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Meet the GREATER MSP Partnership Staff

Joel Akason

Director of Business Investment

Favorite Regional Asset: The Saint Paul Saints Minor League Baseball Team

Joel started his career with Pella Corporation after graduating in 1998 from Winona State University with a BS in business. While working at Pella Corporation, he earned his MBA from Drake University. In 2002, Joel began his economic development career in his home town of Oskaloosa, IA as the chamber president. After 15 months, he moved to the Greater Des Moines Partnership, which is the regional economic development organization in central Iowa. After 2 years with the region, Joel went and ran the economic development efforts for Marshall County, IA, which is part of the Greater Des Moines Partnership region. Joel worked as the President for the Marshall Economic Development Impact Committee (MEDIC) for 5 years until joining Capital City Partnership in February of 2011. Joel received his Certification of Economic Development (CEcD) in 2008 from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). In 2015, Joel was recognized as a winner in Development Counsellors International's (DCI) economic development profession’s 40 Under 40 awards, the only award of its kind recognizing young talent in the economic development profession. 







Valerie Brennan

Marketing Specialist


Favorite Regional Asset: Farmer's markets & local produce


Valerie Brennan is a Marketing Specialist for GREATER MSP. Her responsibilities include developing marketing plan and brand components to reinforce marketing and communication strategies to team members and agency partners, creating and managing content for digital and print media and partnering with outside stakeholders to create communications tools to promote the region and advance the efforts of GREATER MSP. Prior to joining the organization, Valerie was an Admin-Communications Specialist at the Dakota County Community Development Agency. Valerie earned a BA from the University of Minnesota where she studied Journalism and Mass Communications. 

Mike Brown

Vice President, Marketing & Communications

Favorite Regional Asset: The Guthrie


Mike Brown is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications. With several decades working in the corporate and agency marketing world, Mike has a broad background from which to draw on as he leads the campaign for marketing the Greater MSP region. Mike joins GREATER MSP after founding his own consulting firm, Cottage 8 Partners, where his focus was to bring best in class marketing discipline to both nonprofits and retail organizations. Prior to founding Cottage 8, Michael worked for Target Corporation, Fallon Worldwide and Campbell-Mithun, gaining extensive experience in brand marketing and media services.


Jodi Dosmann

Administrative Assistant 

Favorite Regional Asset: The music scene and public radio station, The Current.


Jodi Dosmann is an Administrative Assistant to Cecile Bedor at GREATER MSP. With 20+ years of experience, Jodi provides administrative support to Cecile in conjunction with coordinating meetings and bookkeeping. Prior to joining the organization, Jodi was an Office Coordinator at Seneca Foods International Division. Jodi earned her bachelor's degree in Economics and Anthropology from Hamline University in Saint Paul.  


 Jennifer Erickson

 Export Development Manager


 Favorite Regional Asset: Great local restaurants and breweries.


Jennifer Erickson is the Export Development Manager. In this role, Jennifer works with companies to help them launch or expand sales into overseas markets. She also facilitates relationships with local stakeholders, industry groups and overseas organizations in support of Greater MSP’s mission. Jennifer previously spent seven years with the Minnesota Trade Office as an International Trade Representative, where she established and managed the state’s STEP program to increase exports from small businesses. Prior to that, she was with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture researching rail access for Minnesota’s agricultural sector. Before and after her time with the state, Jennifer worked in the private sector, in sales, international business development and project management roles. Jennifer earned her BA from Washington University in St. Louis, with majors in Japanese and German, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree from St. Catherine University.

Peter Frosch

Vice President of Strategic Partnerships

Favorite Regional Asset: Como Park & Zoo


Peter Frosch is the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at GREATER MSP.  He is responsible for developing and implementing the economic development strategy for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region.  To do this work, Peter builds and leads high-performing project teams comprised of senior leaders from private, public, academic and philanthropic organizations.  He is also charged with creating and maintaining strategic relationships to support all areas of GREATER MSP’s mission.  Prior to joining GREATER MSP in January 2013, Peter was Legislative Director for Congresswoman Betty McCollum in Washington, D.C. In this role, he managed the legislative staff and directed all aspects of the Congresswoman’s policy agenda including her work on the House Appropriations and Budget Committees. 

Peter has also served as Director of Environmental Policy at Environmental Initiative, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit. During his time with the organization he built a statewide coalition of business, government and nonprofit groups that developed Clean Water Legacy, a nonpartisan policy framework funded through the constitutional amendment adopted by referendum in 2008.  He is a member of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies Executive Committee, a participant in Harvard Business School’s Young American Leaders Program, and a 2015 winner of the Knight Foundation Cities Challenge. Peter earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a Master’s degree in international relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, where he studied as a George Mitchell Scholar. He lives in Saint Paul with his partner Anne, and their two young children.  

