President’s Staff

Strategy

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Jessica Durkin, Chief of Staff

Jessica Durkin

Chief of Staff

As Chief of Staff to the University of Minnesota President, Jessica Durkin provides strategic guidance and support to the President. Jessica plays a lead role in managing presidential priorities and initiatives, and she is responsible for directing the operations of the Office of the President. She maintains a close working relationship with members of the President’s Leadership Team to ensure key issues impacting the U of M system are proactively addressed. Jessica also provides critical support to the President in establishing priorities, assisting with long-range planning, and coordinating the execution of strategies in support of the Office of the President.

Jessica previously served as Chief of Staff to the Vice President for Research and Innovation at the University of Michigan. She holds a Master of Science degree from Northern Michigan University.

Jon Steadland, Senior Advisor to the President

Jon Steadland wearing a blue coat and a red and blue striped tie

Jon Steadland

Senior Advisor to the President

As a Senior Advisor to the President, Jon Steadland plays a lead role in supporting and advancing presidential projects, key initiatives and strategic priority areas. Jon serves as a presidential liaison to the U of M campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester. He represents the President’s Office on the Alcohol License Oversight Committee and chairs the University Naming Committee. Jon manages special projects and initiatives, including those related to public safety and campus climate, on behalf of the President’s Office. He serves as the President’s liaison and key advisor on intercollegiate athletics, and he also coordinates executive searches on behalf of the President’s Office. Jon also provides supervision to the University Senate Office and manages engagement with University governance activities.

Jon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and communication from Luther College, a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a PhD in kinesiology (sport management) from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

Alex Piazza, Executive Director of Presidential Communications

Alex Piazza

Executive Director of Presidential Communications

As the Executive Director of Presidential Communications, Alex designs and implements executive communications strategies in support of the University of Minnesota President. Alex develops and manages a variety of communications tools and mediums on behalf of the President as part of a strategic effort to amplify the University’s achievements and priorities broadly. He also works with faculty, staff and students across the five system campuses to generate increased awareness around important presidential objectives and strategies.

Alex previously served as the Assistant Vice President for Research - Strategic Communications at the University of Michigan. He holds a Master of Science degree in general administration from Central Michigan University.

apiazza@umn.edu

Maggie Flaten, Assistant Chief of Staff

Maggie Flaten wearing a blue-black sweater with a white stripe on the collar

Maggie Flaten

Assistant Chief of Staff

As Assistant Chief of Staff, Maggie provides direct strategic support to the President. She serves, on behalf of the Office of the President, as a liaison with senior leaders and key partners in, among other units, the Research & Innovation Office, the Faculty Consultative Committee and University Senate, the Office of Information Technology, the Office of Internal Audit, and the health sciences schools. Additionally, she oversees the Board of Regents meeting material development and serves as the Office of the President liaison to the Board’s Audit & Compliance Committee. 

Maggie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from the University of Minnesota Duluth. 

mflaten@umn.edu 

(612) 625-0161

Brianna Menning, Assistant Chief of Staff

Brianna Menning wearing glasses and a maroon sweater

Brianna Menning 

Assistant Chief of Staff

Brianna works within the Office of the President and across the University of Minnesota system to liaise, connect, and support the work of the president. Her focus areas are the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, the Office of Undergraduate Education, the Graduate School, the Office of Equity and Diversity, Student Affairs, and Native American Affairs, as well as University Senate committees and graduate and professional student governance groups. She also connects the Office of the President to the Board of Regents Mission Fulfillment Committee and the Governance & Policy Committee. 

Brianna holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and political science from Bethel University.

menning@umn.edu 
(612) 626-1616

Operations

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Angie Pesch, Office Manager

Angie Pesch wearing a dark green sweater and glasses

As office manager, Angie oversees the day-to-day operations of the Office of the President, including building management and security, communications, events, finance, project and administrative support to the strategy team, and supervision of the receptionist position.

Angie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, summa cum laude, from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

apesch@umn.edu
(612) 626-1616

Orbe Walther, Executive Assistant and Confidential Aide

Orbe Walther wearing a black sweater and glasses

Orbe serves as the president’s executive assistant and confidential aide. In this role, she provides executive-level support and administrative expertise to the president. She prepares for and executes virtual and in-person meetings and events for the president and manages day-to-day operations in terms of calendar management, meeting and event preparation as well as coordination of presidential travel and corresponding expense processing.

Orbe holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Scandinavian languages and Finnish from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

odw@umn.edu
(612) 626-1616

Eve Wolf, Correspondence Manager

Eve manages the Office of the President email account, working with staff throughout the University system to ensure timely and substantive responses to a vast array of inquiries. Additionally, she writes, edits, and manages other correspondence for the office, supervises the student employees, and facilitates document archiving. She has served four University presidents as writer, editor, and correspondence manager.

Eve holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in religious studies from Grinnell College and a Master of Arts degree in human development from St. Mary's University.

eve@umn.edu
(612) 626-1616