Member Profiles

Learn more about Communicators Forum members.

2021 February Profile: Patrice Johnson

Patrice Johnson
What is your current job title and when did you start your current position? I work at Extension Learning Technologies and my title is Business/Systems Analyst 1. I've been at Extension for more than twenty years. I started in accounting, moved into selling educational materials in our store, then moved into registration as we piloted a non-credit registration program. I continue to work in registration. 

Where can we find you online? My non-UMN social media handle is @nordicfoodgeek.

When did you start working at the U? Right out of undergrad in the early 1990s.

When did you become a UMCF member? I don't remember NOT being involved in UMCF, it has been at least two decades.

What is your dream job (besides the one you have!)? I write professionally outside of the U, and I love it. I write a weekly food and culture column in my hometown newspaper (print is not dead yet!) and I've had two cookbooks published with Minnesota Historical Society Press. I also love teaching cooking classes, and I currently teach about once a week. I love doing TV spots. So, I actually already have my dream jobs. I always say that I teach and do public speaking to pay for my writing habit (because there is no money in writing), but honestly I love interacting with my students and all the folks in our community. I also love making pizza. My dream job would be to run a successful pizza joint, and continue writing and teaching on the side.

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving your hometown? The first and only place I've lived outside of Minnesota was Japan. Everyone should live outside of their home town/state for at least a few years to give them an idea of what life is like elsewhere. It is a great learning experience and at the very least gives you a better understanding of how to define home.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? I love learning about the amazing programs that Extension runs. Our people make a huge difference in the world. From beekeeping to 4-H: they improve the lives of Minnesotans, they make the world a better place.

Tell us about one of the coolest projects you’ve worked on for your job at the U? While my job at the U isn't technically a communicator position, I enjoy the occasional creative projects that come my way. Our team has an annual Winter Carnival as a way to connect with people in our college across the state and let them know about our services. I love creating the materials that promote the carnival, from promotional buttons to treasure hunt clues.

Where is your favorite place on campus? I adore the bull statues on the St. Paul Campus mall. They remind us of our mission as a land-grant university and they are also as cute as heck.

What do you consider to be a best kept secret about the U? Many people find a large institution intimidating, but I've always found our community to be supportive and very much like living in a small town. People know your business, but they also will move mountains to help you out.

Favorite word? Köttbullar - Swedish for meatballs.

Favorite author? MFK Fisher

Favorite TV show and movie? All My Children, Big Lebowski

Favorite musician or band? Tom Tom Club, ABBA, anything from the 80s, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Keb' Mo', etc. etc. etc.

Favorite place on Earth? St. Anthony Main along the river.

Motto or personal mantra: Always be on your best behavior because someone in the room knows your mom.

Pet peeves: The overuse of the word literally.

2020 November Profile: Ellie Lijewski

Ellie Lijewski
What is your current job title and when did you start your current position? I’m a Senior Change Management and Communications Consultant with the Office of Information Technology. I started with OIT in April 2016, but I’ve worked in several units across the University since 2010. 

Where can we find you online?

When did you become a UMCF member? I first joined UMCF in 2012!

What is your dream job (besides the one you have!)? My dream job is to be a travel agent - specifically a vacation planner for Disney!

What is your favorite aspect of your job? My favorite part of my job is the variety of projects that I am able to work on. They span such a wide range of topics and all connect two of my passions - technology and communications! One day I’ll be learning and sharing about the cloud or storage, and the next I will be working on communications about VPNs, WiFi, or access and identity management! I also have really wonderful colleagues on my team and across OIT for whom I am so grateful.

What advice do you have for communicators at the University of Minnesota? Join UMCF! Renew your membership, recruit a colleague, or join a UMCF committee. Communications includes so many aspects, and a communicator does not only need to be focused on traditional media or have a specific set of job codes. If your work or studies encompass communications in any fashion, you’re a communicator! Everyone is welcome in UMCF.

What is your best/more amusing U-related memory? During my time at the University of Minnesota Foundation we had a super fun opportunity to film a team video. Each team member got to choose a campus location for their intro and I shot for the moon and was able to film in the middle of TCF Bank Stadium field! We filmed using a drone, and somewhere there’s really rad footage of me spinning on the 50 yard line. It was so fun to be on the field since I’m a huge Gopher Football fan and it was a really cool video project for the MarComm team!

Where is your favorite place on campus? My favorite spot on campus is the Nolte Center. I spent many, many hours in Nolte studying during undergrad and try to book meeting space there whenever I can. I profoundly miss the dear, departed Nolte Cafe.

Favorite word? I enjoy the words “spectacle” and “perpetrator” for no real reason at all, other than the way they sound when spoken aloud.

Favorite TV show? I love TV so much, it’s too hard to pick just one! My all-time favorite TV shows are Alias and Orphan Black. My guilty pleasure is reruns of Hawaii Five-0 (both the original and the reboot!) and I rewatch the BBC’s Sherlock every year around the holidays. Currently I’m a big fan of The Mandalorian and The Witcher. (Oh - I also recently loved Outer Banks and Marcella! It’s been a long quarantine, am I right?!)

Favorite place on Earth? My favorite place on Earth is also coincidentally the most magical place on Earth - Walt Disney World.

What do you do for fun? I enjoy going for neighborhood walks with my golden retriever, Indy, golfing, visiting my family cabin up on the North Shore, and I can’t wait to return to the movie theater when it’s safe.

What do you consider to be a well-kept secret about the U? I’m not sure it’s a secret, but one of my favorite activities each year is Goldy’s Run! It’s a 5K and 10 mile race that benefits the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. I’ve been racing for six years now and always look forward to the run around campus each spring. I encourage everyone to check it out next year, there are lots of walkers, strollers, and dogs in addition to runners!

What excites you about working at the U? I have been at the U for a long time, from undergrad, through student jobs, and into my full-time career. I love the campus, the people, being able to interact with students, and the school spirit (Row the Boat, Ski U Mah, Go Gophers!). I truly can feel and wholeheartedly appreciate just how tied we all are to the University’s mission of research, education, outreach, and care. Our work as communicators directly ties into all of these prongs and I can see it every day, which is motivating, inspiring, and exciting.