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People & Practices: Jan. 4, 2022

Danielle Shelton Walczak

Danielle Shelton Walczak

Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA) has named Danielle Shelton Walczak as its new executive director overseeing the agency’s efforts to bring civil legal assistance to people throughout 20 counties in central Minnesota including Hennepin County, according to a news release.

Walczak is a veteran of the local legal community and most recently served as the city of Minneapolis’ Director of Strategic Initiatives, overseeing the divisions of Race & Equity, Sustainability, Human Trafficking, Arts Culture and the Creative Economy, and the north Minneapolis Promise Zone.

“Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid does the work that has been important to me for my entire career — providing voice to the voiceless, access and opportunities to people in society who don’t easily have those options,” Walczak said. “My ambitious goal is to grow the capacity of Legal Aid so we don’t ever have to turn away anyone who qualifies for our services.”

MMLA was founded more than 100 years ago and today receives more than 100,000 calls for service each year.

Walczak succeeds former executive director Drew Schaffer and will oversee a staff of 185 lawyers, paralegals, and other team members who provide services to those in need free of charge.

“After the murder of George Floyd, I don’t think any organization, particularly in Minnesota, can afford to be tone deaf to the cries for racial justice and the imperative to dismantle antiracist systems and exhibit antiracist behaviors.” Walczak said. “These cries don’t just exist in the communities we serve, they exist among those who work in and with those communities, and all of us who simply care about our client communities and humanity as a whole.”


Ivan Fong has been named executive vice president, general counsel and secretary for Medtronic, succeeding Brad Lerman, who is retiring at the end of January.

Ivan Fong

Ivan Fong

Fong joins Medtronic from 3M, where he served as chief legal and policy officer and secretary, the health care technology company announced in a news release. He also previously served as general counsel for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and as chief legal officer and secretary for Cardinal Health, Inc.

“We are excited to have Ivan join the Medtronic executive committee. He brings extensive experience in both public and private sectors in healthcare and other complex industries. His deep expertise and strong leadership will help guide our strategies and decisions as we drive toward our bold ambition to become the global leader in healthcare technology,” Geoff Martha, Medtronic chairman and chief executive officer, said in the release. “Ivan’s decision to join Medtronic reaffirms our position as a leading destination for top talent.”

“I am excited to join Medtronic and become part of its inspiring culture of learning, inclusion, integrity and innovation, and above all, its compelling Mission to alleviate pain, restore health and extend life,” said Fong in the release. “I am honored to join the Medtronic executive committee, a world class leadership team, and to partner with the talented members of the company’s legal, compliance and government affairs functions, to help advance the company’s powerful Mission and bold vision.”

Fong will join the company on Feb. 1, 2022.

Tessa Mansfield Hirte

Tessa Mansfield Hirte


Foley & Mansfield has announced the election of Minneapolis attorney Tessa Mansfield Hirte to partner, effective Jan. 1. Hirte defends employers in all aspects of labor and employment-related litigation. She draws upon her practical experience and creative legal thinking to craft effective litigation strategies. Tessa, along with partner Ashleigh Johnson, has founded a blog titled “Employment Law Connection.” Foley & Mansfield is a national law firm with more than 140 attorneys in 15 offices across the country.


The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) has announced that Dan O’Connell of the law firm, Tuft, Lach, Jerabek & O’Connell PLLC has successfully achieved recertification as a family trial advocate, according to a news release.

Dan O'Connell

Dan O’Connell

The NBTA was formed out of a conviction that both the law profession and its clients would benefit from an organization designed specifically to create an objective set of standards illustrating an attorney’s experience and expertise in the practice of trial law.

The screening of credentials that all NBTA board certified attorneys must successfully complete includes: demonstration of substantial trial experience, submission of judicial and peer references to attest to their competency, attendance of continuing legal education courses and proof of good standing. Approximately 3% of American lawyers are board certified.

O’Connell earned his undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of St. Thomas. He is a licensed CPA in Minnesota. He is a graduate of William Mitchell College of Law. He is a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Minnesota State Bar Association, and Ramsey County Bar Association.

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