Staff and Board of Directors

Executive Director: Paula Sundet Wolf, PhD Teaching and Learning, University North Dakota; M.A. Cultural Anthropology, Vermont College of Norwich University, online; Evaluation Training,rolex replica watches College of St. Scholastica’s Evaluation Institute; Non-profit Management Certificate, University of Wisconsin, Superior (UWS). She is also a Blandin Leadership Graduate. Ms. Sundet Wolf has worked with CCHE since 1997, and her personal experiences with distance learning make her a valuable advocate for CCHE students. 

Program Coordinator: Kelsey Rogers Kennedy, CCHS Graduate, B.A. Social Marketing, Northern Michigan University; M.S. Organizational Leadership, St. Mary’s University. Two years of K-12 subsitute teaching  and seven years of experience working in a college environment; former administration assistant/registrar, career services advisor, and career development instructor at Rasmussen College. She is also a Blandin Leadership Graduate. She has coordinated Empty Bowls in 2013, 2014, and 2015. She is board secretary for Boreal Community Media, as well as a board member on Cook County Community Education led light bulbs for home and the Cook County Community Fund. She is passionate about quality education being accessible to all regardless of location. Ms. Rogers Kennedy has worked for CCHE since 2012.

Student Services Coordinator: Sarah Stover, B.Sc. Earth Science, Northern Michigan University, has 4+ years of work and volunteer experience in K-12 education. She has served as the director of the Explorers’ Club Family Child Care in Grand Marais. She volunteers with Empty Bowls, WTIP Community Radio, Girl Scouts, and as a trained Severe Weather Spotter with the National Weather Service in her free time. Ms. Stover possesses a passion for education and first-hand experience that makes her a positive addition to CCHE. Ms. Stover has worked for CCHE since 2015.

Job Opening: Cook County Higher Education Executive Director

Cook County Higher Education (CCHE) is seeking an energetic, visioning Executive Director to help us expand the services and program offerings we provide to our rural remote community.
CCHE Executive Director is responsible for maintaining a high quality post-secondary education resource center in Cook County.

The Executive Director has overall strategic and operational responsibility for CCHE’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission.

Cook County Higher Education was established in 1996 as a pilot Federal Grant program and is a non-profit organization providing local access and support for students to attain college education and training in the rural North Shore region of Minnesota for the past 20 years. CCHE provides college preparation, college certificates and degrees, workforce training, and life-long learning.

Required Qualifications:
  • Masters degree, or Bachelors degree with job-related experience
  • Demonstrate management experience, minimum of 5 years, particularly in non-profit setting, with strong skills in staff supervision, mentoring and team coordination.
  • Experience with budget and work-plan development
  • Experience in fundraising: grant applications, donor relationships and legislative action
  • Strong communication and presentation skills; oral and written
  • Strong organizational skills including attention to detail
  • Highly self-motivated and able to motivate and enthuse others
  • Strong computer skills including strong working foundation of Microsoft applications
  • Ability to work well with people and institutions representing diverse ethnic, racial, and socio-economic backgrounds and multiple sectors (nonprofit, higher education, government and business)
  • Strong understanding of accounting principles and applications
  • Strong negotiation and decision making skills
Desired Qualifications
  • Significant experience with distance learning programs
  • Experience developing and delivering educational and/or training programs
  • Familiarity with the business, environmental and cultural aspects of Cook County
  • Solid understanding of relevant state and county legislative and political framework
  • Familiarity with Access database
  • IT troubleshooting skills
Salaried position commensurate with experience, health insurance, $1000 HSA contribution, 10 paid holidays, vacation and sick leave pay.

Send cover letter and resume to: CCHE Personnel Committee, PO Box 57, Grand Marais, MN 55604. |

Board President: Dr. Karen Halbersleben, B.A., M.A.., and Ph.D. in European History, U. of NY, Buffalo; 2002- 2009 President of Northland College in Ashland, WI; held academic positions at SUNY-Oswego, the U. of Richmond, and Buena Vista U.; currently serves on the Board of the Cook County Community Foundation; she and her husband Jack Miller volunteer with Meals on Wheels deliveries.

Treasurer: Roger Opp, B.S. Agricultural Economics, University of Minnesota. He retired in 2011 from CoBank ACB where he managed a $350 million portfolio of loans to rural telecommunications cooperatives and companies. Currently chairman of Hamm Clinic, Community Learning International, and serves on the board and executive committee of Art Space Projects, Inc.

Secretary: Clair Nalezny, BES from St. Cloud State University, Management and Human Resources; Senior Professional of Human Resources (SPHR) certificate from HR Certification Institute; Currently Human Resource Director for Lutsen Resort since 2004. First General Manager of Papa Charlie's, Lutsen Mountains.

Co-Vice Chair: Donna Paine received her B.S. in Business Administration from University of Wisconsin Platteville via distance education.  Donna also has an Accounting Clerk diploma from Lake Superior College and is currently employed at the Grand Marais State Bank as Assistant Vice-President.  Donna is also Treasurer of the Cook County Salvation Army Service Unit.

