Hector Ruiz
La Fresca, Costa Blanca Bistro, Café Ena, Rincon 38

Not all of our Twin Cities chef/restaurant owners are publicity hungry, tweeting and Instagramming to the world. Take Hector Ruiz, whose creative energy and culinary talent are the quiet force behind four Minneapolis restaurants that each has a unique identity and menu. Ruiz’s star is rising as he continues to satisfy customers with his well-crafted cuisine and amiable spaces. Born in Mexico and formally trained in France, Ruiz’s fourth spot, Costa Blanca, a tapas restaurant on Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis, is a lovely space for a memorable and tasty evening out.

Jeff Bolton
Vice-President/CEO, Mayo Clinic;
President, Rochester Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency Board

Jeff Bolton wears two very big hats in Rochester: that of the Mayo Clinic's chief administrative officer, and president of the Destination Medical Center board in charge of economic development. That means he's not only steering the clinic's own efforts at business development, but also the massive multibillion DMC project. Bolton announced in March that $298 million in private investment had been landed for the DMC effort—a level triggering state funding. That gotal will grow in 2018 with the groundbreaking of a new Discovery Square medical office building.

Jimmy Butler
Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Minnesota Timberwolves

NBA fans and analysts across the board were astonished this summer when the Timberwolves upstaged the league’s draft day, trading away two of its lesser guards for Jimmy Butler, arguably one of the greatest players in the game today. Factoring in the Target Center’s recent $140 million renovation and a team rebrand (which included a new logo and jerseys), the Timberwolves organization is betting big on a turnaround—and its first trip to the playoffs in 13 seasons.

Jennifer Smith
Innovative Office Solutions

Jennifer Smith has grown Innovative Office Solutions into one of the largest independent office supply companies in the nation since she co-founded it in 2001, growing it to more than $100 million in annual revnue. Despite the industry’s 5 to 7 percent annual contraction, Smith has achieved a 94 percent growth rate over three consecutive years, and has secured partnerships with the University of Minnesota and many Minnesota sports teams. This growth placed Innovative on the 2017’s Inc. 5000 fastest-growing privately held companies list for the past nine years. To maintain such a pace, Smith will need to keep thinking outside the box.

Scott Ward
Cardiovascular Systems Inc.

Scott Ward spent nearly three decades working for med-tech giant Medtronic, holding several senior leadership positions. Since 2013, he’s been a managing director with Bloomington-based SightLine Partners, a venture capital and private equity firm investing in med-tech and health care companies. In 2015 he was tapped as interim CEO for New Brighton-based Cardiovascular Systems Inc.; the job became permanent in 2016 after longtime CEO David Martin died of cancer. Ward has been leading a turnaround of CSI, getting the company into better financial shape by growing revenue and cutting losses. For fiscal 2017, revenue was up 15 percent, to $204.9 million.

Kweilin Ellingrud
Partner/Minneapolis Office Leader
McKinsey & Co.

Kweilin Ellingrud, leader of McKinsey’s Minneapolis office, is known around the country and the world as the business consulting firm’s preeminent voice and researcher on gender equality. Indeed, her work for the McKinsey Global Institute found that 40 of the 95 countries analyzed have high or extremely high levels of gender inequality on at least half of 15 indicators, both economic and social. In 2018, she’ll be focusing on her newest challenge as a co-leader of the firm’s lean-management practice in North America.

Tim Walz
U.S. House (MN-1)

When Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Sen. Amy Klobuchar both announced they wouldn’t run for governor in 2018, the doors were blown wide open for other DFL candidates. Among the early frontrunners was Rep. Tim Walz. The teacher-turned-congressman is a quiet consensus-builder from a purplish district in southern Minnesota—a weak spot for the DFL in recent years. His success in Congressional District 1, where Donald Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 15 points, is no doubt why he’s received a number of high-profile endorsements in his gubernatorial bid—from fellow congressman Collin Peterson to former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to the son of progressive icon Paul Wellstone.


Fiona McCrae
Graywolf Press

Long before 2017, Graywolf Press had established itself as one of the world’s pre-eminent publishers. Yet in guiding the nonprofit, which has amassed a seemingly endless series of awards and accolades, Fiona McCrae has clearly reached a new level. Graywolf author Claudia Rankine won the National Book Critics’ Circle award for poetry, Diane Seuss’ volume was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Maggie Nelson won the National Book Critics’ Circle award for criticism, Tracy K. Smith was named U.S. Poet Laureate, and three Graywolf books are among those competing for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Pick up a Graywolf book—you can’t go wrong.

