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PRAIRIE PEOPLE: Week ending Sept. 8

Essentia Health welcomes nurse practitioner in Fargo

Nurse Practitioner Amy Hestbeck has joined the Elder Care Department at the Essentia Health-South University Clinic in Fargo, N.D.

Hestbeck earned a master’s degree in nursing from Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin. She is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.


Essentia Health welcomes physician assistants

▇ Physician Assistant Savannah Prodzinski has joined the Essentia Health Heart and Vascular Center in Fargo, N.D.

Prior to becoming a physician assistant, Prodzinski worked as a respiratory therapist at Essentia Health in Fargo.

Prodzinski earned a master’s degree in physician assistant studies from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She is certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

▇ Physician Assistant Heather Pokrzywinski has joined the Family Medicine Department at the Essentia Health-Moorhead Clinic in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Pokrzywinski earned a master’s degree in physician assistant studies from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.


AT&T names new vice president and general manager in the Northern Plains Region

MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 31 — AT&T welcomes Lisa Mitchell-Kastner to oversee mobility and consumer markets in the Northern Plains Region. This includes Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.

Mitchell-Kastner will manage more than 800 sales and service consultants, more than 60 AT&T-owned retail locations, more than 90 authorized retail locations and more than 320 national retail locations.

Mitchell-Kastner served as vice president of human resources, where she led the company’s workforce analytics team, oversaw workforce transformation and led a team of human resource business partners.   

Mitchell-Kastner was named a 2014 Game Changer by Workforce magazine, recognized as one of the best and brightest young talents in human capital management. She was among 30 young HR professionals under 40 chosen for the award.

Mitchell-Kastner holds master’s degrees in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Business Management from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas.


North Dakota governor names first Chief People Officer  

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today announced the hiring of Cheri Schoenfish as state government’s first chief people officer, “seeking to build upon a culture of high-performing, citizen-focused team members and transform and unify human resources practices,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Schoenfish is taking a one-year civic leave of absence from her current position as Microsoft’s director of global talent management to fill the CPO position, starting Oct. 9.

As CPO, Schoenfish will be the state’s workforce strategist and organizational development leader, with a focus on enhancing performance and productivity as she coaches and advises the governor’s leadership team,” according to the press release.

“She also will spearhead a strategic initiative with the human resources team across cabinet agencies to facilitate a unified approach and spur innovation in processes involving recruitment, hiring, goal-setting and performance management, talent management, succession management, rewards systems, team member relations and related areas.”

Schoenfish earned a bachelor of art’s degree in Business Administration with a math minor from Dickinson State University and worked for 14 years in training and human resources at Great Plains Software in Fargo. Since Microsoft acquired Great Plains in 2001, she has served in a variety of human resources leadership roles at the national and global levels. Her duties as CPO also will include leading the further development of the “Team North Dakota” culture.

A Fargo resident, Schoenfish currently serves on the board of the Plains Art Museum in Fargo and is a past board member of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp and the Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm.


Dr. James Miles Joins Altru Health System

Grand Forks, N.D. – Dr. James Miles, MD, has joined the neurology team at Altru Health System, specializing in the treatment of neurologic diseases such as seizures, migraine headaches and developmental delays in pediatric patients.

Miles is one of three pediatric neurology specialists in the state of North Dakota.

Miles earned his medical degree from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Grand Forks. He completed his pediatric and adolescent medicine residency, as well as his child neurology fellowship, at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.


UND names Mark Askelson as interim executive director of the UND Research Institute for Autonomous Systems

The University of North Dakota is proud to announce that Mark Askelson will serve as the interim executive director for the UND Research Institute for Autonomous Systems (RIAS). Askelson received two B.S. degrees (meteorology and mathematics) from UND in 1993 before moving on to attain both his master’s (’96) and Ph.D. (’02) from the Department of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma.

As a professor of the Atmospheric Sciences Department at UND, Askelson specializes in research areas consisting of detect and avoid technologies (DAA), unmanned aircraft systems, and atmospheric sciences through data analysis and modeling.

The RIAS was created to help integrate the expertise, infrastructure, activities, and resources of UND and the North Dakota University System. Its goal is to establish ongoing and sustainable externally funded unmanned and autonomous research leading to economic development and diversification in North Dakota.

The RIAS will encompass all research activities in unmanned and autonomous systems at UND and will provide significant opportunities for collaboration across the North Dakota University System and with the private sector.

The UND Research Institute for Autonomous Systems is focused on five research areas: autonomous platforms, data supply chain, cybersecurity, unmanned and autonomous applications, and related policy.

As part of the One UND Strategic Plan, Askelson currently serves as the champion for the UAS Grand Challenge, which seeks to drive world changing developments for the UAS industry at UND. As the Interim Executive Director for the RIAS, he will further be able to carry the torch for this initiative, according to UND.  


South Dakota State student named to national graduate nursing student council

BROOKINGS, S.D. – South Dakota State University graduate student Brandon Varilek has been named to the Graduate Nursing Student Academy Leadership Council.

The Leadership Council consists of 10 graduate nursing student members, each of whom serves a two-year term to help shape the formation of the GNSA and provide direction on what programs, services and resources should be developed to meet the needs of nursing students in master’s and doctoral degree programs.

Varilek was named a GNSA liaison in 2016. In that role, he is the primary contact for SDSU and serves in a leadership capacity by distributing information to his fellow students.

Varilek, who plans to complete his degree in 2019, would like to become a faculty member at a university. Varilek, a registered nurse, currently works full time at Avera McKennan as a solid organ transplant coordinator.