Five New Members Elected to the Minnesota Historical Society Executive Council

Former mayor of Minneapolis among the newly elected members

For immediate release


ST. PAUL, Minn (November 17, 2023) – The membership of the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) elected five new members to the Executive Council at its 174th Annual Meeting Tuesday night. The new members bring extensive experience in education, community engagement, leadership, and diversity and inclusion.

The new members include:

Elizabeth (Libby) Driscoll Hlavka - Minneapolis: president of the Driscoll Foundation, which supports efforts around education, social justice, and the environment. 

Carolyn (Carie) M. Essig - Sartell - a teacher at Stride Academy Charter School, following a 30-year career in the museum community.

Sharon Sayles Belton - Minneapolis: the first woman and first African American elected mayor of Minneapolis, most recently serving as the VP of strategic partnerships and alliance for Thomson Reuters.

Jennifer S. Murray - Mahtomedi: solutions marketing manager in the enterprise marketing department of Securitan Financial.

Roger J. Sit - Wayzata: CEO and global chief investment officer at Sit Investment Associates, Inc., a global asset management firm that focuses on public equities and fixed income.

“The Minnesota Historical Society is extremely fortunate to welcome these new members to our executive council,” said Kent Whitworth, director and CEO of MNHS. “The knowledge and experience each new member brings will help us carry out our mission of creating a powerful engagement with history.”

The new members will commence their first three-year terms on January 1, 2024.

The MNHS Executive Council also elected Judge Peter M. Reyes, Jr., as the 58th President of the Minnesota Historical Society. He will succeed David R. Hakensen, who will conclude his fifth year as President at the end of the year. In addition, the Executive Council elected Thomas Forsythe to his first term as Vice President.

Colonel Donald G. Patton was elected to the MNHS Honorary Council, which is a lifelong term. Col. Patton served in the army for 30 years; he is the co-organizer of the WWII History Round Table, which showcases oral histories from WWII Veterans.

Additionally, Joanell M. Dyrstad (Red Wing), Linda Brekke Mona (Edina), and Dr. Gwen N. Westerman (Good Thunder) were elected to the second three-year terms. Dr. Ford W. Bell (Wayzata) and M. Mitchell (Mitch) Davis (St. Peter) were elected to their third three-year terms.

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs, and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories, and connects people with history.