state  Official Nebraska Government Website

Governor’s Summit Speakers

2017 Governor Summit Speakers

Lindsey Woolsey Bio
Tom Barry Bio
Matthew L. Blomstedt, Ph.D. Bio
Mike Boyle Bio
Brian Bywater Bio
Lane Carr Bio
Courtney Dentlinger Bio
Courtney Dunbar Bio
Dr. Jeff Hoffman Bio
Josh Jones Bio
Rich Katt Bio
Douglas Kristensen Bio
Richard Langer Bio
Dr. Cherie Larson Bio
Greg Lickteig Bio
John Madsen Bio
Cliff Mesner Bio
Deb Miller Bio
Mickie Mueller Bio
Pat Nauroth Bio
Kyle Schneweis, P.E. Bio
Craig Stoffel Bio
Minister Kazuhiro Suzuki Bio
Brian Turner Bio
Lynne Webster Bio
Dr. Mark Weichel Bio

Lindsey Woolsey Picture

Lindsey Woolsey
The Woolsey Group

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Lindsey Woolsey is the President and principal consultant of The Woolsey Group, a research, technical assistance and facilitation firm that works with CEOs and industry leadership to connect their needs to education, training and economic development programs. The Woolsey Group’s mission is two-fold: to ensure industries thrive and grow in their regional economies, and to get people the right education and training at the right time for the jobs that exist now in their local labor market. This work involves high-levels of industry engagement; understanding industry trends and opportunities; community partnership building; and knowledge about student and worker advancement policy and practice.Ms. Woolsey is a national expert in the field of industry sector and cluster strategies. For over a decade she has studied the policy and program elements of successful industry strategies, including engaging industry; the role of intermediaries; coordination of programs to support employers and workers; career pathways; work-based learning; rural economies; and evaluation and benchmarking models. She is published in each of these areas.

Ms. Woolsey has worked at the state policy level in some capacity in half of the states in the U.S., and intensively with over a dozen. She is known for her unique capacity to engage CEOs directly, harness their passions, and sustain their co-investment in shared solutions to pressing workforce and other issues. She is relied upon by national organizations for her industry partnership knowledge, including the U.S. Department of Labor, Pew Charitable Trusts and National Governors Association. In 2017, her experience and model of industry partnerships was acknowledged by JP Morgan Chase Foundation which provided funding for a national learning academy. For more information on the resulting learning community, visit For more information on Lindsey Woolsey, visit

Lindsey earned a Masters in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University where she studied labor economics and workforce development, and her BA in International Relations from American University. She resides with her family on Bainbridge Island in Washington State


Tom Barry Picture

Tom Barry
Former Secretary
Florida Department of Transportation

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Tom Barry has served in a variety of roles for Atkins, most recently as DOT Business Unit Director. He also has been a senior advisor on projects throughout the country, including numerous Florida DOT GEC Programs, the Tennessee Long Range Transportation Plan, North Carolina DOT 2040 Plan, and the North Carolina DOT I-95 Tolling Feasibility Study.Before joining Atkins, he served as FDOT Secretary from August 1997 to February 2003, Assistant Secretary for Finance and Administration since July 1992, and directed FDOT operations in ten central Florida counties as District Five Secretary from August 1989 to July 1992. He started at FDOT in 1979.

Tom grew up in the Philadelphia area. He graduated from Penn State in 1979, with a BSCE degree. He and his wife Betty Ann live in Winter Springs, Florida. They have two daughters, Caitlin and Brianna, both of whom graduated from Florida State.


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Matthew L. Blomstedt, Ph.D.
Commissioner of Education
Department of Education

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Dr. Blomstedt was named Commissioner of Education by the Nebraska State Board of Education on January 2, 2014. In two years, Dr. Blomstedt has led the successful development and implementation of a comprehensive state accountability system, AQuESTT, and positioned Nebraska to meet new federal requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.AQuESTT – Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow – is Nebraska’s next-generation accountability system. AQuESTT goes beyond test scores and graduation rates to classify schools and districts under a system that provides critical information for continuous school improvement. This forward-thinking system is expected to position Nebraska to not only meet new federal guidelines but to also empower the state’s excellent schools to become even better while helping schools needing improvement. AQuESTT’s goal is to provide the data and information needed to strengthen school and district support of student learning by focusing on every student every day. AQuESTT has earned the support of Nebraska educators, state education policy leaders and the State Board of Education.

