2021 Sent Forth Award

Photo of Jade RosenfeldtJudge Jade Rosenfeldt '05

Judge Jade (Collins) Rosenfeldt, a 2005 Concordia graduate, earned her Juris Doctor degree with distinction from the University of North Dakota School of Law, Grand Forks, in 2008. She worked as a legal intern for the Clay County Attorney’s Office in Moorhead from 2006-08. In 2008, she joined Vogel Law Firm in Moorhead where she managed a high volume of complex criminal and family law cases in Minnesota and North Dakota state and federal courts. For more than a decade, she advocated on behalf of clients in all types of cases in addition to family and criminal law including real estate, business litigation, orders of protection, guardianship and conservatorship matters, and Title IX hearings.In 2019, the Minnesota Legislature created a new judicial seat in Becker/Otter Tail counties and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz selected Rosenfeldt over applicants with more years of experience to preside over the Seventh Judicial District. She serves on the bench at the Clay County Courthouse in Moorhead.

Stephen Letnes '00

Stephen Letnes, a 2000 Concordia graduate, is the founder and executive director of Able Artist Foundation (AAF), a 501c3 that supports and empowers artists with disabilities by building relationships with companies to make products more affordable for those on fixed incomes and disbursing grants to career-minded musicians looking to take their careers to the “next level.” AAF has members in 27 countries, partnerships with more than two dozen companies across the globe, and its board includes Emmy and Grammy nominees, preachers, teachers, and Cobbers. He is also a film producer and has won multiple awards as a film composer of more than 130 films, including the Emmy-nominated documentary “Beneath the Ink.” Being visually impaired, Letnes understands the challenges those with disabilities face. He is an advisor to a Minneapolis YMCA community board and a founding member of a Los Angeles-based organization that works with Hollywood studios to hire people with disabilities. Letnes has spoken in front of the Minnesota Legislature, American Council of the Blind of Minnesota, and Concordia film classes.

2020 Sent Forth Recipients

Cmdr. Brian C. Kesselring '00

Cmdr. Brian C. Kesselring, a 2000 Concordia graduate, joined the Navy in 2001. Following fighter jet training, Kesselring served with several squadrons, trained aircrew at the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), and completed combat deployments in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, New Dawn, and Inherent Resolve. He has more than 3,900 flight hours, 812 carrier arrested landings, over 120 combat missions, and received several medals and awards. He earned a master’s degree in national security strategy (JPME Phase II) from the Naval War College. Most recently, Kesselring was selected to serve as the Blue Angels’ commander, leading a team of 141 members serving as ambassadors to the Navy and Marines.


Dr. Tara (Steuber) Wilson '06

Dr. Tara (Steuber) Wilson grew up on a farm near Perham, Minn., graduating from Concordia in 2006 with majors in mathematics and Spanish. She earned a master’s degree and a doctorate, both in mathematical sciences, from Clemson University where she was honored with the Outstanding Citizenship Award in 2009. She also received the Graduate Assistance Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2010. She is currently senior decision science consultant for The Walt Disney Co., based in Orlando, Fla. Her team performs analytical consultation, research, and applications/systems development to optimize business decisions for various segments across the company, including several resorts, the Disney Cruise Line, and ABC and ESPN. Wilson was a President’s Seminar speaker at Concordia as part of the 125th Anniversary of Concordia celebration and has co-authored publications. She volunteers at Quest Camp Thunderbird, a camp for adults and children with disabilities, and with Central Florida Junior Achievement.

2019 Sent Forth Recipients

Dr. Matthew Culloton '98

Matthew Culloton, founding artistic director of The Singers – Minnesota Choral Artists, is a 1998 Concordia graduate and earned a master's and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota. He is choirmaster at The House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, Minn., and an adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Thomas. He received the VocalEssence/ACDA of Minnesota Creative Programming Award (2003) and MN ACDA Outstanding Young Choral Conductor of the Year Award (2004). As a composer, he has been commissioned to compose works for The Singers and the Dale Warland Singers, among several others. He is co-editor of the "Matthew and Michael Culloton Choral Series" and editor of the "Christmas with The Singers Choral Series."

Betsy (Strebel) Grams '98

Betsy Grams, co-founder and executive director of CycleHealth, is a 1998 Concordia graduate. CycleHealth was founded in 2014 to equip kids to power their own wellness. CycleHealth's programs are based on adventure and self-directed goal attainment and are prescribed by pediatricians in more than 50 Twin Cities clinics through an innovative platform called Sweat Rx. Prior to co-founding CycleHealth, she was a high school English teacher and director of an alternative school for students at risk for graduation.


