2008 Republican National Convention

Minneapolis/Saint Paul 2008 Host Committee 

180 East 5th Street, Suite 1200  Saint Paul, MN 55101
 updated July 21, 2008


Chairman Doug Leatherdale
(announced Aug. 16, 2007) Retired chairman and CEO of The St. Paul Cos., an insurance company.  Earned a bachelor's degree from United College, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Stan Hubbard - Chairman and CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc. (HBI) since 1983; president since 1967; joined the company in 1951 (his father started the company in the 1920s).  HBI owns television and radio stations in Minnesota and several other states and is managing general partner of CONUS Communications.  Formed the United States Satellite Broadcasting Co., Inc. (USSB) in 1981; that merged with DIRECTV in 1999.  B.A. in sociology from the University of Minnesota.

Vance Opperman - Major Democratic fundraiser.  President and CEO of Minneapolis-based Key Investment, Inc. (his father Dwight is chairman), which has interests in publishing (Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business), real estate, technology, and venture capital.  Formerly president of Eagan-based West Publishing Inc. starting in Aug. 1993; company sold in 1996.  Co-founded the law firm of McGovern, Opperman & Paquin.  Worked for a St. Paul law firm.  Elected chair of the Hennepin County DFL in summer 1968.  J.D. from University of Minnesota Law School, 1969.    [See also: Britt Robinson.  "The Player." City Pages.  March 4, 1998].

Jac Sperling - (initial chairman) Founder of Grit Rock Ventures LLC, an investment company focused on sports, media and entertainment businesses, and vice chairman of the Minnesota Wild Hockey Club and its parent company, Minnesota Sports & Entertainment (MSE).  Prior to joining MSE, Sperling was a partner in the Denver office of the Washington D.C. law firm of Hogan & Hartson ("dealt extensively with the legal and marketing aspects of the acquisition, relocation and expansion of professional sports franchises, and the construction and financing of sports and entertainment venues).  B.A. from the University of Virginia, 1971 and J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, 1975.

Doug Steenland - President and chief executive officer of Northwest Airlines.  He was named CEO on October 1, 2004 and has served as the airline's president since April 2001.  Joined Northwest in 1991 as vice president and deputy general counsel.  Worked as a senior partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson, and Hand.  B.A. in history from Calvin College in Michigan; J.D. from the National Law Center at The George Washington University .

Jay Fishman - Executive and Artistic Directors of the Minnesota Sinfonia.  Music Director for the Minneapolis Chamber Symphony (which he founded), 1978-89.  Studied for two years with Sir Neville Marriner, conductor of the Academy of Saint Martins in the Fields Orchestra.  Conducted the Louisville Chamber Orchestra for two years.  Masters of Music in orchestral conducting from the  Indiana University School of Music.  B.S. and B.A. degrees from the University of Minnesota.

Marilyn Carlson Nelson - Chairman and chief excutive officer of Carlson Companies, a leader in the marketing, travel, and hospitality industries (includes Radisson Hotels & Resorts and TGIFriday restaurants); took the reins of the company from her father Curt Carlson in 1998 after working in the business for years.  Worked at Paine Webber for several years.  Degree in international economics from Smith College.

Dick Kelly - Chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of Xcel Energy, after serving in other executive positions.  Served as New Century Energies' (NCE) chief financial officer before it merged with Northern States Power Company to form Xcel Energy in 2000.  Held a variety of finance-related positions at Public Service Company of Colorado before it merged with Southwestern Public Service Company to form NCE.  M.B.A. and a bachelor's degree in accounting from Regis University.

CEO Jeff Larson
(served as interim chairman after Jac Sperling)  Partner at FLS Connect.
President Cynthia Lesher
President and CEO of Northern States Power Company-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company.  Served as Xcel Energy's vice president, chief administrative officer and chief human resources officer.  President of NSP Gas, having earlier served as vice president, human resources; director of human resources for power generation; general manager of electric utility operations; manager of metro credit and collections; and manager of occupational safety and health.  Bachelor's degree in sociology from Drake University; a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling and psychology from St. Cloud State University; and completed the Master of Excellence Program at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.
Chief of Staff Mike Vallante
A regional political director on the Rudy Giuliani presidential campaign.  COO of the California Republican Party; directed the day-to-day operations of the state Republican Party for three years.  Previously president of his own public relations firm.  He has served as chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party and as a regional political director for the RNC.
Communications Director Teresa McFarland
(started Feb. 11, 2008; announced Feb. 12)  Owner/partner in McFarland Cahill Communications, formed in March 2007.  Consultant for the financial services division at Weber Shandwick, 1998-2001.  Director of public relations for Mall of America, 1995-98.  Press secretary to Congressman Tim Penny, 1990-94.  Communications assistant to Gov. Rudy Perpich, 1988-90.  Graduate of the University of Saint Thomas.
Community Liaison Michele “Mich” Berthiaume
(announced March 7, 2008 "charged with garnering interest, support and participation among business and community groups")  A loaned executive from Ecolab. She has worked for Ecolab since 2000 and is an executive consultant, responsible for building industry relationships, new business development and working with Fortune 500 companies at the senior level. 

