Advisory Board


The STARBASE Duluth Advisory Board is comprised of vested, passionate community leaders who feel deeply committed to supporting the advancement and sustainability of cutting edge STEM education in the Duluth and surrounding region.

Daniel Barnes

Vice President of Information Technology, Essentia Health

Dan Barnes is the current Vice President of Information Technology at Essentia Health. Dan has over 12 years of leadership experience in the healthcare IT setting. Dan began his career with Essentia as an IT project manager in 2005. Since that time he has held a variety of leadership roles in the IT area of the organization including Ancillary Applications Manager, Systems Manager and System Director of Clinical Applications. [read more] Dan has an extensive knowledge in strategic planning, governance, prioritization and process design and worked diligently to collaborate with clinical and business partners on standardization to achieve efficiency and a strong clinical practice environment. Dan believes in the power of partnership and has participated in a variety of cutting edge strategic IT projects to better serve the patients of Essentia Health.

Dan received his bachelors of marketing from St. Thomas University and holds a variety of certifications in the IT field.

Dan’s community involvement includes serving as the Vice Chair of the Minnesota EPIC User Group Board, as a troop leader of the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin and a local youth soccer coach.

Technology and science are core elements to Essentia’s commitment to its patients and fuels Dan’s desire to help further STEM education in our region. Additionally, as the parent of two young daughters, Dan has a personal interest to make STEM education more available to a wide range of students in the area. 

Erica Danielski

Director of Retail Marketing, Allegion

Erica works for Allegion (, a global security company with more than 30 brands sold around the world, all specializing in security solutions for homes, businesses, schools, and other institutions.  Erica serves as the Director of Retail Marketing.  Erica holds a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from the College of St. Scholastica, with a specialization in leadership and change management.  Her bachelor’s degree is in business from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

In Erica’s 24+ years of business strategy, operations, and marketing experience, she has served in strategy and marketing leadership roles with Samsung Electronics America, Imation (a 3M spinoff), Best Buy Corporate, AMSOIL, and maurices.  She also served as a Strategic Business Consultant and a Marketing Partner for national clients Procter & Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, Frito Lay, and Subway Restaurants.  While so much of Erica’s career has been spent working with innovative manufacturers and technology firms, successful work has been hand-in-hand with engineers and via an in-depth understanding of the technology that powers and produces these products and makes them unique. 

Erica strongly believes in the mission of STARBASE and its ability to serve all students and introduce them to a cutting-edge curriculum. “I see daily the pivotal role that STEM fields play in advancing our work and society. Great innovations in design and manufacturing impact how we produce, deliver, and use products that enable and enrich our jobs, and our lives.  Programs such as STARBASE introduce all students to this world and its exciting career opportunities. My hope is that STARBASE sparks for our youth a new passion that might not have otherwise been lit.”  Erica lives in Duluth with her husband Aaron, and their sons Colton (14) and Grant (11). 

Lori Hoyum, Vice Chair

Regulatory Compliance Administrator , Minnesota Power/Allete

Lori Hoyum works as the Regulatory Compliance Administrator at Minnesota Power/Allete. Prior to joining Minnesota Power in 2008, Lori worked as a Human Resource Manager with Duluth Public Schools for ten years. She earned her Bachelors of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth, as well as a Master’s of Arts in Work, Family and Community Education from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Lori is also certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources. [read more]

Lori is very excited to be involved with the Duluth STARBASE Program. Over the past three years she has been part of a team at Minnesota Power that puts on a Career Mentor Day that provides employees in STEM positions such as line workers, technicians and engineers, the opportunity to talk with middle and high school students and demonstrate technical aspects of their work. Being a strong supporter of experiential learning, and understanding the importance of having skilled workers in this region, especially for STEM-focused careers, Lori sees how the STARBASE Program delivers a one-of-kind hands-on learning experience to area youth that broadens their world in ways that the traditional classroom can’t. In addition to the STARBASE Advisory Board, Lori is a member of the Boy Scouts Arrowhead District Committee. Lori lives in Duluth with her husband of twenty-five years, Jeff, and her sons Josh (18) and Christian (16). 

Laura Kircher

Enbridge Manager of Stakeholder Engagement

Laura is the Manager of Stakeholder Engagement for the Midwest Region. Her team manages stakeholder relationships for Enbridge operations in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Laura has been at Enbridge for 12 years.  Laura graduated from the University Wisconsin, Superior with a degree in Business, and a concentration in marketing. Prior to working for Enbridge, Laura worked for a consulting firm in Duluth that caters to the oil and gas business.  Laura is an advisor to the Board of Better in our Backyard, an advocacy group focused on industrial development in the Midwest region. She currently sits on the Board for the Superior YMCA, and on the Iron Range Economic Alliance Board. Laura lives in Duluth with her fiancé, daughter, and corgi.

“STARBASE is inspiring minds to think about all the career opportunities that are available in the area. They demonstrate how STEM is in nearly every part of the workforce, and that digging into new problems can be fun and engaging. I am in awe of how the program works. I am excited to be a part of an organization that inspires and energizes new thinking!”

Lucas Mistelske, Chair

Vice President of Client Experience, Involta

Lucas Mistelske, Vice President of Client Experience, is a charismatic driver with a unique ability to manage and develop teams. His collaborative and compassionate approach to management aligns with his technical expertise to deliver a superior experience for Involta clients.

