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2019 Board of Directors Election

PMI Minnesota Chapter members are invited to vote in the 2019 Board of Directors election from Monday, November 12, 2018 through 11:59 pm on Thursday, November 29, 2018. We welcome your participation, and every vote counts

Electronic voting:

Access to the electronic ballot will be via email link.

Candidate bios:
Candidate nominees are listed below. You may select your favorite candidates by marking your choices carefully from the email link received.

Election results:
Results will be broadcast in the December newsletter. Please contact the Nominating Committee with any questions.

2019 Board of Directors serving existing terms:

2019 President  Janice Pyka (current 2018 President-Elect) (2nd of 3-year term)
2019 Past President Mohamed Diab (current 2018 President) (3rd of 3-year term)
2019 Director of Finance Joe Perzel (2nd of 2-year term)
2019 Director at Large Manish Kaira, PMP (2nd of 2-year term)
2019 Director at Large Sara Swanson, PMP, CSM (2nd of 2-year term)


2019 Board of Directors Nominees:

President Elect: 

              Manish Kalra, PMP

              Sara Swanson, PMP, CSM

Director of Governance:

              Tracie Jacobson, BRPM

              Geraldine Marks, PMP

Director at Large:

             Kimberly Berger, PMP, ACP               

             Ruth Birkholz, PMP

             Michael O’Connor, Ph.D., PMP, PGMP, IPMA-B, NPDP

             Janna Ross

             Alisha Walter, PMP



President-Elect - The 2019 (3-Year Term)

President-Elect serves a three year term moving from President-Elect and Chief Operating Officer (2019) to President (2020) and then to Past President (2021).

Manish Kalra, PMP

Name: Manish Kalra, PMP, Sr. Project Manager

Company: HealthPartners

Running for: President Elect

Performance oriented IT professional with exceptional skills in formulating technology and process initiatives, leading all aspects of a project implementation using PMI guidelines, to deliver best outcomes. Solid track record of delivering service, to exceed business and quality expectations, leading the teams by using accountability, self-motivation and customer experience as guiding principles.

  • Current PMI-MN Director at Large
  • Sig Sigma Black Belt 2017.
  • Recipient of PMI-MN Anna Alvarez Holmberg Scholarship 2016
  • Board Director at One Heartland, a camp for underprivileged Youth.
  • Co-Chair: HealthPartners LGBTQ Steering committee.

Work to strengthen the relationship between with PMI MN Volunteers and role of various committees and their importance to the chapter.

My leadership style is helping the team explore their strengths and best practices and learn self-accountability/motivation to drive them to become better leaders.


Sara Swanson, PMP, CSM

Name: Sara Swanson, PMP, CSM

Company: RBA Consulting

Running for: President-Elect

I have worked in project management for 18 years. My background is PMO management for IT and business. I have been PMP certified since 2008, and have been a volunteer with PMI for 8 years.

I love being a part of the project management community, and all of the continuing education opportunities that PMI MN provides.  My volunteer time has allowed me to expand my network and gain many new friends!

My vision for the position:

My vision is to help PMI MN continue to improve by implementing and documenting streamlined processes, which help with financial success. I want to help build excitement about PMI MN, so that people understand the value and benefits it provides to PM professionals.  I also want to continue to be a part of ensuring people understand project management and the extreme value it brings.

My approach to leadership and empowering the team:

Communication, communication

Listening, listening

Great things happen when a team works well together, has bonded, and everyone wants to pitch in to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Director of Governance/Board Secretary (2-Year Term)

Tracie Jacobson, BRMP

Name: Tracie Jacobson, BRMP

Company: Christopher & Banks

Running for: Director of Governance

As a retail professional with over 20 years’ experience in Inventory and Application Management, I have spent the last three years working in Compliance and Governance creating and executing Policies and Procedures for Christopher & Banks.  My responsibilities are compliance for Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), Payment Card Industry (PCI) audits as well as our Change Management Process to ensure compliance certifications are achieved. I have led multiple systems projects to upgrade key inventory management and allocation applications.  I also am responsible for the Application Portfolio for Corporate Applications along with relationships with Business Partners and Vendors. 

A member since 2014, my volunteer experience includes Sponsorship Committee Liaison to PDD 2017 and Assistant Chair of PDD 2018

My vision for the position is to use my knowledge of governance and compliance to provide oversite and ensure all policies, procedures and Bylaws remain current and effective and ensure that member notification and communication follow protocol for any changes to chapter operations.

My approach to Leadership is to be open and thoughtful. I believe in enabling a team to execute to a high standard and offer my guidance and expertise when needed. 


Geraldine Marks, PMP

Name: Geraldine Marks, PMP

Company: AON National Flood Services

Running for: Director of Governance

Hello, my name is Geraldine Marks and I would love to be considered for the role of Director of Governance/Board Secretary. I have an MBA and PMP and is a program manager at AON National Flood Services with over 13 years of project management experience in several industries. I have been a volunteer of PMI-MN chapter since 2015; started off with the IT committee and became the chair in 2016.

I am currently the Director of Governance for the chapter and if re-elected would like to continue  the work I started in enhancing chapter policies, volunteer agreements that provides clarity and guidance to board members and volunteers in doing their best work in a respectful professional manner. Along with that is my goal to promote the development/implementation of a comprehensive transition plan for all the key roles to onboard incoming candidates.

My personal approach to leadership is a collaborative, respectful style where everyone’s opinion is heard. I enjoy digging in with my team to resolve issues and find solutions to challenges.

I am passionate about the role and would love the opportunity to execute my goals for the chapter. Thank you for the consideration.

