Minnesota’s largest private university is turning to one of its most distinguished alumni – a highly sought-after voice in the international business community – to be the next leader of its Board of Trustees.
Jodeen A. “Jodee” Kozlak ’85 has been selected to become chair of the University of St. Thomas board starting July 1. Kozlak is founder and CEO of Kozlak Capital Partners, LLC and her career spans leadership roles at Alibaba Group, Target Corp., and experiences at Minnesota law and accounting firms. St. Thomas will rely on her deep expertise in business strategy, governance and human resources management to help guide the next leg of its journey toward becoming a top national Catholic university.
“St. Thomas is a storied university with an incredible legacy. Over the next three years, I am eager to work with Rob Vischer and the board to preserve the university’s great foundation and elevate our scale and impact on a national level,” said Kozlak, who will succeed Pat Ryan ’75, chairman of Ryan Companies, when his term as St. Thomas board chair ends on June 30.
St. Thomas also announced two new vice chairs to its Board of Trustees as Amy Goldman, CEO and chair of the GHR Foundation, rotates off. The new vice chairs are:
James Kolar ’85 recently retired after more than 34 years of experience at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Kolar is active in the Chicago community, serving on the boards of United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, Economic Club of Chicago, and Chicago Urban League, among others. The certified public accountant earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from St. Thomas. He joined the University of St. Thomas Board of Trustees on July 1, 2020.
Philip Soran is co-founder and executive chairman of educational software company Flipgrid, a Minneapolis-based start-up that was acquired by Microsoft in 2018. He serves on Flipgrid’s board and on the boards of Foodsby, Piper Jaffray Companies, SPS Commerce and others. He also serves as a trustee of the University of Minnesota Foundation. He joined the University of St. Thomas Board of Trustees on July 1, 2017.
“I feel proud to work with the trustees around the table,” Kozlak said. “Collectively, we have an incredible depth of experience and have only gotten broader in terms of leadership styles and backgrounds. This is a board that is motivated and poised to make a real impact in people’s lives.”
Kozlak is an expert when it comes to corporate expansion in new markets and employee recruitment, retention and promotion. With a 10-year tenure as Target’s executive vice president and chief human resources officer, she was one of the longest serving C-suite leaders on the retailer’s executive committee before she joined Alibaba Group in a newly created role as global senior vice president of human resources. In that capacity, she helped to drive the B2B marketplace company’s international expansion outside of China.
Jodee Kozlak '85
St. Thomas is a storied university with an incredible legacy. Over the next three years, I am eager to work with Rob Vischer and the board to elevate our scale and impact on a national level.”
Next Board of TRustees Chair
During her 15-year Target career, she held other key leadership roles, including general counsel for the International Owned Brands Sourcing Business, general counsel for labor and employment, and trustee of the Target Foundation.
Kozlak was the first woman in the Target Corporation C-suite. “The experience taught me a lot,” she said, “including make sure you have strong alignment with the organization’s mission and find your own voice to lead authentically with head and heart. When you are part of a great team, you can count on your partners, and they can count on you.”
As the first woman to chair the University of St. Thomas Board of Trustees, Kozlak said, “across academia it’s important to strive to have more gender parity.” She points out that 54% of the student population at St. Thomas is female. “I hope to serve as an effective role model for all students.”
Kozlak is no newcomer to the university. In addition to being an alumna who obtained her bachelor’s degree in accounting and political science, she first joined the Board of Trustees in 2018.
“Over the past year, I’ve gotten to know Jodee as an exceptional source of wise counsel,” St. Thomas President Rob Vischer said. “She is a proven leader who cares deeply about the St. Thomas mission and our ability to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment. I could not be more excited to welcome her as our next board chair.”
Kozlak has had diverse roles and experience in her 30-year career. She is currently the Lead Independent Director of C.H. Robinson and serves as its Talent and Compensation Committee Chair. She serves on the public corporate boards of MGIC Investment and KB Home.
She was also a partner in the boutique law firm Greene Espel, PLLP, focusing on complex business litigation, governance, and employment law, and was a senior associate at the international law firm Oppenheimer Wolf & Donnelly. She started her career in the audit department of Arthur Andersen & Co. in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She obtained her J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School.
Kozlak is a former board chair of the Guthrie Theater, was a board member of Leslie’s Pools, serving one term through its IPO (NASDAQ:LESL) and has board experience with other privately held companies. She recently resigned as an advisory board member to the Stanford Center on Longevity, where she served for over a decade. She also was appointed a Stanford Distinguished Career Institute Fellow for 2018-19.