October 2020 CHRLS Centerpoint Alumni Newsletter

Greetings from Professor John Budd

John Budd Headshot

Greetings, HRIR Alumni! I hope this message finds you well in these unusual times. Pivoting to remote teaching in the middle of the spring term resulted in a semester unlike any we’ve ever seen. It’s hard to believe we’re almost halfway through another unusual semester, but rest assured that we’ve all risen to the occasion. We welcomed another outstanding class of new MHRIR students this fall, our staff have been working hard to make them feel welcome and connected, and our faculty have innovated to deliver high-quality, engaging instruction primarily virtually but also in-person. I’m particularly proud of all of our Master’s and doctoral students for being so resilient during these turbulent times. 

It’s quite a year to mark the 75th anniversary of the Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies (formerly known as the Industrial Relations Center). The Center has been very good to me, and hopefully you feel it was an important launching point for you. To celebrate this important milestone, my wife Gwen and I are very excited to make a lead $10,000 gift toward a new “75th Anniversary CHRLS Social Justice Fund,” and we invite you to join us in supporting the Fund

This stems from our desire to do something special for the Center, and emphasizing social justice connects this anniversary with the moment we’re in. This Fund celebrates the social justice contributions of CHRLS faculty, staff, students and alumni; more information on our history can be found here. But knowing there is much more to be done, I hope this Fund also symbolically reminds us of the importance of social justice into the future, while also concretely providing funds for student fellowships and other initiatives.

I understand that these are challenging times for many, but if you are able, I invite you to join me and Gwen with a gift or a pledge to the 75th Anniversary CHRLS Social Justice Fund

It’s unfortunate that we aren’t able to celebrate the 75th anniversary in person, but I look forward to the day we can welcome you back to campus, and that will call for its own celebration! 

John Budd
Industrial Relations Land Grant Chair & Professor
Department of Work and Organizations

75th Anniversary CHRLS Social Justice Fund
Thanks to a generous lead gift from Professor John Budd and his wife, Gwen, the CHRLS is pleased to launch the first philanthropic effort within the Carlson School to actively recognize social justice work with the creation of the “75th Anniversary CHRLS Social Justice Fund.” This fund is being flexibly designed to allow program leaders to tailor specific expenditures most effectively as needs change and will include fellowship support to recruit outstanding Master's students, including those from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, as well as initiatives that we can't currently foresee. You are invited to join John and Gwen Budd in this important effort by making a gift or pledge now, and will find more information about the initiative here.
Help Us Capture 75 Years of Excellence!
2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies (formerly known as the Industrial Relations Center). While we won't be able to gather in person to celebrate this momentous milestone, we'd love to hear from you nonetheless! We are collecting "75 Reasons to Celebrate the CHRLS" and hope you will take a few minutes to fill out this survey. Feel free to answer any, or all, of the questions. We would love to receive your responses before October 28. Thanks for sharing your memories!!

75th Anniversary CHRLS

Welcome, New Alumni Board Members!  
The CHRLS Alumni Association is pleased to welcome seven new members to its Board of Directors: Jessica Hooper, Michael Jacobs, Sarah Merkle, Crystal Sequeira, Jodell Swenson, Melissa Weisse, and Lindsay Wenzel. We also welcome back and thank our 14 returning members: Josh Arbit, Heather Besikof, Mary Kate Bisek, Kevin Brennan, Melissa Bryan, Melis Candir, Leo Cardoso, Jon Cermak, Kelly Dahlman, Kelsy Martin, Francis Sadac, Padma Tamma, Rachel Yates, and Lisa Zajac. Read the full story here.

Georgie Herman


Georgianna E. Herman – 1931 – 2020
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the death of Georgie Herman, the beloved IRC librarian who served students in the HRIR program from 1953 to 2001. She made an important and lasting impact on our students, and is fondly remembered by many.


Nick Christenson

Mentor Mondays to Kick off With October 19 Event 
2020 has brought numerous challenges as well as many opportunities to engage differently as HR students and professionals. The CHRLS Alumni Association has operated no differently, pushing ourselves to find new ways to connect current students and alumni. One of the innovations we will be implementing this year is a virtual speaker series called Mentor Mondays, which will be held monthly for approximately 45 minutes. The first presentation in our Mentor Monday series will feature Nick Christenson, '06 MA-HRIR, VP of HR for the Off-road Vehicles and Snow businesses at Polaris Inc., on Monday, October 19th at 12:00pm CST and is open to both current students and alumni of the HRIR program. More details may be found here.  

