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Dawn Braa

Dawn Braa is an education enthusiast! She has had the opportunity to facilitate learning as a preschool teacher in both metro and rural Minnesota cities. Currently, she is an Early Childhood and Youth Development instructor and has been teaching at the collegiate level, both online and face to face, for 13 years. She regularly facilitates adult learning for early childhood educators through local, state, and national training sessions. Dawn has a M.A.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Phoenix. She also attended Minnesota State University, Mankato, earning her bachelor’s degree in Family Life/Child Development. She minored in Early Childhood Education and Parent Education at MSU, M. Dawn continues to update her credentials by staying current in the field through courses, webinars, workshops, research, and conferences.

Kylie Cooper
Chad Dunkley, Chief Executive Officer

As CEO, Chad oversees operations, marketing, strategy, and finance, and drives the culture of “continuous improvement” at all New Horizon and Kinderberry Hill locations. Chad received his J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law and his B.A. in management from Hamline University. Chad is an executive committee board member of the Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC) and president of the Minnesota Child Care Association (MCCA). He recently completed a four-year term on the governing board of The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In 2017, Chad was named as one of the top ten Most Admired CEOs by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. In 2015 he was named an “Exceptional Emerging Leader” by the Child Care Information Exchange. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal also recognized Chad Dunkley as one of the region’s most outstanding business leaders as one of the 2004 “Forty Under 40” award recipients.

Matt Evans
Katy Kessler
Katy Kessler

Katy Kessler has a rich breadth of experience in the arts. She was Art Director and Editor of the NU Project, publishing two books designed to support a more positive self-image in women. She is the co-owner of Matt Blum Photography and the co-founder of National Machine, a design-driven tech collective. At night, you can catch Katy performing improv at HUGE Theater in Minneapolis. Katy brings a new level of humor and engagement to Leading Edge workshops.

Grace Kintzinger
Cindy Maher

Cindy Maher is a co-founding partner and President of Leading Edge Coaching & Development. She leads a powerhouse of talented and comedic instructors who focus on bringing unique leadership learning experiences to Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and universities around the U.S. and abroad. With more than 25 years of experience in leadership education, executive team development, and performance management strategies, Cindy has executed hundreds of organizational development projects for organizations across the globe including: Aetna, the FDA and National Institutes of Health, the States of Connecticut, Minnesota, and California, Case-Western University, US Bank, and many more. Cindy brings best practices and an innovative approach to all of her work whether she is working with a team of senior leaders, delivering keynotes at international conferences, or implementing organization-wide employee engagement surveys. Prior to starting up Leading Edge in 2004, Cindy led leadership development programs at ING North America and held a number of senior HR positions at Aetna that included talent management and succession planning for the top 200. You can see Cindy performing improvisational comedy in venues around Connecticut. The combination of her expertise in business, leadership practices, coaching, organizational development and an infectious brand of humor sets her apart from other leadership consultants in the marketplace.

Jess Myers

Jess Myers is a Senior Government and Media Relations Manager for Ewald Consulting, having returned to the company in 2011. He previously worked with Ewald from 1999 to 2001 before spending a decade as a writer and researcher in the Minnesota State Senate. Jess has extensive experience in government relations and media relations in both the public and private sectors, having spent 13 legislative sessions as a staffer at the Minnesota State Capitol. He is the primary government relations contact and serves a media relations role for several of Ewald Consulting’s corporate and association clients. Jess graduated with a B.A. in communications and journalism from the University of Minnesota Duluth. An avid freelance writer, he has had works published in major newspapers and magazines from coast to coast and is the co-host of the Great Outdoors show on 1500 ESPN Radio in the Twin Cities.

Clare Sanford

Clare Sanford is Director of Government and Community Relations for New Horizon Academy and Government Relations Chair for the Minnesota Child Care Association. In these roles, she works to increase early childhood access, quality, and resources for young children, families, and educators. She began her career teaching in a high-need elementary school in Houston, TX, an experience that spurred her to learn more about the macro issues affecting low-income children and families in our society. In graduate school, the confluence of both early childhood neuroscience and economic research was a (good) smack in the head: THIS is where she should spend her career. Since then she has held varied positions in the government, philanthropic, and non-profit sectors, all focused on young children and vulnerable families. Professional/policy interests include early childhood mental health, risk & resilience, teacher education & support, equity, and anti-bias efforts. Personal interests include astronauts, history, and chocolate cake. Lots of chocolate cake. Clare received her B.A. from St. Olaf College and her Master in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. In 2018, Clare was a Women in Business honoree with the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

John Tauer
John Tauer

Twice named the Division 3 National Coach of the Year, Tauer’s career record is 161-42 (79%). In his seven seasons as head coach, UST has won 6 MIAC titles and appeared in 6 NCAA tournaments. He has led UST to 2 Final Fours including the 2016 National Championship. Tauer was the 2nd fastest coach in D-3 history to 100 wins, and thought to have won the most games in D-3 history over the first five years of a career. He has one of the five highest winning percentages in all of college basketball.

Tauer has an interesting background in that he is also a tenured full professor in the Department of Psychology at St. Thomas. One of the only head basketball coaches in the country to also hold a Ph.D. in psychology, his doctorate is in Social Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a research emphasis on competition, cooperation, and intrinsic motivation. His research has been published in top academic journals and he has also written a book about children’s motivation titled, “Why Less is More for WOSPs (Well-Intentioned, Overinvolved Sports Parents): How to be the Best Sports Parent You Can Be”.

As you can imagine, the connections between goals, motivation, performance, and athletics are filled with connections to the building of successful teams while promoting the growth and development in young people. Tauer was a 4-year player at UST, a captain, an Academic All-American, and was inducted into the UST Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. Tauer is also the Director of Johnny Tauer’s Championship Basketball Camp, in its 24th year and the largest basketball day camp in the state of Minnesota with more than 1,500 youth basketball players going through his camps each summer.

He will share anecdotes and research insights on sustained excellence, goals, motivation, team building, and adapting to changing environments in a talk titled “ME and WE: The Role of Goals, Motivation, and Teamwork in Building Sustainable Excellence”

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