Every year since 2009, Girl Scouts River Valleys honors local role models whose professional accomplishments, leadership and community contributions inspire girls to reach their highest potential. Biographies are written at time of recognition.
Dr. Meria Joel Carstarphen
Dr. Meria Joel Carstarphen became one of the youngest female superintendents of a major metropolitan school district when she took the top post at St. Paul Public Schools in 2006. She represents a still-small group of female leadership in education. While women comprise 76 percent of all teachers in the United States, only about 20 percent of top school executive positions are held by women.
When Carstarphen came to St. Paul to head the 42,000-student district, she became St. Paul’s first African-American female superintendent. She currently leads 6,500 employees and a $625 million budget. As she moves on to take over the superintendent post in Austin, Texas, in the fall, Carstarphen will leave behind a legacy of showing courage, confidence and character from her time as St. Paul’s superintendent.
Carstarphen earned a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University, a Master of Education in Administration from Auburn University and a Master of Education in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University. She also earned a Doctor of Education in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard.
Carstarphen is a board member for the Minnesota Children’s Museum, Educational Testing Service, St. Paul Public Schools Foundation, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and Minneapolis Foundation. She’s also an executive board member of Council of Great City Schools.
Deborah L. Hopp
Deborah Hopp is vice president of MSP Communications and publisher of Mpls. St. Paul Magazine, one of the most widely read publications in the Twin Cities. Prior to assuming her current role in 1994, Hopp was publisher of Twin Cities Business Monthly and director of custom publishing at MSP Communications, publisher of Skyway Publications and Twin Cities Reader.
A nationally recognized leader in the publishing industry, Hopp is known for her ability to lead a creative staff and manage the business side of the publishing world. She balances her work with time for family, friends and her community.
Described as “energetic and enthusiastic” by Jan McDaniel, a long-time friend, Hopp is a leader who people naturally want to be around. “When faced with life’s opportunities and challenges, friends and family know they can depend on her no matter what,” said McDaniel. “She has lived a model life, showing her daughters—and many others—how to succeed in the world under less-than-ideal circumstances.”
Hopp is committed to mentoring up-and-coming journalists. She believes it’s important to help young people learn from the experience of others. This philosophy is evident in Hopp’s leadership style. Her honesty, integrity and positive attitude make her someone girls look to as a role model. “She always encourages people to follow their dreams, no matter where that may lead them,” said Marialice Harwood, a long-time friend and colleague.
The path that Hopp has traveled has been filled with many successes. Currently, she serves as president of the Walker Art Center Board of Trustees. She is also on the board of directors for United Way, Minnesota Orchestral Association and University of Minnesota Foundation. Hopp serves on the advisory boards for WomenVenture and the University of Minnesota Athletic Department. She has served as national president of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association and on the board of directors of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable, Minnesota Women’s Campaign Fund, Minneapolis Downtown Council and the Girl Scout Council of Greater Minneapolis.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Hopp received the university’s distinguished Alumni Service Award for her personal and professional efforts to use her talents for the betterment of others.
Pamela J. Moret
Pamela Moret is executive vice president of strategic development for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. This faith-based, not-for-profit membership organization has nearly three million members. She oversees Thrivent’s product management, brand development, marketing, banking and strategic planning functions. Moret was named to her post in 2002 and was integral in the merger of Aid Association for Lutherans/Lutheran Brotherhood to Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.
Her success in a variety of positions at two Fortune 500 financial services companies has garnered the respect and admiration of her friends and colleagues. “Her authenticity, sense of humor, intelligence and genuine demeanor are Pam’s secrets to success,” said Bruce Nicholson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. “She is a charismatic and powerful leader who others look up to. She is the consummate role model for women in our organization.”
Women make up more than 40 percent of Thrivent’s senior management team, and only a few Fortune 500 companies can make that claim. According to Nicholson, Thrivent’s powerhouse of female leadership would not have happened without Moret’s commitment and passion.
Moret combines her professional drive with a complimentary focus on her faith. “While Pam exudes confidence in everything she does, she’s also humble and approachable,” said Reverend Rick Bliese, president of Lutheran Seminary. “She’s a team player who challenges and encourages others to succeed. She sees projects not just for the bottom line, but also for the contribution they have on the community.”
In 1999, Moret was inducted into New York’s YWCA Academy of Women Achievers, a group that includes 2,000 of the country’s most dynamic and successful women. In 2001, she was named Innovative Businesswoman of the Year by City Business.
