2022 Board of Directors Election

Elections are now open for the 2022 Board of Directors. All EDAM members in good standing are encouraged to vote for up to four (4) candidates for director positions. Write-in candidates will also be accepted. All votes must be cast by Wednesday, November 3, 2021.

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Candidate Information

Rick Howden | Ramsey County

Rick HowdenWhy are you interested in serving on the EDAM Board?
I believe very strongly in the Mission and Vision of EDAM and feel that the organization has made great strides in the last few years to be recognized as a professional, member-driven Economic Development Organization, however I feel more should be done to diversify and strengthen our organization. I feel that my experiences in my day-to-day work as well as my involvement in EDAM through the last six years have prepared me well to be a leader in this organization to continue to influence the educational opportunities to the membership, be a champion of EDAM to organizations and professionals that are not yet involved, and to expand opportunities for all professionals involved in economic development.

Please share a brief statement of your understanding of EDAM's vision and mission.

Focusing on professional development, networking, and advocacy are the very core of what EDAM is and our vision to be recognized as Minnesota's vibrant and professional member-driven organization is the goal we should continue to focus on.

How have you been involved with EDAM?

I have been a member of EDAM since 2013 when I began my economic development career with Community and Economic Development Associates in southeastern Minnesota. I have regularly attended Summer and Winter Conferences and a number of additional events throughout the years. I have also been a member of the former Professional Development Committee, now the Conference Committee and also served as Vice Chair of the Conference Committee along with my service on the Board for the last two years.

Brief bio identifying your experience in economic development related work.
Before graduating from Winona State University, Rick was a Field Representative for then-Congressman Tim Walz working in both Rochester and Mankato where he did outreach to constituent groups around energy, environment, business, and labor issues. Following this, Rick started a new career path in Economic Development working in small and rural communities such as Houston County, Cities of Elgin, Goodview, and Wabasha with Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) as a Community and Business Development Representative. Rick has also worked as an Economic Development Specialist with the City of Lakeville, a Senior Project manager in the City of Saint Paul’s Planning and Economic Development Department and is currently an Economic Development Specialist with Ramsey County.

Daniela Lorenz | City of Brooklyn Park

Daniela LorenzWhy are you interested in serving on the EDAM Board?
I have been working in the economic development (ED) field for 5-years and in that short time I have seen large shifts in the way we collectively think about economic and community development and how it shapes our communities and the people we serve. EDAM is in at an exciting nexus as it considers where it belongs in the conversation about what is means to "do economic development", who has been traditionally left out of economic development, and how we can collectively work together to create equitable, inclusive, and resilient communities. As the premier professional organization for ED professionals, I look forward to exploring how the board can continue to foster growth and learning opportunities for professionals at all stages of their careers, invite a new and diverse set of talent to the field, and continue pushing all members of the association and related organizations to think about how to our work can have the most positive impact on policy, people, and places.

Please share a brief statement of your understanding of EDAM's vision and mission.

EDAM is a space for learning and sharing across sectors with the common goal of growing our understanding of the economic development profession. The prioritization of networking among likeminded professionals allows all involved to thinking more globally about their work, who is benefits, who is left out, and how the field should grow and change to include a diversity of voices and perspectives. Along with the networking opportunities that provide space to learn from our peers, EDAM is a space to think about the future of economic development and advocate for improved policy that makes the work of professionals across the State more impactful.

How have you been involved with EDAM?

I have been a member of EDAM through the City of Brooklyn Park since 2019. I have attended several conferences and networking opportunities in that time. I have also served on the Conference Planning Committee as both a member and a co-chair for the past 2-years. This allowed me to see the effort that goes into conference planning first hand, have discussions with other committee members about what they'd like to know more about, and what role we have in influencing larger conversations about inclusion, equity, and diversity in the organization and the profession as a whole.

Brief bio identifying your experience in economic development related work.
I graduated from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in 2017 with a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) with a focus on Community Development and Housing. During my time at the Humphrey School I worked for the City of Maplewood, MN as a Planning Technician. After I graduated in 2017, I was hired as a Project Facilitator for the City of Brooklyn Park where I supported senior staff on a number of projects including work related to the Blue Line Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, general development projects, and marketing and branding work. In 2019, I was hired in my current role as the Business Development Coordinator for the City of Brooklyn Park where I work closely with businesses to provide resources, create programs, and plan events to help businesses in Brooklyn Park grow and thrive in the City. Along with business specific work I project manage development projects that require City financing, work closely with the State of Minnesota to administer its business financing programs, and develop in partnership with the BrookLynk program workforce development programming and policy.

Virginia Rutter | Clean Energy Economy Minnesota

Virginia RutterWhy are you interested in serving on the EDAM Board?
Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM) provides the business voice for energy efficiency and clean energy in Minnesota. As an industry-led, nonprofit organization, we educate Minnesotans and policymakers about the economic benefits of transitioning to a clean energy economy. I would love to leverage my expertise in clean energy and finance and connect with economic development professionals to continue to grow the clean energy industry in Minnesota.

