December 19, 2016

Alumna to deliver commencement address

Michele Kelm-Helgen '77. Photo supplied.

Michele Kelm-Helgen will deliver the address at St. Catherine University’s commencement ceremonies Wednesday, Dec. 21.

Michele Kelm-Helgen graduated Phi Beta Kappa from St. Catherine in 1977. Throughout her career, her leadership has demonstrated the strength of her St. Kate’s liberal arts foundation in critical thinking, communication and collaboration.

In 2012, Governor Mark Dayton appointed her – then his deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs – to chair the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and represent the state of Minnesota in the design and construction of the new U.S. Bank Stadium.

Kelm-Helgen continues to lead financial oversight of the stadium, manage the partnership with the Minnesota Vikings football team and coordinate local government, business and community efforts to promote the stadium as an event venue. The stadium will host ESPN’s “X” Games in 2017 and ’18, the 2018 Super Bowl, and the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Final Four in 2019.

Her experience in large-scale project management began when she became engaged with her children’s school district board. After volunteering to chair a citizens' committee for the district’s boundary-revision process, she was appointed to the school board to fill out a term and ended up serving on the board for a decade. Chairing the board for most of that time, she oversaw construction of five school buildings. Michele’s work on the school board connected her to state Senator Larry Pogemiller, who recruited her to serve as his chief of staff when he was elected majority leader of the DFL caucus.

A native of Montgomery, Michele hails from an active political family. Her grandfather, Elmer Kelm, managed Hubert Humphrey’s first mayoral campaign and her father, Tom Kelm, was chief of staff for Wendell Anderson in his governor’s office and when Anderson served in the senate.

Early in her career she was a director at Control Data Corporation – now called Ceridian – and also worked in her father’s lobbying and public relations firm. Michele received a Master of Business Administration in finance from the University of St. Thomas and is an active member of the Chamber and Rotary in Minneapolis.