Luther President Richard Torgerson names four new Board of Regents members

Luther College President Richard Torgerson has announced the appointment of four new Board of Regents members: Ann Bentdahl, Katherine Johnson-Becklin, J. Robert Paulson and James Thomsen.

The Regents serve as both trustees and stewards, ensuring that Luther fulfills its mission and that the needs of students, faculty, staff, and other college constituents are being met.

Ann Bentdahl

Bentdahl served as president and CEO of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation until her retirement in December 2012. MHIF is one of the nation's top 10 centers for cardiovascular research and education.

"Ann follows both of her parents as members of the Board of Regents. She has been a regular visitor to campus and has extensive experience on many not-for-profit boards, " said President Torgerson. "Her expertise in finance and fund development will be of tremendous value to Luther."

Prior to leading the Minneapolis Heart Foundation, Bentdahl pursued a career in banking. She held private and commercial banking positions in Iowa and Minnesota. She returned to her family business, Excel Bank Minnesota, in 2001 after relocating back to the Twin Cities area. Excel was the largest state chartered bank and the 10th largest bank, including nationally chartered banks, in Minnesota.

Bentdahl served as owner and member of the board of directors of both Excel Bank Minnesota and Excel Bank Corporation. Both organizations were sold in 2007, at which time Bentdahl retired from her career in banking.

Bentdahl was recently re-elected to the Abbott Northwestern Hospitals and Clinics Foundation on the Neuro ICU/ED Capital Campaign Feasibility Committee. She currently volunteers on the board for the Ann Bancroft Foundation and served as the chair for the Ann Bancroft Dream Makers Awards from 2008-11. She recently completed a six-year term on the Hamline University Board of Trustees and continues to serve on their Fund Development Committee.  

Bentdahl has also served on the boards of Ronald McDonald House Charities- Upper Midwest, Vision Loss Resources, Pillsbury United Communities and the Edina Community Foundation. She is a member of Normandale Lutheran Church, where she has served on the finance committee.

Bentdahl earned a bachelor's degree in art from Luther in 1985 and is a graduate of the Minnesota School of Banking.

Bentdahl and her husband, Roger Smith, have four children and reside in Edina, Minn.

Katherine Johnson-Becklin

Since 2008, Johnson-Becklin has served as an educational consultant, specializing in gifted and talented education. Johnson-Becklin works with parents, students, school administrators, guidance counselors and mental health professionals to help children realize their potential and grow in their social and emotional well-being. Her work also includes helping gifted children and their parents make optimal K-12 school matches and college decisions. She speaks at conferences around the country, discussing challenges and opportunities with parents and educators.

"Katherine, who has experienced the college through the eyes of a proud parent, brings a passion for education and understands how important marketing is to effectively tell the Luther story," said President Torgerson.

Johnson-Becklin holds a bachelor's degree in education with concentrations in speech/communication arts and English, and a master's degree in business with an emphasis in marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She began her career as an advertising manager with the Credit Union National Association in Madison and then with First Bank System in Minneapolis. She later joined Stephan & Brady Marketing Communications, serving as the co-owner and senior vice president for nearly 15 years. She then served as the director for the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research at UW-Madison prior to becoming a strategic planning consultant.

Johnson-Becklin became involved in gifted and talented educational programming in 2004, working as the gifted and talented director for the New Glarus, Wis. school district. In her role as director, Johnson-Becklin implemented district-wide strategic planning and wrote the first gifted and talented education policy in the district.

Johnson-Becklin has volunteered with a variety of community boards and organizations including the dean's advisory board and the school of journalism advisory board at UW-Madison. She served as the president for the New Glarus school district board of education, spearheading a district strategic plan and working on several board committees within the district.

More recently, Johnson-Becklin served on the Madison Country Day School board, chairing the committee for two years as well as serving on the curriculum and instruction committee, the board recruitment committee and the executive committee. Johnson-Becklin is a member of Advent Lutheran Church in Madison where she serves as a cantor and member of the interfaith hospitality network.

