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Visit MankatoCity Center PartnershipGreenSeam
 

Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. exists to intentionally develop the regional center by promoting, supporting and serving as a catalyst for economic development through business growth, retention and attraction; talent growth, retention and attraction; regional livability and advocacy of the marketplace. Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. is comprised of three affiliates organizations; Greater Mankato Growth, the regional chamber of commerce and economic development organization; Visit Mankato, the local convention and visitor's bureau; and City Center Partnership, a downtown development organization.

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EXECUTIVE TEAM

 


Jonathan Zierdt
President & CEO
Greater Mankato Growth, Inc.
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Jonathan Zierdt has served the Greater Mankato community since 2004, initially as the Executive Director of the Greater Mankato Economic Development Corporation and then since 2007 as the President & CEO of Greater Mankato Growth, Inc.  (formed in 2007 from a merger of the Greater Mankato Chamber of Commerce and Greater Mankato Economic Development Corporation).  With more than two decades of experience in economic development and community-based organizational leadership, Zierdt has been one of the integral forces in the area’s business and regional development. Zierdt has been recognized as a visionary, strategic and innovative leader with a knack for facilitating not only large and small groups but complex organizational and community interactions.  Among his gifts are his characteristic energy and enthusiasm that is infectious whether, in one-on-one, large group setting or the multitude of regular media interactions; his knowledge and fluency leaves a lasting impression. In 2013, Zierdt accompanied Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton on a Trade Mission to Germany, Sweden and Norway. Amid the awards and recognitions, Zierdt has received throughout his career, standing out is two. In 2012, along with the City of Mankato Manager, Zierdt was named the Most Influential (regarding Economic Development). In 2014, recognizing his work and community commitment outside of GMG, the Greater Mankato Rotary Club awarded Zierdt its Service Above Self Award.

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Patrick Baker
Vice President and
Director of Government & Institutional Affairs
Greater Mankato Growth, Inc.
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Patrick has been with GMG since 2012 when he began as the Director of Government and Institutional Affairs. He was promoted to Vice President of GMG in 2018. In his role, he works to support the overall performance of GMG and its four business units (Greater Mankato Growth, Visit Mankato, City Center Partnership and GreenSeam) and serves as lead support to Jonathan Zierdt, president & CEO. Additionally, Patrick serves as a relationship manager working with local business and community leaders, legislators and other influential leaders across the state to advance community policy priorities and raise awareness of the importance of our regional center. Prior to joining GMG, Patrick worked for the National Governors Association in Washington, D.C. Patrick is a proud Mankato native. He graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN with a B.A. in Political Science and holds a Graduate Certificate in Public Management from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Outside of work, Patrick enjoys road tripping with his wife Claire and spending time with friends and family, especially if it's at a brewery, winery or around a bonfire.

 

Anna Thill
President
Visit Mankato, LLC
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Anna has been President of Visit Mankato since 2007. Previous to Anna’s role as President with the CVB, she was employed by the Greater Mankato Area United Way as their Director of Community Impact for six years where she worked with volunteers, community leaders and nonprofit leaders to look at community issues and make funding decisions for local programs. Anna earned her B.S. in Local and Urban Affairs from St. Cloud State and then attended graduate school at Minnesota State University, Mankato where she received her Master’s in Urban Planning. In the summer of 2016, Anna received professional recognition as a Certified Destination Management Executive through Destination Marketing Association International. Anna enjoys spending time with her family, especially more so now that her two sons are older and can partake in more activities with her and her husband. Many who know Anna might be surprised to learn she actually has musical talent, initially going to Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD as a music major.


Megan Flanagan
Director
City Center Partnership, LLC
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Megan joined GMG as City Center Partnership Director in September 2015. She grew up in an Army family and has lived in 13 states, as well as The Netherlands and Germany. Prior to coming to Mankato, she was the first Managing Director of the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts in Coralville, Iowa, and was fortunate to work in marketing for Chicago's landmark Auditorium Theatre and the iconic Chicago Theatre. She and her husband have 3 energetic boys. In her free time, Megan enjoys reading, singing, crafting, and cooking.