To further develop and focus on improvement efforts, Dr. Blomstedt and the State Board of Education have jointly launched a comprehensive strategic planning process to guide their student-focused work and that of the Nebraska Department of Education.

Dr. Blomstedt is a native Nebraskan whose career has focused on local, regional and statewide education issues. Blomstedt’s experience includes education finance and organization, assessment and accountability, professional development, and the development of systems to enhance blended and distance learning opportunities across the state.

Dr. Blomstedt earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Higher Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as well as a Master’s Degree in Community and Regional Planning.


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Mike Boyle
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp, USA

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Mike graduated from UNL in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Desiring to remain in Lincoln, Mike went to work for Kawasaki. He started in the engineering department as a process engineer; designing robot welding cells and automation systems, new composite molding and joining processes, and bringing new Jetski personal watercraft and motorcycles into production. Eventually Mike was promoted to Engineering Manager, overseeing all engineering activity at the Lincoln plant. At various times, he also managed Production, Quality, and Information Technology departments. In 2007, he became Plant Manager/Vice President, overseeing operations at Kawasaki’s Lincoln plant. In 2017, Mike was promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, currently responsible for operations in the Lincoln and Maryville, Missouri plants. Mike lives in Lincoln with wife Pam, they have 2 daughters.


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Brian Bywater
Community Housing Specialist
Schuyler Community Development

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Brian Bywater is the Community Housing Specialist with Schuyler Community Development, a 501(c)(3) located in Schuyler, Nebraska, and has been in this role since October 2014. The Community Housing Specialist position was created to place a full-time focus on growing Schuyler’s stock, and exists through a partnership between NIFA, local government and business sources to build capacity through facilitating accelerated expansion of new housing construction to continue upgrading overall quality of existing housing stock and to grow Schuyler’s property tax base. To date, Brian is credited with helping establish 27 housing units in Schuyler.Prior to becoming Community Housing Specialist, Brian spent 20 years in the banking industry with experience in Bankcard telemarketing, credit and collections, as well as consumer, commercial, agricultural and residential mortgage lending.

Brian holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and History from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, and holds an MBA from Bellevue University. He is also a 2016 graduate of the Heartland Economic Development Course.

Brian is married to Christina who is the Vocal Music Director at Schuyler Central High School, and they are the parents of two sons, Connor (15) and Gavin (11).


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Lane Carr
Innovation Grant Manager
Nebraska Department of Education

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Originally from Ainsworth, Nebraska, Lane Carr attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying political science and history. Upon graduation, Carr taught science and coached for three years in Letcher County, Kentucky. He continued his education by earning a Master of Public Policy (MPP) in Education Policy from Vanderbilt University with a particular emphasis on rural education, education and community development, career and technical education, and legislative affairs. Mr. Carr now manages Nebraska’s Innovation Grant Fund. First awarded in 2017, these lottery-funded grants incentivize innovative practices in education focused on improving student outcomes and fostering a culture of experimentation and achievement in the state’s schools. Five recipients were awarded the 30-month grants: Scottsbluff Career Academy, Plattsmouth Career Academy, Westside Personalized Learning, the Expanded Learning Opportunities Design Challenge, and the ESU Coordinating Council’s Data Driven Ecosystem Enhancing Teaching and Improving Learning for Students (DE2TAILS).


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Courtney Dentlinger
Nebraska Department of Economic Development

Contact Information

800-426-6505 or 402-471-3125

Courtney Dentlinger is director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED). Under Dentlinger’s leadership, the department is undergoing a comprehensive reorganization to align the agency to better grow the state through attraction of innovative industries and talent. The state was recently awarded the prestigious 1st place Governor’s Cup award from Site Selection magazine. Nebraska won first place in the nation for the most qualifying new and expanded facilities per capita in 2016.

Prior to Dentlinger’s leadership at DED, she served as Executive Director of the Norfolk Area Economic Development Council, in Norfolk, Neb., where she built a new economic development department for the City of Norfolk from the ground up.

Dentlinger also served in the Administration of Northeast Community College. During her tenure as the Executive Director of Development, she managed one of the largest capital campaigns in Northeast Nebraska in recent history.

