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). 

Lucas Mistelske, Chair

Vice President of Strategic Accounts, Involta

Lucas Mistelske has been with Involta since 2012 as the manager of operational activity for the company’s two Minnesota data centers and the director of data center operations for the company’s fleet of 15 data centers. Now as the Vice President of Strategic Accounts, Mistelske has operational responsibility for critical accounts for Involta. He oversees aspects of governance, performance, executive engagement, financial performance, and compliance for services being delivered to Involta’s strategic partners and clients. [read more]

He oversaw all aspects of Involta’s two data center builds and earned Uptime Institute Tier III TCDD/TCCF certifications. Mistelske has been pivotal in developing and maintaining processes that adhere to Involta SLA and ITIL requirements. He led the deployment of Involta’s Managed Services offering, leading the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) development team and product platform.

Mistelske attended the University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth Business University and Connecting Point ITS. He has earned certifications in CompTia A+, MCP, MCDBA, and Cisco CCNA. Prior to joining Involta, he worked in the managed services side of IT focusing on IT plans for business operations, planned upgrades and deployments, business Intelligence, business application integrations, research and implementation of LAN/WAN resources, development of solutions to common operating issues caused by growth and change, application of new software, and domain maintenance.

He currently serves as the board president of Greater Minnesota AFCOM Chapter, board member of Northland Technology Professionals, and past board chair of the Northland Technology Consortium. Mistelske is active within the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion. He volunteers for STEM organizations in the community including Reboot for Youth, DoD STARBASE and FIRST Robotics. “STEM based education, specifically STARBASE, gives students an ap- plied method of not only learning STEM based topics, but actually executing in a way that is engaging.”

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.