Sam Ziegler
Director
GreenSeam, LLC
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ADMINISTRATION

 


Rebecca Rosier, ABA
Finance & Benefits Manager
Greater Mankato Growth
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Rebecca has been working at GMG since April 2011 as the Finance & Benefits Manager. This position entails the management of human resource functions within the organization such as payroll and employee benefits, as well as responsibility for the finances and assets of the company. All the previous positions Rebecca has held pertain to some aspect of customer service. She was previously employed by the accounting department at the St. Peter Food Co-op for more than three years. In May of 2011, Rebecca graduated from South Central College with an A.A.S. in Accounting. Outside of work, Rebecca enjoys spending as much time as possible with her husband and daughter.


Susan Jameson
Executive Assistant
Greater Mankato Growth
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Susan Jameson comes to GMG most recently from Bristol, VA where she was the Administrative Assistant to the COO and CFO of a nonprofit hospital. Prior to that, she was an Administrative Assistant to the Provost at St. Ambrose University, where she earned her Masters of Organized Leadership. Susan also has experience as a retail manager, small business owner and community magazine editor. Although she and her family have spent more than 15 years away from the state, Susan is originally from the Twin Cities area. She has roots in Mankato and graduated with a teaching degree from Minnesota State Univeristy, Mankato.


Kaitlyn Henderson
Administrative Support Specialist
Greater Mankato Growth
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Kaitlyn joined the GMG team in February of 2016 and serves as the Member Relations Assistant. Kaitlyn’s main responsibilities are to provide efficient administrative support to the Member Relations Director, GMG members, and the entire staff at GMG in order to maintain accurate member information and to assist with member-related activities. Kaitlyn graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato in May of 2015 with a degree in History and a minor in Geography. She enjoys playing volleyball, reading and spending time with her family and friends.


Crystal Olson
Visitor Services Specialist
Visit Mankato
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Crystal joined the Visit Mankato team in 2017 first as a marketing and convention sales intern, then as the interim special events coordinator and finally found a permanent home in the organization as the visitor services specialist in June. As a fourth generation Mankato resident, Crystal is excited to share everything this beautiful community has to offer. Crystal graduated from Bethany Lutheran College in May of 2017 with a degree in English and minors in Business Administration and Sociology. While in college, she had the opportunity to escort 23 Chinese exchange students and their chaperone to popular Minnesota/Mankato attractions which kickstarted her interest in hospitality and tourism. Outside of work she enjoys being outdoors, traveling, walking her dog and reading with a cup of coffee.

 

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SERVICES


Jim Santori
Business Development Director
Greater Mankato Growth
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Jim has been GMG's Business Development Director since May 2015, charged with attracting new businesses and helping existing businesses expand and thrive in Greater Mankato. In addition, he assists communities in the region with economic development efforts. Jim served on GMG's board of directors and executive board since 2007 and is the recipient of the first GMG Distinguished Service Award. Jim comes from a long career in publishing, serving as an award-winning newsman for 15 years and 22 years as a publisher in Lee Enterprises and Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. including eight years as publisher of The Free Press in Mankato where he retired in 2015. Jim has experience in innovation and adaptation as well as strategic planning serving as a corporate representative to media think tanks. Jim was graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with both bachelors and masters in journalism. He also had newspaper management training at Northwestern University, multicultural management training at the University of Missouri-Columbia and received a certificate in Economic Development from SIU-Edwardsville. He continues to be involved in community building serving on the executive board of the Mankato Area Foundation as grants chairman. His hobbies include hiking in the summer and snowshoeing in the winter with his wife Colleen, cooking, international traveling and visiting his children and grandchildren in four different states.


