The University of St. Thomas is welcoming three new members to its Board of Trustees.
The Honorable Wilhelmina “Mimi” Wright, U.S. District Court judge; Jodeen Kozlak ’85, founder and CEO at Kozlak Capital Partners, LLC; and Archie Black, president and CEO at SPS Commerce, are the new members. Black began in January, while Kozlak and Wright will begin their service on July 1.
“Archie, Jodee, and Mimi are committed to higher education and St. Thomas’ mission and values,” President Julie Sullivan said. “They also bring a wealth of experience and diversity of perspectives, which will add value to our discussions and deliberations. We are thrilled and honored to welcome each of them to our board.”
The Wright stuff
Growing up on the campus of Norfolk State University where both her parents were faculty members, Wright developed a love of academic institutions. As her own academic path brought her to Yale University and then Harvard University, she looks back to their example of the transformative power of higher education.
“My parents were first-generation college educated, so they really benefited from a community that supported their ambition to go to college. … It was a big stretch for them to even imagine going to college, and yet there were individuals who helped them dream big and accomplish those dreams,” Wright said. “It’s something I see echoes of in the work that the University of St. Thomas does, especially with the new two-year program [of Dougherty Family College].”
As a longtime neighbor of St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus, Wright has had plenty of physical familiarity with the university over the years. That familiarity increased in 2008 when she joined the School of Law as an adjunct faculty member, teaching Ethical Leadership in Social Justice. Understanding that St. Thomas puts emphasis on ethical leadership and social responsibility across the university helped draw her to become a member of the Board of Trustees.
“Those are values I share, and they really resonate with me,” Wright said. “This was a wonderful opportunity, and is truly an honor.”
As she traveled around the world for Alibaba as its first global senior vice president of human resources, Kozlak would always look forward to coming home to one particular stateside store: Target, where she worked for more than a decade, including from 2007 to 2016 as its executive vice president of human resources.
Now Kozlak will have the opportunity to return to another home, the alma mater that helped shape the foundation for her successful career.
“I think back fondly and very gratefully often about the experience I had in that community on that campus,” she said. “I am totally humbled by the opportunity [to be a member of the board of trustees] and am really, really excited and inspired.”
Returning to St. Thomas won’t be Kozlak’s only stop on a college campus in the near future: Starting in September she will be part of the year-long Distinguished Careers Institute at Stanford University.
“I’m most excited about the continuous learning aspect,” she said. “It’s back to St. Thomas’ conviction: pursuit of truth.”
‘Contributing to this vision’
Although not a Tommie by direct study, it’s no surprise Archie Black has found his way into such meaningful connections with the university: The convictions he lives out in his personal life and as president and CEO of SPS Commerce since 2001 are in lockstep with St. Thomas.
“I see many connections between St. Thomas, myself and the way I live and work,” Black said. “Like St. Thomas, I believe in the pursuit of truth, intellectual knowledge and importance of rigorous and critical thinking. I understand the impact of faith and reason on human culture and the importance of treating each other with respect and dignity. I appreciate the diversity in our world and the value of inclusivity in supporting the unique contributions of each individual. And I believe that when you build a culture of caring and acknowledge the achievements of people, good things happen and that impact ripples out far beyond our own walls.”
Black’s direction has led to exemplary achievements for SPS Commerce, highlighted by the retail software innovator’s revenue, which has grown every quarter since 2001. In transitioning all he has learned in his career toward advising an institution of higher education like St. Thomas, Black will help position the university to grow students into the world’s future leaders.
“St. Thomas is forward-thinking and clear in its vision to ensure that students are set up for success in this complex, ever-changing world,” he said. “The commitment to continuous learning and to helping students – and each other – think critically and differently and with empathy about what is possible is how we will succeed as a global community in the future. I want to be a part of contributing to this vision.”