Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship

The Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship is an entrepreneurship education resource that provides classes, coaching and assistance to entrepreneurs. It builds relationships among and between CSB/SJU students, faculty, alumnae/i, and community members to create and strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit.

As The Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship at CSB/SJU continues to celebrate our 10th anniversary, we are proud to mark a decade of impressive success and launch a fundraising drive to fully endow the Center. If you are interested in more information about the Center and/or our fundraising efforts, please contact Center Director, Pat Maxwell, at or if you would like to donate online- click the links below:



2015 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards was a huge success!

CSB Entrepreneur of the Year: 
Janet Dryer '83, CEO, HelpSystems
SJU Entrepreneur of the Year: 
Rick Bauerly '91, Founder and Managing Partner/CEO, Granite Equity
CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year:
Krista Carroll '00, SJU '78, Co-Founder & CEO, Latitude

Click here to watch the videos for our 2015 winners!


The 2015 Eric Rego Big Idea Competition was a huge success!

As part of Scholarship and Creativity Day, and in remembrance of E-1 Eric Rego, The Center for Entrepreneurship puts on an Elevator Pitch Competition each spring. This year we had students submit video's as applications, and the Center staff then choose the top six from an E-Scholar division, and a general group division. The pitches chosen this year are below.

Name- General Group Idea
Mary Triggs The Virtual Link
Jake Anderson The Loon's Cycle Cruise
Hannah Lynch Hannah Lynch
Mitch Fader AutoDock
Annie Noel Bubble Bucks
Brady Riesgraf Dream Deep Sleep System
Name- E-Scholar Group Idea
Frank Zellner Alternative Proteins
Jenna Laufers Style in a Snap
Joe Hegedus SJU Bee Farm
Amanda Urbanski Bedtech
Jake Barrientos Eco Urns
Shawn Yoakum Bobgal


Our winners this year in the E-Scholar division were-
1st- Jake Barrientos with Eco Urns
2nd-Joe Hegedus with The SJU Bee Farm
3rd- Frank Zellner with Alternative Proteins

Along with winning cash prizes, the winners will present thier ideas again as part of Scholarship and Creativity Day at CSB/SJU.

 Our judges this year included Eric Rego's parents Mark and Sonia Rego, and Eric's sister Crystal,  Jim Oricchio and Kirk Studebaker with Coordinated Business Systems, and Chris Theil from American Heritage Bank in St. Cloud.


Saint John's University, and the College of Saint Benedict welcomes Pat Maxwell as the second director of the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship!

From the CSB/SJU Press Release-
The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University are pleased to announce that Pat Maxwell has been appointed director of the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship at CSB/SJU. Maxwell will succeed recently retired founding director Terri Barreiro, who served from 2004-14.

Maxwell has more than 40 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive and turnaround management specialist in both the business and non-profit sectors. He is a 1966 graduate of Saint John's University with a degree in philosophy, and holds a juris doctor degree from Northwestern University School of Law.

Maxwell has held management positions including board chairman, director, chief executive officer, chief financial officer, vice president and general counsel. He has served as executive director of two membership associations and one charitable organization. Maxwell has started, bought or led 20 businesses and non-profits. The areas he has worked in include manufacturing, insurance, personnel placement, education, business services, food, medical, legal, membership and charitable services. These organizations are located throughout the United States, Europe and the Pacific Rim.

"In addition to his impressive record and experience as an entrepreneur, Pat is both the product of, and an advocate for, the liberal arts. He has the ideal pedigree to direct an entrepreneurship center at a liberal arts college," said Michael Hemesath, president of Saint John's University.

Maxwell has served on the Saint John's National Alumni Board and the Saint John's Board of Regents. He currently serves on the Board of Overseers of the Saint John's School of Theology•Seminary.

Maxwell has also been very active with the McNeely Center. He is currently on the McNeely Center Advisory Committee, and for the past two years he has served as the executive-in-residence for the McNeely Center, mentoring and assisting students.

"Under Pat's leadership, I am confident that the McNeely Center will continue to focus on our students and their interests," said Mary Dana Hinton, president of the College of Saint Benedict, "and work to provide programming for alumnae and alumni."

Founded in 2004 by St. Paul, Minnesota, business and civic leader the late Donald McNeely, the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship is an education resource that provides classes, coaching and assistance to entrepreneurs. It builds relationships among and between CSB/SJU students, faculty, alumnae/i and community members to create and strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit. Its mission is to create social value and economic opportunity by actively building alliances between students as future entrepreneurs, faculty and experienced entrepreneurs in service to communities, organizations and individuals.

Welcome Pat!

The McNeely Center would like to welcome the following students to the 2015-2017 Entrepreneur Scholars Program. Congratulations!

  • Garrett Ackerman
  • Jake Anderson
  • Sarah Beck
  • Roman Derevyanko
  • Alec Dewitz
  • Claudiea Eisenhuth
  • Kenny Green
  • Sam LaBine
  • Hannah Lynch
  • Brady Riesgraf
  • Antoine Taylor
  • Mary Triggs
  • Kalia Vang
  • Maxwell Kuzara

Executive in Residence

The Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship will host its fourth Executive-in-Residence. The goal of the program is to build on the success of our current alumni mentoring program and deepen the opportunity for student connection through more frequent and informal access to seasoned and accomplished leaders dedicated to sharing their experience and expertise.