From 2005-2007, she practiced law as an Associate Attorney at Fitzgerald, Vetter & Temple in Norfolk, and from 2001-2004, she served as Associate Director of Government Relations with the nonprofit NAFSA: Association of International Educators in Washington, D.C, where she monitored legislation and regulations affecting international education, and worked with Congress and federal agencies to implement laws and regulations favorable to promoting international education.

Dentlinger holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, International Studies and Spanish from Wayne State College in Wayne, Neb., and a Juris Doctor from George Washington University College of Law in Washington, D.C.

Dentlinger currently serves on numerous boards of directors, including Bio Nebraska, Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Nebraska Advanced Manufacturing Coalition, Nebraska Diplomats, Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, University of Nebraska – Lincoln College of Business Administration and Workforce Investment Board.


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Courtney Dunbar, CEcD, EDFP, AICP
Industrial Program and Economic Development Leader
Olsson Associates

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Courtney Dunbar is the Industrial Program and Economic Development Leader for Olsson Associates, a civil engineering firm that was ranked number 106 on the Engineering News-Record list of Top 500 Design Firms in 2017, and employs more than 1,000 staff members. Olsson Associates’ staff consists of highly trained professional and technical personnel with broad experience in all phases of engineering design and construction phase services.Courtney has 19 years of combined career experiences in economic development, site selection, community planning, and project funding. In her current role as Industrial Program and Economic Development Leader, she leads the industrial client program strategy and is actively engaged in industrial site planning, site selection, site certification, economic analysis, and community planning. Her goal is to align the intellectual and physical resources of potential developmental areas or sites with their economic needs. She has written many community plans focused on developing vital, innovative communities that entice economic growth and redevelopment as well as addressing funding strategies.

Her career has centered on industrial and base-company development. She serves as a contributing writer for both Site Selection and Area Development magazines with articles centered on site preparedness for economic development opportunities. She is a sought after speaker nationally on topics related to economic development site preparedness. Courtney’s career has centered on primary development, community planning, and finance. She is a faculty instructor on topics of real estate and infrastructure development at both the Heartland Basic Economic Development Institute and the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute. During her tenure as the eastern field representative for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, she served as the statewide manager for industrial site evaluations and as the advisor to agency management on siting and funding speculative industrial park projects. She evaluated and recommended placement of over $5 Million in CDBG and Workforce Training Funding. Courtney’s comprehensive expertise in economic planning, development analysis, industrial infrastructure requirements and project finance uniquely positions her as a qualified industrial site development partner.

Courtney received her Masters of Community and Regional Planning from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and is a certified community and economic developer, certified economic development professional, and holds an American Institute of Certified Planners certification. She is actively involved in the Omaha, Nebraska, volunteer community and was recognized as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Omahans” in 2007.


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Dr. Jeff Hoffman
Norfolk Career Academy Coordinator
Norfolk Public Schools

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Dr. Jeff Hoffman has served as the Career Academy Coordinator for Norfolk Public Schools the past 2 years. Prior to returning to his hometown of Norfolk, Jeff worked in higher education as a department chair at Hastings College and as an assistant professor at Central Connecticut State University, both in the area of Physical Education & Human Performance. An important portion of Norfolk Public Schools’ strategic plan has centered on career and technical education including the creation of the position of Career Academy Coordinator. Jeff has helped to organize the four inaugural academies that were introduced in the 2016-17 academic year as well as eight new academies students are enrolled in for the 2017-18 academic year. Jeff has enjoyed his role in developing partnerships with both the business and higher education community in Norfolk and surrounding areas and has helped build a solid team with a common goal of helping students explore their interests and passions and becoming both college and career ready.


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Josh Jones
Resource Teacher
The Career Academy Lincoln

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Mr. Jones began his teaching career in New York City as part of Teach For America. As a teacher, his primary focus has been students who have been identified with an Individualized Education Plan. During these 15 years, he has served in schools in The Bronx, Denver, and Lincoln, ranging from preschool to 12th grade. The past six years Mr. Jones has served as an administrator both during the school day and after school hours. He is currently the Coordinator at The Career Academy with Lincoln Public Schools and Southeast Community College. Josh’s passion for career readiness led him to partner with Beyond School Bells to author “So you want to be…” a curriculum designed specifically for middle school aged students in the after school setting.


