Press Release

VocalEssence Welcomes Four New Board Members


Katrina Wallmeyer


MINNEAPOLIS — August 25, 2016 — Minneapolis-based arts organization VocalEssence announced today that four new members have joined its Board of Directors—Steve Aggergaard, Julie Bader, Julie Craven, and Nancy Nelson.  All four new board members have a wealth of experience and have been actively involved with non-profit organizations in the Twin Cities throughout their respective careers.

Steve Aggergaard is a partner at Bassford Remele, a litigation-centered law firm in Minneapolis, where nonprofit corporations are among his clients. Previously he was a newspaper journalist, working at newspapers in Fort Dodge, Iowa; Duluth, Minnesota; and most recently the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He holds degrees from Augsburg College and Northwestern University, and a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. Steve has sung in the VocalEssence Chorus since 2004.

Julie Bader is the global controller for Research, Development & Engineering (RD&E) at Ecolab where she leads financial, lean six sigma (Enterprise Excellence), data security, and knowledge management teams. She also controls the portfolio, finances, and intellectual property within the global RD&E function.  Julie serves on the board of VocalEssence, volunteers at Pilot Knob Elementary School and Neighborhood House, and participates in programs for youth on the autism spectrum.

Julie H. Craven recently retired as vice president of corporate communications for Hormel Foods Corporation, where she oversaw all communications and public affairs activities and served as the company’s chief spokesperson. She serves on the boards of VocalEssence, the Minnesota State Fair Foundation, the Minneapolis Women’s Economic Roundtable and is an adjunct instructor at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.

Nancy Nelson is Vice President and Chief Actuary at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota.  She directs the actuarial and underwriting activities at Blue Cross. She is a member of the board of VocalEssence, the BCBS of Minnesota Foundation, Minnesota Life and Health Guaranty Association, Northern Star Council of the BSA and the Minnesota Boychoir.  She is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries.

“We are thrilled to welcome Steve, Julie, Nancy, and Julie to the VocalEssence board,” said VocalEssence Executive Director Mary Ann Aufderheide.  “Their incredible wealth of experience and expertise will be a highly valued asset to VocalEssence.”

VocalEssence, called “one of the irreplaceable music ensembles of our time” by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts—and the choral ensemble that Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones says “sings magnificently”—impacts thousands of students, singers, and composers each year through its initiative programs, contests, and support for innovative art. VocalEssence was founded in 1969 and has debuted more than 250 commissions and world premieres. For more information, visit