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2010 Honorees

Since 2009, Girl Scouts River Valleys has annually honored local role models whose professional accomplishments, leadership and community contributions inspire girls to reach their highest potential.

Susan S. Boren

Partner
Spencer Stuart

A partner at Spencer Stuart, one of the world’s leading executive search consulting firms, Susan Boren is a trusted adviser who works to thoughtfully place the right leaders in organizations around the globe. She is a member of Spencer Stuart’s board of directors; is actively involved in the Board Services, Life Sciences and Education, Nonprofit and Public Policy practices; and currently manages the firm’s Minneapolis St. Paul office.

Boren’s expertise in governance has been particularly helpful to Spencer Stuart clients whose boards are undergoing significant transition. She brings a broad range of board and general management experiences to her client work, including 15 years as a senior executive with Target Corporation and serving as president of her own consulting firm where she advised CEOs and boards of directors in the areas of leadership and governance. She also served as a director of Valspar Corporation for 19 years, until 2010.

Recognizing innovative leaders is only one of Boren’s strengths. “Having been a successful business person and leader over the years, Susan knows how things work,” said Richard Leider, premier executive coach, bestselling author and founder, The Inventure Group. “She can connect the dots and get things done faster and more efficiently than many other people I’ve seen.” Bill Kling, president of Minnesota Public Radio, added, “Susan’s enthusiasm and commitment to quality is a hallmark for her.”

In addition to her work with corporate clients, Boren has benefited her community by identifying senior-level talent for major non-profit organizations such as CARE USA, Habitat for Humanity International, The Kresge Foundation, The Minnesota Orchestral Association, Trinity Health Systems, The Bush Foundation, The University of Minnesota Foundation, The Minneapolis Foundation, and Hennepin County Medical Center.

Boren demonstrates a deep commitment to making the world a better place, sharing her talents selflessly, and encouraging others who meet her to do the same. She has served on the boards of Girl Scouts, Minnesota Public Radio, The Minnesota Opera, Antioch College, and The Blake School. She is also co-founder of the Dorobo Fund for Tanzania, a charitable foundation which supports education and leadership development in Africa. “She’s the kind of person who delivers with action, even when there’s nothing in it for her,” said Leider.

Often described as warm and wise, Boren is a positive role model for girls because she demonstrates how female leadership can be both driven and personable. She is admired for her authenticity and for staying true to her values regardless of the situation. “Susan believes strongly in women succeeding in the work place and in all facets of life,” said Kevin Smith, president of the Minnesota Orchestra. “She takes on challenges personally and professionally with courage, strength, integrity, and a generous spirit to make things happen.”

Boren earned her bachelor’s degree from Antioch College in Ohio, and went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration in finance from the University of Dayton.

Susan Boren

“Susan believes strongly in women succeeding in the work place and succeeding in all facets of life,” said Kevin Smith, president of the Minnesota Opera. “She takes on challenges personally and professionally with courage, strength, integrity, and a generous spirit, and works hard to make things happen.”

Gail K. Boudreaux

President and Executive Vice President
UnitedHealth Group

Gail Boudreaux’s experiences in sports honed her skills and propelled her to successfully navigate a career that has led her to the helm of UnitedHealthcare and executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group.

As Ms. Boudreaux leads more than 37,000 employees across the country in support of unified mission, she has never lost sight of the fact that it takes a team effort to be successful.

When Matthew Peterson, chief administrative officer for UnitedHealthcare, thinks of Ms. Boudreaux, a Michael Jordan quote comes to mind: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Mr. Peterson said, “That’s how she operates. It exemplifies her leadership style. The best combination of people will not win the championship. It’s how you let the people do their jobs that matters.”

Additionally, Ms. Boudreaux inspires other women to overcome perceived limitations or low standards set by others because she has done just that herself. One of the first women athletes to benefit from the landmark Title IX “equal access” legislation, Ms. Boudreaux also is a New England Basketball Hall of Famer and one of six individuals nationally to receive the 2007 NCAA’s Silver Anniversary Award for outstanding professional and athletic achievement.

Her current and past community activities include work with various health care industry groups, Ms. Boudreaux earned a bachelor’s degree with honors from Dartmouth College in 1982, where she still holds the college’s all-time basketball record for scoring and rebounding. She has a master’s degree in finance and health care administration from Columbia Business School. Community activities include the Chicago Field Museum, the Metropolitan Planning Council (Chicago) Board of Governors, the American Heart Association’s Women’s Leadership Committee, and the YWCA’s President’s Advisory Council.

Susan Grafton

“She is the definition of ‘you can achieve anything,’” said Yasmine Winkler, senior vice president of product and innovation at UnitedHealthcare. “She is a great example for girls simply because of everything she has achieved.”