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Rich Katt
State Director, Nebraska Career Education
Nebraska Department of Education

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Richard Katt is a graduate of the University of Nebraska Lincoln with degrees in Career and Technical Education and Adult Education. Rich is currently an Administrator with the Curriculum and Instruction Team in the Nebraska Department of Education. He serves as State Director for Career Education, administers the Federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act, and provides leadership in curriculum and instruction and school improvement for Nebraska schools and community colleges. His work currently involves creating a statewide career education system to help students PreK-14 explore career options and be both academically and technically prepared for the career of their choice.

Rich’s work involves extensive coordination of activities between workforce and economic development and education. He serves on the committee for Nebraska’s Essential Education Policy which details Nebraska’s vision for student success in PreK-16 education. He is past chair of FutureForce Nebraska, a collaboration of PreK-12 education, postsecondary education, government agencies, workforce and economic development professionals and business and industry representatives and past chair of the Nebraska Partner Council, a collaboration of representatives of federal programs from the Departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services. The Partner Council works to create partnerships and streamline efforts between programs to provide the most effective and efficient service to Nebraskans.

He has been an educator for over 30 years as a teacher, Nebraska FFA Executive Director, and State Director for Agriculture Education prior to his current position. He is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Rich is Past President of the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education consortium, the National Career Technical Education Foundation and the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education. He has presented over 100 keynote addresses and numerous workshops focusing on student engagement and relevance of education aligned with student career aspirations. He was named the 2001 and 2009 Manager of the Year by the Nebraska Department of Education and has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture in recognition of his work with youth leadership development.


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Douglas Kristensen
University of Nebraska at Kearney

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Douglas Kristensen was appointed to lead the University of Nebraska at Kearney in July 2002 following a distinguished career in the Nebraska Legislature. He represented the 37th legislative district from 1989-2002 and, at the time he retired from office, was the longest serving Speaker of the Legislature. During the time he held political office he practiced law and was a partner in the law firm of Lieske & Kristensen in Minden, Nebraska. Chancellor Kristensen received his bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from Drake University.He is an enthusiastic advocate of everything UNK and, since assuming his position as University Chancellor, he has directed a number of dramatic campus renewal projects – including construction of Antelope and Nester suite-style residence halls and refurbishing UNK’s traditional residence halls; Cope Stadium and Foster Field; a new central utilities plant; upgrading the Nebraskan Student Union and campus dining facilities; extensive landscape improvements; and major renovation of Bruner Hall of Science. In addition, the campus’s state-of-the-art Wellness Center opened in 2014, and, in August 2015, in an historic collaboration with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, UNK celebrated the grand opening of its new Health Science Education Complex.

Work is also beginning on University Village, an ambitious and exciting initiative that will double the size of the existing campus. The development of the 107-acre tract of land will bring businesses, housing, services, recreation and academic buildings together in a unique, urban neighborhood setting.

Chancellor Kristensen and his wife, District Judge Terri S. Harder, have two daughters, Morgan and Paige. Morgan is a UNK graduate and now a student at the University of Nebraska College of Law; Paige is a sophomore at UNK.


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Richard Langer
President and Managing Director

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Richard Langer is the President and Managing Director of Quètica, a transportation, supply chain and global trade information technology consulting firm. He is a retired senior military officer with various career assignments designing and managing expeditionary supply chains and transportation networks. Langer is a well-respected industry expert in government and private sector designing and building global supply chain, transportation and trade systems for half of the Fortune 500 and Federal Government.Quètica’s principals have a deep understanding of government and commercial transportation, supply chain, global trade and information technology. Langer initiated the concept and led the effort to adapt supply chain network optimization, a proven private sector practice, to public freight networks and to reduce transportation costs for local businesses.


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Dr. Cherie Larson
Director of Instructional Services
Plattsmouth Community Schools

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Dr. Cherie Larson has worked as Director of Instructional Service at the Plattsmouth Community School District since 2006. During that time, she has been actively involved in writing and implementing reVISION and Nebraska Innovation Grants related to Wall-to-Wall career education. She is an experienced educator who has taught all subject areas in grades one through eight and at the college level. Having worked in Africa, Singapore, South Carolina, Iowa, and Nebraska, she has had the privilege of seeing issues from multiple perspectives. She earned her Bachelors in Education from the University of Northern Iowa and her Master and Doctorate of Philosophy in Education from the University of South Carolina. She is active in the education and local community and passionate about preparing students for their future.