Gene Goddard

Director of Business Investment

Favorite Regional Asset: 205 Golf Course


Gene Goddard is responsible for leading the coordination of new business investment projects for the Greater Minneapolis Saint Paul region by working with business decision makers, consultants and corporate real estate managers looking for project locations in the region. Before joining GREATER MSP, Gene spent 20 years with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), most recently as a Senior Business Development Specialist, working with “high value” business development projects and serving as the Metro Area Regional Representative for the Minnesota Office of Business Development (OBD). Throughout his time at DEED, Gene assisted in packaging over $800 million in private and public financing to support business development projects throughout the State of Minnesota. Some of his business expansion clients include: Cargill, Nestle, Michael Foods, Coloplast, CHS, FibroMinn, United Health Group, General Mills, St. Jude Medical, Goodrich and Emerson. He was also the lead author of several handbooks and reports published by DEED and the lead OBD staff for the Minnesota “Shovel Ready” Certified Development Sites program.

Gene attended Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, MN. He gained his Masters degree from Minnesota State University - Mankato and also completed post-graduate work in International Business at the Economics University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria and a Mini-Masters in Real Estate Development at the University of St. Thomas. He also operates “The Minnehaha Craftsman,” a custom design furniture studio. In 1994, Gene received the National Development Council’s Economic Development Finance Professional certification (EDFP). Gene also received his Certification of Economic Development (CEcD) in 2015 from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

David Griggs

Vice President, Business Investment and Research


Favorite Regional Asset: High number of professional sports teams and being a host to a Big10 School.


David Griggs currently serves as the Vice President of Business Investment and Research for the Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership or GREATER MSP.  As head of the Business Investment department his responsibilities include strategic development of industry targets, managing a team of project managers that assist businesses considering expanding or relocating into the Greater MSP region, the creation and development of a regional business retention and expansion program, and developing an International Trade and Investment strategy including the establishment of four foreign offices.  In addition to Business Investment activities his responsibilities include managing the Research Department which facilitates regional data collection, RFP and RFI responses, and regional studies for the sixteen-county Greater MSP region.


Before joining GREATER MSP in 2011 prior to the organization’s launch, David served in the same capacity for the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise (BNE), a regional economic development group representing the Buffalo, New York region.  


David has a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the State University of New York at Buffalo and has earned the professional designations of EDFP in finance and CEcD as a certified economic developer.


Maurice Harris

 Research Analyst


Favorite Regional Asset: The region’s great transportation and public transit network.


Maurice Harris is a Research Analyst for Greater MSP. Maurice’s roles include conducting research to support economic development and market research efforts for the recruitment, retention, and attraction of businesses to the region. He is also responsible for the development and maintenance of intelligence directly related to supporting regional economic development efforts. Prior to GREATER MSP, Maurice was a researcher with the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), the research arm of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. His primary roles were performing target industry research, economic impact analysis, and special project research for policymakers. Originally from St. Louis, MO, he obtained his Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri – Columbia in Public Affairs, specializing in Public Policy Analysis and Regional Development and obtained his Bachelor’s Degree from Knox College majoring in Political Science and History.

Morgan Hill

Project Manager


Favorite Regional Asset: Experiencing all of the seasons and the activities that come with each.


Morgan Hill is a Project Manager for GREATER MSP. As part of the Business Investment team, her role is to work with company decision makers, state and local leaders, consultants and other key partners and stakeholders in order to lead projects and provide consultative and technical service to facilitate new business investment, retention and expansion, and job creation for the Greater MSP region. Morgan earned her undergraduate degree and MBA from the University of North Dakota. She brings 8 years of experience in the Financial Services industry, most recently working at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Minneapolis. Morgan is a member of IEDC, EDAM, CoreNet Young Leaders and MNCREW. She is currently working to receive her Certification of Economic Development (CEcD) as well as her Economic Development Finance Professional Certification through NDC.

Judy Johnson

Director of Investor Relations 


Favorite Regional Asset: All of the beautiful lakes and trails.


Judy Johnson is the Director of Investor Relations. She is responsible for the recruitment and retention of GREATER MSP investors and the planning and execution of our multi-year fundraising campaign. 


Judy is a Plymouth City Council member and has previously served as Plymouth’s Mayor and is a past president of the League of Minnesota Cities. She was most recently the Director of Government Affairs for the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce and, before undertaking that role, was TwinWest’s Director of Community Relations. Judy attended the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and earned a bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University, with an emphasis on communications and public relations. Judy received the 2015 League of Minnesota Cities C.C. Ludwig Award, considered to be the League’s highest honor for elected officials. Recipients are chosen for their vision, statesmanship, and unwavering commitment to the public good. The award was given out at the League’s Annual Conference in Duluth in celebration of outstanding service.