Johnson-Becklin, originally from Blanchardville, Wis., and her husband, Jay Becklin, a native of Milaca, Minn., are the parents of Hans, Luther College junior, and Alexandra.

J. Robert Paulson

Since 2009, Paulson has served as the president, CEO and director of NxThera, Inc. Paulson has spent more than 15 years as a leader in the medical technology industry.

Paulson holds a bachelor's degree cum laude in accounting, economics and political science from Luther, a master's in business administration with a concentration in finance and marketing from the University of St. Thomas and a juris doctorate degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Law.

"As an alumnus, Luther parent, and active college volunteer, Bob knows this institution from many perspectives," said President Torgerson. "His experience as a successful entrepreneur will be of great help as we think about new ways to deliver and strengthen the Luther experience."

Paulson began his career working with the Minneapolis-based company General Mills as a financial analyst, internal auditor and accountant. He left General Mills to pursue a juris doctorate degree at Vanderbilt University School of Law.

Paulson worked as an attorney for the law firm Lindquist & Vennum before returning to General Mills where he served as the director of marketing, director of corporate development and legal counsel for the company.

He then served in various positions at Medtronic, the world's largest medical technology company, whose headquarters are located in Minneapolis. Paulson began at Medtronic in 1995 and during his time there served as the director for corporate development and later as the vice president for corporate strategy and planning.

Paulson ventured west to serve as vice president and general manager of Medtronic Surgical Navigation Technologies in Broomfield, Colo., and then as senior vice president and general manager of Advanced Bionics in Santa Clarita, Calif.

He moved back to the Midwest to serve as the chief financial officer and vice president of marketing for Endocardial Solutions in St. Paul, and president and chief executive office, and director of Restore Medical in Roseville, Minn.

In the past several years, Paulson has been active on a number of Luther College committees, including the sesquicentennial strategic planning committee, the Annual Fund council, the Luther College Presidentsråd, a presidential advisory group, and most recently, the Regents Outreach and Gifts committee.

Other volunteer activities have included serving as president of the St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church council as well as the chair for the personnel committee, chair and director of the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Foundation board, director of the Pillsbury Neighborhood Services board and the director of the Washburn Center for Children board of directors. He has also volunteered for the Minneapolis Legal Aid Society.

Paulson, originally from Beloit, Wis., and his wife, Barbara Cook Paulson, are the parents of four children; Matthew, Luther class of 2004; Timothy; Christopher, Luther class of 2013; and Bethany. Their family resides in Medina, Minn.

James Thomsen

Thomsen currently serves as the senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. In this position, he leads the marketing, products and member services division of the company. Thomsen also oversees several divisions within the company, including affinity marketing, product development and marketing, member and field support services, centralized services, Thrivent Financial Bank, and brokerage and managed accounts.

Thomsen joined Thrivent Financial for Lutherans in 1986. Throughout his career, he has served in distribution management positions in Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and St. Louis. He joined Thrivent Financial's senior executive team in 2001.

"Jim and Kathy have long supported Luther," said President Torgerson. "Jim's responsibility for strategic positioning at Thrivent and his experience in organizational change will be a great asset to the Board as Luther responds to a changing marketplace."

In addition to his leadership at Thrivent Financial, Thomsen serves on the board of directors for LL Global, a worldwide association of insurance and financial service companies. He has served on the board for the Children's Theatre of Minneapolis, Lutheran Family Services of Colorado, Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago and the Penn State Center for Global Business Studies.

Thomsen served on Luther's Alumni Council from 1989-2006, and he and his wife, Kathy, served as national leaders for Luther's "Leadership for a New Century" campaign. The Thomsens are currently members of the Luther College Presidentsråd, a presidential advisory group.

Thomsen earned a bachelor's degree in management from Luther and is a graduate of Harvard Business School's advanced management program.

Thomsen and his wife, Kathy have two children and reside in Eden Prairie, Minn.