Donald McNeely Center presents entrepreneur awards to outstanding graduates

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August 6, 2014

Kate Huebsch

Dan Bastian

Greg Lais

The Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University will present its fourth Entrepreneur of the Year awards to outstanding graduates at a luncheon from 11:15 a.m.-2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4, at Windows on Minnesota on the 50th floor of the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis.

The CSB Entrepreneur of the Year award will be presented to Kate Huebsch, founder and president of High Point Creative. The SJU Entrepreneur of the Year award will be presented to Dan Bastian, founder and vice chair of Angie's Boomchickapop®. The CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year award will be presented to Greg Lais, founder and executive director of Wilderness Inquiry.

The CSB and SJU Entrepreneur of the Year awards recognize the achievements of CSB and SJU graduates, respectively, who best exemplify the ideals of entrepreneurship by starting and successfully managing one or more businesses in a way that demonstrates notable entrepreneurial characteristics and achievements while practicing Benedictine values in the workplace and in their lives.

The CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year award recognizes the achievements and qualities of a CSB or SJU graduate who best exemplifies the ideals of social entrepreneurship by starting and successfully managing one or more ventures that enriches humanity or addresses a social issue in a way that demonstrates notable entrepreneurial characteristics and achievements while practicing Benedictine values in the workplace and in their lives.

Huebsch, a 1984 graduate of CSB, is founder and president of High Point Creative. She oversees a team of five senior writers who serve the Twin Cities' health care industry, such as Medtronic, Optum and UnitedHedalthCare; financial services such as Thrivent and Fiserv; and a range of other clients. Beyond her work with High Point Creative, Huebsch has been president of the White Bear Lake, Minnesota, Area Historical Society, and helped bring free voicemail services to the Twin Cities' homeless so they can find jobs, housing and safety. She funds an annual youth writing competition through the White Bear Center for the Arts, and is currently working with Children's Lighthouse of Minnesota (soon to be named Crescent Cove) to bring the first children's hospice to the Twin Cities.

Bastian, a 1990 graduate of SJU, is founder and vice chair of Angie's Boomchickapop®. The business started as a summer sideline venture for Bastian, who was a junior high teacher at the time, his wife Angie and two children. Now, 13 years later, Angie's Boomchickapop® is one of the fastest growing brands of natural popcorn. Based in Mankato, over 200 employees help produce more than 100,000 bags of popcorn a day. Angie's is on the shelves of local grocers like Cub Foods, Coborns, Lund's/Byerly's, as well as national grocery outlets such as Target, Whole Foods Markets and Costco. It is also the official kettle corn of the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins.  

Lais, a 1978 graduate of SJU, is founder and executive director of Wilderness Inquiry. While a senior at SJU, Lais founded Wilderness Inquiry (WI), one of the largest and most extensive outdoor programs in the United States. WI operates in 22 states and eight countries around the globe, and has served over 350,000 people on outdoor adventures, including thousands of people with disabilities. Lais and fellow SJU graduate Paul Schurke pioneered outdoor education programs, adaptive equipment and training curriculum that use the wilderness to facilitate greater acceptance of human diversity. In 2008, Lais launched the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures program, introducing 14,000 Twin Cities youth annually to the local wilderness on the Mississippi River, and also launched the "Canoemobile," a national outreach program serving thousands more in 22 cities throughout the United States. He has served on many non-profit boards and is an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota.

By presenting these awards, the Donald McNeely Center recognizes and celebrates successful alumnae/i entrepreneurs who embody the entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrate the Benedictine values in their professional and personal lives.

The Donald McNeely Center creates social value and economic opportunity by building alliances and creating educational opportunities between and for students, as future entrepreneurs, faculty and experienced entrepreneurs. The center stimulates, supports and expands business and social entrepreneurship by providing services to students, faculty and alumnae/i of CSB and SJU, and as well as to individuals and organizations in central Minnesota.

Tickets are $45 for the event and can be purchased online. The registration deadline is Aug. 29.