Dan Oberpriller
North Bay Cos.

To say Daniel Oberpriller is busy would be an understatement. He co-founded (2005) and co-owned Minneapolis-based CPM Companies, which emerged in recent years as one of the busiest apartment developers in town. Now Oberpriller has started a new firm: Minneapolis-based North Bay Companies, focused on development and property management. (CPM is unwinding, but will continue projects under construction and in the pipeline.) At North Bay, Oberpriller will be looking to develop “boutique” multifamily, mixed-use and hotel properties.

James Dayton
James Dayton Design Ltd.

James Dayton started his career working in the office of Frank Gehry, the Los Angeles-based “starchitect,” before founding his own Minneapolis-based firm in 1997. Dayton has done a wide range of projects including condos (Bookmen Lofts, Bookmen Stacks) and commercial work (headquarters and warehouse for The Creative Company, based in Mankato), but he’s perhaps best known for his acumen for arts-related projects. The local list includes the MacPhail Center for Music, the Highpoint Center for Printmaking and the Minnetonka Center for the Arts. Dayton has a gift for iconic, modernist-inspired work, attention to interiors and public spaces.

Gary Cunningham
Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA)

2018 will be a big year for Gary Cunningham and the nonprofit he leads: MEDA, the venerable Minneapolis nonprofit that acts as a counselor and lender to minority-owned businesses. It’s using a $2 million donation from Target Corp. to move its offices into a building that symbolizes economic growth on the North Side—Thor Construction’s new headquarters at Penn and Plymouth avenues. From that spot, Cunningham will spearhead MEDA’s five-year goal to triple the number of successful minority-owned businesses in Minnesota.


Nick Espinosa
Occupy MN, Occupy Homes MN

Espinosa is one of several individuals to emerge from the Bernie Sanders movement locally to become prominent in city and state politics. His activist history dates back to helping to organize the Black Lives Matter demonstrations at Mall of America and Occupy Minneapolis. Though Our Revolution is more of a collective and prefers not to hand out titles, Espinosa was one of several figures to take on a decisive role locally and advocate for candidates who adhere to a rather inflexible progressive mantra. Expect the coming year to include efforts at holding down rising housing costs and reducing corporate influence in Minneapolis city government, an area where Espinosa has some history.

Tom Emmer
U.S. Congressman

Rep. Tom Emmer, who lost a close race to Gov. Mark Dayton in 2010, is hitting his political stride in the U.S. House. A second-term congressman representing central Minnesota, Emmer holds a safe Republican seat, yet he’s demonstrating political independence. He joined Dayton on a trade mission to Mexico and worked with Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar on expanding commerce with Cuba. A big Trump supporter, he sat in candidate Trump’s box at the national nominating convention in 2016. Emmer’s ties to Trump and the House GOP caucus, along with his willingness to work with Democrats, position him for major influence on tax and budget issues.

Dale Nitschke

Dale Nitschke knows the digital world; he spent eight years as president of Target.com. He founded Ovative/group during the Great Recession in 2009 because he saw a hole in the market for data and analytics to help clients improve digital marketing. His client list includes companies such as General Mills and Select Comfort. Today the company is recognized for both its strong growth and workplace culture. Based in Minneapolis’ North Loop, the company has been growing quickly. Ovative had revenue of $16.2 million in 2016, a 53 percent increase from the year before.


John McCarthy
Senior Managing Director
Newmark Knight Frank (Minneapolis)

Local commercial real estate pros have long recognized John McCarthy as one of the top office brokers in the Twin Cities. In April, McCarthy and Jim Damiani (named to this group of 100 two years ago) opened a Minneapolis office for New York-based Newmark Knight Frank, one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the U.S. McCarthy brings more than three decades of experience, a deep reservoir of contacts and a knack for negotiating to NKF. With McCarthy sharing the helm, NKF brings new, formidable competition to the market.

Alene Tchourumoff
Metropolitan Council

As just the second full-time chair of the Met Council, Alene Tchourumoff has a lot on her hands. She took over in June after Adam Duininck stepped down to move into a government affairs role for a labor union. In the last year of the Dayton administration, she’ll need to deftly manage construction of Southwest LRT—which she already sent back for rebidding this fall—and navigate the tricky politics of an organization frequently under fire by the GOP and one that will surely again be threatened with “reform” in the upcoming legislative session.