Meet our 2015-2016 Executive in Residence, Chris Thiel!

 Chris Thiel is currently a Commercial Loan Officer with American Heritage National Bank in St. Cloud, MN. In 2001, he received a Management Degree from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. During his professional career, he has gained valuable experience in three main disciplines: Project Management, Sales, and Finance. Chris began his career in the new home construction industry. He started out as a Construction Manager Assistant and was promoted several times to Senior Project Manager when the recession devastated the industry. The skills that were gained during this period were planning, problem solving, and results management.   

Ready for a new challenge, Chris began selling commercial and residential building products and services during one of the worst construction slowdowns in history. Face to face sales is an eye-opening experience that he is glad to have undertaken. During this four year stretch, Chris gained valuable practice in sales, marketing, and strategic partnerships. In the next phase, Chris ventured into the Business Banking profession. As a business lender, he is able to have daily interactions with proprietors while gaining valuable insight into financial and entrepreneurial planning. Every day is unique and thrilling when advising clients through the obstacles and successes of business ownership. 

On a personal note, Chris lives on Lake Pulaski in Buffalo, MN with his wife and three year old son. He has spent many winters coaching Bantam A hockey with stops in Andover, Maple Grove, and Elk River. Chris spends his free time with family and friends, wakeboarding, boating, fishing, playing hockey, or working on a home remodeling project.

Social Entrepreneurs and future nonprofit leaders assisted by the Center

The mission of the Donald McNeely Center includes reaching those with entrepreneurial visions to address social and community issues. The Center provides individual advice and coaching to students and community leaders. Read more about this work.

Donald McNeely, Inspirational Founder, 1914-2009

Donald McNeely, aged 94, passed away March 9th, 2009. He was the inspirational founder of the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship and a frequent advisor for staff and students. He will be greatly missed.

Current Events

Entrepreneurial Leadership Series Luncheons

Next event is November 12th, featuring keynote speaker Dick Pope.

Watch for an email from the Center for Entrepreneurship about upcoming speakers and events!

Note: Starting in March 2015, the cost for the luncheons will be $35 per seat, and parking will no longer be coverd by the Center. The Minnapolis Club will charge a flat rate of $7.00 per car. The Club accepts cash or check. The luncheon registration will be here on our website.  To make sure you are on our electronic invite list, or questions on registration, please email Kelli Gradin at

The Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship proudly celebrates the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards!

2015 winners:

  • CSB Entrepreneur of the Year:
    Janet Dryer '83 CEO of HelpSystems
  • SJU Entrepreneur of the Year:
    Rick Bauerly '91 Founder and Managing Partner/CEO, Granite Equity
  • CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year:
    Krista Carroll '00 Co-Founder and CEO of Latitude

Click here to read about our 2015 winners and watch their videos!

2014 winners:

  • CSB Entrepreneur of the Year:
    Kate Huebsch '84, President/Owner, High Point Creative
  • SJU Entrepreneur of the Year:
    Dan Bastian '90, Owner, Angie's Kettle Corn
  • CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year:
    Greg Lais, SJU '78, Founder and Executive Director, Wilderness Inquiry

2013 Winners:

  • College of Saint Benedict Entrepreneur of the Year:
    Lisa Spoden '83, Strategic Implementation Solutions.
  • Saint John's University Entrepreneur of the Year:
    Mike Wethington '79, Outsell, LLC
  • CSB/SJU Social Entrepreneur of the Year:
    William Kling '64, Minnesota Public Radio & American Public Media Group 

2012 Winners:

  • College of Saint Benedict Entrepreneur of the Year:
    Margaret Murphy, Olson
  • Saint John's University Entrepreneur of the Year:
    Cary Musech, Tonka Bay Equity Partners
  • CSB/SJU Entrepreneur of the Year:
    Joe Cavanaugh, Youth Frontiers


Entrepreneur Scholar Venture Pays off Loan

Clemens Perk was our first student started-student managed campus venture.  It began with a large loan from St. Bens for equipment and space renovation needed for the coffee shop. Each year a new group of students step into leadership roles and run the venture successfully. As of August 2010 the coffee shop has successfully paid off its original loan. Per the recommendation of the founding students as well as other management teams now Clemens Perk is contributing and will be listed as a Sponsor of the E-Scholars program. Beginning this fiscal year they will contribute $5000 to become a full annual sponsor.

Eric Rego Big Idea Competition

Remembering Eric Rego, Entrepreneur Scholar first cohort. Eric graduated from St. John's in 2006 and was part of the first group of Entrepreneurial Scholars. Eric passed away in December 2008 and will be missed by everyone who knew him. In Eric's honor, we host an elevator pitch competition every year. Students give 90 second business idea pitches to win cash prizes! Eric's mother, father and sister are judges for this event, along with 2 gentlemen from the company he worked for and a fellow E-1.

Entreprenuership Lessons

People who start a business often say it's what they learned after everything they learned in school that makes the difference between the success or failure of their company. What the Center does is reverse that comment by ensuring what students learn and experience while in college is what makes them successful in the future.

Program News

Contact Us

Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship
College of Saint Benedict
Saint John's University
350 Simons Hall
Collegeville, MN 56321

Pat Maxwell, Director
(320) 363-2373

Kelli Gradin, coordinator
(320) 363-2065

Center for Entrepreneurship
Student Employee
(320) 363-2764