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Greg Lickteig
Director, Specialty Grain
The Scoular Company

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Greg Lickteig is the Director of Scoular’s Specialty Grains group. In this capacity, he oversees the Company’s efforts in Non-GMO, organic, identity preserved and specialty grains. The group manages world-wide supply chains with sales in excess of $220 million and ships product via truck, rail, barge, and container.The Specialty Grain group supplies product to food and feed manufacturers in over 18 countries from North American origins and has been managing supply chains to Japan for over twenty years. Scoular supplies Japan with corn, soybeans, DDGS, meal, barley, buckwheat, popcorn, and other products.

Greg joined Scoular in 1994 and orchestrated the Company’s entry into the specialty markets and was the first Scoular business to export grain by container. In 1995, Greg championed Scoular’s entry into the organic market and Scoular’s certification.

Born and raised on an Iowa grain and livestock farm, Greg graduated summa cum laude from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

Greg and his wife Stacey reside in Omaha and have four children.


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John Madsen
Krotters Home and Auto Centers

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John Madsen from Stuart, Nebraska is Vice-President of Krotters Home and Auto Centers, a family-owned and operated business which celebrated its 125th anniversary this past year. Krotters operate 6 Do-it Best lumber/hardware locations in Ainsworth, Bassett, Stuart, Atkinson and Spencer, NE and Gregory, SD. They have a Design Center with a full-line major appliance store and the Chevrolet – Buick – GM Truck dealership in O’Neill, NE. John’s wife, Pat, is the oldest of the fourth generation of owners from the Krotter family.He has been actively involved in Community and Economic Development since the late ‘70s, having served on the Stuart Village Board and Stuart Development Corporation. He was the founding Chairman of CNEDD and helped form Central Nebraska Housing and Economic Developers and is still on the board of directors of both groups.

Madsen recently served on the NBA Next Generation Housing Task Force and is a member of the JHEDI Task Force.


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Cliff Mesner
Mesner Development Co.

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Cliff Mesner and his wife Kathy are partners in Mesner Law Office and Mesner Development Co. in Central City, Nebraska. The Mesners have been involved in community economic development work in Central City and throughout rural Nebraska for many years. Cliff served as the City Attorney and Economic Development Director of Central City for more than 25 years.Serving as an Economic Development Director taught Cliff the importance of housing to the growth of small communities. The Mesners have experience in Low Income Housing Tax Credit developments, subdivision development, affordable and market rate housing, multifamily and single family housing, spec housing, student housing, new neighborhoods programs and the workforce housing initiative pilot program. They have worked with local, state and federal agencies to bring housing investment dollars to small towns in Nebraska and Kansas.

Madsen recently served on the NBA Next Generation Housing Task Force and is a member of the JHEDI Task Force.

In addition, Cliff has also spent many volunteer hours helping communities form investment clubs and home builder groups to recruit local private resources for business and housing development. Most recently the Mesners have started doing solar development for communities in the State.


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Deb Miller
Surface Transportation Board

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Deb Miller was sworn in on April 28, 2014, as a Member of the Board for a term of office expiring on December 31, 2017. She is currently serving as a Commissioner at the Surface Transportation Board.Commissioner Miller, a Democrat from Kansas, is the Board’s 12th Member since the agency’s inception in 1996.

Ms. Miller most recently served as a Senior Consultant with Cambridge Systematics, Inc., a firm specializing in transportation planning and policy, primarily for public-sector clients. From 2003 to 2011 Ms. Miller served as the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation (Kansas DOT), a term of office marked by her distinguished service for three successive Governors of Kansas. She has the distinction of being the longest-serving Secretary of Transportation in Kansas history.

Ms. Miller also worked as a Senior consultant with Cambridge Systematics, Inc., a firm specializing in transportation planning and policy primarily for public-sector clients, for HNTB, a national architecture, engineering, and planning firm where she provided strategic planning and public-communications assistance to state departments of transportation and municipalities, and as the Director of the Kansas DOT’s Division of Planning and Development. Before beginning her work in transportation, Ms. Miller was a Policy Assistant to the Governor of Kansas.