Director at Large (2-Year Term) 2 positions open

Kimberly Berger PMP, ACP

Name: Kimberly Berger, PMP, ACP

Company: Digineer, Inc.

Running for: Director at Large

Management Consultant/Sr. Project Manager with Digineer, Inc.  20 years of finance and information technology experience in strategic planning, project management and leadership in multiple industries.  I would like to participate in the leadership of Minnesota PMI.

As a member of Minnesota PMI, I have attended many events.  I have learned a lot by attending these PMI events and have expanded my network of professionals to share ideas with.

My vision is to continue to see the PMI Minnesota chapter offer relevant topics at the events where members can learn more and share their experiences. By continuing to expand its membership of PMP’s so that a deeper network of professionals can learn and share with each other about their experiences.  Leaders use project management, but with the technology and methods being used changing, we as PMP’s can be the change agents and can make sure these changes are successful in any organization.

My approach to leadership is about empowering the team so that they will feel excited for their volunteer opportunity.


Ruth Birkholz, PMP®

Name: Ruth Birkholz, PMP®

Company:  U.S. Bank

Running for: Director at Large

Ruth Birkholz, PMP®, has been a longtime member of PMI International, having obtained her PMP® certification in December, 2015. Her involvement with PMI has included attendance at PMI-sponsored dinner and breakfast events, training seminars, and most recently, PDD Days.

Professionally, Ruth has spent the majority of her career in both the Project Management and IT Audit fields, most recently employed at U.S. Bank in Corporate Audit Services. Within those areas of focus, she has deployed best practice project management processes in various PMOs and Internal Audit projects. As the Director of Governance, Ruth’s skills and prior work experience with assessing, applying and evaluating policies, procedures, and contractual obligations would be an excellent fit for the PMI MN Board of Directors.

Ruth has previously served on nonprofit Board of Directors in several capacities, including One Voice Mixed Chorus and PFund Foundation.  Leadership positions included: Committee Liaison, Governance and Nominations Chair, and Board Co-Chair.  All positions included aspects of collaboration with other Board Members, and leadership of committees over which there was accountability to deliver results and perform oversight on behalf of the organizations.

Michael O’Connor, Ph.D., PMP, PGMP, IPMA-B, NPDP

Name: Michael O’Connor, Ph.D., PMP, PGMP, IPMA-B, NPDP

Company:  Medtronic

Running for: Director at Large

Dr. Michael O'Connor (PMI MN Outreach co-chair) Director Strategy and Project Management with Medtronic. Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, majoring in Project Management. In 2017 I was awarded the Kerzner Award for Excellence in Project Management. The Kerzner Award recognizes a project manager who emulates the professional dedication and excellence of Dr. Harold Kerzner, PhD, MS, MBA

Thirty-two years of professional work experience in leadership, strategy, project, program and PMO management. I have many years teaching project management at the graduate level. I would like to provide my leadership skills with the PMI MN chapter.

As Co-Chair Community Outreach I have started to engage with the PMI MN chapter. I have engaged with PMI at the National level as the Medtronic representative for the Global Executive Council.

My vision for the position is to build a more knowledgeable organization and continue to create more networking opportunities. You need to be present with organizations, academic institutions and other groups to bring the importance of project management front and center.

My approach to leadership is to lead by example:

  • Build accountability
  • Build trust
  • Enable others to make decisions and move work forward


Janna Ross, MBA

Name: Janna Ross, MBA

Company:  Verve Consulting

Running for: Director at Large

Project Manager, specialization in risk management.  Risk management is in my DNA and often cited as the #1 greatest challenge for growing organizations.  Beginning my career as a business banker, I developed an acute ability to ask the right questions at the right time.  Turned my focus to Project Management in 2013, realizing how beneficial this added skill set is to the success of the many business endeavors I work with.

Career & Qualifications:

  • Commercial lender, $10 billion regional bank
  • Credit manager, $100 billion national bank, responsible for $2 billion portfolio
  • Location manager for $900 billion international bank, provided Board of Directors training to clients.
  • Project Manager and Business Consultant
  • MBA
  • Recently completed PMP exam prep course

My vision for PMI MN is to be known as a premier chapter that implements Project Management wisdom that inspires others to invest PM best practices in their lives and their organizations.

Approach to leadership:

  • Encourage smart well-managed risk-taking.
  • Plan strategically to be the premier PMI chapter - financially sound, continually implementing innovative ideas and resources.
  • Servant leadership – “How can I, as a Board Director, help you excel in your career?”


Alisha Walter, PMP

Name: Alisha Walter, PMP

Company:  Prime Therapeutics

Running for: Director at Large

Sr IT Project Manager at Prime Therapeutics with excellent people and leadership skills to drive business value through complex IT projects and programs. Current Direct at Large and looking to continue driving the MN Chapter from strategic perspective, while providing mentoring & leadership benefits to aspiring project managers & to professionals looking to increase their skillset.

As Director at Large I’ve had the opportunity to engage at a mentor level, providing guidance to young professionals aspiring to take the next steps in their careers by increasing their knowledge in the Project Management field. Strong engagement from a leadership perspective, teaching PMP Prep & engaging at student conferences.

My vision is to continue mentoring project manager professionals, expanding their knowledge with PMP preparation and guidance to bring a mentee’s project management capability to the next level of professional. Instilling values that PMI brings forward to set aspiring professionals up for success.

My approach to leadership:

  1. To be an excellent leader, you must be an excellent follower
  2. Feeling fulfilled when someone else successfully accomplishes a goal
  3. Be the first to ask questions and go out of your way to follow-up to ensure those around you share a collective understanding