2018 Sent Forth Recipients

Dr. Tammy Frisby '99

Dr. Tammy Frisby ’99 graduated from Concordia summa cum laude and went on to earn a master’s and doctorate both in political science. Her area of study has been national politics and public policymaking. She was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution from 2009 to 2017. Her research has been published in Policy Review, Legislative Studies Quarterly, California Journal of Politics and Policy, and Environmental Science and Technology. She has written for Forbes.com where she provides analysis and commentary of current U.S. politics and policymaking. She is a frequent guest on radio and television as a political analyst. For the past five years, Frisby has publicly advocated for equal employment opportunities and specifically gender equality while speaking against sexual harassment in the workplace. She has also worked leading survey design and directing data analysis for the Golden State Poll, a social science survey of public opinion in California on politics, government, and public policy. After losing both of her parents to cancer in 2016, Frisby has refocused her work to bioinformatics law and policy with the intent to support cancer research and treatment. She plans to attend law school in the fall at the University of Utah for biomedical law. Frisby and her husband, Graham Mather, live in Salt Lake City, Utah, with their son, Jack and daughter, Stella. 

Arday Ardayfio '02

Arday Ardayfio ’02 is the founder, president and CEO of Blueprint IT Solutions, which provides networking and information technology service to small to mid-sized businesses. A computer science and business major, Ardayfio came to Concordia from Ghana. He worked in college admissions, banking and other entrepreneurial enterprises before starting his Fargo-based business in 2011. He is a member of the Fargo Kiwanis Club and served as its president when the organization set a Guinness World record for the number of pancakes served in 8 hours – 35,000 pancakes. He was named to Prairie Business Magazine’s “40 Under 40” list for top business professionals and has served on the board of Charism. Ardayfio and his wife, Kara, live in Fargo and have three children.


2017 Sent Forth Recipients

Dr. Meelad Dawlaty '04

Dr. Meelad Dawlaty ’04 is the youngest faculty member in the department of genetics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, where he teaches graduate school curriculum and mentors doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows. He leads a research program concentrated on understanding the epigenetics of stem cells and cancer with a focus on enzymes that modify DNA and regulate gene expression to define cell fate during development. His work has been published in multiple scholarly journals.


Dr. Susan Webb Yackee '97

Dr. Susan Webb Yackee ’97 is a tenured professor of public affairs and political science and the director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In 2015, the university named Yackee a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in honor of her exceptional research contributions. An award-winning expert on policymaking, regulation and bureaucratic politics, Yackee’s work is published in many academic journals.


2016 Sent Forth Recipients

Amy Kircher '97

Amy Kircher is director of the Food Protection and Defense Institute, a Homeland Security Center of Excellence, where she coordinates a research consortium of experts dedicated to protecting the food system. She is also an assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota.  Kircher received a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a Doctor of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She previously worked as an epidemiologist for NORAD – U.S. Northern Command and was an instructor for the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Miquette (Denie) McMahon '06

Miquette McMahon worked at a nursing home and a hospital in Detroit Lakes, Minn., for a year after graduation before returning to Haiti to work as a school nurse and teacher. She founded TeacHaiti, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to send children to school in Haiti. After Haiti’s earthquake when many schools in Haiti were destroyed, McMahon opened TeacHaiti School of Hope in Port au Prince.  Currently, TeacHaiti educates more than 350 students through student scholarships. McMahon oversees every aspect of TeacHaiti and spends much of her time advocating and fundraising for TeacHaiti throughout the United States.

2015 Sent Forth Recipients

Kristi Rendahl '97

Kristi Rendahl is the organizational development advisor of the Center for Victims of Torture in St. Paul, advising centers for victims of torture around the world. She founded Prairie Talks, a speaker series that brings national and international speakers to her hometown of Rugby, N.D., and she is a regular columnist for The Armenian Weekly.  Rendahl earned a Master of Arts degree in nonprofit management and a doctorate in public administration from Hamline University. She previously worked with Habitat for Humanity International and served in the Peace Corps in Armenia, where she lived for five years. She currently lives in St. Paul.

Mike Solberg '95

Mike Solberg is president and chief executive officer of Bell State Bank & Trust. He has helped the company grow to be one of the largest independently owned banks in the country. Bell State Bank & Trust’s culture, including its commitment to staff and community, has been highlighted by media outlets from "CBS Evening News" to People magazine. As president of Bell State Bank & Trust, Solberg launched the bank’s “Pay It Forward” project, providing every full-time employee with $1,000 each year to give to individuals, families or organizations in need.  Solberg also provides leadership to several organizations. He has served as campaign chair for the United Way of Cass-Clay, board chair for the Trollwood Performing Arts School and is currently on the board of Prairie Heights Community Church, The Bush Foundation, The Guthrie Theater and serves on the Concordia College Board of Regents. He and his wife, Charleen, live in Fargo with their three children.

