This week is your last chance to register for this year’s Night of Distinction! Enjoy an elegant entree as the MSUM Foundation honors six recipients for Distinguished Alumni, Young Alum, and Outstanding Service awards on Oct. 3, 2019. Please RSVP so we can inform catering of your order.

Join us in congratulating these outstanding examples of grit, humility and heart by registering this week. Registration closes this Friday.

For ongoing event updates, check out www.mnstate.edu/alumni/awards/.

Distinguished Alumni 

David Foss ’85 (computer science) is the president and CEO of Jack Henry & Associates, Inc. The S&P 500 public company is one of the three largest providers of FinTech solutions to financial institutions in the United States and is known for outstanding technology, a full suite of SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions, industry-leading customer service, a very strong corporate culture, and high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction. He also serves as a member of the company’s board of directors and as a partner and director for Bold Ventures, LLC, a private venture capital firm focused in the technology space. For David, the phrase he says best describes his approach to leadership is, “Do the right thing, do whatever it takes and have fun.” David tries to live those words, first coined by Jack Henry, every day. Since joining the company 20 years ago, he realized it perfectly reflected the way he tries to live his life. As a father, community member and the leader of nearly 6,500 employees, those guiding principles make it easy for others to understand what David views as important and how he makes decisions.

Cheryl Hughes ’82 (management) began her career at Sanford Medical Center, formerly St. Luke’s Hospital, in Fargo — through an internship, and from there she earned leadership positions at Hyundai Motor America, Apria Healthcare and Providence Health System. Now as chief human resources officer for Toyota North America, Cheryl leads her team to transform the company’s talent and team member experience to help power Toyota’s vision of Mobility for All. Leading by example, eight years ago, she spearheaded Toyota’s North American Women’s Conference — part of her commitment to empowering women in the workplace. Most significantly, Cheryl led the consolidation and relocation of Toyota’s U.S. affiliate operations, one of the largest corporate transformations in American history. She and her team led the charge to swiftly move thousands of existing team members and hire 1,000 more — to help design a new state-of-the-art campus in Plano, Texas — and to establish a new, unified One Toyota culture across the company.

Nicole Kivisto ’95 (accounting) has been the chief executive officer and president of Montana-Dakota Utilities, Intermountain Gas and Cascade Natural Gas since January of 2015. Since 1995, Nicole has worked for MDU Resources, thriving in every position she’s held. Prior to her current role, Nicole was the vice president of operations for Montana Dakota She also served as the vice president, controller and chief accounting officer for MDU Resources Group Inc. Nicole provides overall executive management and leadership for the three utilities and, along with 1,600 employees, serves 1.1 million customers across eight states. Throughout the years, Nicole has participated in several MDU Resources leadership programs, including the People Building People Mentoring Program, the Women’s Advisory Board and the Chairman’s Conference. In 2002, she was one of the MDU Resource’s Summit Award winners. She was also recognized in the region’s top 40 under 40 in 2007 and as one of the region’s top 25 women in business in 2017.

Jeff Smedsrud ’81 (mass communications and American studies) has been a serial entrepreneur for more than 35 years. He has built and grown health insurance marketing and business companies and served as a health care reform advocate. He has provided expert testimony on health care issues before national and state legislative committees and is frequently quoted in the media on topics related to health reform. He was also the founder of the National Association of State Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans (NASCHIP), which helped sponsor high-risk pool programs in his home state of Minnesota and beyond, assisting those denied health insurance for medical reasons. Jeff’s career has taken him from writing news releases about health insurance, to forming marketing agencies that sell insurance, to launching technology-enabled insurance carriers, all the while retaining focus on improving health insurance access for self-employed individuals and those without coverage. He has sold five businesses to publicly traded companies. Some of the many businesses, non-profits and groups he has founded or played a major role in are Pivot Health, The IHC Group, HEAR US – Health Equity Across Rural U.S., American Independence Corporation, The Colon Cancer Coalition, and others. He is an early-stage investor in several InsureTech companies and is a senior advisor to several emerging companies in Guatemala that seek to enrich and empower the lives of its poorest citizens.

Young Alum

Robert Haas ’09 (economics), a quantitative development manager at US Bancorp Corporation in Minneapolis, manages a group of quantitative analysts. He leads them in building, testing, and implementing a variety of econometric models used in forecasting asset and liability cash flows for total bank interest rate risk, net interest income, risk weighted assets, and market value of portfolio equity analysis. These models are also utilized in the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review stress test submitted annually to the Federal Reserve Bank. Robert meets with officials of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Bank to present and defend US Bancorp’s models and financial stability. Robert’s work is of paramount importance to US Bancorp.

Outstanding Service

Scott Nelson ’74 (accounting) has continued to serve MSUM students through his roles at the MSUM Foundation and his support of the university. Scott has served many years on the Foundation Board and eagerly took on responsibility as board president from 2014 to 2016. During his time serving, the board stepped up fundraising responsibilities and undertook a comprehensive strategic planning process. Scott has recruited and sought out support and involvement from other alumni, especially in Arizona where his wife Barbara and he reside. Apart from his contributions to MSUM, Scott was the founding shareholder in Laney’s Inc., a PHVACE firm based in Fargo, and the CEO of E+C2 Holdings in Tempe, Arizona. Scott began his career working as a CPA in public practice in Fargo. He has since directed his energy toward consulting and investing in small businesses. He has been actively involved in the leadership of companies engaged in catering and event planning, software development, medical imaging, real estate development, construction and the home service business. Throughout his career, he diligently pursued his personal mission of creating great jobs for great employees. Scott continues to encourage others to attend and support MSUM events, both on campus and elsewhere. The Nelsons host an Arizona Dragons gathering every year, and he serves on the campaign steering committee. Over the years, he has pledged significant time, talent and resources in support of MSUM and its students through scholarships, building projects and more.