Chris Vatsaas headshot.
New School of Law Alumni Board President Chris Vatsaas ’11 J.D.

2024-25 Law Alumni Board Announced; Meet New President Chris Vatsaas

The School of Law is pleased to announce its 2024-25 Alumni Board. A special welcome to the new directors and incoming secretary.

  • President: Chris Vatsaas ’11 J.D., Tuft, Lach, Jerabek & O’Connell, PLLC
  • Past President: Kate Nilan Uding ’06 J.D., Luther Automotive Group
  • President-elect: The Hon. John Sandy ’07, ’10 J.D., Iowa District Court 3A
  • Secretary: Lisa Thimjon ’09 J.D., Minnesota Department of Health
  • Continuing directors:
    • Charlie Austinson ’06 J.D., Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC
    • Josh Damberg ’17 J.D., Fafinski Mark & Johnson PA
    • Cianna Halloran ’21 J.D., Winthrop & Weinstine
    • Andrew LeJeune ’14 J.D./MBA, GlassArt Design
    • Dillon Lang ’14, ’19 J.D., Wright County Sheriff’s Office
    • Emily Niles ’14 J.D., Robins Kaplan
    • Adam Rowe-Johnson ’20 J.D., Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office
    • Lindsey Rowland ’18 J.D., Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A.
    • Laura Kvasnicka ’17, ’20 J.D./MSW, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
    • Amanda Pilon ’21 J.D., Minneapolis Grain Exchange
  • Incoming directors:
    • Mike Ingvaldson ’20 J.D., Nicolet Law Office
    • Meghan Marty Gilligan ’16 J.D., Messerli | Kramer
    • Pat O’Neill ’17 J.D., Larson King
    • Jenna Peterson ’13 J.D., Redwood County Attorney
    • Adrienne Stanley ’13 J.D., Thomson Reuters

Thank you to the outgoing board members for their years of dedicated service, including past president Elizabeth Drotning Hartwell ’06 and directors Chuck Berendes ’07 J.D., Nicolet Lyon ’10 J.D., Jules Porter ’17 J.D./MBA and Ronnie Santana '13, ’18 J.D.

Meet the new president

Chris Vatsaas is the new Law Alumni Board president. He is an attorney and shareholder at Tuft, Lach, Jerabek & O’Connell, PLLC in Minneapolis, practicing in the area of family law. Vatsaas is also an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He has taught the Advanced Family Law course for the past five years, and for the past six years he has been a faculty mentor in the Mentor Externship Program.

“The relationships I’ve built with students, many of whom I now get to call colleagues, have proven invaluable,” Vatsaas said.

Beyond St. Thomas, Vatsaas is active in several local family law professional organizations, an involved member of his family’s church and a youth basketball coach in the winter.

His term as president of the alumni board coincides with the start of the School of Law’s new Dean Dan Kelly and Vatsaas says this year he wants the board to support Kelly’s transition to St. Thomas.

“I am committed to laying a strong foundation for the alumni association’s relationship with Dean Kelly,” he said. “I want to ensure that future boards and alumni can continue to build upon this as the dean’s vision unfolds.”

Other priorities for the board this year include further implementation of its strategic plan and planning the second alumni Gavel & Gown Gala on Feb. 22, 2025.

“The alumni board is the place where the many talented and energizing voices and perspectives of our alumni can be synthesized into a powerful force that can elevate our entire alumni community, as well as the School of Law,” he said. “I look forward to the opportunity to blend that energy, talent and commitment to mission into a cohesive action plan for our alumni.”

Video: lightning round with Chris Vatsaas