Please share a brief statement of your understanding of EDAM's vision and mission.

EDAM works to bring economic development professionals together to learn from and with each other, and to collaborate on economic development strategies and opportunities. EDAM is comprised of Minnesota economic development experts, who are working to shape the future of our state through economic opportunity and growth.

How have you been involved with EDAM?

I'm a new member - started with a coffee & connections meeting, which was a fun and engaging conversation and left me with some great connections. I'm attending the fall conference and am excited to network with EDAM members.

Brief bio identifying your experience in economic development related work.
As Manager of Community Relations, I lead our outreach and engagement efforts. This includes working with CEEM’s member businesses, partners, policymakers, and community leaders to advance innovative clean energy policies and solutions. Most recently I served as the Director of Market Development at Twin Cities-based Nokomis Energy, where I conducted market analysis on utility-scale solar. Prior to that, I was the Program Director at Solar United Neighbors of Minnesota, where I launched the program and developed deep relationships across the state. I spent several years at a clean energy finance consulting firm, and prior to that, I worked at Public Financial Management in municipal bonds.

Kathi Schaff | Minnesota Chamber of Commerce - Grow MN!®

Kathi SchaffWhy are you interested in serving on the EDAM Board?
I have been involved in economic development for over 25 years in a variety of capacities in both the private and public sectors. I have experience in serving on, and working with non-profit boards. I currently serve as an EDAM Board Director and would be honored to continue to serve. As a Board Director, I feel I am a valuable contributor based on my lengthy experience with Minnesota’s businesses and its communities, as well as my knowledge of the state’s economy. I believe strongly in the importance of lifelong learning and professional development. EDAM plays a key role in Minnesota's economic recovery through the development of Minnesota’s economic development-focused leaders. The board continually looks at providing members with valuable programming and resources, as well as a voice at the state level on issues that impact economic development. I want to continue to be a part of this work. My passion for collaboration and the education of EDAM's membership directly aligns with the organization's mission.

Please share a brief statement of your understanding of EDAM's vision and mission.

My understanding of the EDAM organization’s vision and mission is that the organization supports economic development-focused leaders located in communities statewide. It does this by ensuring they have access to the most current economic development training, resources, and information, including information on Minnesota’s current and projected economic trends. The organization helps people like me be successful in our chosen career, so that we can positively affect the communities in which we live and work.

How have you been involved with EDAM?

My involvement in EDAM is as follows; current EDAM Board Director, active member of the EDAM U Committee, serve as an EDAM Mentor, have attended conferences and webinars, and served as an Annual Conference guest speaker and webinar speaker. As a board member, I could continue my involvement in a leadership capacity within the EDAM organization to advance its mission and seek ways to add value for its membership.

Brief bio identifying your experience in economic development related work.
Kathi Schaff draws from 20+ years of leadership experience focused on economic development, as well as years of experience working in the private sector for a Fortune 500 company. She currently serves as an EDAM Board Director. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. She also holds a master’s degree in community and economic development from Penn State University. She is an alumna of the Minnesota Chamber’s Leadership Minnesota program and the Blandin Community Leadership Program, and serves as a Hill Capital Corp. Ambassador. She has experience in community development, having served eight years as a city planning commissioner. She has worked at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce since 2006 and serves as the director of its Grow Minnesota! economic development department, which includes the statewide business retention and assistance Grow Minnesota!® Partnership. She is responsible for the development, management and training needs of the close to 90 local chambers and economic development entities that make-up the partnership. In addition, she is involved in statewide business assistance on concerns resulting from Grow Minnesota! business retention visits, as well as direct requests for assistance. Since March 2020 she has assisted almost 2,000 individual Minnesota businesses to provide them with resources to address COVID-19 Pandemic-related concerns.

Kristi Thorfinnson | NW MN Multi-County HRA

Kristi ThorfinnsonWhy are you interested in serving on the EDAM Board?
While I am fairly new to my position here at the HRA, I have over 20 years of experience in economic and community development. I have found that the best way for me to learn and gain the most from any organization I belong to is to be involved at the board level. Just jump in!

Please share a brief statement of your understanding of EDAM's vision and mission.

To provide economic development information and strategies through education and networking for and with professionals at every level in the field. Help to shape policy at the state level in response to changing conditions and needs throughout the state.

How have you been involved with EDAM?

I'm a new member of EDAM, and the first from our organization to join.

Brief bio identifying your experience in economic development related work.
I've worked for over 20 years in community, economic and business development activities. Public and private entities, organizations, schools and individuals have all been clients. I love this field of work, am a life-long learner, and look forward to new challenges.