Category Archives: Alumni & Friends

Honor Roll Spotlight: Norwood “Woody” Nelson

Photo of Woody Nelson, '60 Electrical GeneralWhen Woody Nelson graduated from Dunwoody in 1960 he could never have imagined where his degree would take him. The Electrical General degree not only landed him his first job doing electrical maintenance and repair work in the J&L Steel mines in Northern Minnesota, it also opened the doors that would eventually lead him into facilities management.

Before retiring in 1999, Nelson served as the Director of Corporate Facilities for all of Cummins/Onan — a global power generation leader. Nelson’s career at Cummins spanned more than three decades and took him all over the world. Even after retirement, Nelson has stayed active in his professional organizations and as a consultant.

Growing up on a small farm near Cloquet, Minnesota, Nelson said “fixing things was a way of life.” And during his senior year of high school he was a trainee working as an electrician for a paper company in Cloquet. The job appealed to him and after graduation he made the decision to move to Minneapolis and enroll at Dunwoody.

During the 18 months Nelson was at Dunwoody, he really enjoyed getting to know his classmates and knowing that he was learning a skill that he enjoyed doing.

Photo of Woody Nelson and classmates from 1960.

Woody Nelson (far right), 1960, with Dunwoody classmates.

After graduating, Nelson went to work for J&L Steel while his wife finished up her master’s degree in Library Science at the University of Minnesota.

Understanding that the career opportunities for both he and his wife were far greater in the Twin Cities, Nelson answered a general ad in the Star Tribune for an electrical tester and sent in a letter and resume. At the time, he didn’t know the position was with Onan Corporation, which would later be acquired by Cummins Engine Company. Nelson believes his degree from Dunwoody was one of the reasons he not only got an interview, but was offered a job the same day.

His career at Onan took a different path than the one he expected. He was soon tapped to take on the foreman position and that position led him into his career in facilities management. By 1971, Nelson was the Manager of Plant Engineering for Onan.

Nelson liked the variety and challenge of his work. His work not only meant managing the current facilities, but helping design the new ones. He also became active in several professional associations, including serving as President of the American Institute of Plant Engineers (now Association for Facilities Engineering – AFE) local chapter and serving on the National Board of AFE for 12 years, becoming National President in 1993. In fact, Nelson was honored professionally by his colleagues in 1996 when he was inducted into the AFE’s College of Fellows.

During all this time, Nelson has stayed active and connected to Dunwoody. He and his wife Muriel feel strongly about giving back and have made the decision to become Legacy Association members by including the College in their estate planning.

“Muriel and I have been blessed, so we want to give something back to the places that helped us,” Nelson said. “I hope that in doing so, someone else will have the opportunity to have as much fun as I did in this career and in this life.”

Read more feature stories in the 2015 Annual Report.

 

Honor Roll Spotlight: Gary N. Petersen

Gary N. Petersen
Retired President and COO of Minnegasco
Dunwoody Board of Trustees
1990-present

Photo of Gary N. Petersen

Gary N. Petersen

Gary Petersen has always approached his service to Dunwoody College of Technology with a “never say no” philosophy.

For the retired President and Chief Operating Officer of Minnegasco (now Centerpoint Energy) this has translated into 25 years of volunteer service as a member of the Dunwoody Board of Trustees, including two years as Chair and another two years as Treasurer. In addition, Petersen has served on numerous committees and even chaired the Good to Great Capital Campaign, which ran from 2001-2009.

Petersen’s long history with Dunwoody first began in 1990. As the new Chief Operating Officer for Minnegasco, Petersen was proud of the company’s long history of hiring Dunwoody grads.

“Dunwoody has always provided the best technicians,” Petersen said.

So when he was asked to join the Board of Trustees, Petersen was happy to say “yes.”

“When I joined, the Board had so much great experience and leadership,” Petersen said. “It took me a couple of years to figure out how I could contribute.”

Of the 160 individuals who have sat on the Dunwoody College of Technology Board of Trustees over the past 101 years, Petersen has had the pleasure to know and serve with 81 of them.

A Certified Public Accountant, Petersen graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. degree in Computer Science. His career first began in public accounting, which led to his work with public utilities and then to senior management. His background in finance meant Petersen was a natural fit for the Finance and Audit Committee at Dunwoody.

