology companies raise capital and pursue strategic transactions.

    From 2006 to 2009, Kashkari served in several senior positions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In 2008, he was confirmed as assistant secretary of the Treasury. In this role, he oversaw the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) during the financial crisis. Kashkari received the Alexander Hamilton Award, the Treasury Department’s highest honor for distinguished service.

    Following his tenure in Washington, Kashkari returned to California in 2009 and joined PIMCO as managing director and member of the executive office. He left the firm in 2013 to explore returning to public service. In January 2014, Kashkari was a gubernatorial candidate in the state of California, running on a platform focused on economic opportunity.

    Kashkari earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Lorna Bourg, president and CEO, Southern Mutual Help Association, Inc.

    Lorna BourgBourg is a cofounder of Southern Mutual Help Association (SMHA) with more than 40 years of experience organizing in Louisiana’s rural communities. She currently serves as the organization’s president and CEO. She is a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Louisiana Advisory Committee and was named as a MacArthur Foundation Fellow as well as a Fannie Mae Foundation James A. Johnson Fellow. She is a graduate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government. Bourg also co-founded the Sustained Excellence Alliance Corporation Inc.; created and operated SMHA’s loan-origination program; and has extensive professional experience with investments, fund development and management, budgeting, and rural community development program design and implementation. She holds a master’s degree in psychology.


    John Vaughn, executive director, East Side Neighborhood Development Company

    John VaughnJohn has twelve years of experience leading two neighborhood-based, nonprofit community development corporations (CDCs) in East Saint Paul and Northeast Minneapolis. This is supported by ten years as a community organizer in Butte, Montana; Saint Paul; and Duluth.


    Michael C. Van Milligen, city manger, city of Dubuque

    Michael Van MilligenMike has served as city manager for the city of Dubuque since January 1993. He served previously as the assistant village manager for the village of Skokie, Illinois.

    Mike holds degrees in law enforcement, fire science management, and administration of justice from Southern Illinois University, where he also earned a master’s degree in public affairs. He completed Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government and the Kellogg Management Institute at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

    In 2003, Mike was named Outstanding Manager of the Year by the International City/County Management Association. In 2004, he was featured as part of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government Innovators in Public Service series. He was named Manager of the Year in 2007 by the Iowa City/County Management Association. In November 2010, he was named a National Academy of Public Administration Fellow by the Academy’s board of directors. The city of Dubuque was named an All-America City by the National Civic League in 2007, 2012, and 2013.


    Abdirahman I. Kahin, owner and CEO, Afro Deli & Catering

    Abdirahman KahinKahin is an African Somali who immigrated to Minneapolis in 1998 and started Afro Deli in 2010. He has a degree in media production and visual arts, studied business management, and has three certifications from the mini-MBA program at the University of St. Thomas. He is the proud winner of the 2015 Economic Gardening Scholarship. Last January, Senator Al Franken invited Kahin to participate at the State of the Union and said, “As a small business owner and leader in our community, Abdirahman Kahin is an excellent example of how integral people of diverse faiths and backgrounds are to the prosperity of our state.”

    Under Kahin’s management, Afro Deli & Grill has opened a second location in Saint Paul. Afro Deli partnered with Hudson group, which operates in 70 airports worldwide as a grab-and-go vendor, and is bidding to open a restaurant at the airport in 2018 and was also selected to be one of the restaurants to serve Super Bowl LII. Afro Deli’s success has been featured in the StarTribune, the Wall Street Journal, Minnesota Business Magazine, and City Pages and on CNN, KSTP, and WCCO.


    Tim Penny, president and CEO, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation

    Tim PennyTim Penny was named Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s (SMIF) president and CEO in April 2007. His extensive background complements SMIF’s key interests, which include early childhood and economic development.

    Penny represented Minnesota’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1982 to 1994, and he was a member of the Minnesota State Senate from 1976 to 1982. Most recently, Penny was a senior counselor at Himle Horner, a Twin Cities–based public affairs firm, and a senior fellow at the Humphrey Institute. He co-chairs the Economics Club of Minnesota and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and serves on the board of Parent Aware for School Readiness.

    Tim has co-authored three books: Common Cents, The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics, and Payment Due. Born and raised on a family farm in southeastern Minnesota, Penny received his B.A. in political science from Winona State University and was lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve.


    Paul Hugunin, director of the Ag Marketing and Development Division, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

    Paul HuguninPaul has 25 years of experience marketing local foods and plants and serves as the director of the Ag Marketing and Development Division at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). This includes the Minnesota Grown Program, Organic and Diversification Program, Domestic and International Marketing, Commodity Council Oversight, and Farmers Market Development.

    Paul started his career at MDA working on the Minnesota Grown Program, which has expanded to include more than 1,300 producers licensed to use the Minnesota Grown logo. Members include farmers’ markets, orchards, wineries, berry farms, garden centers, and more.

    Paul is a charter member of Minnesota’s Farm to School Leadership Team, leads the newly formed Good Food Access Program Advisory Committee, and has been active with the Minnesota Food Charter Network.


    Darlene Walser, executive director, Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation

    Darlene WalserDarlene Walser is a visionary leader in the field of comprehensive community development who believes that successful change requires the active engagement of communities to determine their future. She has 25 years of experience leading small- and large-scale neighborhood revitalization efforts, both locally and nationally, within the nonprofit, for profit, and government sectors. Focusing on equitable, economically integrated development that links the design of physical places with the design of human capital systems, she has successfully partnered with communities facing decades of economic disinvestment to plan and build more economically vibrant communities, reconnect neighborhoods, and leverage billions of dollars in investment.

