On Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton announced three appointments to Minnesota's newly founded stadium authority, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.
The group will oversee the design, construction, and financing of the new "People's Stadium," which will be home to the Minnesota Vikings and serve as a multi-use facility for college and amateur sports teams.
Dayton named Michele Kelm-Helgen, John D. Griffith, and Duane Benson to three spots on the panel, appointing Kelm-Helgen as the chair.
By law, the governor appoints three of the five authority members. Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak appointed the final two members -- Dr. Barbara Butts Williams and Bill McCarthy.
"We now have the opportunity to transform a key district of downtown Minneapolis and build a place that will bring people together for a generation, with the new authority charged with leading Minnesota through this process," Rybak said. "Barbara Butts Williams and Bill McCarthy bring strong qualifications and important voices to the table, and will represent Minneapolis residents, taxpayers, workers and visitors very well."
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority will replace the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which has owned and operated the Metrodome since 1977.
"This is another important step forward for building a People's Stadium and creating thousands of good jobs here in Minnesota," Tina Flint, Dayton's chief of staff, Smith said. "Governor Dayton is confident that Ms. Kelm-Helgen, Mr. Griffith, and Mr. Benson bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and vision to this important project. They will provide steady leadership for the Stadium Authority, making sure that we are truly building a ‘People's Stadium' that Minnesotans can be proud of."
Barbara Butts Williams
Since 2009, Dr. Barbara Butts Williams has served as dean of the School of Education at Capella University, where she has worked since 2002 in a variety of leadership positions. She has more than 40 years of executive and management experience in the public, private and higher-education sectors.
In the private sector, she has worked as a top executive at The St. Paul Companies (now Travelers), Control Data (now Ceridian) and Wilson Learning Corporation. She also founded Growth Partners Consulting, which provides strategic planning, talent assessment and organizational development to small and medium-sized organizations.
Michele Kelm-Helgen brings a background in finance and public policy experience to her role as chair. She currently serves as deputy chief of staff in the governor's office, but she will resign that appointment to serve as chair of the authority.
Kelm-Helgen is former chief of staff for the Minnesota Senate. She served as a partner at the government affairs consulting firm North State Advisers and as Director at Control Data Corporation, now known as Ceridian. In addition, Kelm-Helgen is the former chair of both the Eastern Carver County School Board and District 112 Personnel Committee.
Kelm-Helgen received her Bachelor's degree from the College of St. Catherine, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude, and earned an MBA with honors from the University of St. Thomas.
Since 2002, Bill McCarthy has served as the president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, which represents 75,000 workers from more than 100 affiliated unions, including construction workers, teachers, nurses, service workers and others.
For the last 10 years, McCarthy has also served on the board of directors for the Greater Twin Cities United Way. Earlier this year, he won a national United Way award for labor leadership, the Joseph A. Beirne Community Services Award. Additionally, he is chairman of the board of Working Partnerships, Inc., a non-profit he founded in 2006 to serve union members in need and their families.
McCarthy is a Vietnam veteran and a graduate of the University of Minnesota. Before becoming a labor leader, he worked in patient care in area hospitals, with special-needs children in Dowling School in North Minneapolis, and as a bartender. He previously served as president of UNITE HERE Local 17, which represents workers in the hospitality industry in Minneapolis–Saint Paul.
John D. Griffith
John D. Griffith is currently the executive vice president of property development for Target Corporation, where he leads the real estate, construction, architecture, engineering, store planning design, facilities management, property operations and Target Commercial Interiors teams.
Griffith also serves on the board of directors for GREATER MSP, the boards of trustees and executive committees at both Bethel University in St. Paul and the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
Duane Benson currently serves on the board of trustees for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and as the executive director of the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation.
Benson has also served as the executive director for the Minnesota Business Partnership and was a member of the Minnesota Senate from 1980 to 1994.
Benson played 11 seasons in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, and Houston Oilers.