Three graduates to receive Entrepreneur of the Year Awards from McNeely Center – CSB+SJU

Seeing opportunities, exemplifying innovation in starting and running a business, and applying the Benedictine values ​​that are central to both the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in the workplace and in their own lives…

In honor of these qualities, the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, presented annually by the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship to CSB and SJU, were created.

The three winners selected this year certainly meet these criteria.

The CSB Entrepreneur of the Year is Hudda Ibrahim ’13, CEO of Filsan Talent Partners, a Central Minnesota firm dedicated to helping local employers attract and retain talent. She is also a faculty member at St. Cloud Technical and Community College and a trainer specializing in topics such as diversity and inclusion, cultural competence and unconscious bias. She is also the author of seven books, including From Somalia to Snow, What Color is My Hijab and Lula Wants to Wear a Badge, published by Diverse Voices Press, a company she co-founded with her husband Has .

The SJU Entrepreneur of the Year is Pat Lynch ’88, President of Granite Logistics. With offices in Sartell and Minneapolis, Granite Logistics has appeared on the for six consecutive years (including three in the top 10). Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Nearly 50 list of fastest growing private companies. The ever-growing company will handle the movement of more than 70,000 truckloads of freight and generate over $250 million in gross billings in 2022.

The CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year is Mary Lenard ’82, co-founder and former executive director of the Giving Voice Initiative (GVI), a national non-profit organization that is a leader in developing chorals for dementia worldwide. Since its inception, over 50 choirs have been founded worldwide.

The trio will be honored in a ceremony on October 24 at the Metropolitan Golden Club in Golden Valley, Minnesota. The event is public. A social hour begins at 5:00 p.m., with the awards ceremony scheduled for 6:15 p.m. At 7 a social and dessert bar follows.

Admission is $50 or $35 for young alumnae/I (2018-22). Individuals can also sponsor a current student to attend for $50 or make a contribution to support the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship in its work of supporting Bennie & Johnnie student entrepreneurs and venture leaders.

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The CSB and SJU Entrepreneur of the Year Awards “recognize the achievements of a Johnnie and a Bennie who best exemplify the ideals of entrepreneurship by starting and successfully conducting a business or businesses in a manner that demonstrates notable entrepreneurial traits and achievements, while practicing Benedictine values ​​in the workplace and in their lives.”

The CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award “recognizes the accomplishments and qualities of a Johnnie or Bennie who best embodies the ideals of social entrepreneurship in creating and successfully directing an enterprise or ventures that enrich humanity or solve a social problem approach in a way demonstrates notable entrepreneurial qualities and achievements, and practices Benedictine values ​​in the workplace and in their lives.”

Here’s a closer look at this year’s winners:

  • After completing her education in English and Peace Studies at the College of Saint Benedict, Ibrahim earned a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Notre Dame. She is a certified trainer from Franklin Covey and Cornell University, and a recipient of the prestigious Bush Foundation grant and an Initiator Fellowship from the Greater Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

She is now a sought-after resource when it comes to promoting employment, retention and belonging – she offers workshops and training for business leaders, HR teams and supervisors.

“Filsan is a women-led, BIPOC-led company dedicated to transforming corporate cultures,” she said. “Our aim is to support local employers in attracting but also retaining talent. In Central Minnesota we have people of color who are diverse, competent, and with the right skills and attributes, but they are leaving our region due to a lack of cultural connectivity and networks.”

Ibrahim had many opportunities to pursue a career of his own outside of central Minnesota. But she wanted to return to the area where she and her family settled after immigrating from Somalia to make a difference in the community.

“I moved away,” said Ibrahim, who was also doing an internship in Washington DC. “But when I was in DC, I spoke to my friends and family back home in St. Cloud. They told me stories about not being able to find meaningful jobs in central Minnesota. Some even moved back to Somalia, although it was not safe for them there.

“I had jobs lined up in Washington, but I wanted to go back to central Minnesota to be part of the change. I wanted to create opportunities that fit the needs of employers in our area and keep young people here where they can make a difference and give back to the community.”

She said her time at CSB helped her prepare for her current career.

“CSB and SJU have really sparked my passion for social justice,” she said. “I discovered my passion during my studies at the CSB. It is therefore very important to me that CSB now recognizes my work in an area that interests me so much.”

  • Lynch earned his management degree with a communications minor from SJU. He then held two entry-level positions in the transportation and logistics industry before co-founding Payne Lynch and Associates in 1996 which was acquired by a Fortune 500 industry leader in 2006.

After complying with the terms of a non-compete clause, Lynch returned to the industry in 2011 as co-founder and president of Granite Logistics.

“It is a great honor to receive this award,” he said. “Saint John’s has produced a long history of successful entrepreneurs. As I look at previous winners, I am impressed by their achievements and honored to join their ranks.

“Entrepreneurs are critical to America’s economy, and it’s exciting to see how Saint John’s and the McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship are preparing the next generation. I’ve been fortunate to work with some really talented people over the years who make me look better than I am, so any recognition or recognition I receive also belongs to the Payne Lynch and Granite Logistics teams. Without them, these companies would not have thrived.”

Lynch has also served two terms on the Sartell City Council and has served on the boards of Junior Achievement, Catholic Charities, CentraCare and Plaza Park Bank.

“Saint John’s has really been an integral part of my success,” Lynch said. “I came to SJU in the fall of 1984 as a shy kid from a small town in southwest Minnesota. Through my classwork and relationship building, I gained a broader perspective and a confidence I didn’t have before. While academics are the primary purpose of a college education and I have benefited from learning from some great professors, I think the residential aspect of life on campus at Saint John’s was just as important.

“I made lifelong friendships during these years and learned from the Benedictines the importance of community. Saint John’s has a unique ecosystem that is difficult to describe in words, but for me it has been extremely beneficial and has helped prepare me for life outside of SJU.”

  • Lenard started the Giving Voice Initiative in 2014 and the organization has inspired and equipped choirs in locations from Eau Claire, Wisconsin to Canberra, Australia and Victoria, British Columbia (Canada). Before starting the Giving Voice Initiative, she was Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota and North Dakota for nearly nine years and held leadership positions with the Minnesota Leadership Council on Aging, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the ACT on Alzheimer’s Collaborative and the National Center for social entrepreneurs.

“The stigma of people living with Alzheimer’s is pretty dark,” she said. “It’s about loss and what people can no longer do.

“Giving Voice is based on what else people with Alzheimer’s can do.”

Lenard was also a member of the Alzheimer’s Working Group established by the Minnesota State Legislature in 2009. It’s an issue that affects her personally, as her father battled Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia for 14 years before passing in 2009.

“It’s really hard to understand how such a terrible disease and something that my father (who graduated from SJU in 1944) had to live with for 14 years could become something in his honor that brought people together through music, whom he loved brings joy and meaning. ” She said.

Lenard also volunteers in two Giving Voice choirs in Minneapolis and runs a support group for Alzheimer’s carers with her husband in Edina.

“Before I came to Saint Ben’s, I had never really met female leaders,” she said. “Growing up in the 1970s, my experience was mostly with men running organizations. Meeting women with such passion and intelligence as I have here has been so inspiring to me. It made a huge difference in my life.”

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