Paul Cerkvenik is the president of the Minnesota Private College Council and the Minnesota Private College Fund. The Council and Fund serve the shared needs of the 17 nonprofit institutions that are its members.
On behalf of the Council, Paul is particularly active at the Minnesota Capitol, where he works with leaders from the member institutions to advocate for state policy that meets the needs of students, enhances private higher education and strengthens the state. With the Fund, he seeks to sustain corporate and foundation support to support our institutions and their students, including through scholarships.
Paul’s work representing the interests of Minnesota’s Private Colleges includes service on several boards. He is on the Leadership Council of Generation Next, a member of the Minnesota P-20 Education Partnership, a member of the state’s Higher Education Facilities Authority, and a member of the Greater MSP Partner Advisory Council. Nationally he serves on the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, as well as on the group’s Tax Policy Committee.
He is also on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities State Executives.Paul has been president since 2009. He previously worked as an attorney in private practice in Virginia, Minn.; his previous career in politics included serving as legislative director for the Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives. Before becoming president, he had served on the Council and Fund’s board of directors, including as chair of the Council’s Public Policy Committee.
A native of the Iron Range, he earned his B.S. degree from Saint John’s University in Collegeville and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota. A St. Paul resident and father of three, he’s also a committed curler.
Stacey manages the finance and accounting, human resource and information systems for the organizations. A dedicated professional who believes in the synergy of work and community, Stacey has balanced budgets and made wheels turn harmoniously at a variety of community-minded organizations such as Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People, Forecast Public Art, Cooperating Libraries in Consortium, Triangle Park Creative and the National Cooperative Grocers. Stacey graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in English Literature.
Communications & marketing
John joined the Council in 2006. He leads the development and implementation of marketing and strategic initiatives that advance the goals of the Council and the interests of our member institutions. He currently serves on the board of Minnesota Campus Compact. He brings experience working with another group of nonprofits in his previous roles as communications director at the Minnesota Hospital Association and an account supervisor at the public affairs firm Himle Horner. He has a B.S. in Political Science and International Studies from Macalester College and a M.S.J. from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Lisa joined the Council in January 2015. She is responsible for the Council's websites, newsletters, social media and other electronic communications as well as marketing. Previously, Lisa has worked as a creative services manager at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and as a freelance web content developer and editor for the Minnesota Department of Education and iSeek Solutions. Prior to joining the Council, she worked as a senior communications specialist at Barr Engineering Co. She has a B.A. in English from St. Olaf College and a non-credit Management Certificate from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
Tom joined the Council in October 2016. He contributes to the strategic communications of the Council including content writing, event communications and project management. Tom was previously at Augsburg University’s Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship as the communications and network associate. He is on the board of directors for the Devin Smith Scholarship Foundation, which is focused on supporting St. Paul Central High School graduates with post-secondary education. Tom earned his bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric and Discourse from Beloit College in 2011 and has an MBA from Augsburg University.
Sunny works to help member institutions increase participation and success of students of color, as well as to improve links with ethnic business leaders and groups. She spent three years as a development officer for the Minnesota Private College Fund and has also worked for the Minnesota Council of Foundations as coordinator of the Education Access Funders Network and as director of development at Minnesota Minority Education Partnership.
Minnesota Private College Fund
Carolyn joined the Fund in December 2014. She focuses on raising money to support scholarships for students attending our 17 colleges. A passionate supporter of opportunity, access and education, Carolyn spent the last nine years as the administrative director for the Page Education Foundation. Carolyn has a bachelor's degree in history from Chestnut Hill College and master's degree in higher education administration from Temple University.
Howard joined the Fund in March 2019 and is a recent graduate from Concordia University, St. Paul where he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Business Management and was a track and field athlete. He was also a program participant in the Eddie Phillips Scholarship for African-American Men, which helps African-American males achieve post-secondary attainment through scholarship funds, leadership development opportunities and mentoring. He is responsible for coordinating the Fund’s program scholarships and supporting the Director of Development with administrative assistance.
Matthew joined the Fund in December 1999. He maintains the Fund's extensive database and paper files and processes all of the Fund's correspondence. He is a three-time recipient of support from the Minnesota State Arts Board for his work as a playwright —a 2007 Artist Initiative Grant of $6,000, a 2002 Career Opportunity Grant of $1,500, and an $8,000 Theater Artist Fellowship in 1999. He holds an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama.
Policy & research
Alison joined the Council in December 2018. She was most recently the Director of Government Affairs at the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Prior to her five years at the Commerce Department, she worked in the Minnesota State Senate. Alison is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas, where as an undergraduate she was the recipient of the Spirit of St. Thomas Award for Outstanding Leadership as well as the Global Citizen Award.
Megan joined the Council in 2012. She leads the Council’s research efforts, providing data and analysis to support the Council’s policy agenda and admissions work. She previously worked as a research analyst for Applied Policy Research, Inc., a higher education net revenue management consulting company. Megan earned a B.A. in Economics from Carleton College and Master of Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Mitch joined the Council in November 2020. He coordinates the Council’s research projects and maintains the quality of its data. He previously worked as a data analyst at Community Action Partnership of Hennepin County, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing poverty and increasing economic opportunity. He recently taught political science and research methodology courses at St. Olaf College and Bucknell University. Mitch earned a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from the University of St. Thomas and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Texas A&M University.
Monali joined the Council in January 2021. She recently graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a B.A. in Political Science and English. As a student, Monali testified in the Minnesota Senate Higher Education Committee, advocating for increased funding for the State Grant program, and during her senior year served as co-president of the Gustavus Student Senate where she promoted diversity, equity and inclusion. She also has served as a congressional intern for the Office of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, providing assistance in constituent services on immigration and social security casework.