    Walser is currently serving as the executive director of the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation, where she leads the strategic direction of the organization and spearheads major initiatives. Previously, she served as vice president of McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc., the nation’s leading for-profit developer, manager, and asset manager of economically integrated urban neighborhoods, where she successfully planned and implemented large-scale community development initiatives across the country, including the $350 million Heritage Park development in Minneapolis. She has also worked as a community organizer and served as an HUD Community Renaissance Fellow for the Seattle Housing Authority. Most recently, Darlene led Hennepin County’s Bottineau Light Rail Transit Community Works Program, where she worked to ensure communities along the proposed Blue Line Extension LRT corridor were actively engaged in land-use planning that would effectively leverage the proposed $1.5 billion transit investment.

    Darlene received a B.A. from Macalester College and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the University of Bochum in Germany. She is a 2006 recipient of the Bush Foundation’s Leadership Fellowship, which she used to earn a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.


    Brian H. Miller, executive director, Seward Resdesign

    Brian MillerSince 2002, Brian has served as executive director of Seward Redesign, a geographically based community development corporation in South Minneapolis. Brian led development planning for the Seward-Longfellow-Midtown-Greenway area and the Franklin LRT Station area. During Brian’s tenure, Redesign has completed redevelopment projects for occupancy by local East African–owned businesses; the redevelopment of the Riverside Market site as a new home for Seward Community Co-op grocery, including syndication of the New Market Tax Credit Program; the redevelopment of the Franklin East Building, a neighborhood commercial center; acquisition and development of the Seward Commons site, a 3.5-acre phased redevelopment site near the Franklin LRT Station; and refinancing and renovation of the 640-unit Seward Towers East and West.

    As a past executive director of Neighborhood Development Alliance on Saint Paul’s West Side, Brian undertook such projects as the redevelopment of the 116-unit Concord Square Apartment complex, Wabasha Center (a child care center and office development), and Wabasha Terrace (affordable townhomes). Brian is a licensed attorney and real estate broker.


    Lorrie Louder, adjunct faculty and career mentor, Hamline University; retired SVP, Saint Paul Port Authority

    Lorrie LouderLorrie Louder is an adjunct faculty member at Hamline University School of Business who teaches economic development. She also is a mentor in Dean Anne McCarthy's innovative Career Mentor Program.

    Lorrie held executive leadership positions for over forty years in Saint Paul, Boston, and Minneapolis before recently retiring. She led efforts in the redevelopment of distressed industrial properties, affordable housing development, business financing, and strategic partnerships. She also served on nonprofit boards. Lorrie forged successful public and private sector collaborations, which advanced community revitalization efforts. Some of these partners included the EPA, local business owners, chambers of commerce, community residents, and grassroots organizations. Results included significant statewide funding for Brownfields contamination clean-up, the development of fallow industrial land into mixed-use business centers that provide jobs with good wages and benefits, the preservation of the Grain Belt Brewery campus for reuse, and the development of the first Native American nonprofit-owned business incubator. She is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Minnesota and is certified by the National Development Council in real estate development.


    Hussein Ahmed, program coordinator, small business lending, housing and economic development for the Hmong American Partnership (HAP)

    Hussein AhmedHussein does outreach work and is responsible for engaging and educating the East African and Somali community about HAP products and services. Hussein has over 10 years of experience in banking and anti–money laundering (AML) compliance and has served as executive director for the West Bank Community Coalition in the Cedar-Riverside/West Bank Minneapolis neighborhood. He is bilingual in English and Somali. Mr. Ahmed is extensively educated, having earned a Masters of Science in Veterinary Science from the University of Prince Edward Island and his Associate Studies in Accounting in Atlanta, Georgia.


    Jeannie Fox, director of Nonprofit Management Programs and co-director of Public Administration Programs, Hamline University

    Jeannie FoxProfessor Fox has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit organizations and public agencies. She most recently served as chief of staff to former Minnesota secretary of state, Mark Ritchie. Following a career as a senior manager in nonprofit direct service organizations, Fox lobbied on behalf of the nonprofit sector at all levels of government during a nine-year tenure as the deputy public policy director for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. She previously held adjunct faculty positions at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Duluth campuses and was a 2012 State Department Legislative Fellow in the Dominican Republic. Fox’s publications include chapters in the textbooks Nonprofit Management 101 and The Lobbying and Advocacy Handbook for Nonprofit Organizations.


    Brett Olson, cofounder and creative director, Renewing the Countryside

    Brett OlsonOlson works on rural community and local foods system development. His work includes designing and managing programs and events; creating and implementing educational campaigns; providing technical assistance to rural communities, small business owners, and farmers; and serving as a spokesperson for issues of importance to rural America. Brett has extensive skills in branding and marketing. He lives with his family on a retired dairy farm along the beautiful Zumbo River.


    Ed Lotterman, Saint Paul economist and columnist, Pioneer Press

    Ed LottermanSaint Paul economist and writer Edward Lotterman writes the "Real World Economics" column for the Pioneer Press. For more than 30 years, Ed has been combining history and economics to illuminate the so-called "dismal science" and give ordinary people a real-world explanation of what's happening in the economies of countries, governments, businesses, and even our own households.


    Sai Thao, emerging agribusiness lending program, AgStar Financial Services

    Sai ThaoSai Thao joined AgStar Financial Services in 2014 as the emerging agribusiness lending executive. Thao has nearly 10 years of experience providing loan and technical assistance to small businesses. Thao has a B.A. in American ethnic studies and an MBA in marketing.


    Mohamed Ali, Quickstart Learning Center

    (Picture and bio to come.)