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Leadership

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Executive Management

G. Thomas Ahern
CEO, Capstone and Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Tom joined Capstone and its parent company, Coughlan Companies, Inc., in 2007. He is responsible for the overall vision, strategy, and direction of the company. Prior to joining Coughlan Companies, Tom served as CEO of Swiftknowledge, Inc., a Minnesota Fastest 50 growth company and was Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for PLATO Learning, Inc. Tom earned a B.A. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University, Evanston.

Todd R. Brekhus
President, Capstone Digital Solutions

Before joining Capstone, Todd held a variety of executive positions, including Vice President and CMO of PLATO Learning, President and COO of Learning Elements, and Education Program Director for MCI WorldCom, where he helped build and implement the Marco Polo program.  Todd also spent eight years in education as a teacher, department chair, and Technology Director and currently serves on the Board of the Educational Division of The Software Information Industry Association.  A graduate of Concordia College, Todd completed graduate studies at John Hopkins University.

Matthew A. Keller
Chief Marketing Officer

Before joining Capstone in 2002, Matt served as Vice President of Marketing for AGS, a curriculum and assessment publisher for special needs children.  Matt brings more than 25 years experience in the publishing industry to his role as Chief Marketing Officer.  Matt holds a B.A. in English and Business from St. John's University, Collegeville.

William R. Rouse
COO and CFO, Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Bill provides direction in operations and finance for Coughlan Companies, comprised of Capstone and Mankato Kasota Stone.  Before joining Coughlan Companies in 2008, Bill served as the Vice President and General Manager of Anchor Block Company and the Holmberg Company, and as President of Cargill’s Seed Division.  Bill has a B.A. in Political Science from Northwest Missouri State University, Marysville.

Miles E. Stevens-Hoare
Managing Director, Heinemann-Raintree, Raintree

As the Managing Director of Capstone’s Heinemann-Raintree division, Miles leads the publisher’s U.K. and U.S. business.  Before joining Capstone in 2009, Miles was the Managing Director of Scholastic Book Clubs and Fairs.  Miles has extensive experience across a range of other publishing formats having lead Panini in the U.K. and worked for DeAgostini and EMAP.

Ashley C. Andersen Zantop
Group Publisher and General Manager

Before joining Capstone in 2011, Ashley served as CEO, President, Publisher, and a member of the board of directors of Palm Publishing, LLC and prior to that, at Trudy Corporation, an independent children’s publishing company.  She began her career in publishing with Plymouth Press, Vergennes, Vt.  She has over 20 years experience in the publishing industry and is responsible for the strategic development and growth of the Capstone product line.  Ashley holds degrees in English Literature (AB) and Elementary Education (AB.ED) from the University of Michigan as well as teaching certificates (CERT K-5, CERT 6-8).  She is currently completing her MFA in Creative Writing at Fairfield University, Fairfield, Conn, where she founded and serves as President of the MFA Alumni Association.

Senior Management

Gail S. Beer
Vice President of Customer Relations & Fulfillment, Capstone

Gail is responsible for Capstone’s distribution center, customer service, purchasing, and bids and contracts area.  Before joining Capstone in 1997, Gail managed the customer service department at Coloplast.  Gail attended Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Eric S. Fitzgerald
Vice President of Direct Sales, Capstone

With 16 years of sales experience, Eric is responsible for the internal and external publishing company sales representatives.  Prior to joining Capstone in 2001, Eric owned Fitzgerald Library Resources and served as National Sales Manager at Sagebrush Corporation.

Lisa J. Hanson
Director of Human Resources, Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Lisa brings more than 12 years of experience in the human resources field to her role as Director of Human Resources.  Before joining Capstone, she served as Director of Human Resources for Midwest Wireless/Alltel.  Lisa earned a B.S. in Industrial Psychology from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and an M.A. in Organizational Management from Concordia University, St. Paul, and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by the Human Resource Certification Institute.

Crista L. Kippes
Director of Information Technology, Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Crista joined Coughlan Companies, Inc., in 2009 and brings more than 20 years of technology leadership experience.  Her varied career includes directing software development teams at C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., working as a performance management consultant, and working with an international community of scientists and educators at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder.  Crista received a B.A. in Political Science from Carleton College, Northfield.