Currently, Moret serves as director and planning committee chair for Minnesota Public Radio and director and student relations committee member for Luther Seminary Board. Previously, she was director and audit committee member of Lutheran World Relief. She also served as chair and director of Thrivent Financial Bank, president and director of Thrivent Financial Mutual Funds and director and audit committee member for Banta Corp.
Moret graduated magna cum laude from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, with a degree in political science. She went on to earn a law degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she was also on the Law Review and Order of the Coif.
Gloria Perez is president and chief executive officer of Jeremiah Program, a Minneapolis-based collaborative community initiative aimed at helping low-income single women and their children. The Jeremiah Program had been active for only five months when Perez came on board in May 1998. Since then, she has played a critical role in enabling participants to secure living-wage jobs and establish solid foundations for their families.
Perez has guided the organization through several stages of growth. What started as a single campus serving 18 families in Minneapolis has expanded to include a second campus in St. Paul. And Perez has readied the program model for national expansion.
Prior to Jeremiah Program, Perez served as executive director of Casa de Esperanza, a local domestic violence prevention agency in St. Paul. She has more than 16 years of non-profit management experience, including executive leadership, program development and fundraising.
“Gloria is passionate about helping others,” said Susan Sands, former board chair of Jeremiah Program. “She has used her own experiences to help families break the cycle of poverty, abuse and negative influences in their lives.”
Described as a courageous and visionary leader, Perez understands the value of giving back to the community. She has an amazing ability to bring diverse groups together and to help people see the big picture. “She has a clear vision, and she really involves others in the ownership of the project at hand. What was once just a task becomes each person’s passion,” said Sands.
The mission of the Jeremiah Program and Perez’s leadership were honored last year when she received the 2008 Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. This honor is bestowed upon U.S. citizens from various ethnic backgrounds who demonstrate remarkable qualities in their personal and professional lives.
Currently, Perez serves on the boards of directors for Allina Health Systems and F.R. Bigelow Foundation. She also has professional affiliations with the College of St. Benedict, the Family Housing Fund of Minnesota, the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable and the Irwin Andrew Porter Foundation. She has held previous board positions with Convent of the Visitation School, The Ripley Memorial Foundation, Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, Neighborhood Development Alliance and the West Side Citizens Organization.
A graduate of Macalester College, Perez received the college’s Catherine Lealtad Service to Society Award, which honors a Macalester College alumnus/alumna of color that has used their Macalester education to distinguish themselves in service to community.
As chief executive officer of Minnetonka-based Carlson, Trudy Rautio is a proven leader. Prior to being named CEO, she served a dual role as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Carlson Consumer Group, and chief administrative officer of Carlson Hospitality Worldwide. She was responsible for developing and implementing financial strategies and policies for Carlson Consumer Group. This included all of Carlson’s operations and brands in hotels, resorts, restaurants, cruise ships and leisure travel agencies.
Rautio is a determined, value-driven leader. She believes organizational success can be achieved by building, mentoring and inspiring collaborative teams of people, instead of being a “one-woman show.” According to friend and former co-worker Marita Heller, “She shines most when she is helping others succeed.”
An influential leader of multi-functional teams, she was the right person to serve as Carlson Hotels Worldwide’s “The Americas” president. In this role, she was responsible for the operation and growth of the company’s five brands: Regent Hotels and Resorts, Radisson Hotels and Resorts, Park Plaza Hotels and Resorts, Country Inn & Suites by Carlson and Park Inn. She oversaw support areas for Carlson Hotels Worldwide, including management services, sales, marketing and distribution, human resources, public relations, technology, finance, and planning and acquisitions.
Former Pillsbury colleague David Magy agrees Rautio has a genuine interest in people and added that her leadership is demonstrated in both her words and actions. “Trudy is a genuine leader and an amazing role model for others. People want to follow her because she leads by example, not just words,” said Magy.
Rautio serves on the board of directors for Securian Holding Co., Minnesota Life, and was a long-time board member of HIRED, a non-profit organization that assists the unemployed. She is active in several finance-related organizations, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Institute of Management Accountants and Financial Executives Institute.
In 2005, Rautio was honored by The Business Journal as a Woman Changemaker. She has received the Corporate Woman of Achievement award from the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Minneapolis Chapter for outstanding contributions to her company. She also received the Carlson Fellows award for special achievement—the company’s highest career honor.