Yvonne Cheung Ho

President and Chief Executive Officer
Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA)

Yvonne Cheung Ho’s kindness and commitment to improving opportunities for businesses led by people of color is apparent from the moment others meet her. Ms. Cheung Ho understands first-hand the challenges facing business owners of color and works hard to open as many doors as possible to them.

Ms. Cheung Ho was born and raised in Hong Kong. She emmigrated to the United States in 1972 to pursue a college education. Now, as the president and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association, Ms. Cheung Ho is as committed as ever to spreading MEDA’s mission – to help entrepreneurs of color succeed. Ms. Cheung Ho proves her confidence and courage every day as she continually seeks tools, resources, and information for business owners of color, often putting their business success above everything else, said Cathy Cruz Gooch, MEDA board member.

“She’s not afraid to go out and talk to the community about her goals for MEDA and her business clients,” Ms. Gooch said. “She has gone to the state capitol to talk to senators about business entrepreneurs of color. She has no fear about going out there and talking about opportunities.”
In addition to serving on the board at The Minneapolis Foundation, Ms. Cheung Ho created a special program for young women in the Destination 2010 program: the Young Women’s Arts Group (YWAG). Ms. Cheung Ho has received many honors, including the Minority Small Business Advocate in 2002 from the Small Business Administration.

Currently, Ms. Cheung Ho serves on the boards of the Great Neighborhoods! Development Corp., North Memorial Health Care, and the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. She was named one of the Most Influential Women in Minnesota in 2002 by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, and received the Asian-Pacific Leadership Award in 2004 from the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, and the Outstanding Achievement Award for Alumni in 2004 from the University of Minnesota.

She also received the prestigious Minnesota Vision Award in 2007 from the State Department of Employment and Economic Development, which is only awarded to seven nominees each year for understanding and embodying the spirit of harnessing Minnesota’s ingenuity regarding economic development, workforce development, and education.

She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota.

Susan Grafton

“Yvonne goes out of her way to thank people and her kindness impresses young girls. She maintains kindness and speaks with passion about the people in her life.” Jan Jordet, friend and colleague at MEDA

Nancy Lindahl

Distinguished Volunteer and Philanthropist

Nancy Lindahl has the honesty and the power to energize great groups of people to action, as her friends and colleagues can attest. Co-founder of Creative Strategies Plus Inc., Ms. Lindahl focuses her talents on developing networks of caring people who want to make a difference in the world. She also is an example of how one person can make a major difference to others through their works.

When the Minnesota Orchestra hit a difficult point in fundraising, Ms. Lindahl saw an opportunity, said Heidi Droegemueller, director of development. Ms. Lindahl set a higher goal and others believed that it could be reached because they trusted her leadership. Her inspirational energy and confidence helped the board members and volunteers surpass fundraising goals.

Joel Maturi, athletic director for the University of Minnesota, said he doesn’t think TCF Bank Stadium would have been a success without Ms. Lindahl’s guidance and leadership through fundraising.

“She has the ability to give generaously – and not just financially, but with her time, talent, and energy,” Mr. Maturi said. “She works with her heart in the right place, always aiming to do the right thing.”

Ms. Lindahl is active on the boards of the Minnesota Orchestral Association, the Greater Twin Cities United Way, the University of Minnesota Foundation, the University of Minnesota Athletic Advisory Council, the St. Paul Foundation, the Minnesota Community Foundation, the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, the Buckman Fellowship, the Minneapolis Aquatennial Ambassadors Foundation, the Mount Olivet Church Council, and the Regional Parks Foundation of the Twin Cities.

She graduated from the University of Minnesota’s College of Education with a bachelor’s degree.

Susan Grafton

“She’s an outstanding role model for young women because she’s a giver, because she’s involved, because she’s a difference maker,” said Mr. Maturi. “She does it with a passion and energy and heart, and she does the right thing for the right reason.”

Mee Moua

Senator
District 67 State of Minnesota

Senator Mee Moua was elected to the Minnesota State Senate in 2002, when she became the first Hmong American elected to a state legislature. She is currently in her third term serving as state senator, representing District 67, the east side of St. Paul. She chairs the Judiciary Committee and holds the highest office of any Hmong American politician.

Ms. Moua demonstrates courage as she takes to the Senate floor each legislative session and fights for the rights of all the people she serves in her district. Her courage especially impressed one of Ms. Moua’s community partners, Joan Wittman. “When I first heard that a young Hmong woman was running for an open seat against a veteran legislator, I thought it was impossible,” Ms. Wittman said.

Ms. Moua’s enthusiasm and honesty while taking on difficult issues won Ms. Wittman’s support and the support of others in the district. Since then, Ms. Moua and Ms. Wittman have begun a women’s group called “The Women of SD 67,” committed to encouraging and empowering women to be active in politics.

