Board of Directors
The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF) has a dedicated Board of Directors comprised of passionate physicians, community leaders and professionals. Serving in 3-year terms, the Board of Director role is an important commitment and investment of time. Some individuals first join a Committee of the Board before becoming a member of the Board of Directors. If you’re interested in learning how you may become involved, please click here.
Dr. Jason Alexander is a vascular and endovascular surgeon at Minneapolis Heart Institute® and researcher at Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. He serves as the Program Director for Abbott Northwestern Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Fellowship.
His research interests:
- Vascular anomalies
- Pediatric vascular surgery
- Cell therapy for critical limb ischemia
- Minimally invasive therapy for peripheral arterial disease
Dr. Alexander is also assistant professor of clinical surgery at the University of Minnesota and co-surgical director at Minneapolis Children’s Vascular Anomalies Center.
Dr. Lee Arostegui serves on the MHIF Board as a delegate from the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Foundation (ANWF) Board. He is aware of the excellent work that goes on at the Minneapolis Heart Institute and the difference it makes in the lives of Minnesotans and people beyond state borders. The MHIF Board is a key element in the success and reputation of the MHI, and the ANWF Board is proud to support many advanced research projects and programs that take place at this prestigious institute.
Dr. Ben Bache-Wiig joined the board in 2020 after retiring from an 11-year career with Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Allina Health, most recently serving as Allina’s executive vice president and chief clinical officer. He is currently executive medical director at Lifesprk, a Twin Cities-based senior home care company.
Ben is excited about MHIF’s potential to leverage Allina’s enterprise data warehouse to drive quality and innovation in cardiovascular care, as well as MHIF’s research advances in heart valve disease and structural heart.
Dr. Mosi Bennett is a partner and senior consulting cardiologist specializing in heart failure and transplantation at the Minneapolis Heart Institute®. Before joining the group in 2013, he trained in cardiovascular medicine and advanced heart failure at the Cleveland Clinic. He completed his internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He received his bachelor's degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, and received his MD and PhD degrees in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Dr. Bennett's cardiovascular research interests include the role of endomyocardial biopsy in the diagnosis and management of heart failure, the effect of mechanical support on gene expression in the heart, and the effectiveness of remote monitoring of heart failure patients.
He has had the opportunity to work closely with the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation as a mentor for the internship program, and as an investigator on multi-center clinical trials and investigator-initiated projects. As a heart failure cardiologist, he has been particularly interested in developing a robust heart failure research portfolio at the foundation in order to meet the needs of heart failure patients across the spectrum of severity of this chronic disease. It is equally important to him that the foundation works to address the disparities in health care, including inequities in participation in clinical trials and access to world-class care.
Craig Bentdahl is a retired CEO, restauranteur and commercial real estate investor. For many years Craig was CEO of Excel Bank, a leading community bank in the Twin Cities. Following the sale of Excel in 2007, Craig started Mill Valley Kitchen, an upscale restaurant with a heart healthy menu, and he has invested in numerous commercial properties. Craig has served on the board of several non-profit organizations and is currently a director of Twin Cities Rise. The Bentdahl family has been actively supporting MHIF since the 1980's when Ray Bentdahl served as board chair. Craig's sister Ann also served on the board and was formerly CEO of MHIF.
Kristen Bowlds has a passion for marketing. A young leader at C.H. Robinson working in market research and industry marketing, her focus abruptly shifted following the birth of her second child as she experienced multiple heart attacks due to Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). After her diagnosis, Kristen has worked hand in hand with MHIF to raise awareness and generate research funds to make a difference.
Her advocacy forums include the first ever Minnesota 5k SCADaddle run for research, NBC's the Today Show, ABC News Live and multiple local television and radio network specials that put heart health at the forefront. She brings a wealth of marketing knowledge, a passion for heart health, and a unique personal perspective to MHIF.
Kristen has a Marketing & Management degree from Iowa State University and lives in Chanhassen with her husband and two young children.
Conley Brooks, Jr. brings almost 40 years of experience in family office leadership and organizational vision to Sawmill Trust Company, of which he is Executive Chairman. He has had primary leadership roles with the Brooks Family Office and its successor Sawmill (1982-present), as well as with Resource Trust Company (1992 -2001). This experience, and his service on a variety of boards and investment committees, has formed his deliberate and balanced approach to decision making and his ability to synthesize complex issues.
Mr. Brooks received his BA from Yale and his MBA degree from Harvard.
Dr. Juleen Christopher has dedicated her professional life to matters of social justice and health equity. This has included working with individuals to support them with cultural knowledge and societal context in their efforts to realize personal growth and self-efficacy. She is a cognitive behavioral research scientist with over 20 years in academic medicine and the healthcare industry. During her professional tenure in the healthcare industry, she provided training, leadership and oversight for two multimillion-dollar programs including a state-wide Congressionally funded program that ensured basic public health services to economically disadvantaged families.
Her passion and professional activities have been focused on developing training and educational programs, workshops, conferences, and behavioral interventions to benefit minorities, minority women with breast cancer, veterans and young adults. She has conducted research both nationally and internationally examining best practices for positive and sustained health behavior change. She has published scholarly articles and technical reports on topics such as improving patient/provider communication, shared healthcare decision-making, health literacy and chronic disease management in minority communities. She currently provides life coaching and research consulting services, an area in which her expertise is sought out. Her charitable involvement includes participating on several boards, and volunteering as a mentor and coach with a non-profit organization for undergraduate students, who require training and education in professional development skills to be mastered at paid internships within fortune 100-500 companies and non-profit organizations.
Dr. Christopher completed both Bachelors and Masters degrees at The University of Alabama in Huntsville in Experimental and Bio-psychology. Her PhD in Health Promotion/Health Education was earned at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Postdoctoral work was completed at the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Additionally, she holds a board certification as a Professional Life Coach from the Institute for Life Coach Training.
Initially inspired by her mother’s passion for nursing, Sara Criger has built her 30 year career on influencing excellent patient care and supporting others in fulfilling their calling in healthcare. In her role as president, Sara Criger oversees Mercy Hospital and United Hospital, Allina Health's tertiary hospitals. Sara also provides executive leadership support to Allina Health Emergency Medical Services, as well as Allina’s Mental Health and Addiction Services and Cardiovascular Clinical Service Lines.
During her tenure as the senior vice president of operations at Allina Health, Criger has led program and facility investments to improve access and care for communities, including the development of The Mother Baby Center at Mercy with Children’s, consolidation and repositioning of services between Mercy and Unity campuses, and championing integration and expansion of several clinical programs across Allina Health related to Mental Health and Addiction Services and Cardiovascular Services.
Prior to joining Allina Health in 2012, Criger held the position of vice president, HealthEast Care System, and CEO, St. Joseph's Hospital, where she also led HealthEast system responsibilities for cardiovascular, neurosciences and mental health service lines, as well as HealthEast Medical Laboratories and Hospice Care. Criger held several leadership positions during a 16-year career at Fairview Health Services, including vice president of ambulatory services, University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, and president of Fairview Ridges Hospital and Clinics.
An active member of the community, Criger currently serves as chair of the Minnesota Hospital Association Board of Directors and Executive Committee, and is immediate past chair of the Life Source Board of Directors and Executive Committee. She has also served as 2012 chair of the St. Paul Area Chamber Board of Directors. In 2018 Criger was the recipient of the Women’s Health Leadership Trust – Courageous Leader Award.
Sara and her husband, Wayne, retired police officer and active volunteer in the community, are residents of St. Paul. They spend much of their time together with their children and granddaughter, and enjoy bicycling locally and while traveling as a way of exploring the US and other countries.