Meet our speakers


Bruce King, MSW
Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity, St. Olaf College
LifeSource Board Member and Kidney Recipient

Bruce is a dynamic speaker who brings humor, insight and compassion to the work of donation and transplantation.

When he’s not sharing his talents with LifeSource, he’s advancing diversity and inclusion in higher education. Currently, Bruce is the Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. He previously served as Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer at the University of South Dakota. He also served as adviser to the president on multicultural affairs at Carleton College from 1993 to 1997, system director for diversity and recruitment for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and school administrator with the Bloomington Public Schools and Northwest Suburban Integration School District in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

He attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education Management Development Program and served as a public policy fellow with the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. He chaired the Associated Colleges of the Midwest’s Committee on Minority Concerns and earned a national reputation as a founding member and second vice president of the National Association for Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

General Session Speakers

Associate Administrator, Mayo Clinic 

Ken Ackerman is the Associate Administrator for Hospital Operations at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He partners with hospital physician and nursing leadership to advance quality, safety, service, practice efficiencies and overall value at Mayo Clinic Hospital – Rochester.

He joined Mayo Clinic in 2000 and worked at Mayo Clinic in Florida, where he served as an Operations Administrator (2000-2002), Associate Administrator for Medicine and Medical Specialties (2002-2008) and Associate Administrator for Surgical and Procedural Operations (2008-2015) prior to moving to Mayo Clinic in Rochester to assume his current responsibilities.

Prior to his employment with Mayo Clinic, Mr. Ackerman completed an Administrative Residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and an Administrative Fellowship at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and a Master of Health Administration from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He holds the faculty rank of Assistant Professor of Health Care Administration in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), Certified in the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE), and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Hospital Association and LifeSource.

Chief Medical Examiner, Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office

A distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force’s Commissioned Officer Training program, Dr. Andrew Baker’s military career was shaped by his work investigating mass casualties of conflicts and terrorist attacks, as well as cold case homicides. In 2002, he began practicing as a full-time forensic pathologist in Minnesota and has served on boards, response teams, and advisory committees charged with managing mass fatalities, investigating fatal child abuse, and investigating sudden deaths in children and young adults. He is married to a strong woman, has raised three above-average children, and has rescued one painfully average dog.

Clinician and Researcher, Vance Thompson Vision; Sioux Falls, SD

Driven by the trust placed in him by patients in moments of tremendous vulnerability, Dr. Berdahl has performed more than 25,000 eye surgeries around the world. He was recently named among the top ophthalmologists in the world under age 50. He is involved in many clinical trials and has developed and co-invented surgical and non-surgical procedures and treatments. In 2006, Dr. Berdahl was called on to perform an extraordinary surgery: a cornea transplant on the Community Outreach Coordinator with Dakota Lions Sight & Health — who also happened to be his father, Alan.

Nursing Supervisor, Sanford USD Medical Center

Marcia Darner is a Nursing Supervisor for the Adult Critical Care Unit at Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A graduate of the Sioux Valley School of Nursing, she has cared for critical care patients for more than 30 years in a variety of roles. Her current responsibilities include the following services lines: Organ and Tissue Housewide Co-Chair, Cardiothoracic and Vascular, Surgical, Trauma and Transplant. She is a member of American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

Founder, Peaceful Love Warriors; Minneapolis, MN

Community builder, peacemaker, and selfless volunteer, Melvin Giles founded Peaceful Love Warriors to organize peace celebrations to unite a host of groups throughout the region. A compassionate, cheerful, anti-racist, peaceful love warrior, he is a member of AfroEco and is on the leadership team of Minnesota Food & Justice Alliance. He is featured in the book, The Compassionate Rebel. His compassion is at once magical and strategic, he believes that a happy and inviting atmosphere is the first step toward creative solutions. He is also known as the Peace Bubble Man.

Founder, Jazz Impact

Michael Gold has worked globally to help organizations use jazz improvisation to develop leadership and organizational capabilities. Michael was an early pioneer in the use of the arts to address the complex challenges of organizational improvisation, exploring new approaches to the rapidly changing dynamics of leadership, teams, and the innovation process. By combining the collaborative techniques of jazz improvisation with the concepts and practices of Appreciative Inquiry to help organizations leverage the best of their creative potential.

