FARGO – Three business leaders from Grand Forks were among those honored Thursday evening, Sept. 23, by Prairie Business, a magazine that covers business news in the Dakotas and Minnesota.
Dave Molmen, Charlie Vein and Kathy Meagher were among the magazine’s nine-member Leaders & Legacies honorees, given to those who have excelled in the past year in their field or have had a long and notable career. The awards were bestowed at a ceremony Thursday evening in Fargo.
“Being with you all here this evening reminds me that I certainly have one thing in common with every one of you. And that’s that somewhere along the line in our lives, there was at least somebody, and probably a lot of somebodys, who told us they were confident we had the ability to do something worthwhile and that we should be doing it. And I think that little encouragement can make all the difference in the world,” Molmen said during a brief speech at Thursday’s event. “An event like this is just a great opportunity for all of us to be reminded that probably the most important thing we can do in leadership is to take that moment to give somebody the confidence that they can do something worthwhile. There is an army in our hometowns who are just waiting to make a difference and all we have to do is encourage them.”
The magazine has been holding award ceremonies for six years, but the Leaders & Legacies awards were created in 2019. Recipients of the awards are considered “executives of the highest caliber,” who lead by example and make a difference in their companies and their communities.
Along with Vein, recently retired president of AE2S; Molmen, CEO of Altru Health System; and Meagher, recently retired president and CEO of Special Olympics North Dakota; this year’s Leaders & Legacies honorees were Kevin Donnay, president of Widset, Baxter, Minn.; Peter Fullerton, recently retired CEO of Cornerstone Bank, Fargo; Eric Hardmeyer, retiring president, Bank of North Dakota, Bismarck; Bill Hinks, founder and chairman of the board, Furniture Mart USA, Sioux Falls; Craig Larson, CEO, Starion Bank, Bismarck; Richard Vetter, chief medical officer, Essential Health, Fargo.
Prairie Business considers North Dakota, much of South Dakota and western Minnesota as its coverage area.
“The goal of our magazine – of any media outlet, really – is to tell stories and tell people of the many good things happening in our region,” said Prairie Business Publisher Korrie Wenzel. “And the Leaders & Legacies Award is a great way to do that. The stories behind these people and their businesses are incredible.”
Prairie Business on Thursday also recognized its 40-Under-40 and Top 25 Women in Business award winners. The event was held at the Radisson in downtown Fargo, with approximately 100 attendees. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the first Prairie Business recognition event since 2019.
While the winners of 40-Under-40 and Top 25 Women in Business were given framed certificates during Thursday’s event, the Leaders & Legacies winners were invited on stage to give brief comments as they were presented commemorative plaques.
Vein is the recently retired co-founder of AE2S, an engineering and consulting firm prioritizing clean drinking water since 1991. He dedicated his engineering career, spanning more than 45 years, to improving drinking water quality for residents of North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and more. He also was a key contributor to the creation of the Western Area Water Supply Authority in 2011.
“I’m honored to be here. It was 30 years ago next week when I had the opportunity to co-found AE2S. It was literally two people in the basement of a depot building, with a borrowed computer, a desk and business cards, and no jobs,” said Vein, who retired from the company in May. “I want to thank you very much for this award. I am deeply honored at the close of my engineering career to receive this.”
Meagher is the recently retired president and CEO of Special Olympics North Dakota. Meagher began her involvement with the Special Olympics in 1980 as an intern while attending NDSU. Meagher has been helping grow the organization’s reach ever since, with average athlete participation tripling and the number of sports offered nearly quadrupling in the state since she began.
“I had an honor and an opportunity to work with a minimum of 6,000 people in North Dakota. They weren’t employees, they were volunteers. ... We had maybe five employees, but our workforce was the volunteers of North Dakota. We served some incredible people,” Meagher told the attendees at Thursday’s meeting. “One of the quotes I heard was ‘all things work together for good.’ All of you, the 40-under-40, Top 25 (Women in Business) and the Legacies and Leaders, we’re all in this and we all create good.”
Molmen retired as CEO of Altru Health System, but he returned during the COVID-19 pandemic to serve as Interim CEO. His career at Altru spans more than 40 years and includes a litany of accomplishments, including playing a significant part in the creation of the Health System and overseeing the affiliation between Altru and Mayo Clinic.