John F. Considine III
Director of Regional Business Intelligence
Greater Mankato Growth
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John joined the GMG team in early 2013 as Business Development Resources Manager. His position entails gathering information and leveraging resources that are useful to existing business in Greater Mankato, as well as those outside the marketplace interested in locating or expanding here. He also helps coordinate the visits to area businesses through the Grow Minnesota! program. Previous to John's employment with GMG, he provided information to cities and businesses for six years as Community and Economic Development Coordinator for Region 9 Development Corp. John also served as the economic development representative on the south central Minnesota Workforce Council. John attended Minnesota State University, Mankato acquiring his B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies/Geography and Masters in Urban Planning. John, who played right tackle on the 1999 West State Champion Football team, is a big time NFL fan. He also enjoys playing basketball, racquetball, chess and camping (even in the winter). 

Danielle Duffey
Danielle Duffey
Group Sales Director
Visit Mankato
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Danielle joined Visit Mankato in July 2015 and serves as the Convention Sales Director. Through her experience serving in the United States Army Reserve, she has a desire to have an impact on people. She discovered her passion for the community and truly loves the area and is well acquainted with the community's tourism amenities. She strives to showcase the unique and affordable destination options of the Mankato area to meeting planners and potential visitors. On the weekends, she enjoys spending time with her family at Sibley Park. Some of their favorite things to do are walk, run or bike alongside the Minnesota River on the Red Jacket Trail.

 

 

PROGRAMS AND SERVICES


Karen Toft
Director of Member Relations &
Director of Office Operations, GMG™
Greater Mankato Growth
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Karen has been working with GMG since December 2010 as the Member Relations Director. In this position, Karen engages with potential, new and existing members to ensure they get the most out of their GMG membership. She also manages two GMG volunteer groups - the Cavaliers and Ambassadors. Prior to her career with GMG, Karen worked at Rasmussen College as a Senior Program Manager for the Admissions Office. She was also a Career Center Assistant at the local high schools working with businesses for career shadowing, career field trips and the Career Expo. Karen has a degree in Business and is also certified as a Global Career Development Facilitator. Karen is an avid traveler and loves to explore new cultures, cities, and countries and sample all their different foods. One of her best memories is spending ten days in Yemen in 2010 while her son worked in Sana'a.


Liz Sharp
Business Events & Sales Director
Greater Mankato Growth
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Liz has been working for GMG since the organizations' inception in 2007 as the Business Events & Sales Director. Prior to that, she has held multiple positions with the organization's predecessors, the Greater Mankato Chamber of Commerce from 1994 - 2007. She is responsible for overseeing the implementation and success of all special events for the organization (Business Before & After Hours; Annual Meeting; Business Showcase; Songs on the Lawn; Greater Mankato on the Green; Business Reception at Vikings Training Camp; Tour of Manufacturing; and the Business Awards & Hall of Fame...to name a few). Liz attended the University of Maryland in Munich, Germany. Liz is also a graduate of the Greater Mankato Leadership Institute and the YWCA's Elizabeth Kearney Women's Leadership. Outside of work, Liz loves spending time with family and friends, gardening and traveling. 


Shannon Gullickson
Talent Programs Director
Greater Mankato Growth
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Shannon joined GMG in October 2012 as the Talent Programs Director. She is primarily responsible for overseeing the Greater Mankato Leadership Institute and The Greater Mankato Young Professionals programs. Shannon has had more than 20 years of leadership experience in nonprofit and for-profit organizations and currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Mankato Area Foundation, Kiwanis Holiday Lights, Camp Patterson, Inc. and the Mankato Kiwanis Education Foundation. In addition, she is a past Chair of the Greater Mankato United Way.  Prior to joining GMG, she was the Director of Business Development for Coldwell Banker Commercial Fisher Group of Mankato. She also worked for the Greater Mankato Chamber of Commerce for 13 years, serving in a number of capacities, including Vice President. Shannon graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a B.S. in Mass Communications with a minor in Speech Communications. Outside of the workplace, Shannon enjoys skiing, golfing, cooking, baking, entertaining, traveling, and volunteering. 