Ms. Moua co-chairs the bipartisan, bi-cameral Children and Youth Caucus that works to address the major issues facing the children and youth of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Housing Caucus that was assembled to work on matters related to housing. She also serves on the public safety budget division, the transportation committee, the taxes committee, and as a volunteer at Nokomis Montessori.

Prior to her election as state senator, Ms. Moua was an attorney at Leonard, Street and Deinard. She also is a member of the Democratic National Committee and a board member on the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum.

Ms. Moua earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Texas-Austin, as well as a juris doctor from the University of Minnesota.

Susan Grafton

“She’s calm and collected even when there are too many things on her plate. The principles she demonstrates in her public persona she carries in her personal life. She is what she appears to be – a caring, loving strong woman. She doesn’t live a phony life.” Senator Larry Pogemiller

Kim Nelson

Senior Vice President
General Mills
President
Snacks Unlimited Division

Community driven and empowerment focused, Kim Nelson believes all girls can be successful women given the opportunity to showcase their strengths. That’s one of the reasons Ms. Nelson spends time outside her office as president of General Mills Snacks Unlimited Division helping girls learn from professional female mentors. Ms. Nelson’s leadership has resulted in growing the Snacks Division, doubling the size of its grain business over the past 5 ½ years.

Ms. Nelson has found a passion for political engagement and community involvement and uses that to enhance options for girls seeking guidance in their future plans. She initiated and participates in a partnership with Girls in Action to pair General Mills’ African-American female leaders with girls of color for monthly mentoring interactions and activities.

“She lived our mission of eliminating racism and empowering girls,” said Becky Roloff, chief executive officer of the YWCA of Minneapolis. “Kim just keeps focused on where she can help in that huge issue in our society.”

Her strong focus and gentle touch helps her to efficiently align the right people with community goals. “She inspires people,” said Ms. Luger. “Even if they don’t know her, they are willing to follow her because she’s a leader and willing to stand up for what she believes.”

For the past six years, Ms. Nelson served on the YWCA of Minneapolis board, including service as board chair and helping to launch the YWCA “It’s Time to Talk” annual dialogue on race. She also helped create a partnership between General Mills and Girls in Action.

She co-founded both the Black Champions Network and the Women in Marketing Network, within General Mills. Currently, she serves on the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation board, chairing its public health committee.

Ms. Nelson earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations from Georgetown University in 1984. She also holds a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia University.

Susan Grafton

“She’s calm and collected even when there are too many things on her plate. The principles she demonstrates in her public persona she carries in her personal life. She is what she appears to be – a caring, loving strong woman. She doesn’t live a phony life.” Senator Larry Pogemiller

Patricia Simmons, M.D.

Physician and Professor of Pediatrics; Chair of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology
Mayo Clinic

As an accomplished physician, professor, and chair of the Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Patricia Simmons is actively involved in national health policy and a strong advocate for young women’s health. Her innovative work in medicine and research, combined with her passion for teaching others, has made her one of the world’s best authorities on adolescent gynecology and breast disorders.

“She stopped a lot of bad surgery in the field of pediatric and adolescent gynecology through her widespread lecturing and research,” said Dr. Robert Jacobson, chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at Mayo Clinic. “It was her research that dramatically improved the lives of numerous girls.”

Regularly named one of the “Best Doctors in America,” Simmons was one of the first female leaders at Mayo Clinic and continues to mentor others across the country.“ Simmons is a confident role model for others because she demonstrates that she’s willing to go where others have not gone before,” said Jacobson. “She was the first to come out in a new area of medicine and take charge of the issues facing young women. Before her, we didn’t have an expert in pediatric and adolescent gynecology.”

The combination of Simmons’ love of medicine and working with people shines through in all that she does in the clinic, classroom, and the greater community. She has earned numerous teaching and research awards, including being named one of the “Hundred Most Influentials” by Mpls. St. Paul Magazine in 2008. She has continued to advocate and teach others locally and across the globe in under-served areas of the United States, Africa, Central America, and the Middle East.

In 2009, Simmons was named to the University of Minnesota board of regents for the second time by the Minnesota State Legislature.

Her leadership efforts also helped the University of Minnesota establish a full campus in Rochester. “You need people who have a real deep commitment to the core basic values that have made our democratic society work,” said Dr. Robert Bruininks, president of the University of Minnesota. “She is one of those rare leaders who knows what the right thing is to do and the best course of action to follow. She has the conviction to see it through in the face of adversity.”

Simmons has served on the executive committee of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors at Mayo Clinic, as well as the chair of the executive board of Mayo Medical Ventures. In addition, she has also served as elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Rochester, trustee of the University of Minnesota Foundation, president of the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, president of the Northwest Pediatric Society, volunteer in public schools, and is a member of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable.

Simmons received her bachelor’s degree from Carleton College, magna cum laude, and a medical doctorate from the University of Chicago. She completed her residency and fellowship at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.

Patricia Simmons