Co-Vice Chair: Janice Latz, B.Ch.E. from Georgia Institute of Technology.  Retired in 2014 from Huntsman Corporation, The Woodlands, Texas. She held positions in engineering, technical service, business management, and most recently as a senior executive responsible for Operations in the Performance Products division. She has served on the Board of Directors for the American Cleaning Institute.

Board Member: Bob Morrison, B.A. History, St. Olaf College. He recently completed a thirty-five year career in human resources management most recently working at Wolseley plc, where he was the Chief Human Resources Officer from 2006 and based in London, England. He and his wife Susan have had a cabin on the Gunflint Trail since 1989 and they now reside in St. Paul

Board Member: Dr. Robert Pranis, B.S. Chemistry, Clarkson U; PhD. Chemistry, Northwestern U; Post-Doc U of MN; recently
retired (2005) from 3M as Analytical Chemist/Manager. Currently teleworks as research consultant. Board member of Cook County Broadband Commission; President of Norpine Trail Assoc., Volunteer at ISD166 with his 3D printer.

Board Member: Douglas Bruce, Retired Continuing Education & Contract Training Program Director, Normandale College; BA. U of MN; MA U of Wisc.; Board experience includes Izaak Walton League; Chairman of the Planning Commission, Bloomington; Minnesota Brain Injury Association; Traumatic Brain Injury MN Dept of Human Services.

Volunteers, Mentors, and Instructors:
Continuously throughout Cook County Higher Education’s history, the program has been supported through the volunteer time and efforts of board members, staff, and community members.  CCHE has seven active mentors (some of whom are paid for their service and others who volunteer their time) plus over forty mentors on record. CCHE pays a stipend to mentors, but many elect to volunteer their time.  CCHE also engages local instructors for college courses and workshops.

Scholarship Committee: Janet Ditmanson (bio above), Bob Pratt, Paula Sundet Wolf (bio above), Jean Cochrane, and Thelma Hedstrom.

Jean Cochrane, Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C., working from Grand Marais, MN; B.S.
Natural Resources, University of Michigan; M.S. Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming; Ph.D. Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota. 

Thelma Hedstrom, attended University of Montana, Missoula; founding donor of the Wes Hedstrom Scholarship Fund, long time resident of Cook County, active volunteer, and avid traveler. Passionate about equitable access to higher education.

Current Non-board Committee Members: Bev Denyes, Barb Heideman, Helen Muth, Carol Miller, Mike Carlson.
Past Committee Members: Deb Skinner, Thelma Hedstrom, David Quick, Virginia Danfelt Martin

Previous Board Memebers: 
Janet Ditmanson
Carol Mork 
Patricia Campanaro (2014 – 2015)
Rena Rogers (2008 – 2015)
Andy Rysdahl (2013 – 2015)
Adam Nelson (2013 – 2015)
Maggie Barnard (2011 – 2013)
Beth Rogers Kennedy (2010 – 2014)
CeCe Olson (H.S. student) (2010 – 2012)
Will Brandenberg (H.S. student) (2010 – 2011)
Carly Puch (H.S. student) (2008 – 2010)
Marie Nordahl (H.S. student) (2008 – 2009)
Bob Pratt (2006 – 2014)
Mike Carlson (1999 – 2006)
Gwen Carman (1998 – 2003) (2006 – 2013)
Julie Brandt (1998 – 2004)
Rita Plourde (1996 – 2006)
Wes Hedstrom (1996 – 2003)
Diane Booth (1996 – 1999) (2003 – 2005)
Carolyn Steel (1996 – 2002)
Mary Junnila (1996 – 2001)
Jay Anderson (1996 – 2000)
Rosie Novitsky (1996 – 1999)
Karen Blackburn (1996 – 2001)

Previous Advisory Council Members: 
Mike Carlson (1999 – 2006)
Gwen Carman (1998 – 2003) (2006 – 2013)
Julie Brandt (1998 – 2004)
Rita Plourde (1996 – 2006)
Wes Hedstrom (1996 – 2003)
Diane Booth (1996 – 1999) (2003 – 2005)
Carolyn Steel (1996 – 2002)
Mary Junnila (1996 – 2001)
Jay Anderson (1996 – 2000)
Rosie Novitsky (1996 – 1999)
Karen Blackburn (1996 – 2001)

Former Staff:
Kirstin van den Berg (2006-2014) Student Services and Education Director
Jim Boyd (2011-2012) Business Training
Sheryl Hinderman (2005-2005) Student Services
Kelly Rauzi (2004-2004) Student Services
Marce Wood (2000-2003) Student Services
Jean Marie Modl (1996-1999) Director; (2009-2010) Assistant
Linda Lamb (1996-1996) Student Services
Carol Allis (1996-1996) Director

Former Interns & NEOJT:
Amanda Olson (2015 – 2016) HCC Intern - social work
Melody McClure (2016) NEOJT - data entry/events
Tyan (NiKki) Agnew (2010-2010) NEOJT - assistant
Paige Reeves (1998-1998) Grant Writing

Articles about Cook County Higher Education

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