 


Joy Leafblad
Sports Commission Director
Visit Mankato
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Joy is the Sports Commission Director for Visit Mankato. She graduated with a bachelors degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato in Physical Education and from Baylor University with a Masters in Physical Education & Wellness Promotions. She has lived and worked in Mankato since 2007. Joy worked with the Mankato Family YMCA and the Regional Fitness Center in Morris, Minnesota, focusing on community involvement and event and program development. Joy enjoys working in the community as a volunteer and spending time with her daughter and family.

 


Joelle Baumann
Special Events Manager
Visit Mankato
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Joelle has been with GMG since 2010 and currently serves as the Special Events Manager for Visit Mankato. She is a graduate of the Greater Mankato Leadership Institute. Joelle attended Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, where she played on the volleyball team, graduating with a degree in Biology in 2008. Then she attended Minnesota State University, Mankato and graduated in 2012 with a degree in Foods and Nutrition and a minor in Corporate & Community Fitness. Outside of work you can find her enjoying time with her daughter, son and husband, being with family and friends, playing volleyball and being outdoors. 

 

 

 

MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS

 


Bridget Norland
Director of Marketing & Communications
Greater Mankato Growth
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Bridget joined Greater Mankato Growth in January of 2016 and was promoted to Director of Marketing and Communications in August the same year. She specializes in brand management, strategic planning, media relations and is the marketing lead on livability, talent, public affairs, GreenSeam and the Regional Economic Development Alliance (REDA). Bridget is a 2018 graduate of the Greater Mankato Leadership Institute and is also a member of the City Center Partnership Marketing & Promotions Committee. She serves on the South Central College Marketing Management Advisory Committee, the 2020 Census Complete Count Committee and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Board. She has a diverse background with more than 18 years of experience in marketing and project management as well as a strong foundation in graphic design. Bridget attended Drake University with a focus on graphic design before transferring to South Central College in North Mankato and earning a degree in Commercial Art. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her daughter and family, and also playing volleyball and painting.


Rosi Back
Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Greater Mankato Growth
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Rosi joined the GMG Marketing team in October of 2016. Rosi was born in Juarez, Mexico, where she lived till she was about five years old. She was then raised, spending most of her childhood in Mankato, Minnesota, where she graduated from Mankato East in 2003. After high school, she graduated from South Central College in 2006, in North Mankato, with an A.A.S in Graphics Production. Rosi has more than nine years of experience in graphic design, marketing and website management, but is constantly seeking ways to expand her knowledge and challenge herself. In her spare time, she loves to spend quality time with her husband, two boys, family and friends. She enjoys cooking and is always looking for new things to try.


Carrie Kijenski
Marketing & Communications Director
Visit Mankato
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Carrie is the Marketing and Communications Director with Visit Mankato. She grew up around the Mankato area and graduated from Maple River High School, then from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a degree in Business Administration and Marketing. Carrie spent many years working for various Taylor Corporation companies, which led her to the Twin Cities for a handful of years as well. Even though she has moved around a few times she is proud to call Mankato home! Carrie has a passion for volunteering and working with the community on various fundraising events. She has been involved with Wired to the Heart and was the co-chair for the 2015 MACS Nite event for Loyola Catholic School. She is very excited to be part of the Visit Mankato team and to utilize her experience and talents to help spread the word about Mankato as a tourism destination. In her spare time, she can be found on the soccer field, at the swimming pool, in the hockey rink or at variety of other locations with her two young boys, Logan and Chase. She also enjoys keeping active and healthy.


Katie Adelman
Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Visit Mankato
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Katie is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator with Visit Mankato. She is a 2010 graphic design graduate of Rochester Community and Technical College in Rochester, Minn. and a 2014 mass media graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her previous employment includes being the director of the Big Stone Lake Area Chamber of Commerce in Ortonville, Minn. and an on-air announcer at KDIO Radio in Ortonville. In her spare time, Katie’s hobbies include nature photography, digital art and designing, spending time with family and friends and listening to music.

 

 

 


EMERITI


Trudie Gustafson
Former Executive Vice President


Thomas G. Riley,
Honorary Emeritus
Former Business Development Director

*Deceased:
July 18, 1953 - March 5, 2017

 
The Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. Family: Visit Mankato City Center Partnership