In addition, Petersen’s leadership experience in the areas of strategic thinking and planning led to his involvement in developing Dunwoody’s formal program evaluation system, which is still used by the Board to this day.

In 1998, Petersen retired from Minnegasco and became an independent consultant. Even after his departure from the utility company, Petersen has remained a valued and active member of the Board of Trustees.

Besides giving of his time and talents, Petersen and his wife Barbara have also donated generously to the College. “There is definitely a joy of giving” Petersen said, adding that his affinity to Dunwoody comes from knowing that there really is a Dunwoody Difference that can be seen in the students and graduates who leave here ready to work from Day 1.

In addition to his volunteer service to Dunwoody, Petersen also served as a Board Member for the YMCA for more than 20 years and held several volunteer roles with his church. In fact, through his involvement with all three organizations, Petersen has been directly involved in eight different capital campaigns.

And when he is not serving on Boards or giving back to his community, Petersen is an avid sports fan who enjoys spending time with his family.

When he looks to the future, Petersen is excited about the direction that Dunwoody is heading, with the addition of more 4-year Bachelor of Science degrees offered through its new School of Engineering.

“We’re on the cusp of taking off in the next 100 years,” Petersen said.

Read more spotlight stories in the 2015 Annual Report.

 

 

Learning the “look” of confidence, turning perception into reality

When Twanya Hood Hill was in elementary school she was painfully shy and her mother would often tell people “She’s bashful, but she’s smart.” From those early experiences, Hood Hill discovered that by adopting “the look” of confidence she could change the way people viewed her – and eventually how she viewed herself.

Twanya Hood Hill speaks at Dunwoody College of Technology for the C. Charles Jackson Leadership Lecture Series

Twanya Hood Hill, Vice President of Leadership Development for Ameriprise Financial Services, shared how self-confidence can be the key to success during the Nov. 5 C. Charles Jackson Leadership Lecture Series.

The Vice-President of Leadership Development for Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., Hood Hill now helps others unlock their own leadership potential by learning the skill of self-confidence. Hood Hill is also an adjunct faculty member in the Master of Arts and Organizational Leadership program at St. Catherine University.

“Confidence is not about how you feel about yourself, it’s how others see you,” Hood Hill explained during the Nov. 5 Jackson Leadership Lecture, held at Dunwoody College of Technology. The lecture series features key executives from the business community, who speak on a range of leadership topics.

During her talk entitled “Self-Confidence: The Key to Success,” Hood Hill provided several strategies for building self-confidence:

  • Fail fast – Put your ideas out there and then learn to adjust
  • Avoid negative thoughts
  • Manage Perceptions – Beware and be aware of how others perceive you
  • Learn the “Charisma Formula” – Strength + Likeability = Charisma

“Eventually people will start to see you differently, and you will see yourself differently,” Hood Hill said.

The breakfast lecture series is held the first Thursday of every month. The next event will be held at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3 and will feature Nancy Dahl, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Tastefully Simple, a national home tasting company. For more information, or to view past events, visit www.dunwoody.edu/alumni/jackson.

Dunwoody honors industry partners and volunteers at PAC dinner

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Dunwoody College of Technology held its annual recognition dinner in honor of the hundreds of individuals who serve on one of the College’s Program Advisory Committees (PACs).

Each year, nearly 500 alumni and friends from business and industry volunteer their time to provide the feedback, insight and direction needed to ensure that programs and faculty remain up-to-date on emerging needs in the workplace.

In addition to thanking all of the volunteer committee members, the College also recognized three individuals with a Program Advisor Award.

PACaward5W

Architecture PAC member and Principal Emeritus of SALA Architects, Inc., Dale Mulfinger, FAIA, was selected to receive the Program Advisor Award in recognition of all of the time, talent, influence, counsel, energy and resources he has provided to Dunwoody’s Architecture Programs.

PACaward7W

Director of Field Operations for Ryan Companies, Jim “JP” Person, was presented with the Program Advisor Award in recognition of his passion, dedication and generosity providing industry support for the students of Dunwoody’s Construction Management Programs.

PACaward8W

Gary Shantz, Key Account Area Manager for Ideal Industries, Inc., was presented with a Program Advisor Award in recognition of his time, talent, dedication and generosity, which has benefited students in many Dunwoody programs.

This year, more than 250 individuals attended the PAC dinner, which was held in the McNamara Center at Dunwoody following the PAC meetings.