Chief Executive Officer, LifeSource

Since 1989 Susan Gunderson has dedicated her career to saving lives through organ and tissue donation as founder and CEO of LifeSource. LifeSource is widely recognized as a leader in innovation and best practice in organ donation.

Ms. Gunderson has held national and international leadership positions, including President, Association of Organ Procurement Organizations and President, International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement; Board director for multiple organizations including the United Network for Organ Sharing, the Alliance for Organ Donation and Transplantation, HHS Advisory Committee on Organ Transplantation, and the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation.

Since 1996 her international experience has included a faculty appointment with the University of Barcelona, Transplant Procurement Management (TPM) advanced international training course on transplant coordination, and co-director of the Global Leadership Symposium.

Susan has a strong commitment to community involvement and currently serves on the St. Olaf College Board of Regents and the University of Minnesota Medicine and Health Board of Overseers. She received her Bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and a Masters of Healthcare Administration from the University of Washington.

North Memorial Medical Center

Dr. Hawes specializes in Trauma, Critical Care and Emergency General Surgery at North Memorial Hospital. He grew up in Crystal, Minnesota and attended Armstrong High School. He received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University, his MD from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and completed his residency in General Surgery and a Fellowship in Surgical Critical Care at the University of Minnesota.

He’s married with two young daughters, ages one and four, and enjoys spending time outside with his family and teaching his wife, who is from Texas, to survive – and enjoy! – Minnesota winters.

Retired Police Officer; Phoenix, AZ

On the night of March 26, 2001, rookie police officer Jason Schechterle’s patrol car was hit at 100 mph, burst into flames, and trapped him inside. Jason survived the crash and ensuing physical and emotional catastrophe. He suffered severe burns to over 40% of his body. Over 50 surgeries, including tissue transplants, have restored his ability to accomplish simple daily tasks we often take for granted. His personal narrative represents the human experience at its very best—an ascent from despair to describing himself as the luckiest person alive.

Chaplain, Regions Hospital & Gillette Children’s Hospital

Conner is the Surgical ICU Chaplain at Regions Hospital & a Staff Chaplain at Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is also a Chaplain (1st Lieutenant) in the United States Air Force Reserve where he serves as a member of the 934th Airlift Wing “Global Vikings.”  For more than 14 years Conner has led ministries through the United States and the world and has led or participated in mission trips to four continents while working for various churches and nonprofit organizations. Conner currently lives in Northeast Minneapolis with his beautiful wife, Mayme, and his relentlessly cute daughter, Sydney.

Breakout Session Speakers

Founding Principal, Fundamental Roots

Hedi Aguiar is Founding Principal of Fundamental Roots, a soft skills training business that focuses on providing fundamental critical skills to every professional practice and relationship. As a “third culture kid” (TCK), Hedi is quadralingual and grew up in seven countries on four different continents. From a young age, cultural humility and integration was an expectation and a need.

Hedi has also been a critical care nurse in three countries for more than 20 years. After working as an ICU Educator, she transitioned into the organ, eye and tissue donation field, where she worked for two different Organ Procurement Organizations (OPO) and eventually served as the Senior Director of Programs for the Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance. She has chaired and led various national initiatives, councils and workgroups.

Saint Cloud Hospital

Jenelle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the College of St. Benedict. She has been a nurse for more than twenty years at CentraCare Saint Cloud Hospital. Her experience includes working in Orthopedics, Neuroscience/Spine, the Neuro Progressive Care Unit and, most recently, the Intensive Care Unit for the past six years.

Chaplain, Sanford USD Medical Center

The Rev. Bill Cooper is an ordained Minister of Word of Sacrament of the Presbyterian Church and has served as a staff chaplain at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD for fifteen years. Bill’s passion for donation was born during his first week in chaplaincy training (CPE) in 1992, when he witnessed an unsuccessful approach with a grieving family who rejected donation and later shared that they regretted their decision not to donate. Bill grew up in Texas, where he taught high school English for eight years before attending Princeton Theological Seminary. He completed a one-year residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at Hermann Hospital (now Memorial-Hermann) in Houston, TX, then pastored two churches and served as Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sioux Falls for four years, before joining Sanford in 2004. Bill is incredibly grateful to get to go through life with his partner Ceca – an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Sioux Falls, an extraordinary chef and gardener, and the best mother in the world – their five fun and remarkable adult children, three pets, and three grand-puppies.

