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Community Conversation: Minnesota's Workforce In A Post-COVID World


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM


Community Conversation: Minnesota’s Workforce in a Post-COVID World

Join College Possible for an engaging conversation on the future of Minnesota’s workforce. Sponsored by Deloitte and Royal Credit Union.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a stark impact on students from low-income backgrounds. Nationally, college rates have declined, which could impact Minnesota’s workforce for years to come. Yet, College Possible students are persisting and graduating at higher rates than ever before. They are launching careers, raising families and creating change in our communities.

Join us for a discussion on Minnesota’s workforce during and after COVID-19, how institutions and companies are adapting to support this next generation of leaders and how College Possible students are creating a stronger Minnesota.

This event is free and open to all members of our community. We look forward to seeing you!


Dr, Joe Gothard, Superintendent – Saint Paul Public Schools
He, him, his

Dr. Joe Gothard is superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS), serving over 36,000 PreK-12 students and employing more than 5,700 staff. SPPS is the second-largest and most diverse school district in Minnesota.

Dr. Gothard launched the SPPS Achieves strategic plan in December 2018. The plan’s guiding values are student achievement, communication, continuous improvement, collaboration, accountability and fostering an inclusive culture.

Prior to joining SPPS in 2017, Dr. Gothard served as Superintendent of Schools in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191. Previously, he served as assistant superintendent, high school principal and middle school principal in Madison, Wisconsin.

Dr. Gothard is co-chair of the Generation Next Leadership Council and a member of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts Executive Committee. He also serves on the Genesys Works Board of Directors and the Greater Twin Cities United Way Executive Committee.

Kristen Kowalski, Principal – Deloitte Tax LLP
She, her, hers

Kristen is a principal with Deloitte’s Global Employer Services practice in Minneapolis. Kristen specializes in serving global companies in the areas of expatriate taxation, international assignment management, global payroll and global talent management.

Kristen has been a presenter at multiple events. Some of the topics covered include effective assignment cost management, global payroll management, Remote Work and the Future of Work, and Business Chemistry.

In addition to serving clients, Kristen also leads the Japanese Services Group for the Global Employer Services practice at Deloitte, delivering a specialized suite of services for primarily US-inbound companies from Japan. Kristen has also served in a number of talent-related roles throughout her career and is a regular coach and mentor across all levels at Deloitte.

Kristen is active in her community, serving as the Board Chair for the Minnesota Make-A-Wish Foundation, and is regular engaged with United Way and Second Harvest Heartland.

Kristen has a bachelor’s degree in business administration: accounting and international business, from Saint Mary’s College as well as a master’s degree in taxation from the University of Illinois. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent.

Laurel Ries, M.D., Family Physician M Health Fairview
She, her, hers

Laurel Ries is a community family physician. She has practiced family medicine at HealthEast, now M Health Fairview, in St. Paul for 15 years. She is a delegate to the American Medical Association. She is an advocate for public health, health equity, and quality improvement.

Craig Robinson, President – College Possible
He, him, his

Craig joined the College Possible executive leadership team in August of 2019. As president, he oversees the day-to-day work of running and growing the organization.

A fearless advocate for equity, access, and success in education, Craig has over 20 years of leadership experience and a diverse network. He has built an intimate knowledge of the K-12 and higher education systems through previous tenures as chief strategy officer at Henderson Collegiate Charter Network, chief program officer at the National College Advising Corps, national director of KIPP Through College at the KIPP Foundation, executive director for KIPP Through College at KIPP NYC, vice president for programs at A Better Chance, director of diversity & multicultural recruitment at Phillips Academy, and program officer at the University of Michigan. He has provided strategic vision alongside founders, executive leaders and boards — elevating an organization’s ability to disseminate promising practices, strengthen partnerships, and increase visibility and recognition.

Craig holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and English from Emory University and dual master’s degrees in secondary education and education administration from the University of Michigan. The joys of his life are his wife, Dr. Peggy Regis Robinson, and their three children Shiloh, Christian and Kalea.

ReBecca Koenig Roloff ’76 – President, St. Catherine University
She, her, hers

ReBecca (Becky) Koenig Roloff ’76 is the president of St. Catherine University, which serves nearly 5,000 students and is home to one of the largest Catholic colleges for women in the United States. Previously, she served as president and CEO of YWCA Minneapolis from 2005-2012. Her 29-year business career included serving as a senior vice president of American Express Financial Advisors (now Ameriprise), leadership positions at Pillsbury Company and as a grain merchant for Cargill in Texas. She has served on the boards of C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., the Minneapolis Downtown Council Executive Committee and Allina Health and is currently a trustee for the Charles and Ellora Alliss Educational Foundation. She also serves on the boards of the Women’s College Coalition, the Association of Colleges of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Minnesota Private College Council, and is a member of the Accountability Committee of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Roloff has received recognition for her ability to be a caring and results oriented leader who works with people, not over them, to achieve success for the organization she is leading.

Deloitte. logo and Royal Credit Union logo


As one of the largest and most successful college access and success programs in the country, since 2000 College Possible has helped put more than 59,000 students from disinvested communities on the path to economic mobility via completion of a college degree. Its proven near-peer coaching model, delivered by recent college graduates serving as AmeriCorps members, provides high-touch interventions proven to help students navigate and overcome the most common barriers to college access, retention and degree completion. Nationwide, College Possible students are three times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree within six years than their peers from similar backgrounds.

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