Mike Good is not the guy you would pick as CEO of a New Jersey-based luxury real estate company. That would be a Donald Trump type.
Good, reserved by nature, was an earnest student, volunteer and All-American wrestler at Augsburg College 45 years ago.
He still turns his national championship match into praise of an opponent, “a real bull, and stronger than me and who I think would have beaten me 19 out of 20 times” were it not for Good’s once-in-a-career third-period takedown move he had never tried outside practice.
Good, a former Augsburg board member who was CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, decided to retire early in 2012 to take on for Augsburg’s Board of Regents what Good considers a challenge that transcended his athletic and business career.
Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow announced internally last week that, pending final board approval, Augsburg will break ground early next year on a $73 million Center for Science, Business and Religion and other campus upgrades at the small college tucked into the bustling Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
Good, 66, a former Augsburg board member, agreed, somewhat reluctantly, to take over a floundering capital campaign that had raised only a few million dollars and was in danger of abandonment. He knew the old real estate saying: “Time kills all deals.”
Good jumped into the campaign like a turnaround CEO. To date, Good & Co. have raised $53 million toward the goal, eight times what Augsburg raised in its next largest capital campaign. Not bad for one of the least endowed of the state’s private colleges.
“I may have been a reluctant leader on this one, but I felt a call to do this,” Good said. “It was one of the most satisfying endeavors of my life.”
Augsburg, started in 1869 as a college that catered to the children of Norwegian immigrants, still is an educator of immigrants. And its 2015 graduating class was about one-third students of color.
The new building will be named for the family of Norm Hagfors, an Augsburg regent and medical-technology pioneer who was the fourth employee at Medtronic, and his wife Evangeline, a nurse who took classes at Augsburg. Nearly 1,100 Augsburg graduates, faculty, staff and others contributed to the campaign. Two lead donors of $10 million apiece chose to remain anonymous.
Augsburg, which serves about 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students, is known for solid academics, a modest campus and U.S. presidential recognition for its community service-learning model.
Good, who lives on a farm near Alexandria where he grows his own vegetables, says the campaign succeeded because Augsburg is a more credible product than he is a gifted salesman.
“It’s amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit,” he likes to say. “We focused on our heritage as an ELCA [Lutheran] university, an urban campus and experiential learning, our diversity, and our call to serve. That resonated.”
Industry vet works to keep women in IT
Sarah Olson, a software developer at the Nerdery, is the first director of the Twin Cities chapter of Women Who Code (WWC), an international organization that seeks to inspire females to enter and excel in technology fields. The chapter, formed this month, already has 100 registered members and several planned events.
“The Twin Cities offers a lot of technical careers due to the large number of corporate headquarters in our metro area,” said Olson, who added that WWC will provide resources such as “Hack Nights” and study groups to help women in the profession advance.
Olson, a business graduate of the University of Minnesota, followed her dad into an IT career.
“Research from the Harvard Business Review indicates that 41 percent of women in technology leave the field, while only 17 percent of men do,” Olson said “As a developer with 16 years’ experience, I’m actually working with fewer women now than when I started. We need to do more to make sure women are able to advance in their careers by focusing on issues such as unconscious bias, and providing training opportunities for them to develop technical and leadership skills.” More information: www.womenwhocode.com.
Great River’s plan wins regulator approval
Minnesota’s second largest power company is back in the good graces of state utility regulators.
Great River Energy, which serves 655,000 customers in 28 Minnesota electric cooperatives, recently won regulatory approval of its 15-year business outlook known as an integrated resource plan.
That’s a big change from two years ago, when the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), in an unprecedented step, rejected the utility’s last plan. Such plans are required from utilities every two years to make sure they are serving customers and complying with state laws, such as renewable energy and pollution control requirements.
In its latest plan, Great River Energy said it will add wind and hydro power but won’t retire any of its three coal-burning power plants. Environmental groups had urged closing the oldest coal burners to reduce emissions.
The PUC accepted Great River’s plan in a 5-0 vote in early September. Even so, the utility’s reliance on coal to generate 67 percent of its electricity faces more scrutiny under the federal Clean Power Plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. That separate regulatory process will play out in North Dakota, where the coal power plants are located.
Federal prosecutor joins Dorsey
Veteran federal prosecutor John Marti has joined the Minneapolis law firm of Dorsey & Whitney as a partner in its practice group for government enforcement and corporate investigations. Marti spent 15 years in the Minnesota office of the U.S. Attorney, at one point serving as acting U.S. Attorney from 2013 to 2014. Marti previously served in the fraud section of the Justice Department’s criminal division in Washington.
Marti was co-lead counsel in the prosecution of former Wayzata businessman Tom Petters and the high-profile Ponzi scheme run out of a Petters company. Marti was also part of the prosecution team following the indictment of the “Mustafa Family” in a complicated identity theft scheme involving stolen mobile phones and tablet devices. Earlier this year, Marti handled the case of a Tennessee man with Gambian citizenship who was charged for his role in an attempted coup of the government in Gambia.
Marti is the second member of the Petters prosecution team to hook up with a major Minneapolis law firm. Earlier this year the other co-lead counsel in the case, Joe Dixon, joined Fredrikson & Byron.