Business & Finance Forum


Dr. Ron Cox

Bio:  Dr. Ron Cox is an aerospace engineer with a B.S. and Ph.D. from Iowa State University. His early career included work designing airfoils and fighter aircraft for a large defense contractor. Later he served as a C-level executive at a small manufacturer of cooling towers. Ron was also an Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering professor at the University of Oklahoma. He conducted computational modeling research on hypersonic vehicles, taught undergraduate and graduate courses, and received the university's outstanding teacher award.
More recently, he served as the director of a business outreach unit, associate dean of corporate engagement, and assistant vice president of extension at Iowa State University. Part of his responsibilities included the management of $40 million of grants and contracts supporting economic development activities. Ron currently runs Midwest Workforce Strategies, a consulting company that helps organizations understand Midwest workforce challenges and design plans to grow their labor force.

Penny Phillips

Felhaber LArson

Bio: Penny Phillips is a shareholder at Felhaber Larson where she has practiced since 1990. Since joining the firm, Penny has focused exclusively on counseling and representing employers in all areas of employment law.  She provides ongoing training to employers, managers, human resource personnel and other lawyers on matters such as FMLA, Americans with Disabilities Act, wage and hour laws, hiring and firing, unlawful harassment, discrimination, conducting investigations, alcohol and drug testing, and reductions in force. Penny was inducted as a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers (2016), served on the governing Council of the Labor & Employment Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association from 1999 through 2006 and served as its Chair in 2005-2006.  She is the past Chair of the Labor and Employment Certification Board.  Penny has been appointed as a Leader in her Field by the Chambers USA Guide and throughout the years has been named “Super Lawyer®” by Minnesota Law & Politics, Top 40 Employment Lawyers by Minnesota Law & Politics, a Top 100 Woman Lawyers by Minnesota Law & Politics and a Top 100 Minnesota Lawyer.  Penny received her Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1985) and her J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law (magna cum laude) in 1989.

Dave Skovolt

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

Bio:  Dave Skovholt is the Educational Interventions Coordinator in the Labor Standards Unit of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), where he has worked since 2018.  Dave’s outreach is focused on Minnesota’s Labor Standards laws, including those that cover wage theft prevention, child labor, pregnant and new parent employees and other workplace requirements.  He travels throughout the state, meeting with business groups and community organizations.  Before working at DLI, Dave was a labor union business agent, overseeing collective bargaining agreements in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest.

Bio: Jamie has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 2015, with a focus in Cultural Psychology. She has worked for the State of Minnesota for 15 years, beginning with our Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the Department of Public Safety, and the remaining 10 years with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) specializing in provider relations regarding enrollment and claim payments. Jamie enjoys her work immensely and look forward to solving the issues faced by both the members of our programs as well as our providers. In her free time, Jamie likes to work in her gardens and starting DIY projects that may or may not ever get finished.