Afro Deli Founder Named Small Business Person of the Year – Twin Cities

NOTE Abdirahman Kahin

The US Small Business Administration named Abdirahman Kahin, CEO and owner of Afro Deli and Grill, Minnesota’s Small Business Person of the Year for 2023. Kahin will compete for National Small Business Person of the Year during National Small Business Week, week one in May in Washington, D.C. Since opening its first location in 2010, Afro Deli has expanded to four locations in the Twin Cities.


Primacy Strategy Group, a St. Paul-based lobbying and business development firm, announced the following personnel promotions and additions: Jake Blum, promoted to political director and public relations manager; Calvin Benson, hired on the Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs team; and Heidi Esparza, hired as Executive Assistant to the CEO. Primacy Strategy Group is a partnership between public relations firm Synergetic Endeavors and Minneapolis law firm Lockridge Grindal Nauen.


Ceres Global Ag Corp., a Golden Valley-based resource and energy logistics company, announced that it has appointed Jennifer Henderson as vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, effective February 13. Henderson previously held similar leadership positions at Believer Meats.


Wold Architects & Engineers, St. Paul, announced the promotion of Rachel Bartling, Tom Clark and Teng Vang to the Associates Leadership Team in St. Paul.


System Pavers, a California-based outdoor living design and installation company, announced the hiring of Brent Schaefer as Chief Growth Officer based in the Twin Cities. Schaefer previously served as an investment professional at Houlihan Lokey and Morgan Stanley.


Winthrop & Weinstine, Minneapolis, announced that Michael A. Gale-Butto has joined the firm as an associate in the litigation practice. Gale-Butto is a former Assistant Attorney for the City of Minneapolis.


The Toro Co., a Bloomington-based manufacturer of consumer and commercial lawnmowers and snow removal equipment, announced that Renee J. Peterson, vice president and chief financial officer, plans to retire in July 2023. Angela C. Drake, currently vice president, finance, will succeed Peterson as vice president and chief financial officer, effective March 10. Peterson will continue to serve the organization as Vice President, Finance to support the transition.


Electromed, a New Prague-based manufacturer of airway clearance technologies, announced that Kathleen Skarvan will step down as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2023, after which Skarvan will serve as a non-employee member and Chair of the company’s Board of Directors.

Nonprofit Organizations

The Angel Foundation, a Mendota Heights-based organization that helps meet the financial needs of cancer patients, announced that Kirstie Foster has been appointed Chair of the Board. Foster is President and Founder of Foster Modern PR. Previously, she held positions at CHS, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and General Mills. … Minnesota Lutheran Social Service announced the following staffers who received the 2022 President’s Award of Excellence: Janelle Milling, Kelli Whisnant, Jody Shaskey-Setright, Jenni Carrier, Sheri Swopes, Stacy Abdouch, Taymara Montague, Alissa Dott and Jennifer creps.


IWG, a global provider of hybrid workspaces under the Spaces and Regus brands, announced the opening of two flexible workspaces in Lakeville and Rochester in partnership with Ryan Semler and Reed Lifka under the Regus brand.


Minnesota Builders Exchange, a trade group representing the commercial construction industry, announced its 2023 board members and leadership: Chairman Greg Grazzini, Grazzini Brothers, Eagan; Vice President Michael Carlson, Max Gray Construction, Hibbing; Treasurer Heidi Sedlacek, Bituminous Roadways, Mendota Heights; Secretary David Siegel, Executive Director of MBEX, and Immediate Past President Randy LaFaive, Market & Johnson, Stillwater. Board Members: David Brandt, Jason DuVal, Chuck Geisler, Brian Kalla, Sean Ochis, Jason Rentmeester, Andrew Ristrom, Nate Sapik.


Twin Cities Premium Outlets, Eagan, announced the following upcoming openings: jewelry retailer Lovisa; Kids Palace, an indoor park and amusement center; and Luxhury, a health-focused personal care brand, are moving from a previous downtown location.

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