LifeScience Alley, the trade association representing Minnesota's medical technology and life sciences companies, is changing leadership. Dale Wahlstrom on Wednesday announced his retirement, effective Aug. 15, but he will step down as president and CEO on May 1.
Shaye Mandle, executive vice president and chief operating officer, was chosen to replace him.
In a statement, LifeScience Alley board Chairman Steve Snyder said: "LifeScience Alley is grateful to Dale Wahlstrom for his strong and insightful leadership over the past 10 years. His focus on retaining and growing Minnesota's leadership in the life sciences has brought a new level of recognition and distinction to LifeScience Alley and our region. As the organization celebrates its 30-year anniversary, we are excited about our future and look to Shaye to guide LifeScience Alley through the next phase of its growth as a globally respected trade association."
Wahlstrom and Mandle have worked closely for the past three years on a number of initiatives, including the creation of the Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC), a public-private partnership between the medical device industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.
"Dale has been a tremendous mentor to me," Mandle said in a statement. "I am excited to continue LSA's legacy of representing this community and to push us further as one of the world's great associations."
Said Wahlstrom: "It has been an honor for me to serve our life science communities over the past 10 years. Shaye will be an excellent leader for our organization."
Bill McCormack, chairman of the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, said Mandle's background of public and private business leadership and his knowledge of how LifeScience Alley and its subsidiaries will serve the industry and the region.
In an interview Wednesday, Mandle said the challenge for LifeScience Alley, which has nearly 700 members representing everything from medical technology to pharmaceuticals, is to respond to changing needs and concerns — ranging from globalization to the regulatory approval process to obstacles involving insurance reimbursement.
"The challenge for us ... is to redefine what service delivery in that space looks like," Mandle said. "What we want to do is take the best of that origin, combined with new service offerings, to be of the highest value to our members that we can be."
That means being engaged with an increasingly active board of directors, he said.
Wahlstrom is well known in local medical technology circles, having retired from Medtronic in 2006. He founded the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota in 2004 and led the organization through a strategic alignment with LifeScience Alley in 2010, serving as the joint president and CEO since that time.
As head of LIfeScience Alley, Wahlstrom helped create "Destination 2025," the current 20-year road map for Minnesota's bioscience industry. He also helped launch the Bio-Industrial Partnership. He has been a key player in efforts to bring together leaders from the industry, academia and the public sector.
In 2013, he was awarded the Engineering Manager of the Year Award by the American Society of Engineering Managers. This year, he was inducted as a fellow into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
Sen. Al Franken praised Wahlstrom's work on behalf of the med-tech sector.
"Nobody has been a stronger advocate for making Minnesota a global leader in the life sciences than Dale Wahlstrom," Franken said in a statement."
Mandle joined LifeScience Alley in 2011 as vice president of government and affiliate relations. He was named executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2013, taking on the responsibility of aligning internal operations with organizational strategy, while overseeing advocacy efforts and key external relationships. During that time, he led the effort to re-engineer the organization's operating structure to meet the evolving needs of its community.
Staff writer Jim Spencer contributed to this report.