Nick Walton
Reuter Walton Development

Nick Walton co-founded (2005) and co-owned Minneapolis-based CPM Companies, which became one of the region’s busiest developers of new apartments. Now Walton will lead Reuter Walton Development, a new division of Minneapolis-based Reuter Walton Companies. (CPM is unwinding, but will continue projects under construction and in the pipeline.) The company offers commercial and residential construction and restoration services; the new division will focus on development. Walton is seeing strong growth in the construction business by tackling third-party work for other developers. Given his track record, the future looks bright for Nick Walton.

Mary Dana Hinton
Minnesota Private College Council

Mary Dana Hinton, who is president of the College of St. Benedict, took on an extra role in July when she was elected board chair of the Minnesota Private College Council. She’s now speaking out on issues that affect Minnesota’s 17 nonprofit colleges and universities. She will be addressing affordability and access, which are challenges at schools that charge higher tuitions than public schools do. As president of St. Ben’s, a Catholic women’s college in St. Joseph, Hinton is focused on strengthening women’s leadership opportunities and supporting campus inclusion for all.

Corie Barry
Best Buy Co Inc.

After arriving at Best Buy 18 years ago, Corie Barry steadily climbed the corporate ladder and is now CFO of a company with $39.4 billion in revenue for fiscal 2017. Best Buy faces challenges from online competitors and shifting consumer preferences; Barry has played a key role in the Renew Blue turnaround strategy. Now she’s working closely with CEO Hubert Joly on Best Buy 2020. That strategy includes accelerating growth in Canada and Mexico and ensuring that Best Buy can excel in a multi-channel retail environment. In her early 40s, Barry is well positioned to become CEO of Best Buy or another corporation.

Patrick Talty
General Manager
U.S. Bank Stadium

If not for Patrick Talty, the Vikings’ $1.1 billion stadium would largely sit empty when the football club is not in residence. Since his early 2015 hire, Talty has worked feverishly—about 18 hours a day early on, he says—to grow U.S. Bank Stadium’s event lineup from solely football to international soccer friendlies, motorsports and concerts featuring some of today’s (U2)—and yesterday’s (Metallica, Guns N’ Roses)—top artists. With years of experience booking events for World Wrestling Entertainment and stadiums in Arizona and the United Arab Emirates, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which manages U.S. Bank Stadium, has invested Talty with the job of keeping the region’s world-class arena buzzing beyond the Super Bowl.


Jonathan Sage-Martinson
Planning and Economic Development Director
City of St. Paul

Two major developments in St. Paul are just a few of the challenges facing Jonathan Sage-Martinson. Charged with leading smart planning and economic growth, the Highland Park and Midway neighborhoods will be on Sage-Martinson’s mind. Highland residents have been fighting over development of the Ford plant site, while the new professional soccer stadium in Midway will affect the surrounding neighborhoods. Beyond those big projects, Sage-Martinson is also evaluating how to get more low-income residents into good jobs and which transportation options will best serve residents and the local economy.

David Frank
Interim Director
Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED)

When CPED director D. Craig Taylor announced plans to depart in late June, Mayor Betsy Hodges promptly nominated David Frank to step in as interim director. Frank has deep development experience and is passionate about the city. He came to the public sector from Minneapolis-based developer Schafer Richardson in 2011 with a focus on transit-oriented development. In 2015 Frank was appointed as the agency’s director of economic policy and development. As TCB went to press, the outcome of the Minneapolis mayor’s election was not known, but Frank stands a strong chance of continuing to lead the agency, no matter who’s elected.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher
Minnesota High Tech Association

Since leaving her position as Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Margaret Anderson Kelliher has honed her skills promoting the state’s STEM industry. A champion of the state’s Angel Investment Tax Credit, she’ll no doubt be fighting tooth and nail with the Legislature to revive it, a year after it was killed at the 11th hour.


Lori Swanson
Attorney General
State of Minnesota

Serving as the state’s attorney general might seem like a thankless job, but Lori Swanson does not back down from a fight. As a watchdog and advocate for Minnesota consumers, she’s consistently proven willing to tackle big companies and big issues. In July, Swanson sued phone/Internet/cable provider CenturyLink, a Fortune 500 company, alleging that it was charging Minnesotans higher rates for services than its sales representatives had quoted. In 2016 Swanson’s office issued an extensive report on the abuse of opioid painkillers, with policy and legislative recommendations to address the issue. There’s speculation that Swanson will run for governor in 2018.