University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Communicators Forum.

2016-17 Member Profiles

Learn more about current Communicators Forum members.

April Profile: Mike Miller

Mike Miller

What is your current job title and when did you start your current position? I started at the U in November 2015 and am a Legislative Advocacy Coordinator, Government Relations. I work with students, faculty, alumni, and supporters to motivate them to contact legislators in support of the University of Minnesota.

What is your dream job (besides the one you have!)? Third baseman for the Twins.

Where can we find you online? @mmiller404 on Twitter

What is your favorite aspect of your job? I have the pleasure and honor of working with students. Students are the best advocates for the University of Minnesota, both at the legislature and in daily discussions around the state. It is critical to remember we are all here for the students, ensuring that they have the best opportunities to succeed.

Working with them and learning how millennials communicate and what their priorities are has helped me reach more people and improve the response rates within our advocacy program. Listening to a younger point of view who never consumed traditional media has been invaluable. I am a staunch defender of "kids these days."

What excites you about working at the U/your unit? The goals of my communications are much more focused than other communicators at the University. We are working to spur people to action, which means appealing to advocates' emotions and logic. They have to understand why it is important to contact lawmakers, but they also have to feel that it is the right thing to do.

The creative, energetic, and brilliant people who work in University and Government Relations are masters of this. They know exactly what we are trying to do and create amazing products that are used to spur both an intellectual and emotional response.

Working with such a fun and hard working group makes me want to be better at my job and match their innovations.

What advice do you have for communicators at the University of Minnesota? The best advice I can give is to be bold. The University is doing amazing research that improves and saves lives. The students are the next generation of leaders and innovators. The outreach done here translates the research into real life solutions to real life problems. We have no reason to be timid.

Shout your successes from the rooftops! Explain to people why the work that is being done here will affect their lives and the future of the state. Running away from controversy angers everyone. Be bold and own the great work that is being done.

If I could do it all over again, I would: If I could do it all over, I would be more assertive, more active, and be a bit more of my own supporter. It is hard to find that balance in life between what an individual wants and what others want from the individual. I would like to remind my younger self to fight for happiness or else it doesn't happen.

I'm happiest when: I am running. I love to run. The monotony of the steps and the beautiful scenery in the Spring, Summer, and Fall make living here worth it. I always conclude my runs near water so I can enjoy the sounds of a lake, river, or stream.

What is your best/more amusing U-related memory? I once went to an outreach meeting with President Kaler. The meeting did not go as expected as the person we met with had a laundry list of complaints about society in general that he somehow wanted Kaler to fix. None of them were University related. After the meeting, we walked silently to the car. As soon as the car door closed, President Kaler said, "Someone is buying me Dairy Queen."

March Proile: Stephanie Xenos
Director of Communications and Marketing at the College of Biological Sciences

Stephanie Xenos

When did you start your current position? I started working at the U in 2006 and have been the Director of Communications and Marketing at the College of Biological Sciences since 2014.

Where can we find you online?

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving your hometown? I grew up in Los Angeles. My colleagues have decided that my youth was spent like a character on 90210. My actual zip code was 90241, which is a 30 minute to three hour drive depending on time of day (that's only a slight exaggeration). The first place I lived outside of Los Angeles was Portland, Oregon in third grade.

Tell us about one of the coolest projects you've worked on for your job at the U. I wouldn't be a good communicator if I didn't take this opportunity to talk about The Petri Dish, which is definitely one of the coolest projects I have worked on so far. It's a series of biology-themed conversations between faculty from my college but also other colleges, schools and institutes including CFANS, CSE, Design, Humphrey School, the Medical School, and the Institute on the Environment. My team developed the concept, organized the series, and developed a marketing campaign to get the word out. The Petri Dish is very interdisciplinary, very timely, and very fun. It's at Camp Bar in St. Paul. There's live music and Black Sheep Pizza. I'd love to invite all the communicators reading this to come (use promo code "CBS" for free tickets). It's so important to take the critical conversations happening here at the U of M to the public in a way that's engaging and accessible, and I think The Petri Dish achieves that goal.

What is your dream job (besides the one you have!)? I want Paul Nicklen's job! He takes the most amazing photos. Once upon a time I aspired to become a documentary photographer and I harbor a semi-secret ambition to become an avid outdoors-person. I'm sure Nicklen endures a great deal of cold and discomfort to get those shots, but I like to think I'd be up for it.

Where is your favorite place on campus? I enjoy many places on campus and there are many yet to be discovered. I haven't even been in all the buildings! But one of my very favorite spots in the spring is the wooded area just across from the St. Paul Student Center. At a certain time of year for just a short while, the ground is carpeted with what I'm told are small ephemeral blue flowers called Blue Snow Drops. There's just something kind of magical about it.

What do you consider to be a best kept secret about the U? Maybe that it's not a monolith, but rather many different places in one. The University community does share a mission and an identity, to be sure, but at the same time, West Bank, East Bank and St. Paul each has its own vibe. Each college or school brings something unique to the table, as well.

Favorite authors? Hilary Mantel, Zadie Smith, George Saunders, Susanna Clarke, to name a few.

Favorite food? All the (vegetarian) foods. But I am especially partial to Ethiopian, Japanese, and Greek fare.

Favorite TV show and movie? The Office is a favorite, for sure. The Royal Tenenbaums (and many other Wes Anderson films), and lots of other stuff!

People may be surprised to know: I have a very deep appreciation for the absurd. Actually that might not surprise people who know me.

Pet peeves: Rudeness, also bad bagels.

When are you happiest? Riding my bike around the Chain of Lakes or around Nicollet Island and the Stone Arch Bridge! There's also that weekend in late August when being on the North Shore is the best thing in the world.