Ms. Miller has been active with the Transportation Research Board (TRB), a division of the National Research Council that is the principal operating agency of the National Academies of Sciences, and was a member of the TRB's Executive Committee for five years, including a year serving as Chair. She also has been active with the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials, where she headed numerous task forces and workgroups and served for nine years as the Chair of the Standing Committee on Planning. She also served on the Eno Foundation's Board of Advisors.

Ms. Miller graduated magna cum laude from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Sociology.


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Mickie Mueller
Education Technology Facilitator
Norfolk Public Schools

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Mickie Mueller is the Educational Technology Facilitator for Norfolk Public Schools. Prior to becoming the Educational Technology Facilitator, she was a Business and Information Technology instructor for 17 years. She served as the district’s Perkins Grant Coordinator from 2008 to 2017. In 2014, Norfolk Public Schools developed a strategic action plan with three main goals one of which was to expand career awareness activities and provide course offerings around the Nebraska Career Clusters. As a member of this committee, Mickie was tasked with leading the district through the reVISION process. While Mickie is in the process of stepping away from her duties as Perkins and reVISION Coordinator, Career and Technical Education will always hold a special place in her heart. CTE gave her her start in public education in Nebraska and because of that, she has enjoyed 23 years (and counting) of doing what she loves.


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Pat Nauroth
Beatrice Public Schools

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Pat Nauroth has served the education field for more than 35 years. Nauroth is currently in his fifth year as Superintendent of Beatrice Public Schools. He previously held positions as a middle school teacher, an elementary principal, a high school principal, and several roles at the central office level.

As a high school principal, Nauroth led the implementation of personalized learning plans, the creation of an advisor program, and spearheaded collaboration with local businesses, intermediate agencies, and other school districts in the development of 21st Century skills for graduates. Nauroth partnered with Northeast Community College to create new career academies, helping students and their families plan for high school and post-secondary education.

Currently, Nauroth is working with high school administration and Southeast Community College to increase the number of career academies and career opportunities for students at Beatrice High School. He has also established partnerships with area businesses, economic development agencies, and Southeast Community College to increase the number and variety of job experiences secondary students receive (grades 6-12).


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Kyle Schneweis, P.E.
Nebraska Department of Roads

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Kyle Schneweis was appointed by Governor Pete Ricketts to serve as the Director of the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) in May 2015. In that position, Schneweis leads the agency’s more than 2,100 employees in planning for and addressing Nebraska’s transportation needs.Prior to his appointment with NDOR, Schneweis was a partner at an industry leading transportation policy and financial consulting firm where he provided strategic planning and performance management expertise to more than twenty-five national, state and local clients. He also has significant experience in the public sector, having served at the Kansas Department of Transportation where he played an instrumental role in developing and winning legislative approval for the state’s $8.2 billion transportation investment program.

This balance of private and public sector experience allows Director Schneweis to bring a unique perspective to NDOR. His customer-focused and data-driven approach emphasizes transparency and stakeholder engagement and he understands the critical role strategic transportation investments can play in strengthening Nebraska’s economy.

Director Schneweis earned his civil engineering degree from the University of North Dakota and is a licensed professional engineer. He and his wife Laurel are parents to two toddler boys, Mazlo and Karver.


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Craig Stoffel
Vice President Global Logistics
Werner Enterprises

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Craig Stoffel is the vice president global logistics at Werner Enterprises. Throughout his more than 25 years at Werner, he has held a variety of positions within Operations, Marketing, Process Engineering and Business Development and has been an integral part of the management and development of Werner’s non-asset logistics services. Stoffel helped launch and currently manages the Werner Final Mile division and Werner Global Logistics subsidiary companies and its global freight forwarding operations, which encompasses global transportation management, international shipping , Ocean, Air and customs brokerage, in China, Mexico, Australia and the United States. Stoffel holds a finance degree from Creighton University in Omaha, NE.

