Sara Gross Methner, managing director and international general counsel of Piper Jaffray Companies, will become the first general counsel and chief human resources officer at St. Thomas.
Gross Methner will join St. Thomas Aug. 22 and will oversee legal issues, including the coordination of work done for the university by area law firms, and the 17-person Department of Human Resources.
“I always have had a strong interest in education, moral leadership and trying to make a positive difference in my community and the broader world,” Gross Methner said. “Six or seven months ago my husband told me, ‘I think you should be a general counsel for a college or university.’ When a friend who wasn’t aware of this conversation forwarded me the St. Thomas job description, I thought it had to be more than serendipity. It sounded like the right thing for me. I’m delighted to have this opportunity to serve St. Thomas.”
Mark Dienhart, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said Gross Methner brings a wide range of legal and human resources experience to St. Thomas.
“I’m certain that Sara will be a tremendous addition and resource to our university community,” Dienhart said. “It seems right that in this, the year when we mark the 10th anniversary of the reopening of our law school, we are going to be able to establish the important office of the general counsel here at St. Thomas.”
The St. Thomas position will be a coming home, of sorts, for Gross Methner.
She was born in Minneapolis and her family lived at the corner of Selby Avenue and Finn Street in St. Paul until she was 7. They lived in Redwood Falls, Minn., and then Minneapolis before settling again in Redwood Falls when she was 12.
Gross Methner is a 1992 graduate of Wellesley College, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese language and literature. After two years in Washington, D.C., as a legislative assistant for U.S. Rep. David Minge of Minnesota, she enrolled at Stanford University Law School. She earned her juris doctor degree, with distinction, and was a member of the Stanford Law Review.
She served as a law clerk in the Stanford Office of the General Counsel in 1996-1997 before becoming an associate at Dorsey & Whitney LLP in Minneapolis. She advised clients on issues such as corporate governance, securities regulation, executive and equity compensation, and mergers and acquisitions.
She joined Piper Jaffray, an investment bank and asset management firm, in 2003 as its vice president, assistant general counsel and assistant secretary. She became managing director and head of compensation in 2006 and moved the following year to Hong Kong to serve as managing director, general counsel and chief administrative officer of Piper Jaffray Asia. Last year she became managing director and international general counsel and in this role she recently returned to Minnesota.
Minnesota Law and Politics magazine named Gross Methner a “Minnesota Rising Star” in 2005 and 2006. Outside activities have included service on the boards of Sunny Hollow Montessori School in St. Paul from 2004 to 2008, with a one-year term as chair in 2006-2007, and VocalEssence, a Minneapolis music ensemble.
Her husband, David Methner, is a free-lance musician who plays the clarinet and saxophone. They have two children, Ava, 10, and Noel, 8, and live in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood.