Three Graduates to Receive Entrepreneur of the Year Awards from the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship – CSB+SJU



See opportunities, exemplify innovation in starting and running a business, and apply the Benedictine values ​​essential to St. Benedict College and Saint John’s University in the workplace and in their own lives…

These are traits that the Entrepreneur of the Year awards – presented annually by the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship at CSB and SJU – were created to honor.

The three winners selected this year certainly meet these criteria.

The CSB Entrepreneur of the Year is Hudda Ibrahim ’13, CEO of Filsan Talent Partners, a central Minnesota company dedicated to helping local employers attract and retain talent. She is also a faculty member at St. Cloud Technical and Community College and a trainer specializing in topics such as diversity and inclusion, cultural competency, and unconscious bias. Additionally, she is the author of seven books, including “From Somalia to Snow”, “What Color is My Hijab”, and “Lula Wants to Wear a Badge”, published by Diverse Voices Press, a company she co-founded. with her husband. .

The SJU Entrepreneur of the Year is Pat Lynch ’88, President of Granite Logistics. With offices in Sartell and Minneapolis, Granite Logistics has appeared six times in a row (including three times in the top 10) on the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Fast 50 list of fastest growing private companies. The ever-growing company will arrange transportation for more than 70,000 freight trucks and generate more than $250 million in gross billings in 2022.

The CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year is Mary Lenard ’82, co-founder and former executive director of Giving Voice Initiative (GVI), a national non-profit organization leading the way in the global development of inclusive choirs from dementia. Since its inception, more than 50 choirs have been established across the world.

The trio will be honored at a ceremony Oct. 24 at the Metropolitan Golden Club in Golden Valley, Minnesota. The event is open to the public. A social hour begins at 5 p.m., with the awards ceremony scheduled for 6:15 p.m. A social and dessert bar will follow at 7 a.m.

Admission is $50, or $35 for recent graduates/I (2018-22). Individuals can also sponsor a current student for $50 or contribute financially to support the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship in its work to support student entrepreneurs and leaders at Bennie & Johnnie.

The CSB and SJU Entrepreneur of the Year Awards “recognize the achievements of a Johnnie and a Bennie who best exemplify the ideals of entrepreneurship by successfully starting and managing one or more businesses in a manner that demonstrates notable entrepreneurial characteristics and achievements while practicing Benedictine values ​​in the workplace and in their lives.

The CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award “recognizes the achievements and qualities of a Johnnie or Bennie who best exemplifies the ideals of social entrepreneurship by successfully starting and managing one or several businesses that enrich humanity or address a social problem in a way that demonstrates notable entrepreneurial characteristics and achievements while practicing Benedictine values ​​in the workplace and in their lives.

Here is an overview of this year’s winners:

  • After completing his studies at Collège Saint-Benoît in English and peace studies, Ibrahim obtained a master’s degree in conflict resolution at Notre-Dame. She is a certified trainer from Franklin Covey and Cornell University, as well as a recipient of the prestigious Bush Foundation Fellowship and an Initiation Fellowship from the Greater Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

She is now a sought-after resource when it comes to advancing employment, retention and belonging – providing workshops and training to business leaders, HR teams and supervisors.

“Filsan is a woman-owned, BIPOC-led company committed to transforming organizational cultures,” she said. “Our goal is to help local employers not only attract talent, but also retain it. In central Minnesota, we have people of color who are diverse, who are competent, and who have the right skills and attributes, but they are leaving our area due to lack of cultural connectivity and networks.

Ibrahim had plenty of opportunities to pursue a career away from central Minnesota itself. But she wanted to return to the area where she and her family first settled after immigrating from Somalia to help make a difference in the community.

“I moved,” said Ibrahim, who also interned in Washington DC “But when I was in DC, I was talking to my friends and family in St. Cloud. unable to find meaningful jobs in central Minnesota, some even ended up returning to Somalia even though it wasn’t safe for them there.

“I had jobs lined up for me in Washington, but I wanted to come back to central Minnesota to be part of the change. I wanted to create opportunities that meet the needs of employers in our region and keep young people here where they can make a difference and give back to the community.

She said her time at CSB helped prepare her for her current career.

“CSB and SJU really ignited my passion for social justice,” she said. “I discovered my passion while I was a student at CSB. It is therefore very important to me that CSB now recognizes my work in an area that I am so passionate about.

  • Lynch earned her degree in management with a minor in communications from SJU. He then held two entry-level positions in the transportation and logistics industry before co-founding Payne Lynch and Associates in 1996. From minimal roots, the business grew into one of the leading transportation brokerage firms flat/specialty in the country and was acquired by a Fortune 500 industry leader in 2006.

After observing the terms of a non-compete clause, Lynch returned to the industry in 2011 as co-founder and president of Granite Logistics.

“It is a great honor to receive this award,” he said. “Saint John’s has a long history of producing successful entrepreneurs. When I watch past winners, I am impressed with their accomplishments and honored to join their ranks.

“Entrepreneurs are essential to the American economy, and it’s exciting to see Saint John’s and the McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship preparing the next generation. I’ve been blessed to work with some truly talented people over the years who make me look better than me, so any credit or recognition I receive belongs to the Payne Lynch and Granite Logistics teams as well. Without them, these businesses would not have thrived.

Lynch also served two terms on the Sartell City Council and served on the boards of Junior Achievement, Catholic Charities, CentraCare and Plaza Park Bank.

“Saint John’s has really been integral to any success I’ve had,” Lynch said. “I came to SJU in the fall of 1984 as a shy kid from a small town in southwestern Minnesota. Through my work in class and the relationships made, I gained a broader perspective and confidence that I didn’t have before. While academics are the main focus of a college education and I benefited from learning from some great professors, I think the residential aspect of campus life in Saint John’s was equally important.

“I have made lifelong friendships over these years and learned the importance of the Benedictine community. Saint John’s has a unique ecosystem that is difficult to describe in words, but for me it has been extremely beneficial and helped prepare me for life beyond SJU.

  • Lenard launched the Giving Voice initiative in 2014 and the organization has inspired and equipped choirs in locations ranging from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to Canberra, Australia and Victoria, British Columbia (Canada). Prior to starting the Giving Voice Initiative, her professional career was that of executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota and North Dakota for nearly nine years and held leadership positions with the Minnesota Leadership Council on Aging, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the ACT on Alzheimer’s Collaborative and the National Center for Social Entrepreneurs.

“The stigma of people living with Alzheimer’s disease is pretty dark,” she said. “It’s about loss and what people can’t do anymore.

“Giving Voice is based on what people can still do while living with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Lenard also served on the Alzheimer’s Task Force formed by the Minnesota State Legislature in 2009. It’s a topic that touches home personally as his father battled Alzheimer’s. and vascular dementia for 14 years before dying in 2009.

“It’s really hard to understand how such a terrible disease and something we saw my father (graduating from SJU in 1944) live with for 14 years could turn into something in his honor that brings joy and meaning. to people through the music he loved,” she said.

Lenard also volunteers with two Giving Voice choirs in Minneapolis and hosts an Alzheimer’s caregiver support group with her husband in Edina.

“I had never really met women leaders before coming to Saint Ben’s,” she said. “Growing up in the 1970s, my experience with people running organizations had mostly been with men. Meeting women of such passion and intelligence as I did here was so inspiring to me. It made a big difference in my life.

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