Werner Enterprises, Inc. was founded in 1956 and is a premier transportation and logistics company, with coverage throughout North America, Asia, Europe, South America, Africa and Australia. Werner maintains its global headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska and maintains offices in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China and Australia. Werner is among the five largest truckload carriers in the United States, with a diversified portfolio of transportation services that includes dedicated van, temperature-controlled and flatbed; medium-to-long-haul, regional and local van; and expedited services. Werner's Value Added Services portfolio includes freight management, truck brokerage, intermodal, and international services. International services are provided through Werner’s domestic and global subsidiary companies and include ocean, air and ground transportation; freight forwarding; and customs brokerage. Werner Enterprises' common stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Select MarketSM under the symbol “WERN”. For further information about Werner, visit the company’s website at


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Kazuhiro Suzuki
Minister for Economic Affairs
Embassy of Japan

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(202) 238-6700

Minister Kazuhiro Suzuki was appointed Minister for Economic Affairs at the Embassy of Japan in Washington D.C. on September 16, 2016. He began his career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 1986. During his time in the Foreign Ministry, he has held a variety of positions, including Principal Deputy Director of the Northeast Asia Division, in charge of the Korean Peninsula, and Senior Coordinator in the Foreign Policy Bureau.

One of his overseas postings was as a Political Counsellor at the Embassy of Japan in the People’s Republic of China from 2004 to 2007. From August 2007 to October 2013, he served as Director for Japan-U.S. Security Affairs, and for embassies and consulates management, and then, Director of Aid Policy and Management for the International Cooperation Bureau. He served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative of Japan to the African Union from December 2013 until September 2016, simultaneously acting as the Co-Chairman of the African Union Partners Group in the diplomatic corps of Addis Ababa.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Tokyo, Master’s degree in Political Science from Stanford University and Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University.


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Brian Turner
Vice President and General Manager
Distefano Technology and Manufacturing

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Brian Turner, currently VP/General Manager of Distefano Tool & Mfg Co. located in Omaha NE, has more than 25 years’ experience in manufacturing and robotic automation. He has held positions from Production Control to Plant Management and finally the General Management of companies during that time. After getting a degree in business from UNL he also is a Caterpillar Corp. trained Six Sigma Green belt and a Deming disciple and serves on many non-profit boards.

Being responsible for B2B and B2C companies and products each with its own unique challenges has allowed him to draw from this diverse experience to share with others who may be experiencing challenging times in their companies with a passion for helping the youth of today find their way in manufacturing. He has spoken at numerous national and regional events on many topics ranging from automation to LEAN.


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Lynne Webster
High School Counselor
Boone Central High School

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Lynne Webster has spent 19 years in education, teaching in Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. She received her BA from Doane College in Elementary and Special Education and an MA from Doane College in Curriculum and Instruction. After spending 7 years teaching K-12 special education, she obtained an MA from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in Secondary School Counseling and has been employed with Boone Central Schools for the past 12 years as the high school counselor.

She has a passion for career education and spearheaded Boone Central's journey through the reVISION process and eventual creation of a unique Career Academy model for a rural, C-1 school. The Career Academy model at BCHS incorporates CTE teachers, core teachers and local business partners to create authentic experiences for students. Boone Central, comprised of the Albion and Petersburg communities, works to expose students to potential career opportunities based on the students' interests and local career or job opportunities. Boone Central High School received the 2016 Outstanding Rule 47 Career Academy Award for their work in developing a high quality Career Academy Program.


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Dr. Mark Weichel
Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning
Westside Community Schools

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Dr. Mark Weichel has served as Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning for the Westside Community Schools in Omaha, Nebraska, since 2013. While at Westside, he has led various teams in the creation of a visionary strategic plan and accompanying assessment system, a common master schedule for all ten district elementary buildings, personalized learning implementations, and Professional Learning Communities. Most notably, the district has seen growth in key student learning outcomes in this time. He began his career teaching social studies at Papillion Junior High School in 1996 and completed his Master of Education in Secondary Education at the University of Nebraska-Omaha 1997. This was followed by a Master of Education degree in Educational Administration and Supervision also at UNO. In 2002, Dr. Weichel earned his Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Omaha.

Involved in professional organizations throughout his career, Dr. Weichel has held membership in the Association of Supervision & Curriculum Development, Learning Forward, the Nebraska Council of School Administrators, the Nebraska Association of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, and the 21st Century Consortium, which includes seven high performing districts around the country. In addition, he is a national presenter and author on the topics of Professional Learning Communities and Personalized Learning in his work as an associate with Solution Tree. He was also a member of the Leadership Omaha Graduate Class 37 through the Omaha Chamber of Commerce in 2015.