Clinical Resource Coordinator, LifeSource

Cindy has been employed with LifeSource for six years, having started as a Donation Coordinator prior to moving in to her current role as a Clinical Resource Supervisor. Cindy has been a Respiratory Therapist for more than 35 years and is honored to apply her clinical expertise in maximizing donation opportunities, providing both hope and healing to donor families and waiting recipients.

Consultant and Trainer

Jon DeVries is a Consultant and Trainer who specializes in Intercultural Competence Development, Leadership Development, Team Building and Training Design. With a background in Experiential Education and Adult Learning Theories, Jon applies sound research-based methods in designing training programs. He works with large multinational corporations, small businesses, universities and colleges in the US and abroad, K-12 settings, government agencies and non-profit organizations. He has worked with individuals from more than 35 different cultures both within the USA and in other home countries.

Jon works with multicultural work teams to grow their abilities to work across their cultures and to maximize the talents and backgrounds of members of the team. He is a certified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and the Cultural Detective and a facilitator of the Intercultural Conflict Styles Inventory and Personal Leadership Method. He also utilizes Strengths Finder, Kolb’s Learning Styles Inventory, and a wide background of experiential education and adult learning theory as foundations and tools for his training.

Consultant; Professor of Communication Studies, Concordia University

Dr. Ibrahim DeVries is Professor of Communication Studies at Concordia University – St. Paul, Minnesota where she specializes in teaching graduate and undergraduate intercultural, interpersonal, persuasion, and theory & research communication courses, facilitating campus-wide intercultural/diversity sessions, and integrating service-learning into the curriculum. Basma trains and consults on intercultural topics with corporate, educational, non-profit, and community clients and facilitates workshops, simulation activities, and sessions on a variety of communication topics. 

Basma earned her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Communication Studies, her M.A. from the University of Wisconsin, and her B.A. in Psychology and Communication Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College. Basma has co-authored or authored several books and journal articles and is a frequent speaker both nationally and internationally. Basma is a frequent presenter on intercultural communication, Egyptian and Middle Eastern cultures, and the potential of individuals with Down syndrome.

Basma is Egyptian-American and has spent much time traveling and living in Egypt, Europe, and the USA, and leading annual student travel courses and service-learning groups to Egypt and Mexico, among other countries. Basma has worked in countries on six continents and lived in countries on three continents – plus the ocean! She sees herself as a traveler, writer, photographer, rule-breaker, dreamer, artist, storyteller, activist, environmentalist, and optimist. Her happiest moments often involve adventures with her husband, Jon, two sons, and extended family.

Donation Coordinator, LifeSource

Hannah is a Registered Nurse and a Donation Coordinator at LifeSource. Hannah earned her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from The College of Saint Scholastica and began her career as an ICU RN at The Medical Center of Aurora in Aurora, Colorado in 2011. Over the past 8 years, Hannah has worked in a variety of healthcare settings, including the Emergency Department, Public Health, Home Health Care and in nursing education. In 2016, Hannah joined the LifeSource team and found her true passion in caring for donor patients and the donor family’s, and is grateful for the opportunity to provide hope and healing through organ donation and transplantation.

Hennepin Healthcare Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care

Associate Program Director, Critical Care Medicine

Fellowship Medical Director of Respiratory Therapy and Pulmonary Diagnostics

Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota Medical School

Dr. Erickson was born and raised in Minnesota. She received her BA from Macalester College and MD from the University of Minnesota. She completed her internal medicine residency at Hennepin County Medical Center and pulmonary & critical care fellowship at the University of Iowa. Dr. Erickson now practices at Hennepin Healthcare and has special interests in medical education, understanding the social determinants of health, and organ donation.

