Minnesota 500

Since 2018, the Greenspring editorial team has found the 500 most powerful and influential leaders in Minnesota across more than 60 industries, including business, nonprofits, health care, and manufacturing. Minnesota 500 profiles the best and brightest individuals, shares some secrets to their successes, and brings attention to some of the amazing people in our state.

If you are a 2022 honoree, our personalized crystal awards are a perfect way to commemorate the occasion. Regardless, congratulations on your achievements and thank you for sharing your talent with your communities.

Kathy Schmidlkofer


Since Kathy Schmidlkofer became president and CEO of the University of Minnesota Foundation in 2014, fundraising has only gone up. Not only did she oversee the public launch of a university-wide comprehensive campaign—the first in 18 years—she also produced the five highest years of gift production in university history. As of Aug. 11, 2020, the foundation has reached 98 percent of its multi-year goal for the Driven campaign: $3.92 billion, donated from 248,727 donors. Schmidlkofer’s role gives her the ability to affect lives through scholarships, medical research and more, helping to fulfill dreams and legacies, and recently the foundation has added a scholarship in honor of George Floyd and has raised funds for COVID-19 relief and support for students, frontline workers and research. Schmidlkofer also serves on the board of the St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation, and she is the former board chair of Tubman, an organization that aids women, children and families struggling with relationship violence, substance abuse and mental health. Schmidlkofer earned a bachelor of arts in business at the University of Wisconsin Madison and later completed her MBA at the University of Minnesota.

Laysha Ward

EVP and Chief External Engagement Officer, TARGET CORP.

Laysha Ward is an accomplished senior executive with more than 25 years of leadership experience at a Fortune 500 company. As executive vice president and chief external engagement officer, Ward oversees Target’s enterprise-wide approach to engage and deepen relationships with external stakeholders to drive positive business and community impact. Moreover, she has pushed the industry to go beyond surface-level diversity and has led efforts that help women, people of color and other underrepresented communities to have a greater voice across all sectors.

Mark Mishek


Since joining Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation as president and CEO in 2008, Mark Mishek has expanded and improved the addiction treatment center’s services nationwide. While revenue has increased 85 percent under his leadership, what matters to him and to Hazelden Betty Ford are the patients. The staff is now able to serve 137 percent more people through the help of additional sites (Mishek has added 11 of the total 17), a reworking that allows most patients to access care with insurance benefits, a first-in-field provider network, research and more. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mishek never faltered, launching a telehealth service that served 3,000 people in six weeks and implementing safety practices so quickly that sites never had to close down.

Melvin Tennant


Over the past 13 years, Melvin Tennant has led the sales and marketing efforts of Meet Minneapolis which annually brings approximately 700 conventions, groups and sporting events to the Minneapolis area. The organization plays a leading role in supporting the tourism and hospitality industry, which is the fourth largest industry employer in Minneapolis. Throughout his tenure, Tennant has formed many partnerships between private and public sectors and has worked with community partners to secure high-profile events like the MLB All Star Game, Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, X Games and more. Tennant serves as a board member for Hennepin Theatre Trust and Association Forum, as well as a board member emeritus of YouthLink.

Know A Leader Who Should Be Recognized?

Do you know someone who deserves to be in Minnesota 500? Let us know by nominating them for next year’s list!

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