Betsy Knapp

 Administrative Assistant, Business Investment

 Favorite Regional Asset: Lake Minnetonka and the surrounding lake towns.


Betsy Knapp is an Administrative Assistant for the Business Investment team at GREATER MSP. She comes to the organization with more than 18 years of profit and nonprofit experience in developing new programs and processes in a variety of administrative settings. Most recently she was with Datalink Corporation, an Eden Prairie company that designs, implements and supports enterprise data centers. Betsy holds an education degree from Winona State University as well as an MS in Adult Education from Iowa State University.

Michael Langley


Favorite Regional Asset: The Greater MSP Region has so many great regional assets, but I would highlight MSP International Airport, as it provides global connectivity to every business and citizen in our region, and brings the world to our front door.


Michael Langley is the founding CEO of GREATER MSP, the Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership.  GREATER MSP leads global promotion, regional strategy, and project management for economic growth and job creation in the Minneapolis Saint Paul region, with 3.5 million residents and a Gross Metropolitan Product of over $230 Billion.  He brings years of experience to the role as a widely recognized  economic development  strategist  who  has  also  led  successful  regional  economic  development organizations in Florida and Pennsylvania.


Since the formation of GREATER MSP in 2011, the Minneapolis Saint Paul region has achieved strong job growth and record low unemployment, and has been recognized widely for its diverse and resilient economy.  The Atlantic recently published an article citing “The Minneapolis Miracle” and CNBC’s 2015 “Top States for Business” ranks Minnesota #1.  The Greater MSP led “Minnesota Medical Manufacturing Partnership” was also awarded the “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” (IMCP) designation from US Department of Commerce in July 2015.


A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Mike also earned a MS in information systems from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.  He served as a Navy pilot with more than 5,000 hours of flight and crew time on surveillance and intelligence missions worldwide and as a technology analyst on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. He has also been awarded an honorary doctorate in Humanities by American Intercontinental University for his work in community improvement. 


Michael’s community service includes leadership on the Board of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Metropolitan State University Foundation Board of Trustees, the Super Bowl LII Host Committee Executive Board, the NAIOP Board of Directors, and the Board of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).  Michael was named one the "Top 50 Economic Developers in North America" by Consultant Connect in 2015, and was designated as a "Fellow Member" by IEDC in 2015 for his contributions to the Economic Development profession.

Mary Jo Lewis

Office Manager / Executive Assistant to Michael Langley

Favorite Regional Asset: The amount of access we have to water, lakes and green spaces.


Mary Jo Lewis is Executive Assistant to Michael Langley as well as GREATER MSP’s Office Manager. She joins GREATER MSP with a wide range of skills including Executive Assistance and Office Management from her background working in many industries within the Minneapolis Saint Paul area. Her experience in many different roles within the insurance, wholesale fuel and energy marketing and hospitality industries include regulatory compliance, corporate operations, and sales. A Minnesota native, Mary Jo earned her BA from the College of Saint Benedict where she studied Psychology and Philosophy.

Matt Lewis

Strategy Manager


Favorite Regional Asset: Midtown Global Market


Matt Lewis is a Strategy Manager for GREATER MSP. In this role, he works with cross-sector partners and external stakeholders to develop and implement regional economic development strategies. Prior to joining the organization, he earned his MBA from the Carlson School of Management and a master’s degree in Public Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Matt has worked and consulted for a variety of Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations on public affairs campaigns and strategic marketing initiatives. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked as a journalist both in Wisconsin and for the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, DC.

Megan Barnett-Livgard

Business Retention & Expansion Manager


Favorite Regional Asset: Anoka County Bunker Hills Regional Park


Megan is the Business Retention & Expansion Manager. Her role is to work with stakeholders and partners to establish a regional BR&E program. Previously, Megan worked for MNCAR as the Member Development and Marketing Coordinator. Her role included enhancing relationships between commercial brokers and economic development professionals. Megan has also worked for the City of Monticello as the Economic Development Director and Associate Planner for the City of Ramsey. Megan graduated from St. Cloud State with a BA in Local and Urban Affairs. She also received her certificate for Economic Development Finance Professional from the National Development Council.  Megan recently received her Certification of Economic Development (CEcD).


Micki Mathiesen



Favorite Regional Asset: The vibrant restaurant and craft brew scene.


Micki has served as our Controller on a part-time basis since February of 2012. She has also served as an accounting consultant for Minnesota Chamber Business Services for nearly 15 years.  Micki’s prior roles include accounting and internal audit at the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, SFM – The Work Comp Experts, The Voyageur Outward Bound School, and The St. Paul Companies (now Travelers).  She has also served on the Board of the Eastview Community Foundation.