Hospital Liaison, LifeSource

Jody Fischer has served as a Hospital Liaison with LifeSource for the past 7 years. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota – Moorhead.  Jody supports hospitals in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota and works with health care teams to help foster a culture of donation through relationships. She provides hospital staff education and works with hospital leadership to ensure donation processes and policies are in alignment with federal guidelines. Prior to working at LifeSource, Jody worked in Healthcare Administration for more than a decade. In her spare time, Jody enjoys taking advantage of the outdoors, spending time with family and traveling.

Nurse Manager, Hennepin Healthcare

Laura is the nurse manager of Pediatrics, PICU, NICU, and Child Life at Hennepin County Medical Center. Laura has been in a leadership role at HCMC since 2014. Prior to that, Laura worked for Lifesource as a donation coordinator and a staff nurse in Pediatrics and PICU at Hennepin County Medical Center. Her various roles have allowed her to see and participate in donation as a staff nurse, Lifesource coordinator and leadership. Laura is excited to talk about how it takes a village and a SPARK to make donation happen!

Transplant Surgeon, Mayo Clinic

Dr. Heimbach is a Professor of Surgery and the Chair of Division of Transplantation at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, MN. She received her undergraduate degree from Carleton College, her MD from the University of Minnesota, her training in General Surgery at the University of Colorado and, finally, her Fellowship in Transplantation Surgery at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Heimbach currently serves on the American Society of Transplant Surgeons Council and as an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Transplantation. She was previously on the Governing Board of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, and recently completed a term of service as the Chair of the United Network for Organ Sharing Liver and Intestine committee. Her clinical and research interests include liver transplantation for hepatobiliary malignancies, living donor transplantation, and obesity in liver transplantation.

Clinical Resource Supervisor, LifeSource

Jacqueline is a Registered Nurse and Clinical Resource Supervisor at LifeSource. Jacqueline earned an Associate’s degree in Nursing from the College Of St. Catherine’s and began her career in Critical Care Nursing at Marshfield Medical Center in Wisconsin in 1993. In 1999, Jacqueline joined LifeSource as a Donation Coordinator and then moved to the role of Clinical Resource Supervisor in 2011. Jacqueline earned her certification as Certified Procurement Transplant Coordinator in 2004.

CEO, Critical Incidents Stress Consultants

Sue is a psychotherapist who has specialized training in treating traumatic psychological stress. She has brought her understanding of acute stress reactions, and vicarious traumatization to the most unconventional places. She has worked with police/fire/EMS responders and hospital personnel for 24 years, supporting them in addressing acute stress reactions after dangerous or disturbing events. She has brought the same skill set to working with refugees and torture survivors in Minnesota. Feeling the need to personally test out her theories, she took a position with Doctors Without Borders as Mental Health Officer in Shan state, Myanmar, a place of active civil war. In August 2018, she contracted with LifeSource to provide support and training to staff to help mitigate the impact of stress and exposure to the traumatic suffering of others. Sue is the CEO of Critical Incident Stress Consultants, through which she continues to work with hospitals, medical clinics and other OPOs nationally to help the helpers.

Advanced Practice Donation Coordinator, LifeSource

Alicia is a Registered Nurse and Advanced Practice Donation Coordinator at LifeSource. Alicia earned an Associates Degrees in Nursing from Inver Hills Community College and began her nursing career in the Intensive Care Unit at United Hospital. In 2012, Alicia joined LifeSource as a Donation Coordinator and then moved to the role of Clinical Resource Supervisor in 2014. She transitioned to her current role of Advanced Practice Donation Coordinator in 2018. Alicia earned her certification as a Certified Procurement Transplant Coordinator in 2014.

Hospital Liaison, LifeSource

Barb Nelson-Agnew has been a Hospital Liaison with LifeSource for more than fourteen years. Earning a degree in Organizational Communication and Psychology from Concordia College in 1988, Barb held a series of public relations and healthcare marketing positions that led to her to a career in donation, becoming a Hospital Liaison with American Red Cross Tissue Services in 2001. She worked with North Dakota hospital partners and appreciated the small-town genuineness, and how donation was embraced.