HR Tomorrow Conference to be Held Virtually On April 23
Mark your calendars to join us for the 41st annual HR Tomorrow Conference, HRReimagined, which will be held virtually on Friday, April 23, 2021. The popular professional development event for HR practitioners will offer a half-day or full-day option, and will focus on Embracing COVID Learnings #workdifferent and Equitable Outcomes #DEI. Interested in sharing your expertise with conference attendees? The Request for Speaker Proposals is now open; please submit your application before December 1.

HR Tomorrow 2021

Making Moves and Fulfilling Dreams

Jessica Hooper Headshot

Excited to join the CHRLS Alumni Board as an opportunity to give back to the community and help out current students, Jessica Hooper, ’14 MA-HRIR, shares her thoughts about her journey after graduating from the program.



Jeff and Renee CHRLS

Connecting with Alumni: Jeff Wehling and Renee Konzelman
Keeping in touch with our alumni after graduation is an important goal of ours. Each alum’s unique stories inspire us as we also look ahead to learning from our future graduates. We connected recently with alumna Renee Konzelman, ’05 MA-HRIR, and alumnus Jeff Wehling, ’00 MA-HRIR.


All Roads Lead Home for Alumna Sandy Fiechtner

Sandy Fiechntner

We all have our own journeys and experiences, but one thing we can agree on is that there’s no place like home. Alumna Sandy Fiechtner, ’87 MA-IR, shares the inspiring journey of how her career led her from her home state of North Dakota, to New York City, across the globe, and back again.

New Degree Offers Streamlined Path for HR Professional Studies 
An exciting new offering this fall aims to engage undergraduate students interested in pursuing both a BSB and a Master's in HRIR. The integrated Bachelor of Science in Business (BSB) and Master of Human Resources and Industrial Relations (MHRIR) program is designed for academically talented Carlson School students to obtain both undergraduate and master's degrees in less time (5 years) than it would traditionally take to earn both degrees independently (6 years). This program offers several benefits:

  • Streamlined admissions from the undergraduate to the graduate program
  • Flexibility in fulfilling required courses for both degrees during the senior year
  • A quicker move to more strategic HR positions in the job market

Four Long-Time CHRLS Staff Members to Retire This Fall
Four CHRLS staff members with a combined 120 years of service to the University of Minnesota will be retiring this fall: Jennifer Clement, Howard Kling, Anne Obst, and Susan Suchy. Read more about their careers and what they’ll miss most about their time at the U.

CHRLS Retirees

DRIVEN. The Campaign for the Carlson School

Alumnus Gives Back After Rewarding Career

Ray Julson

Looking back on his rewarding and satisfying HR career with ExxonMobil, Ray Julson, '80 MA-IR, can trace his success, in part, to the life-changing decision he made to attend the University of Minnesota for graduate school. The 1980 alumnus of the MA-IR program originally thought he’d be a Wisconsin Badger, but a chance comment from his undergraduate psychology advisor led him to consider the Carlson School for his graduate work, and the Minnesota native never looked back.


Julie Fraunhoffer

The Joy of Giving Back
Alumna Julie (Skavanger) Fraunhoffer, ’07 MA-HRIR, looks back fondly on her time at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. “My two years in the MA-HRIR program were some of my favorite years,” she recalls. “I am where I am today because of the program. It’s a real gem. It opened doors to really amazing opportunities.”


“I’m Not Throwing Away My Shot!” 

Russ Lee

Alumnus Russ Lee, ’14 MA-HRIR, shares how his experience in the HRIR program taught him much of the essential skills he uses in his daily career, and he expresses gratitude to his peers for their positive impact on his life. These valuable experiences motivate him to give back to the program.

Want to get the latest news from the CHRLS? Wondering who the next 1st Tuesday speaker will be? Interested in seeing photos from campus? Stay connected with your alma mater by following our social media sites:​

  • LinkedIn - find our group (Carlson School of Management - HRIR) here 
  • Facebook - find our page here
  • Twitter - find our feed here
  • HRIR Blog - find our blog here and sign up to follow it (in the bottom right-hand corner of the page)
  • Shay Curry, ’08, is a director-HRBP North America finance and marketplace operations at Nike
  • Maria Fico, ‘11, is a senior HR business partner at Del Monte Foods
  • Adam Kahle, ’06, is an executive compensation lead at Takeda
  • Leander LeSure, '95, is Chief People Officer at StockX
  • Francis Sadac, ‘97, is a training leader at the University of Washington
  • Monica Sauls, ’02, is chief human resources officer at Bojangles, Inc.
  • Kelly Slieter, ’98, is chief human resources officer at AdvanSix
  • Michelle Steen, ’92, is a human resources director at Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery