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The University of Minnesota Duluth

BRIDGE - Fall 2009, Volume 27, #1

Jennifer Nelson| Jimmy Johnson | Larry Lehtinen | Brett Hull |

Alumni Profiles


Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson:
A Consistent Passion

Jennifer Nelson,’86 B.F.A., loved the various art mediums that she was able to experiment with while studying commercial art at UMD. “It gave me breadth and depth,” she said. Since graduating, Nelson has worked as a graphic designer. However, her fine arts work has remained “a consistent passion all these years,” she notes. Recently that passion came to the forefront.

This past June, the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis hosted a series of Nelson’s paintings collaged with vintage dress patterns. The patterns once belonged to her grandmother. Nelson adheres the pattern pieces to a rigid surface then embellishes them with mixed mediums including latex paint, acrylic paint, and crayon. She calls the results “interpretations”. They are at once both nostalgic and modernly vibrant.

Nelson has advice for visual arts students just entering UMD’s School of Fine Arts. She encourages them to “work with any medium you can get your hands on,” attend art functions, and read art magazines. Speaking from experience, Nelson said that one never knows what will spark creativity. “Any new thing, art-related or otherwise, can send you down a new path of inspiration,” she said.

Jimmy Johnson: Scoring Points for Coaching


Jimmy Johnson

Jim Johnson ’85, along with three other men with extensive experience in coaching, management, and playing, founded This e-learning system is designed to deliver cutting edge coaching education programs for youth sports coaches. “Youth coaches are passionate and they have time, but they don’t always have the skills to teach what kids need to know and especially to have success in their sport,” Johnson said. Classes are available online through flexxCOACH University. Coaches can download the Drill Designer and build their own drill database or visit the Learning Center to get the latest in tactics, rules, and strategies.

Johnson has excelled in hockey. In 1981 at UMD, he was named Rookie of the Year. He was awarded that same distinction again in 1985 at the start of his thirteen-year professional career. Following his playing career, Johnson worked as a coach and saw first hand what coaches need in order to develop their own talents and the talents of their players.

Johnson feels strongly that coaches should provide a positive learning environment for children and young people. While most kids won’t end up in the NHL, NFL, or NBA, Johnson knows that playing will help them develop their confidence and self-esteem. “Learning to work hard and being able to take that mindset to whatever they choose to do in life is a wonderful accomplishment,” Johnson said. He believes that this can more easily be accomplished when coaches have the tools they need. flexxCOACH offers tools and solutions to keep the game fun.


Larry Lehtinen

Larry Lehtinen: A Range Iron Rush

Using his 32 years of experience in the iron and steel business, Larry Lehtinen, ’83 M.B.A., saw the raw potential of some promising technology in January 2008. Lehtinen is chairman, CEO and majority owner of the company, Magnetation, which uses a proprietary mineral processing system to separate iron ore from natural ore tailings. Lehtinen, whose great-grandfather Albert arrived from Finland in 1896, wants to see economic vitality on the Iron Range and has had a major impact on the Iron Range. He played a vital role in making the Minorca Mine a long term iron ore supplier. He founded the Mesabi Nugget Project in 2001 and revitalized it after the project had trouble in 2006.

Lehtinen has a reputation for making things happen. After acquiring a controlling interest in the struggling upstart Magnetation in 2008, he was able to put together a business model, bring on board a viable customer, acquire permits, complete the design of the process, raise financing to build the plant, and bring the iron ore recovery project out of the lab and into production in only nine months. Since February 2009, Magnetation’s first plant, located near Keewatin, has been shipping a rich concentrate to Mesabi Nugget in Hoyt Lakes, Minn. where it will be turned into pig iron, the raw material for steel. “We’ve got an abundance of natural ore tailings on the West Mesabi Iron Range,” Lehtinen explained. “The natural ore tailings have already been stripped, mined, crushed, and ground so the tailing material can be upgraded to usable quality at very low cost with our unique patent pending process.” A century of mining has left the Iron Range scarred but this School of Business and Economics alumnus and his business partners plan to a turn a hundred million tons of discarded tailings into billions of dollars in revenue over the next fifty years.

Brett Hull: Hockey Hall of Famer

Former UMD student, Brett Hull was recently elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Player Category. In 1984, Brett Hull put on a UMD uniform and impressed college hockey fans with his goal-scoring skill. “He had a sensational two-year career with the Bulldogs,” said UMD Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Bob Nielson. “He’s truly one of the game’s greatest players.” Hull made an impact on the UMD hockey program,
distinguishing himself as the most prolific goal producer in UMD history.

In 1984-85, Hull was chosen the WCHA’s Freshman of the Year, and the following winter, Hull collected 52 goals — a UMD record. In addition, he established Bulldog records for hat tricks, multiple-goal games, and power play scores in one season. Hull passed up his final two years of collegiate eligibility to join the NHL Calgary Flames. During his 20 years in the NHL, he played for the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings and Phoenix Coyotes. He skated for the U.S. Team that captured the 1996 World Cup and a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. He played with the U.S. at the 1998 Olympics, the 1991 Canada Cup, and the 1986 World Ice Hockey Championships.

Hull joined his father, Bobby Hull, in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 2009 Induction Celebration was held on Monday, November 9 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.


Brett Hull


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