Donations

(Left) Sue Kyllonen , Hermantown Elementary school secretary, receives the dictionaries from Cindy Lawrence, Leading Knight, Duluth Elks Lodge.
(Left) Sue Kyllonen , Hermantown Elementary school secretary, receives the dictionaries from Cindy Lawrence, Leading Knight, Duluth Elks Lodge.

  • Duluth Elks Lodge #133 delivered dictionaries to all third graders at the Hermantown Elementary School, and to Stella Maris Academy. This has been an annual event for the Duluth Elks Lodge for several years. The dictionaries belong to the students for their own personal use. Also, the Elks in December were awarded a combined Beacon/Spotlight Grant from the Elks Community Investments Program. They received $5,500 and distributed the money to 5 local area elementary schools. $1,100 was awarded to each of the following schools: Piedmont Elementary, Stowe Elementary, Lincoln Park Middle School, Myers-Wilkins Elementary, and Laura MacArthur Elementary. These funds were designated for the schools to purchase: student supplies, healthy snacks, and Covid-19 supplies such as sanitizer, wipes, masks, etc. Duluth Elks Lodge #133 typically holds a "Back to School Carnival" where kids get a backpack filled with school supplies. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the event had to be canceled this year. However, grant funds were still made available.

  • RSM has raised over $11,000 to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northland. RSM Employees spent that last several months fundraising for the clubs as part of their annual RSM Classic Golf Tournament Fundraiser. Every year RSM partners with the RSM US Foundation and the Davis Love Foundation (the host organization of The RSM Classic PGA Tour event) to host Birdies Fore Love. Each RSM office selects a local charity to benefit from the Birdies Fore Love Program. The charity receives funds raised through the program by RSM employees, family and friends, plus a potential match from the RSM US Foundation. This year, the Duluth office of RSM chose to support the Boys and Girls Club of the Northland. RSM hosted a number of events to raise funds for the clubs including: a Cutest Puppy Contest, a Power of Love Cookbook and a Dine with Chipotle Event. 100% of the donations made thru RSM’s website for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northland were matched at $0.25 for each dollar by the RSM US Foundation.

Education Notes

Lisa Erwin
Lisa Erwin

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  • Dr. Lisa Erwin, UMD’s vice chancellor for student life and dean of students, is the recipient of a distinguished honor in higher education: the 2021 Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Performance as a Dean. Each year the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) recognizes those doing exceptional work in the student affairs profession, and Lisa Erwin, Vice Chancellor for Student Life and Dean of Students, is being announced today as the recipient of the prestigious Outstanding Performance as a Dean. Erwin was nominated by Corbin Smyth, associate vice chancellor of Student Life.

    Erwin was hired as vice chancellor for student life at UMD in 2011, after a career working with college students, including vice president for student development and enrollment management at Bemidji State University. Active in professional organizations, Erwin is a past member of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Council on Student Affairs Executive Committee and is currently serving a term on the NASPA Foundation Board.

Community Leaders

  • The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) announced changes to its Board of Directors. DECC Board Chair, Karen Pionk, left when her term expired on Dec. 31. The Board has elected Pat Mullen to serve as the next Board Chair. Additionally, the Board has elected Lynne Williams to take the place of Pat Mullen as Board Vice Chair. Mary Finnegan has been elected to serve as Secretary/Treasurer, a role previously held by Ms. Williams. Duluth Mayor Emily Larson has appointed Matthew Baumgartner to fill the vacancy created by Ms. Pionk’s departure. Mr. Baumgartner is an active participant in the community and currently holds the role as General Manager and Director of Government Affairs at Grandma’s Restaurant Company. His three-year term on the DECC Board began on Jan. 1.

    Karen Pionk has served on the Board for seven and a half years, and has led as Board Chair since 2019. Among her many accomplishments, she has been a member of the Personnel Committee, Finance Committee, and served as Chair of the Executive Committee.

    The DECC Board is composed of 11 members with staggered terms. Seven are appointed by the Mayor of Duluth and four are appointed by the Governor of Minnesota.

  • Lake Country Power selected the Cook Area Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop of Cook, as the winner of its annual Touchstone Energy Community Award. The co-op chose this organization for the vital community services it provides residents in the Cook and surrounding areas. The shop was awarded a plaque and $500 that will go toward its community giving efforts. The thrift shop is volunteer staffed and has been part of the business community in Cook more than 65 years. Proceeds are donated to the local Cook Hospital and Senior Care Center to help provide medical equipment and other necessities to enhance the level of care for patients and residents. The non-profit also provides annual scholarships to students from the North Woods School who plan to continue their post high school education in the medical field. They also donate funding and volunteer hours toward a flower garden in the courtyard at the hospital and care center.

    Since the thrift shop opened over six decades ago, the auxiliary has donated nearly $1 million to the local health care facility in Cook. In 2020, the auxiliary donated $70,000 to the Cook Hospital for the purchase of new beds.

    The thrift shop is a popular shopping stop for people from many outlying communities. Customers routinely line up early before opening hours to take advantage of the great deals and possibly find a treasure. The thrift store is open Thursday and Friday each week and can be found at 320 S.E. Third Ave., just off Highway 53 in Cook.

Learning notes

  • WITC announced their 2021 student ambassadors which include Jon Fritsche of Superior and Bill Thompson of Ashland. WITC staff nominate students to represent the college within their communities. The nominees are then interviewed by a panel of staff and alumni. One candidate per campus is named Campus Ambassador and will officially be the face of the college.

    While each Ambassador has a unique story to tell, they all demonstrate positive attitudes, high moral character, strong communication skills and are proficient in their studies.

    Bill Thompson
    Bill Thompson


    Bill Thompson, WITC-Ashland

    Thompson is in WITC’s University Transfer Degree program. This program allows individuals to save money by earning their generals at WITC and seamlessly transfer credits to a four-year university. After WITC, he plans to study pre-law at a four-year university and eventually go to law school.



    Jon Fritsche
    Jon Fritsche

    Jon Fritsche, WITC-Superior

    Fritsche is in WITC’s IT – Systems Administration Specialist program. He and his wife currently own and operate three restaurants, but his true calling has always been in the Information Technology field.

    Throughout their time as an Ambassador, the students have the opportunity to make presentations to high school students, community organizations and business groups. Ambassadors also commit to speaking at graduation ceremonies and meetings of the WITC Board, Alumni Association or WITC Foundation.

  • Mary Hewitt of Embarrass was recently named one of Minnesota Connections Academy’s (MNCA) Students of the Month in recognition of her outstanding achievements and leadership in the virtual classroom. Mary, a junior at the public online school, was nominated by her teacher Mrs. Francois in recognition of her hard work and positive attitude in the virtual classroom. As a Student of the Month, Mary will be presented with a certificate of achievement and profiled in the Minnesota Connections Academy student newsletter and on the school’s social media pages.

  • Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, announced the following: Heather Kreciak of Glidden, earned a master's degree in education and Michael Weinandt of Superior, earned a master's degree in education.