Lucas has operational responsibility for key strategic partners and clients at Involta. He oversees all aspects of governance, performance, executive engagement, financial performance and compliance for service delivery.  Since 2012, Lucas has held several roles at Involta – Manager of Operational Activity for the company’s two Minnesota data centers, Director of Data Center Operations for the company’s entire fleet of data centers and led the deployment of Involta’s Managed Services offering, specifically the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) development team and product platform.


Lucas is passionate about community engagement and relations. He currently serves as the board chair of Starbase Duluth STEM Education Program, and in curriculum advisory board positions for multiple programs within the University of Minnesota Duluth, Lake Superior College, and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.

Julie Padilla

Attorney, Fryberger Law Firm

Julie Padilla is an attorney with the Fryberger Law Firm in Duluth, Minnesota. Her practice is focused on energy and natural resources, regulatory law, and economic development. Prior to joining Fryberger, Julie served as Chief Regulatory Officer for Twin Metals Minnesota LLC, advocating for responsible mining development in Northeastern Minnesota and managing the company’s legal, permitting, public relations, and government relations functions. Ms. Padilla has also held senior level and general counsel positions at multiple renewable energy and energy efficiency financing companies, was a partner and head of the government relations department at Larkin Hoffman Law Firm in Minneapolis, and was staff for members of both the Minnesota and U.S. Senate. She has also served as Senior Lecturer on Environmental Law and Regulation at the University of Wisconsin – Superior.


“I grew up in an area where there was very little focus on the myriad of opportunities that young people have for future education and employment. I wish I had a program like STARBASE that creates that feeling of something bigger, expanding the world and its possibilities, allowing for a different level of teamwork, and highlighting all of the voices in the room – not just the voices that are traditionally heard in the classroom setting. Seeing and hearing from people who are actually in STEM fields also gives context and focus to students interested in STEM that may not know how they can utilize those skills.”


Renee Passal

Reporter and Anchor, WDIO-TV

Renee Passal is a report  and anchor at WDIO-TV in Duluth, MN and has nearly 17 years of experience as journalist.

Renee grew up on the Iron Range in Virginia, MN, After graduation she pursued a journalism degree at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities. Before landing her current position at WDIO, Renee worked at Fox 48 in Eau Claire, WI selling advertising. In 2005 she came back to Minnesota to report at WDIO. Since then, Renee has covered thousands of stories across the region including some at STARBASE! Mining and the Iron Range are her main beats, as they are called in the journalism world. [read more]

Renee and her husband Aaron are happy to be raising two little boys, Weston and Elliot, in Duluth. They are members of the Duluth Curling Club, where Renee has been a part of the fundraising effort for children called the House of Hearts.

“I have found STARBASE to be fascinating since the first time I was invited to cover the program. It is growing and reaching even more students. I want to be a part of expanding education in the Northland.  The exposure to STEM could help open students’ eyes to a career they didn’t think they would be interested in or excel at.”

Chad Ronchetti

Director, Project Planning and Development, Kraus Anderson

Chad Ronchetti is the Director of Project Planning and Development for Kraus-Anderson Construction’s Duluth, Minnesota office. Chad has nearly 10 years of business & economic development experience across the fields of architecture, construction, engineering, and municipal government.

In 2012, Chad began his career in Environmental Permitting for Burns & McDonnell Engineering as an Geographic Information Systems Specialist calculating potential environmental impacts for infrastructure projects. Chad opened a Duluth satellite office for Burns & McDonnell in 2014. Taking a position as an Economic Developer for the City of Duluth in 2018, Chad has years of experience in municipal government attracting investment and encouraging tax base growth. In his current role, Chad is able to combine his expertise in business development and project planning in an effort to advance his community.

“I believe that  STEM provides us with the insight to think critically about what we see around us and engage in world in a whole new way. Arming our youth with the knowledge STEM provides will help our region be competitive on a global scale because in today’s economy, we are competing within a globally integrated system. I feel passionately that STEM education prepares the youth of our region to do just that, and that retaining those STEM educated youth will position our region to be a leader in the economy of the future.”

Chad holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Geography from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.

Chad’s community involvement includes service on a Duluth City Council appointed taskforce, Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and President of the Board for Lincoln Park based Ecolibrium3.  Chad currently sits on the Steering Committee for the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Duluth and is a Hermantown Economic Development Authority Commissioner.

Patrick Waddick

President of Innovation & Operations, Cirrus Aircraft

Patrick Waddick is President of Innovation & Operations at Cirrus Aircraft. He is responsible for leading enterprise-wide Innovation and Operations activities including research and development, engineering, program management, manufacturing operations, global supply chain and quality. Patrick joined Cirrus Design Corporation in 1988 contributing to the early engineering efforts on the model VK30 composite pusher-configuration aircraft. Transitioning from VK30 Chief Engineer to ST50 Project Engineering Manager, Patrick led a joint Cirrus and Israeli design team through to early flight testing stages. [read more]

Patrick began his professional affiliations first with AIAA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison as a student chapter Vice President. In 2004, he was the recipient of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Hap Arnold Award for Excellence in Program Management. Patrick is also a member of the AOPA and EAA aviation organizations. An active FAA Private Pilot since 1988, he holds a single-engine instrument land rating.

Patrick was educated at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Mechanics from the School of Engineering in 1989. During his degree program he completed a cooperative education internship with IBM Corporation in East Fishkill, New York.