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2021 Board of Directors Election

PMI Minnesota Chapter members are invited to vote in the 2021 Board of Directors election from 8:00 a.m. on Monday, September 7, 2020 through 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, September 17, 2020. We welcome your participation. Every vote counts!

Electronic voting: 
Access to the electronic ballot will be available via an 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 October newsletter. Please contact the Nominating Committee with any questions.

2021 Board of Directors serving existing terms: 

2021 President

  Ruth Birkholz, PMP, MMIS (current 2020 President-Elect)

(2nd of 3-year term)

2021 Past President

  Sara Swanson, PMP, CSM (current 2020 President)

(3rd of 3-year term)

2021 Director of Finance

  Manish Kalra, PMP, MBA, CSM

(2nd of 2-year term)

2021 Director at Large

  Jacque Ince, PMP

(2nd of 2-year term)

2021 Director at Large

  Marlaina Love

(2nd of 2-year term)

2020 Board of Directors Nominees:

President Elect:

  • Manish Kalra, PMP, MBA, CSM           

Director of Governance:

  • Aaron Kielhack, PMP, CSM, MSPM

Director at Large: (2 positions available)

  • Kimberly Berger, PMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-CDA
  • Travis Lott, PMP
  • Tom Modl, PMP


President-Elect - The 2020 (3-Year Term)

President-Elect serves a three-year term moving from President-Elect and Chief Operating Officer (2020) to President (2021) and then to Past President (2022).

Manish Kalra, PMP, MBA, CSM

Manish Kalra, MBA, PMP, CSM

Company: M Health Fairview 

Running for: President Elect 

A passionate, hands-on, Information technology professional with over 15 years of experience in leading all phases of diverse projects, programs and cross functional teams across the organizational and global spectrum. Solid track record of managing large, complex programs and teams while delivering impactful and innovative solutions in alignment with organizational mission, values and strategic objectives.  Currently working as a Program Manager at Fairview Health services, and an active Board member with PMI-MN as a Director of Finance, as well as serving on a few other non-profit boards in twin cities. Award winning Diversity champion, who strongly believes and promotes workplace equity and inclusion.

(My vision for the position)

My vision is to serve our members, and our community, and cater to their needs in the best possible ways. These are extraordinarily challenging times and one thing we all agree on is that we need to be flexible and be open to making changes when needed. I will work on fostering a culture of learning within the project management institution and building a stronger, more resilient organization that will be able to support our members and our community.

(My approach to leadership)

1) Work to build a culture of self - motivation within our institution 

2) Build accountability within committees to drive measurable results. 

3) Listen to our members, and adapt to changes as needed. 


Director of Governance (2-Year Term)

Aaron Kielhack, PMP, CSM, MSPM 

Name: Aaron Kielhack, PMP, CSM, MSPM 

Company: State of North Dakota Information Technology (NDIT) 

Running for:  Director of Governance 

Senior Project Manager (III) with NDIT’s Project Management Office. With seventeen years of experience in strategic planning, project management, and team building for both private and public sector organizations, I am honored to be considered for nomination to be a member of the Minnesota PMI leadership. 

As a member of the Outreach chapter in Bismarck, ND, I have been active in attending chapter meetings, along with participating in the PMI-MN Professional Development Days and PMI Global Conferences. These experiences have helped me to grow and learn about both project management and PMI by learning more about the different aspects of project management such as the importance of communication skills and expanding my knowledge of what project management can do in our ever changing world.  

(My vision for the position) 

I plan to build upon the exceptional work of both past and present directors of PMI-MN in order to continuously change and develop a world class organization where our members and soon to be members will continue to expand their learning capacities through their sharing of ideas and experiences about project, program and portfolio management so that we will continue to provide meaningful solutions for our organizations, communities and each other. 

(My approach to leadership) 

My approach to leadership is simple: 

  1. listen to your stakeholders 
  2. foster an environment where success is achievable and failure is just   another step of that journey 
  3. know that one doesn’t know everything about project management- keep learning  


Aaron Kielhack, PMP, CSM, MSPM 


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

Kimberly Berger, PMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-CDA 

Name: Kimberly Berger, PMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-CDA 

Company: Digineer 

Running for: Director at Large 

Sr. Project Manager Consultant with Digineer for the past 4 years. With 20 plus years of experience working in various capacities in finance to IT, and then focusing on helping companies develop PMO capabilities. I would like to continue to participate in the leadership of Minnesota PMI. 