In 2005, Red Cross dissolved their tissue services division and Barb joined the LifeSource team. She was thrilled to be able to serve the same hospitals she’d come to know so well. Over the years, her region migrated east and she now serves hospitals in northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

Barb has forged relationships with many local donor families and serves as a link between LifeSource Ambassadors and their local communities, arranging events and speaking engagements with service organizations and hospitals to increase awareness about the need for donation. In her spare time, Barb enjoys her family, cooking, traveling and photography.

Senior Director of the BioSciences Learning Center, LifeNet Health

After working as a burn/trauma nurse, Jean began working for a small hospital-based tissue bank. She loved the field of tissue transplantation, and spent 30 years in the field promoting donation and working with clinicians to ensure they had the grafts they need to save and heal the lives of their patients.

She now leads LifeNet Health’s educational department, the BioSciences Learning Center, which provides Technical Skills, Professional Skills, Compliance skills and Leadership training.

Child Life Specialist, Hennepin Healthcare

Katie O’Hearn is a Certified Child Life Specialist at Hennepin Healthcare. Katie works in the Inpatient Pediatric Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Burn Center and Surgical Services helping pediatric patients and families cope with the stress of hospitalization. She uses play, books, art, and developmentally appropriate explanations to ensure patients understand procedures and medical conditions. Katie has a passion for supporting families through trauma and end of life scenarios, and often partners with LifeSource to help support families as they begin the journey of donation.

Saint Cloud Hospital 

Shawn Petersen graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication in 1999. Shawn worked in business and as an entrepreneur prior to his career in healthcare. As the owner/operator of a fine dining restaurant he received many awards, including the inaugural 5 under 40 award for top business leaders in Central Minnesota by ROI magazine and St. Cloud Times.

In 2009, he transitioned into healthcare and went to work for CentraCare at Saint Cloud Hospital. In 2014, he earned a Bachelor of Science Nursing degree from St. Scholastica and has been a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Cloud Hospital since 2015. Shawn lives in Sartell, Minnesota on the Mississippi River with his wife, two daughters and new puppy.

Kidney Transplant Social Worker, Hennepin Healthcare

Sarah Schuh is a kidney transplant social worker at Hennepin Healthcare. Sarah collaborates with the interdisciplinary team to provide psychosocial assessment and case management for kidney transplant patients to maximize the patient’s social functioning and adjustment. She has been with the transplant team for 15 years and was honored with the national award for Social Work in a Transplant Setting from the Council of Nephrology Social Workers in 2011. She has been a presenter at numerous conferences and taught a social work license exam review course for 6 years.

Family Support Manager, LifeSource

Laura is the Family Services Manager at LifeSource where she supports the team that meets with families in the hospital setting and journeys with them through the process of donation. Her position at LifeSource has allowed her to integrate experiences from dual careers in healthcare and social services. After 20 years as an Occupational Therapist at Abbott Northwestern she obtained her Masters in Social Work. Prior to LifeSource, Laura’s social work career focused on working cross-culturally with families experiencing great loss and transition.

Transplant Operations Manager, University of Minnesota

Emily is Operations Manager for the Solid Organ Transplant service line at Unviersity of Minnesota Health. Emily has over 15 years of transplant experience, including inpatient transplant coordination, pre- and post-transplant care coordination, organ offer and procurement call, Transplant Regulatory and Quality and, most recently, Transplant Administration.

Clinical Hospital Coordinator, LifeSource

Katelyn Wilson is passionate about saving lives through transplantation, and caring for families at the time of donation. With degrees in both nursing and social work, she began her career in oncology and then hospice, before finding her calling as a Clinical Hospital Coordinator with LifeSource. She currently serves the hospital partners and families of northeastern Minnesota and the Twin Ports.

“I recognize the importance of our relationships with hospitals and the people who care directly for our donors; without them, donation simply cannot happen. It’s my mission to ensure that all of my hospitals are confident, competent, and feel good about the donation process so we can continue to save lives and offer hope and healing through donation together”.

In her spare time, Katelyn loves being a mom to her two little boys, volunteering in her community, reading, listening to podcasts, walks in the woods, and being with her Pomeranian Gemma.