Rautio earned her bachelor’s degree from Bemidji State University, where she was named Outstanding Alumni in 2007. She also holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas.
Dr. Kristina Curry Rogers
Dr. Kristina Curry Rogers has made a name for herself in the world of vertebrae paleontology and evolution. She is assistant professor in biology and geology at Macalester College.
Curry Rogers was part of the 2001 team that completed the groundbreaking discovery in Madagascar of a previously unknown titanosaur species Rapetosaurus krausei. Titanosaurs are the last survivors of the familiar long-necked, plant-eating dinosaurs known as sauropods. Her work, which shed new light on the speed of dinosaur growth rates, ranges from discoveries in the field to working with undergraduate students in the lab.
Curry Rogers has been published more than 25 times in academic and field journals. This spunky professor lights up the room when sharing her love of dinosaurs and biology. “Kristi has strong passion for what she does that naturally engages others,” said friend and colleague Judy Scotchmoor. “When she talks about science and her particular field work, her eyes just light up and you are immediately drawn into her enthusiasm.”
According to Mark Davis, chair of the biology department at Macalester, it doesn’t take a scientific discovery to understand why she is a much-loved educator who inspires students and scientists alike to contribute to the field of paleobiology. “Kristi stands out in her field as a respected scientist and one of the best professors at the college,” said Davis. “She is a positive role model for all girls—and students—because she is a passionate person who isn’t afraid to set high goals for herself as she inspires passion in others.”
Curry Rogers serves on the media liaisons group for the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and is involved in a number of “Women in Science and Math” groups for girls. She has served as a distinguished lecturer for the Paleontological Society and was featured in the 2005 “50 Careers You Never Heard Of” at the College of St. Catherine. She was also a distinguished mentor for the Geological Society of America Shlemon Mentor Program and has been awarded more than 10 research grants.
Curry Rogers’ work on dinosaurs has been featured on NPR, Nova Science Now, PBS, the National Geographic Channel and the Discovery Channel. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Montana State University and a doctorate in anatomical science from State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Sharon Goode Ryan
Sharon Ryan’s volunteer and philanthropy efforts have resulted in millions of dollars raised for the community, both here in Minnesota and on the East Coast, where she has her roots.
Locally, Ryan serves as chair of the United Theological Seminary Board of Trustees. She is a past vice chair of the Board of Directors for Tubman Family Alliance, for which she chaired a $12 million capital campaign to provide abused families with housing, health facilities, education and occupational skills training.
Her other board memberships have included Penumbra Theatre, African-American Family Services, and chair of the trustees for Breck Episcopal College Preparatory School. Ryan also co-chaired the Minneapolis St. Paul Links’ 2008 Harlem Renaissance-themed gala, which raised $100,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Links Scholarship Fund.
Ryan has served on the Boston University Board of Trustees and is currently chair of the student affairs committee and a member of the executive committee. She co-chaired the Marsh Plaza Renovation Project. She also chaired a multi-million dollar campaign to renovate a brownstone dormitory on campus to house Sargent College students studying rehabilitation medicine.
Ryan was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation in November 2002. She was elected vice president of the foundation in 2004 and re-elected to the position in 2007.
Marianne D. Short
As managing partner of the global law firm Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Marianne Short is one of only a handful of female managing partners of AmLaw 100 firms in the country. She heads 19 offices around the world with more than 600 attorneys. Short, who has more than 30 years of courtroom experience, joined Dorsey & Whitney in 1977, left for the bench in 1988 and rejoined Dorsey in 2000.
As a member of the Boston College Board of Trustees, Short serves on the board’s executive committee and chairs the board’s student life committee. In addition, she is a member of the Saint Thomas Academy’s Board of Trustees and serves as vice chair on the board and chair of the board affairs committee.
Short received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Convent of the Visitation in 2006 and the Founders Award from Boston College Law School in 2007. In 2005, she earned her bachelor of arts degree from Newton College of the Sacred Heart, followed by her law degree from Boston College Law School. She has served on the board of directors of community organizations including Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Schubert Club and Catholic Charities of St. Paul/Minneapolis, and as president of the Board of Governors for the Minneapolis Club.
She also is a member of the Board of Directors for Children’s HeartLink, the Fund for Legal Aid Society and Minnesota Business Partnership.