Micki began her career at Deloitte in the audit practice and earned her CPA designation in 1984.  Micki graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Accounting.

 Tiffany Orth

 Make It. MSP. Coordinator


 Favorite Regional Asset: The diverse and vibrant theater scene.


Tiffany Orth is a Coordinator for Make It. MSP, GREATER MSP’s new regional talent retention and attraction initiative. Her responsibilities include assisting with the implementation of the Make It. MSP initiative, as well as providing support to the regional economic development strategy team. Prior to joining GREATER MSP, Tiffany worked as a Project Coordinator for the MN Sports Facilities Authority; the public entity charged with planning and designing the new U.S. Bank Stadium. Previously, Tiffany coordinated the gubernatorial appointments process for judicial and state agency positions in the Office of Governor Mark Dayton and also supported Governor Dayton’s transition team. She has also worked in fundraising for various political campaigns. Tiffany earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Journalism from the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul.


SHAUEN V.T. Pearce-Lassiter

Director of Center Cities Competitiveness Initiative


Favorite Regional Asset: All of the amazing camp grounds and lakes, especially Lake Nokomis.


Shauen V. T. Pearce-Lassiter is the Director of the Center Cities Competitiveness Initiative, a partnership of the Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Regional Chambers of Commerce, the Saint Paul Port Authority, McKnight Foundation, Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, and GREATER MSP.  As Director, Shauen works with coalition partners and the private sector to improve economic outcomes for people and businesses alike, harnessing the coalition’s collective resources and expertise to advance prosperity through job creation and capital investment in the center cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. 


Shauen previously served as Executive Director of the Harrison Neighborhood Association and the National Director of Programs with the New York-based Fellowship of Reconciliation. Her background includes international community and economic development, policy analysis, and land use and planning with communities across the globe. She lives in Saint Paul with her partner and their standard poodle pup and has served as a coach for several youth athletic teams.


Jeffrey Rainey

Project Manager

Favorite Regional Asset: Affordable, quality public golf courses.


Jeffrey Rainey joined GREATER MSP in 2012 as a Project Manager. Along with the other members of the Business Investment team, he engages in projects that facilitate new business investment, retention and expansion, and job creation for the Greater Minneapolis Saint Paul region. Jeffrey brings 15 years of private sector sales experience to the organization, largely in the high-tech and medical fields. Previously, he held positions with Kroll Ontrack in Eden Prairie and Oracle in downtown Minneapolis. Jeffrey earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Stanford University where he majored in engineering science. Jeffrey is currently working to receive his Certification of Economic Development (CEcD).

Gita Sitaramiah

Director of Communications

Favorite Regional Asset: Lake of the Isles


Gita Sitaramiah is Director of Communications at GREATER MSP. In that role, she drives execution of all communications. Sitaramiah has 20 years of experience as a journalist, most recently on the business desk of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She also has reported for the Kansas City Star and other regional newspapers. She holds a master’s degree in public affairs from the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota, where she also earned a bachelor’s degree in English.

Val Vannett

Director of Research & Analysis

Favorite Regional Asset: Lebanon Hills Regional Park


Val Vannett is an economist and market researcher with over a decade of economic development experience. She currently serves as GREATER MSP’s Research Director where she closely monitors regional, national and global economic trends and provides intelligence on competitive positioning.  She performs economic impact analysis, overseas commissioned studies and leads a research staff with diverse backgrounds in knowledge management and applied research. Prior to GREATER MSP, Val was the Senior Economic Analyst working on economic development issues with the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development. There she performed target industry analyses, economic impact, large-database analysis and program evaluation. Prior to her tenure in Minnesota, she served as an Economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington D.C. specializing in consumer spending and analytic statistical programming, and performed market research for firms in Colorado. She holds a Master’s Degree in Economics and Bachelor’s Degrees in Economics and International Relations. She is a member of the Council for Community and Economic Research, the National Association for Business Economics, and IEDC.

Anders Victor

Research Analyst

Favorite Regional Asset: The Mississippi River


Anders Victor is a Research Analyst for GREATER MSP. In this role, Anders implements quantitative and qualitative analyses designed to support economic development and market research for the recruitment, retention and attraction activities of various industry segments, and in support of other regional initiatives. He graduated with master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Public Policy, and interned at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. While studying for his undergraduate degree in Political Science, also at the University of Minnesota, he interned for Mayor Chris Coleman and United States Senator Amy Klobuchar. Anders has authored and co-authored published research on topics including genetic engineering policy, neuromodulation and occupational licensing in the healthcare sector. He is a member of the Council for Community and Economic Research and the International Economic Development Council.


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Securian Building
400 Robert Street North, Suite 1600
Saint Paul, MN 55101