Notable Leaders in Human Resources 2021

As the pandemic and social unrest swept through Minnesota in 2020, it was human resources executives who were tasked with quickly determining how to keep employees operating. They enacted remote work policies, increased safety measures, and extended benefits; they monitored employees’ physical and mental well-being, responded to endless questions and concerns, buckled down on diversity and inclusion practices, and more. Without them, the companies they support wouldn’t have been able to move forward. Our 2021 Notable Leaders in Human Resources rose to unprecedented challenges and deserve big thanks—especially this year.

Methodology: The individuals featured did not pay to be included. Their profiles were drawn from nomination materials. This list is not comprehensive. It includes only people who were nominated and accepted after editorial review. To qualify for this list, individuals must be serving in a senior-level human resources role in Minnesota, have at least five years of experience in their current industry, and have shown the ability to create significant, positive, and measurable results in their field.

To nominate best-in-class executives in their fields, click here.

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Kristin Dean

Kristin Dean

Senior vice president of people, Arctic Wolf Networks
Kristin Dean’s career has focused on building HR functions for newer organizations undergoing significant growth, including metro-area tech firms Code42 and Delaget. Since joining Eden Prairie-based Arctic Wolf in 2019,
Jessica Docken

Jessica Docken

Partner, Growth Operators
In August 2017, Minneapolis-based business advisory firm Growth Operators hired veteran HR executive Jessica Docken to spearhead its foray into HR advisory and outsourcing services. By mid-2019, her division had
Jane Elliott

Jane Elliott

Chief communications and human resources officer, Deluxe Corp.
During the intensely complicated pandemic period, Jane Elliott helped reshape Minneapolis-based business services company Deluxe by launching the company’s first DEI program. This has included establishing employee resource groups, updating
Deb Gran

Deb Gran

Corporate vice president, human resources North America, DiaSorin
Since joining the Stillwater U.S. headquarters for Italian medical diagnostics company DiaSorin in 2019, Deb Gran has been instrumental in revamping customer experience, internally and externally. In 2020, Gran implemented
Ruth Hafoka

Ruth Hafoka

Senior vice president, chief human resources officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
At Eagan-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Ruth Hafoka fosters a workplace culture of empowerment, diversity, and innovation. A recent employee engagement survey had Blue Cross scoring above
Kevin Hayford

Kevin Hayford

Vice president of human resources, R3 Continuum
Bloomington-based consultancy R3 Continuum (R3c) provides behavioral health and security strategies to help companies manage workplace disruption and mitigate risk. Last year, Kevin Hayford helped his own company manage through
Steve Jandrich

Steve Jandrich

Vice president of human resources, Inspire Medical Systems
When Steve Jandrich joined Inspire as its first HR professional in September 2017, the Golden Valley-based provider of sleep apnea treatments was preparing to go public. To prime the company
Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly

Founder and president, AssetHR
Chris Kelly believes that in business, you don’t chase money, you nurture relationships. Following that approach, he has built Apple Valley-based AssetHR into a successful HR outsourcing business through references
Beth Klehr

Beth Klehr

Chief HR officer, Entrust Corp.
Like all HR departments, Beth Klehr’s team has had to navigate through the pandemic for the 2,500 worldwide employees of Shakopee-based Entrust, which provides cybersecurity and personal identification services to
Gina Lemon

Gina Lemon

Vice president of human resources, Timberland Partners
At Bloomington-based real estate investment, management, and development firm Timberland Partners, Gina Lemon has fashioned a high-performing team adept at attracting and retaining talented employees. She has also put her
Sandra Mitchell

Sandra Mitchell

Director of equity and inclusion, St. Catherine University
As St. Kate’s first director of equity and inclusion, Sandra Mitchell has made significant contributions to its DEI initiatives. This work has been informed by the creation of the St.
Kathy Moriarty

Kathy Moriarty

Chief administrative officer, Neighborhood Development Center (NDC)
In her role at NDC, Kathy Moriarty ensures the St. Paul-based community and economic development nonprofit’s hiring practices align with its values and mission. She stays abreast of staff development
Mary Nease

Mary Nease

Executive vice president, chief people officer, Fairview Health Services
After serving as chief HR officer at Minneapolis-based Thrivent Financial, Mary Nease dove headfirst into the health care industry two years ago. At Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services, which employs more
Patricia  Pratt-Cook

Patricia Pratt-Cook

Senior vice president, human resources, equity, and inclusion, St. Catherine University
Under Patricia Pratt-Cook’s guidance, St. Paul-based St. Kate’s has revised its hiring practices to attract and retain a more diverse faculty and staff. This has resulted in a workforce of
Stephanie Propp

Stephanie Propp

Head of people and culture, The Stable
In 2020, Stephanie Propp became the first HR leader at The Stable, a Minneapolis-based integrated commerce agency. In this role, she oversees talent acquisition, recruiting, retention, and company culture. During
Tamara Reding

Tamara Reding

Vice president of human resources – Americas, Stratasys
Prior to June, Tamara Reding was vice president of human resources at Marshall-based food provider Schwan’s. She helped the business navigate through the pandemic and was a tireless supporter of
Amy Spartz

Amy Spartz

Vice president of operations, Gravie
Amy Spartz joined Gravie’s leadership team in 2015, less than two years after the launch of the Minneapolis-based health care benefits service provider. The company has just under 100 employees
Carol Surface

Carol Surface

Chief human resources officer, Medtronic
In response to new Medtronic CEO Geoff Martha’s strategic direction in 2020, Carol Surface led a comprehensive operations-model change to increase decision-making speed, better understand customers, and improve agility. In
Marcy Syman

Marcy Syman

Human resources director, Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities
Marcy Syman oversees strategic direction for the St. Paul-based Met Council’s HR policies, programs, and practices. She supports council staff through values of inclusion, collaboration, trust, customer focus, and efficiency.
Charles Thompson

Charles Thompson

Talent development director, vice president, Old National Bank
Charles Thompson joined Old National upon its 2019 acquisition of Chaska-based KleinBank, where he had worked for more than 13 years in training, talent strategy, and administration. He has played