As Chair of PDD for 2020 and Vice Chair of PDD for 2019, I have interacted with the Board most committee Chairs and Vice Chairs of PMI-MN for the past 2 years. I have learned more about Chapter Leadership and Global Leadership by participating in LIM in 2019 and have expanded my network of professionals to share ideas,  

My vision is to continue to build a quality professional organization where people come to expand their learning, develop leadership, and project management skills and network for professional relationships.  Ensuring that our members continue to have relevant skills in an ever-changing environment. 

My approach to leadership is to empower the team so that they: 

1) feel engaged in the management process  

2) will be excited about their volunteer activity 

3) learn project management in a volunteer setting.   


Travis Lott, PMP

Name: Travis Lott, PMP

Company: Neovasc, Inc  

Running for: Director At-Large  

Seasoned Program Manager in the medical device industry supporting product development for various Twin Cities medical device firms.  With eight years of program management experience in new product development, portfolio management, procurement planning, regulatory strategy, and team building across different sized organizations, I would like to continue to participate in the leadership of Minnesota PMI. 

As an active member I have attended every PMIM PDD event for the last 3 years, I attended most of the week’s events, including the keynote, and closure speaker events.  These events enhanced my understanding of project management both with new tools and approaches.  They helped me increase my effectiveness as a program manager as well as widen my networking with other Project Management Professionals.  I really enjoyed the different approaches taken by each instructor during the events.   

My vision is to continue to build a highly collaborative learning environment where individuals can continue their growth in project management through the exchange of various tools and experience.  In our business, collaboration is key to project execution and success.  We use collaborative environments to align on requirements, timelines, and payment terms.  This is becoming especially challenging in our more virtual environment.  I am looking forward to learning new approaches to grow my team’s effectiveness in what is our new normal.     

My approach to leadership is to build trust across the team so that they: 

1) can feel engaged in the collaborative volunteer process.    

2) will be excited about social contact through their volunteer activity.  

3) learn impact of collaborative project management in a volunteer setting. 


Tom Modl, PMP 

Name: Tom Modl, PMP 

Company: Paradigm Education Solutions 

Running for: Director At-Large 

(Biography and overview of qualifications) 

Digital Project Manager, Paradigm Education Solutions. For almost 15 years I have worked planning and implementing technology platform- and technology product-development projects. I have been able to develop and implement project plans, manage vendor partnerships, manage stakeholder and project status communications, and monitor and manage risks and costs. My participation in PMI Minnesota has been invaluable to me for learning new skills and approaches to do my work successfully. I would like the opportunity to give back to PMI Minnesota as a Director-at-Large. 

(My vision for the position) 

PMI Minnesota provides robust programming covering all aspects of project management. In my eight years as a PMI Minnesota member I have watched as the leaders of the organization have adjusted and innovated the programming offered to members to keep up with changes in our jobs and our practices. They have also provided many of us with fruitful opportunities to get to know our peers and learn about opportunities and services that can help us  

As a Director-at-Large I hope to support and guide the organization to continue that tradition. I especially want to work with the committees to transition our programming and services to permanently be a mix of intentionally online events to complement our hybrid online/physical events, and therefore empower more of our members to participate in and benefit from PMI Minnesota’s offerings. 

(My approach to leadership) 

As a Director-at-Large I will work with other officers to empower the staff and volunteers to continue the great tradition of volunteering and camaraderie that I have witnessed over the years of attending PMI events. I want our gifted and hard-working volunteers to feel empowered to share new ideas, and to feel appreciated for the great work that they do.  


Michael O’Connor, PHD, MSPM, MSTM, MBA 


Name: Michael O’Connor, PHD, MSPM, MSTM, MBA 


Company: Medtronic 

Running for: Director at Large 

Dr. Michael O'Connor (PMI MN Director-at-Large) is Director Strategy and Project Management with Medtronic, Plc. I earned my 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 

I have over thirty-four 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 have provided my leadership skills with the PMI MN chapter over many years. 

As director-at-Large I have engaged with the PMI MN chapter through partnerships and sponsorships. I have also engaged with PMI at the National level by being 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: 

  • Passion about what I do 
  • Energy I bring each day 
  • Innovation to many possibilities