Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 08.13.2015

August 11, 2015

Today: Alyssa Herzog Melby, Executive Director Northfield Arts Guild, NAG’s New Start

Birthdays: Leo Lawlor (8/15)

Next Week: Chris Heineman, Director of Community Development for the City of Northfield, Classification (Rich)

Last Week:  

He’s no Jerry Seinfeld, but Steve Underdahl, President and CEO of Northfield Hospital & Clinics, is pretty funny. He uses self-deprecating humor and irony to tell his story, while showing an uncommon capacity for emotional availability for someone who grew up in a Norwegian household.

Steve says he is living proof that “the good Lord has a sense of humor.” His story is one of circuitous, on-the-job-learning that found him succeeding by taking the road less traveled.  

Thirty-five years ago, he would never have dreamed he would spend most of his professional career in healthcare and hospitals. His introduction to the field came while accompanying his parents to the bedsides of ailing grandparents who wrestled with chronic diseases before their end. He associated hospitals with boredom and sadness.

But when the economy did not reward his efforts in real estate and a less than ethical partner soured him on business reclamation, he found himself working at Fountain Lake Treatment Center, a chemical dependency treatment center in Albert Lea. It was supposed to be an interim job, but it turned into a career.

He found his passion, and that passion was rewarded by support and guidance from those around him that enabled him to finish college, earn a masters degree, and position himself for a healthcare administrative position. He attributes his success to always being surrounded by people who were smarter and better credentialed than he.

The irony of his success is that school was not a good fit for him. He said he was first tagged as “not college material” and later as an “under-achiever.”

A defining moment in his life was becoming a father. He desperately wanted to get that right. It allowed him to tap into a vein of selflessness that he may have not otherwise encountered.

Steve came to Northfield in May of 2013 and now lives in town with his wife, Lori. It’s been a great fit. Rotary, he says, is the first service club he has ever joined, and he looks forward to working with the club.

On his own time, he has run marathons and ridden mountain bikes. He aspires to be an amateur astronomer, and, in life’s next chapter, wants to research the challenge of improving scientific literacy in our culture.

Scott Richardson said he didn’t realize how much work it is to be retired. There’s a lot more decision-making to do now that he is liberated from the workplace. The good news is Rotarian Betsy Spethmann, will be the hospital’s next director of Community Relations. Scott said her extensive knowledge of Northfield and the hospital’s community partners and her obvious talent make her a great choice.

Here is a list of this year’s outbound students. Some have already departed.

  • Beimers, Henry – Norway
  • Beimers, William – Brazil
  • Carlson, Samuel -Argentina
  • Estrada, Gabriella – France
  • Hahn, Erin – Thailand
  • Hodel, Christoph – Indonesia
  • Kelley, Caitlin – Chile
  • Lunderby, Jack – Brazil
  • Mandsager, Erik – Zimbabwe
  • Martinez, Odalys – Japan
  • Muir, Mason – Taiwan
  • Olson, Josiah – Colombia
  • Regnier, Eli – Brazil
  • Rodriguez-Vazquez, Leslie – Brazil
  • Scheffert, Jenna – Italy
  • Seitz, Zoe – Denmark
  • Washburn Chapman, Ahna Cole – South Africa
  • Woitalla, Jessica – Brazil.

Guests: Claire Spencer (Zweifel), Marion Arpin and Joseph Sidler (Halverson), Odalys Martinez (L. Dilley), Erik Larson (Larson), Josiah Olson (V. Dilley).

Scholarship Enhancement:  David Halsor


Posters for the 2015 car raffle are available for those who have access to public display space. Contact President Russ if you can use some.


District 5960 is forming a Friendship Exchange to India January 9-20. They are looking for five Rotary couples to make the trip. See President Halverson if you are interested in learning more.


If you have not yet declared for a committee assignment in the new year, please contact Jean Wakely. She is also ready to record your commitment to the Defeat of Jesse James Bike Tour on Saturday, Sept. 12.


Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is looking to build its local network to support for active service men and women, veterans and their families. The idea is to sign up and then step forward when you have skills or time to respond to a need. Check with Virginia Kaczmarek if you want to learn more.


Jan Stevens alerted members to a Civil War re-enactment Saturday, Aug. 15, at historic Fort Snelling. It also includes a performance by the Manitou Brass.


Coming Up

August 27 — Dana Norvold, Rice County Habitat for Humanity


September 3 — Holly Schoenbauer, Help Me Grow (Kaczmarek)


September 10 — Nate Heilman, Classification (O’Neil)


September 17 — Chris Kennelly, Classification (Reese)