2014 Sent Forth Recipients

Roxana Saberi '97

Roxana Saberi is an author, journalist, inspirational speaker and human rights advocate best known for her reporting and imprisonment in Iran during 2009. After worldwide attention was given to her plight, Saberi was released and she wrote of her experiences in the book “Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran.” She has worked with Reporters Without Borders, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and United4Iran. She received the NCAA Award of Valor for demonstrating uncommon bravery and courage in the face of grave personal danger. At Concordia, Saberi played soccer and graduated summa cum laude. Saberi has a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University and a second master’s in international relations from the University of Cambridge. She has reported for NPR, BBC, ABC Radio, Fox News and Al Jazeera America.

Richard Sommer '00

Richard Sommer is a member of the award-winning cast of “Mad Men,” a cable television drama that centers on the lives of power-hungry men and women in the New York advertising scene in the 1960s. Sommer has also been featured in “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Law and Order,” and several national commercials and theatrical roles. He is a volunteer with Operation Homefront, an organization committed to helping spouses of enlisted men and women get an education, as well as helping wounded warriors upon their return home. Sommer sang in The Concordia Choir and played the lead role in the Concordia Theatre production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” He has a master's degree in acting from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Sommer lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Virginia, and children, Beatrice and Patrick.

2013 Sent Forth Recipient

Alan Bjerga '95

The 2013 Sent Forth alumni award recognizes Alan Bjerga '95 who, through his example of career dedication and global impact, exemplifies the mission of Concordia College. Bjerga is the author of the book "Endless Appetites: How the Commodities Casino Creates Hunger and Unrest." He covers agricultural policy for Bloomberg News, served as one of the youngest presidents of the National Press Club, and is past president of the North American Agricultural Journalists. In 2012, he joined the faculty of Georgetown University as an adjunct instructor. He has been recognized for his work on hunger and agriculture by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the New York Press Club, the Kansas Press Association, the  North American Agricultural Journalists, and the Overseas Press Club. Bjerga grew up on a farm near the town of Motley, Minnesota. A graduate of Concordia College and the University of Minnesota, Bjerga began his career with the St. Paul Pioneer Press and also reported for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and The Witchita Eagle. In 2012, the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication honored him with its "Above the Fold" award for outstanding achievement by alumni under 40. Along with his frequent appearances on Bloomberg Television, he has also been a contestant on "Jeopardy!" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?". He has also competed for the standup comedy title of "DC's Funniest Journalist." 

2012 Sent Forth Recipient

Joanna Thiele '97

Joanna is a registered nurse specializing in labor and delivery at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minn. She is the co-founder and former board member of the nonprofit Haiti Mission Project, which brings much-needed relief to the impoverished island nation.  Since 2005, Joanna has been both missionary and fundraiser for the Haiti Mission Project. Her efforts have helped build an orphanage, medical clinic and food storage building, in addition to helping countless individuals. Joanna’s work in Haiti exemplifies her sharing of God’s hope and love with those who feel hopeless, all the while making enduring friendships. She is about to embark on her 15th volunteer trip there.  After narrowly escaping injury in the 2010 earthquake, Joanna helped organize a field hospital and personally staffed the pharmacy, working each day until the job was done. The director of a maternity center in Port-au-Prince recalls Joanna’s 16-hour workdays and her calm, level headed, kind and affectionate care to the hundreds of wounded.  Joanna’s response to the call to serve is an inspiration to others who are moved by her vision for helping the people of Haiti. Because of her, many others have volunteered in Haiti and have fallen in love with the people of that beleaguered country.  Joanna’s volunteer work has included mentoring high school and college students, food packing at the Feed My Starving Children program, and hospice. In recognition of her volunteerism, she has received the Park Nicollet Health Services Community Service award and the Sarah Harrison Knight award.

2011 Sent Forth Recipient

Sara Meslow '92

Meslow is the founder and executive director of Camp Odayin. As a lifelong camper and heart patient, she discovered her calling in founding the only camp in the Midwest for children with heart disease. Meslow has a bachelor's degree in social work and communication, as well as a master's in youth development leadership from the University of Minnesota. She served as an elementary school social worker in Forest Lake, Minn., and volunteered at a summer camp for heart patients in California before her mother suggested she start her own in Minnesota. Camp Odayin, founded in 2001, serves more than 350 people annually. Meslow believes in the positive impact summer camp can have on everyone, especially children with special health concerns.