Performance Excellence Network Recognizes Six Organizations

2019 Performance Excellence Awards Presented at PENworks 2020 Online Conference

ST. PAUL, Minn., September 24, 2020 – The Performance Excellence Network (PEN) honors six recipients of the 2019 Performance Excellence Award.  The Award is based on the Baldrige Framework and is the culmination of a rigorous evaluation of an organization’s management and performance system.  The evaluation criteria consider leadership, strategic planning, customer-related processes, measurement and knowledge management, workforce, and operations, and recognize organizations that are systematically improving results.

The organizations receiving the Award are: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (St. Paul, Excellence Level); Austin Public Schools (Austin, Achievement Level); Walden University School of Management (Minneapolis, Advancement Level); Benedictine (Duluth, Commitment Level); Huberty Performance Learning LLC (Minneapolis, Commitment Level); and Seagate Technology (Bloomington, Commitment Level).  There have been 146 organizations recognized since 1991 by this program.

These organizations were featured at PENworks 2020, an online conference held yesterday.  The Awards were presented during a ceremony attended by nearly 400 local leaders from across the region.

Said Brian Lassiter, president/CEO of the Performance Excellence Network: “This year, organizations face extraordinary challenges.  But these six organizations have demonstrated a commitment to improving their processes and their outcomes for the benefit of their customers, workforce, and other stakeholders.  They are deserving of recognition in any year, but even more so, given this year’s circumstances.  I imagine they will also more successfully navigate the challenges because of their efforts.”

There were two unique circumstances this year: Huberty Performance Learning LLC, a one-person management consulting firm, became the first sole proprietorship to receive one of PEN’s awards, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was the first state agency in Minnesota to receive PEN’s top level award.

Said Commissioner Laura Bishop: “This is a journey.  We received the Excellence level, but continuous improvement is a journey and we are committed to being even better in the future.”

“Congratulations to the six organizations recognized today,” said Governor Tim Walz.  “With today’s challenges, it’s critical for us to not only continue to invest in ourselves and our organizations, but to work harder at it.  The challenges related to the pandemic, the economic fallout, social inequalities, and social unrest make it imperative that all of us focus on what’s important and invest in the things that will make us better and stronger as a community.”

The conference featured more than 20 local, regional, and national speakers from all types of organizations, each sharing best practices and methods to improve leadership, customer focus, workforce engagement and capability, and operational effectiveness.  Seven of the speakers were keynotes, four representing current Baldrige Award recipient organizations, the nation’s highest performing organizations: Mara Bryant, Operations Executive with Adventist Health White Memorial (Los Angeles, CA); Brian Collins, Executive Director of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (Chicago, IL); Brian Dieter, President/CEO of Mary Greeley Medical Center (Ames, IA); and Dr. Mecca Salahuddin, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Performance Excellence at the Alamo Colleges District (San Antonio, TX).

The other three keynotes each shared methods for leaders to build a culture that encourages excellence, help their teams manage stress and maintain resilience, and make better decisions to navigate today’s challenges: PJ Fleck (Head Football Coach, Minnesota Gophers), Cindra Kamphoff, and Theater of Public Policy.

About Performance Excellence Network

The Performance Excellence Network was founded in 1987 by the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Rudy Perpich, and was spun off into a private 501(c)3 nonprofit two years later. PEN advances improvement and performance excellence within organizations, individuals and communities. It helps leaders identify strengths and improvement opportunities, and it builds networks that bring information, resources, knowledge and best practices to organizations desiring to improve. PEN serves over 250 members and organizations in Minnesota and the Dakotas. For more information, go to

About Benedictine

Benedictine (formerly Benedictine Health System) is a senior and long-term care system based in Duluth and serves 40 communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Illinois.  For more information:

About Huberty Performance Learning

Huberty Performance Learning LLC is a one-person management consulting firm that helps organizations improve their strategies and processes on the road to performance excellence. For more information:

About Seagate Technology Recording Head Group

Part of the massive 40,000-person strong Seagate corporation, RHG has over 3000 employees in three locations: Bloomington MN, Springtown in Northern Ireland, and two facilities in Thailand.  For more information:

About Walden University School of Management

The School offers 15 programs, 17 certificates, and comprehensive, cutting-edge support services through traditional online and Competency-Based Education structures.  Based in Minneapolis, the School employs nearly 400 and conferred about 1200 degrees last year – Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate.  For more information:

About Austin Public Schools

Austin Public Schools, ISD 492, provides Pre-K through 12 and community education throughout the Austin area.  The district serves over 5000 students through its 900 administrators, faculty, and staff.  For more information:

About Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

MPCA’s 900 employees and 1500 volunteers strive to protect the environment and public health for the state through delivery of key products and services in three main areas: environmental prevention, management, and clean up.  For more information:

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