Before I die, I would like to: See the Northern Lights, ideally in Iceland or Scandinavia. Also, I don't plan to die.

February Proile: Lynne Williams
Director of University Marketing and Public Relations at UMD

Lynne Williams

When did you start working at UMD and become an UMCF member? April 2015

Where can we find you online? @lynnewilliams

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving your hometown? I grew up on a dairy farm outside of Le Center, MN. Came to Duluth to attend UMD and then fell in love with Duluth and Lake Superior so much I didn't move to the cities after graduation like I had planned.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? I think my favorite part of my job is the mix. I get to work in marketing, public relations, and legislative relations and that means the work is always exciting and a good variety. Besides that, the best part is always the students - getting to work with them in our office, partnership with student leadership on campus priorities, and being able to be part of this dynamic campus community. And, I'm a very proud Duluthian and UMD alumna - so that is the icing on the cake!

What advice do you have for communicators at the University of Minnesota? Get outside of your circle more often. It is easy to get siloed in our university system, but it is inspiring to see what other office and departments are doing, what other U of M campuses are doing, what communicators at other universities are doing. We are all so busy and pulled in a many directions, but I always find that taking time to step away makes me a more productive, creative, and happier employee.

What do you consider to be a best kept secret about UMD? That a short two hour drive from the cities can be refreshing and that winter in Duluth isn't nearly as bad as people think. We are tough, proud, and determined. But seriously, it's our research. I'm not sure it is a secret but it is definitely not as high-profile as UMN. UMD's faculty and students conduct amazing research that directly impacts our local community and region.

What do you do for fun? Spend time with my 5 yr old son, mostly playing Transformers and Legos. I also enjoy running, golf, playing piano and, being active in the local community.

December Proile: Sara C. Emmenecker
Annual Giving Program Manager, Medicine and Health at University of Minnesota Foundation since September 2016

Sara Emmenecker

When did you start working at the U and become an UMCF member? November 2014 and joined UMCF in June 2015

Where can we find you online? Linkedin:

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving your hometown? I grew up in Saginaw, Michigan and moved to Providence, Rhode Island for college. I ended up staying in New England for fourteen years and it became my adopted home. Two years ago I moved to Minneapolis and I've enjoyed exploring the Twin Cities. I'm always on the lookout for restaurant recommendations, so please feel free to send them my way!

What is your favorite aspect of your job? Utilizing direct marketing, communications, and fundraising strategies and best practices to raise money for med health research, thus advancing the U. I also love how collaborative my work is, I thrive when I'm able to work alongside smart, committed, and creative colleagues.

What excites you about working at the U/your unit? As a relative newcomer to Minnesota, working at the U makes me feel connected to the local community, which is something I really value.

Tell us about one of the coolest projects you've worked on for your job at the U? While I was at the Carlson School, I created an event called Gopher Gratitude. The purpose is to celebrate donors and increase awareness about the impact of philanthropy on the Carlson School community. The event was possible because of an incredible collaboration was my colleagues in Carlson School marketing services. The graphic identity, in particular, is one of my favorite things about Gopher Gratitude. I hope this event continues to be an annual tradition.

What do you do for fun? Travel and eat. I get antsy if a month goes by and I haven't been on an airplane. I love exploring new places through their culinary traditions, from food trucks to five-star restaurants.

Motto or personal mantra: "Get stuff done." I was known as Ms. GSD when I worked in annual giving at Brown University.

I’m happiest when: Spending time with my college friends, we're spread across the U.S., so it's really special when we all get together.

October Proile: Lindsay Bosley
Coordinator of Recruitment & Communications, Carlson School Undergraduate Program

Lindsay Bosley

When did you start working at the U? 2013

When did you become a UMCF member? 2013

Where can we find you online?

What is your favorite aspect of your job? I love the variety of different projects that I get to work on. The combination of recruitment and communications is unique, but it keeps me on my toes. I might be working on designing new print materials and then the next minute I jump into planning event logistics. I'm fortunate to have found a job that lets me combine my different interests and talents.

What excites you about working at the U/your unit? I am energized by the the pace and dynamic changes of the academic year. It is amazing to witness the anticipation of new students and then follow their journey as they navigate the transition to the university community. Along with this, I enjoy knowing that the work I am doing helps provide opportunities for others to grow and make an impact in the world.

Tell us about one of the coolest projects you've worked on for your job at the U? A couple years ago we were designing a postcard to send to high-achieving students in an attempt to influence their decision to come to the Carlson School. To make it extra special we added confetti to the envelope so when the students opened it there was a shower of gold glitter. We added that special touch to make opening the mail feel like a celebration!

What is your favorite place on campus? My favorite place on campus is the Washington Avenue bridge because it combines the beauty of city and nature. Walking on the south side you get great views of the Mississippi while walking on the north side offers an awesome panorama of the downtown skyline. Fortunately working on the West Bank gives me lots of opportunities to cross the bridge - and I almost always opt to walk!

Motto or personal mantra: Start each day like it's your birthday!

What is your dream job (besides the one you have!)? I would love to work for Disney someday. The creativity and magic seem so inspiring!

Your favorites:

  • Favorite website? Pinterest - I store lots of ideas there for everything from crafts I want to make to restaurants I want to try!
  • Favorite book/author and do you prefer paper or e-book? My favorite author is Sophia Kinsella. I love the feeling of holding a book and knowing exactly how much there is left to read but I do prefer e-books to save space when traveling.
  • Favorite food and drink? Cheese and crackers with red wine
  • Favorite musician or band? Bob Marley
  • Favorite place on Earth? Buenos Aires, Argentina

Before I die, I would like to: Visit every National Park in the United States


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