I moved to the Institute on the Environment (IonE) in 2011 at the invitation of Jon Foley to support the creation in Minnesota of a unique, outcomes-oriented, fundamental research culture focused on environment, earth systems, and sustainability.

I came to the IonE at a critical point in its development and my initial task was to build the institutional structures that would allow it to continue to grow and thrive.  During my leadership tenure at IonE, I have rebuilt the administration structure,  developed and strengthened a very strong faculty cohort, and overhauled our discretionary funding programs. Between about April of 2014 (initially in practice and officially as of August of 2014) and September 2015 I served as interim director.

 The Details:

Managing Director & Chief Operating Officer, 2011 – present
Institute on the Environment (IonE), University of Minnesota / St. Paul, MN

As Managing Director and member of senior leadership team, develop and implement strategy, including resource allocation and program development; design and implement new programs and initiatives; oversee $1.37M/yr internal granting programs; oversee leadership development programs; mentor staff and program leaders; and represent the Institute to internal and external audiences in the absence of the Director.  As COO, ensure that all aspects of operations and administration of $4.1M/yr operating budget run smoothly; provide the highest quality customer service to faculty and staff across the 5-campus University of Minnesota system; oversee all aspects of finance, budget, HR, IT and logistics.

Leadership and Program Development

  • Oversee development of, and integration across, graduate and undergraduate student-focused Environmental Leadership Development program portfolio
  • Integrate Acara social entrepreneurship program into ongoing operations of the Institute, including strong partnerships with the College of Science and Engineering and the Carlson School of Management
  • Formulate University of Minnesota Energy Initiative as an umbrella spanning research & development, policy & legal research and outreach, and regional power systems integration research
  • Represent University in annual delegation to Germany focused on exchange of renewable energy programs and policies
  • Strengthen connections with humanities and arts on Twin Cities campus resulting in arts performances and exhibitions at IonE, enhanced participation by IonE scientists in College of Liberal Arts seminars, and successful transfer of IonE-initiated River Life program to Institute for Advanced Study
  • Seed-fund and spin-off Resilient Communities Project, significantly increasing presence of University in local communities and enhancing hands-on learning opportunities for students
  • Strengthen connections with professional schools including Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Carlson School of Management and the Law School as evidenced by faculty interactions, joint search committees and new joint funded programs
  • Conceptualize new infrastructure models to coordinate University-wide activities focused on outcomes-oriented fundamental and applied research

Partnerships and Funding

  • Significantly strengthen connections with coordinate campuses across the state as evidenced by enhance participation in mini-grants program, student exchanges and Resident Fellows program
  • Organize, submit and win $3M block grant in support of University-wide renewable electricity research
  • Restructure $1.5M/yr discretionary funding portfolio to be more responsive to intellectual trends, to enhance participation by leading University faculty and to increase visibility and vitality of University strengths

Management and Operations

  • Initiate data-driven review of return on investment (ROI) of our portfolio of internal investments
  • Restructure administrative and leadership staff to suit growth and evolution of Institute from small startup to vital operational unit
  • Manage strategic shift in development director position from traditional, individual donor focus to a partnership focused model
  • Oversee administrative transfer of IonE from Office of the Provost to Office of Vice President for Research, as part of leadership transitions in both of those offices

Interim Director, 2014 – 2015 (continue also as Managing Director & COO)
Institute on the Environment (IonE), University of Minnesota / St. Paul, MN

As Interim Director, assume director’s duties and maintain institutional momentum during an extended period of uncertainty and change.  Theses duties include full executive responsibility for a $7M/yr unit including: strategic planning, overseeing senior staff, overseeing partnership & development and communications, diplomatic relations with University foundation, colleges and schools, and all aspects of operations and administration.

Leadership and Management

  • Maintain strong strategic positioning of Institute within the University
  • Lay groundwork for rapid launch of new initiatives
  • Represent Institute at senior levels within University, including preparation for fundraising campaign
  • Maintain staff morale throughout transition by developing culture of transparency and trust
  • Identify and manage staff retention risks
  • Manage budget cuts while preserving services to constituents through out University
  • Serve as the public face of the Institute in the media, at ceremonies, and in public settings

Partnerships and Funding

  • Strengthen existing, and initiate new, relationships with internal partners on Twin Cities campus and on coordinate campuses
  • Provide stewardship for key philanthropic and research partners
  • Represent the University of Minnesota on the Governing Committee of the Natural Capital Project
  • Gather input from non-academic partners regarding new opportunities that the leadership transition may afford and priorities in existing program portfolio
  • Identify and mitigate risks to existing funding relationships

Acting Director, 2013 – present
Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, University of Minnesota / St. Paul, MN

Oversee wind-down of renewable energy research program that granted $5M/year for scientific and engineering research within the University of Minnesota system.

Affiliate Faculty Member, 2014 – present
Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota / Minneapolis, MN

  • Teach the core introductory course in the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) graduate program
  • Serve as member of search committee for new STEP program faculty member