Sally Mainquist, a veteran financial professional-placement executive and co-founder of Veritae Group, has hired, placed and mentored many over the last 30 years.

Ruth Faalele, a single-mom accountant from Australia, desperate last year to be near her oldest son in school in Minnesota, is Mainquist’s longest-distance placement by far.

There was no fee involved for this transaction.

And Mainquist, 63, and Faalele, 39, have been enriched by a relationship that started with Mainquist offering to help. Today, the friends who started out half a world apart live a few miles from each other.

Ruth Faalele is the mother of Daniel Faalele, 19, who enrolled in January 2018 at the University of Minnesota on a football scholarship. Ruth and her younger son, Taylor, visited Minnesota to help get Daniel established.

Daniel, 6-feet-9 inches and an athletic 400 pounds, was attending a prep school in Florida, thanks to Ruth Faalele’s parents. The boys’ father is not involved with the family. And Ruth spent 10 years in night school at Monash University in Melbourne, while working days as a corporate accountant.

Ruth and her two sons had a pact: they would try to reunite wherever Daniel landed in college. The United States also offered more educational and professional opportunities. Ruth sent résumés to Minnesota accounting and other firms in 2018.

A friend at the Boulay accounting firm passed the résumé on to Mainquist.

Mainquist and her husband, Kent, chief financial officer of HGA architecture, invited Ruth and Taylor to stay with them when they visited the Twin Cities in April 2018 to see Daniel and watch the Gophers’ spring intrasquad game.

“My parents have worked very hard and saved in order to send Taylor and I here,” recalled Ruth.

Last summer, thanks to Mainquist, she landed a job as an accountant at Medibio, a Savage-based med-tech firm listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Mainquist, a board member of the Minnesota-North Dakota chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, mentioned Ruth Faalele to another volunteer from the business world, Steven Strom, of Cresa Minneapolis. He suggested Medibio as a place to look for work.

Bingo. She interviewed last April and moved to the Twin Cities with Taylor last August.

“I do bookwork and the month-end close,” said a grateful Ruth Faalele. “I already knew the Australian accounting system.”

It’s not easy to move to a new country, take on a new job, learn to drive on the opposite side of the road, get your 14-year-old son enrolled in school and otherwise adapt.

“I don’t feel alone here,” said Ruth Faalele. “Sally is very nurturing. I’m very grateful.

“It’s the main reason we’ve settled so well here. And Daniel comes home to St. Louis Park every weekend. He’s taking summer-school courses at the university. He’s working very hard.”

Daniel Faalele started most games as a freshman offensive lineman for the 7-6, bowl-winning Gophers last fall.

His younger brother is enrolled at Benilde-St. Margaret’s School in St. Louis Park. Taylor also participates in sports.

Sally Mainquist would have been just as happy to help out the mother of band members or the accounting club.

Mainquist for years was a mentor to university students at the University’s Carlson School of Management.

A hopeful Ruth Faalele told me in an e-mail message in early 2018: “My boys and I were always together. At a young age Daniel took it upon himself to become the ‘man of the house.’ He always looked out for Taylor and me. We made a pact that wherever Daniel was going to end up at college, I would try to move Taylor and I there.

“Although Daniel is physically large he is still a mama’s boy. And he is also so very close to his younger brother. Family is important. There will be challenging times ahead. He will need his family. There are also milestones that I don’t want to miss.”

Thanks to Sally Mainquist and others in her network, a family is back together.

Ruth Faalele and her sons are grateful immigrants driven to succeed and contribute.

And they are embellishing our reputation as a caring community.

 

Neal St. Anthony has been a Star Tribune business columnist and reporter since 1984. He can be contacted at nstanthony@startribune.com.