Walz appoints heads for education, higher education and corrections
Governor-elect Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor-elect Peggy Flanagan announced Thursday, Dec. 20, a set of appointments--Mary Cathryn Ricker as commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Education; Dennis Olson as the commissioner of the Minnes...
Governor-elect Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor-elect Peggy Flanagan announced Thursday, Dec. 20, a set of appointments-Mary Cathryn Ricker as commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Education; Dennis Olson as the commissioner of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education; and Paul Schnell as the commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
On Ricker: A native of Hibbing, Mary Cathryn Ricker, 50, is a National Board-certified middle school English teacher with over a decade of classroom experience. She has taught in classrooms from St. Paul to St. Cloud to Washington to South Korea to Yemen. She is currently the executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and previously served as the president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers.
She earned her undergraduate degree in English with a mathematics minor at the University of St. Thomas, and completed her graduate work in teacher leadership at the University of Minnesota. Ricker's husband teaches English language learners in the St. Paul Public Schools, and the couple has two children
On Olson: Born and raised in Cloquet, Dennis Olson Jr., 39, is currently the executive director of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council. In this role, Dennis works closely with tribal elected leaders, the state legislature, state agencies, and the governor to highlight and address issues important to all tribal nations and American Indian communities in Minnesota.
Prior to his appointment with the Indian Affairs Council, Dennis served as the director of the Office of Indian Education for the Minnesota Department of Education, working closely with tribal nations, urban American Indian communities, and multiple partner agencies and organizations to address key issues impacting Native American education in Minnesota.
On Schnell: From a small farming community in Wisconsin, Paul Schnell, 57, has more than 30 years of professional experience in corrections and public safety. While completing his bachelor of social work degree at the University of St. Thomas, Paul began an internship supervising adult male offenders in a St. Paul halfway house. This internship led to a 10-year stretch of work in a variety of community-based correctional programs in the Twin Cities.
In 1993, Paul moved from his position working with youth offenders at Carver County Court Services to deputy sheriff for the Carver County Sheriff's Office. In 1999, Paul joined the St. Paul Police Department, where he served in a variety of assignments, including four years as the department's spokesman. Over the past eight years, Paul has served as chief of police for the cities of Hastings and Maplewood and is currently police chief for the city of Inver Grove Heights.