Stephen A. Neir
Director of Finance of Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Steve joined Coughlan Companies, Inc., in 1990 and is responsible for the accounting, tax, banking, and insurance portions of the business.  Steve has more than 20 years of finance experience, serving as Controller at Shari Candies and as the Office Manager at Lagers.  Steve holds an Associates degree in Accounting from Mankato Commercial College, Mankato.

Steven J. Sorenson
Vice President of Finance, Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Steve has more than 20 years experience in all phases of finance, operations, administration, and systems management. Before joining Coughlan Companies, Inc., Steve served as Chief Financial Officer for NuWay Cooperative, and as Chief Financial Officer for Associated Milk Producers, Inc. Steve has a B.S. in Accounting from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul.

Board of Directors

Robert J. Coughlan
Owner and Principal, Coughlan Companies, Inc. Board Member: 1992

Bob, with his brother Jim, are the fourth-generation of Coughlans leading the diversified Coughlan Companies, Inc. As the family-owned company expanded with stone, banking, land development holdings and publishing, it developed centralized management and administrative services to serve its two operating companies: Capstone and Mankato Kasota Stone. Before Bob’s tenure on the Board, he served in a variety of executive leadership positions in the manufacturing and publishing industries. Currently, Bob is a Board member for the Association of Educational Publishers, Greater Mankato Early Learning Initiative and enjoys being involved in CEO peer to peer roundtables. Bob graduated from Gonzaga University, Spokane, with a B.A. in History.

James P. Coughlan
Owner and Principal, Coughlan Companies, Inc. Board Member: 1992

In 1983, Jim and his brother Bob became the fourth-generation owners of the Coughlan Stone Quarry.  Today, Coughlan Companies, Inc. is comprised of Capstone and Mankato Kasota Stone and provides centralized management and administrative services to both businesses under Jim and Bob’s, direction.  Jim managed the development of the stone business and expanded the publishing imprints to include fiction under the Stone Arch Books imprint.  Jim studied Agricultural Economics at Gonzaga University, Spokane, and the University of Minnesota, St. Paul.

G. Thomas Ahern
CEO, Capstone and Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Tom joined Capstone and its parent company, Coughlan Companies, Inc., in 2007. He is responsible for the overall vision, strategy, and direction of the company. Prior to joining Coughlan Companies, Tom served as CEO of Swiftknowledge, Inc., a Minnesota Fastest 50 growth company and was Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for PLATO Learning, Inc. Tom earned a B.A. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University, Evanston.

William L. Kozitza
Board Member: 2008

Bill is a former Executive Vice President and CFO of Taylor Corporation.  He is Secretary and investor in Rembrandt Enterprises, Inc., an in-line liquid egg producer.  He is also an investor and serves as Director of Riverland Bancorporation, and serves on the Board of Directors of Northland Securities and the Minnesota Racing Commission.  Before joining Taylor Corporation in 1979, Bill worked as a CPA for McGladrey Hendrickson in Sioux Falls.  Bill graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato, with a B.S. in Accounting.

Dennis E. Miller
Board Member: 2008

Dennis is a former President and CEO of Midwest Wireless/Alltel, and also served as Vice President of Minnesota Operations for Pacific Telecom Cellular and Corporate Sales Manager for Northwest Telephone Company.  He currently serves on the Immanuel St. Joseph’s-Mayo Health System Board of Directors (Vice Chair) and Minnesota State University Foundation Board of Directors.  Dennis holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a mini-MBA from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

David W. Smith
Board Member: 2012

David is a former Independent Director, Acting CEO and Chairman of Plato Learning Company.  He also served as Independent Director for Scientific Learning Corporation, CEO for National Computer Systems/NCS Pearson, and held several senior executive positions with Houghton Mifflin and McGraw-Hill publishing companies.  David currently is Lead Director at Capella Education Company.  He also is President of Woodwinds, LLC, and serves as an Outside Director for Inscape Publishing.  David holds an M.B.A. from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a B.S. and M.S. from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

 
 
 
 
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