Volunteer Coordinator
Kjersti Duncan
Most recently was Director of the St. Croix County, WI Department on Aging.  B.A. from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and a Master's degree in Social Work and Gerontology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

Director of Donor Relations and Fulfillment
Angel Paulson
Director of member events and relations at the RNC starting in early 2005.  Assistant to the campaign manager at Bush-Cheney ’04.  Special assistant in the Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs.  She has also worked for now-Sen. John Thune (R-SD) as director of events and scheduling.

National Finance Chair - Woody Johnson (announced July 18, 2008)

CivicFest: A Very Minnesota Celebration

...to be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center is "a family-friendly, once-in-a-lifetime interactive and multimedia experience, featuring more than 35 educational and entertaining exhibits, historic memorabilia and artifacts celebrating Minnesota and American history, democracy and the U.S. presidency."

Maxene Fernstrom
Deputy convention manager for the 2000 and 1996 conventions.  Background in Illinois politics; managed Lt. Gov. Dave O'Neal's unsuccessful campaign against Alan Dixon for the U.S. Senate in 1980.

Executive Producer
Gerard McTernan
(announced April 1, 2008 to produce major civic non-partisan celebration/event that "will showcase 35 exhibits about Minnesota and American history, democracy and the U.S. Presidency, will be open to the public and will span more than 285,000 square feet at the Minneapolis Convention Center")  Santa Fe-based McTernan is an executive producer/producer/creative director for large scale shows and special events.  Among high-profile events are Salt Lake 2002 Cultural Olympiad – Discover Navajo: People of the Fourth World; All-Star Fan Fest for Major League Baseball; Super Bowl XXX Street Spectacular; and  PoliticalFest for the 2000 Republican National Convention held in Philadelphia.
Brad Anderson
Richard Anderson
John Apitz
Bill Austin
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
Doug Baker, Jr.
Tom Beddow
Peter Bell
Sharon Sayles Belton
Melanie Benjamin
Dave Boehnen
Elliott Broidy
Robert Bruininks
Ralph Burnet
Ron Carey
Bonnie Carlson
Emmett Carson, Ph.D.
Bob Christensen
Mike Ciresi
Mayor Chris Coleman
Honorable Norm Coleman
Michael Coles
Art Collins, Jr.
Fritz Corrigan
Scott Cottington
Harold Crump
Barbara Davis
Martin Davis
Richard Davis
Honorable Mark Dayton
Kelly Doran
Larry Dowell
Mario Duarte
Bruce Engelsma
Betsy Erlien
Jeff Ettinger
Paul Finkelstein
David Fisher
Jay Fishman
Peggy Flanagan
Kathleen Flynn Peterson
David Frauenshuh
Archie Givens, Jr.
Sam Grabarski
Jeff Greiner
Joan Anderson Growe
Esperanza Guerrero-Anderson
Jeff Hamiel
Sheila Harsdorf
Denny Hecker
Mike Hickey
Clarence Hightower
Randy Hogan
Greg Johnson
John Johnson
Ezell Jones
Peter Jordan
Sam Kaplan
Sylvia Kaplan
Marlene Kayser
Tom Kayser
Dick Kelly
Karolyn Kirchgesler
Congressman John Kline
Bill Kling
Todd Klingel
John Knapp
Jeff Larson
Paul LaViolette
Cynthia Lesher
Lee Lynch
Tom Mason
Gene McCaffery
Brian Melendez
Erich Mische
Dave Mona
Ted Mondale
Rob Moor
Bob Naegele, Jr.
Mahendra Nath
Marilyn Carlson Nelson
Bruce J. Nicholson
Greg Ortale
Governor Tim Pawlenty
Arthur Petrie
Lenny Pippin
Bob Pohlad
Jim Pohlad
Chris Polincinski
William J. “Bill” Popp
Congressman Jim Ramstad
Kitty Rhoads
Par Ridder
Paul Ridgeway, Sr.
Barbara Rohde
Pat Ryan
Mayor R.T. Rybak
Jerry Samargia
Steve Sanger
Judy Schaubach
Dennis Schulstad
Robert Senkler
David Siegel
Jac Sperling
Warren Staley
Dan Starks
Tom Stauber
Doug Steenland
Tom Tiller
Ruth Usem
Val Vargas
Ray Waldron
Joe Weber
Vin Weber
Bob Weinstine
Joe Weis
Irv Weiser
Zygi Wilf
Mayor Gene Winstead
Jon Youngdahl
Charlie Zelle
Ronald J. Zenk

Honorary Co-Chairs Rudy Boschwitz, Honorable Walter Mondale



Executive Director Kara Ahern
Briefly national finance director on Gov. George Pataki's 21st Century Freedom PAC in late 2006.  Deputy Campaign Manager and Finance Director for Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts.  Political Director for Vice President Dick Cheney.  In 2004, Ahern was Northeast Finance Director for Bush Cheney ’04 and a top aide to National Finance Co-Chairman Jack Oliver.  She also served as the campaign’s Deputy Director of Vice Presidential Operations.
Copyright © 2007, 2008  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action