ClearWay Minnesota(SM) Board of Directors Elects New Officers, Members

New members bring expertise in areas of research, diversity and thought leadership

Sep 14, 2011, 14:58 ET from ClearWay Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today ClearWay Minnesota held its Annual Meeting, at which the organization's Board of Directors elected new officers, introduced new Board Members and thanked departing ones. Vernae Hasbargen was approved as the new ClearWay Minnesota Board Chair. The full roster of new officers is as follows:

  • Vernae Hasbargen, Board Chair – The former executive director of the Minnesota Rural Education Association and a current or former board member at organizations including the Perpich Center for Art Education, Hasbargen is a veteran member of the ClearWay Minnesota Board who just completed her second one-year term as Board Vice Chair.
  • James Deal, Vice Chair – Deal is a Board Director for QBE/NAU Country Insurance Company, owner of PSD Holdings, LLC, and a commissioner for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
  • The Honorable Jim Rhodes, Treasurer – Rep. Rhodes is a former state lawmaker and former legislative director for the Minnesota Department of Administration and the Minnesota Office of Enterprise Technology. He was appointed to the ClearWay Minnesota Board by former Governor Tim Pawlenty.
  • Joy Rikala, Secretary – Rikala is an independent consultant and former Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agent and Minnetonka police chief.

All new officers were elected to one-year terms.

Hasbargen is replacing attorney and businessman David F. Fisher, who served a two-year term as Chair. Fisher's term as Chair was distinguished by major strategic planning initiatives.

"During David Fisher's time as Board Chair, Minnesota saw its adult smoking rate hit a new all-time low of 16.1 percent, and the number of Minnesotans who used our QUITPLAN® Services hit an all-time high," Hasbargen said. "But perhaps David's greatest contribution was helping to shape ClearWay Minnesota's long-term strategic vision and the legacy we hope to leave for the future. I will enjoy continuing my work with this talented Board as we aim to build on his accomplishments."

New Board Members were also introduced at today's meeting. They are:

  • Ellen M. Denzen, a researcher with the National Marrow Donor Program, whose professional interests include tobacco control policy and eliminating health care disparities for transplant populations;
  • Vivian Jenkins Nelsen, cofounder, president and CEO of the INTER-RACE Institute, a diversity think-tank at Augsburg College, and a nationally recognized diversity practitioner, trainer and researcher; and
  • Joel A. Swanson II, senior vice president at Risdall McKinney Public Relations and an expert in thought leadership and branding initiatives within health care organizations.

Ms. Nelsen's term began in July, and the others will begin their terms this month.

Departing Board Members include Fisher, the Honorable Richard Mulder, M.D., and Nancy Omondi. On behalf of the ClearWay Minnesota Board and staff, Hasbargen thanked the outgoing members for their service. "The knowledge, energy and passion for health contributed by these individuals will be greatly missed," she said.

About ClearWay Minnesota(SM)

ClearWay Minnesota is an independent, nonprofit organization that improves the health of Minnesotans by reducing the harm caused by tobacco. ClearWay Minnesota serves Minnesota through its grant-making program, QUITPLAN® stop-smoking services and statewide outreach activities. It is funded with 3 percent of the state's 1998 tobacco settlement.

For more information on ClearWay Minnesota or QUITPLAN Services, call 952-767-1400 or visit

SOURCE ClearWay Minnesota