Children’s Minnesota Executive Leadership Team

Marc Gorelick, MD, president and CEO

Marc Gorelick, MD
President, chief executive officer

Marc Gorelick, MD, was appointed chief executive officer of Children’s Minnesota in December 2017. He joined Children’s in March 2017 as president and chief operating officer. He is deeply committed to identifying sustainable ways Children’s can continue to deliver exceptional care in an evolving health care environment.

Dr. Gorelick previously served as Executive Vice President and COO of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.  A pediatric emergency medicine physician by training, his prior experience includes faculty positions at Medical College of Wisconsin and University of Pennsylvania, and clinical and leadership roles at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, AI DuPont Hospital for Children, and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

His education includes an A.B. degree in history from Princeton University, an M.D. degree from Duke University, and a Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Gorelick trained in pediatrics at Children’s National Medical Center, and in pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dr. Gorelick’s interests include running, cycling, and paddling; homebrewing; and playing the tuba.

Laurin Cathey
Vice president of human resources

Laurin Cathey joined Children’s in September 2019 and is responsible for all human resource functions including HR business partners and consultants, labor relations, organizational development and learning, talent acquisition, benefits and compensation and information systems.

Mr. Cathey brings more than 20 years of experience working in labor and employee relations with considerable experience in and a passion for diversity, inclusion and change management. Prior to joining Children’s, Mr. Cathey worked at St. Paul Public Schools where he was the executive director of human resources and ING as HR director. Within those roles, he led diversity management operations, culture and employee engagement efforts, performance management and executive coaching.

Mr. Cathey holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University.

Mr. Cathey’s interests include cooking, playing golf and attending the arts or athletic events of one of his three children.

Emily Chapman, MD Chief medical officer, vice president of medical affairs

Emily Chapman, MD
Chief medical officer, senior vice president of medical affairs

Emily Chapman, MD, oversees quality and safety, education and research, and supports the Children’s employed and independent clinicians of the Professional Staff.

She continues clinical practice as a pediatric hospitalist in the Children’s Hospital Medicine Program which she led for six years through its development and expansion. Additionally, Dr. Chapman is devoted to Medical Education having served as Associate Director of Medical Education at Children’s and Associate Program Director of the Pediatric Residency Program at the University of Minnesota where she holds an appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Chapman trained at Dartmouth Medical School and the University of Minnesota. After residency, she practiced general pediatrics as an owner and President of the Wayzata Children’s Clinic outside the Twin Cities.

Dr. Chapman speaks locally and regionally on topics including clinical care, cognitive error, leadership and program development.

Gigi Chawla MD, Chief of general pediatrics

Gigi Chawla, MD, MHA
Chief of general pediatrics

Gigi Chawla, MD, MHA, is a pediatrician and hospitalist. She has responsibility for the primary care clinics, behavioral health clinics, rehabilitation services, medical/surgical inpatient care and the hospitalist program.

Dr. Chawla received her undergraduate degree in chemistry and biology from St. Olaf College. She attended medical school, completed her pediatric residency training and chief residency, and obtained her master’s degree in health care administration at the University of Minnesota. She was a hospitalist at Boston Children’s Hospital before moving back to join the Children’s St. Paul Clinic in 2001. Her clinical areas of interest are the care of complex special needs patients, premature infants, ventilator-dependent children, and hospitalized patients.

She is often called upon by the media for her pediatric expertise and is a regular contributor for Minnesota Parent’s magazine column and WCCO’s television news segment “Ask the Pediatrician.” Dr. Chawla is also instrumental in advancing the organization’s forward-looking efforts around population health and community engagement. Through internal efforts to better integrate primary care with behavioral health and social support services for families as well as external advocacy, including service on Mayor Hodges’ Cradle to K Cabinet and Governor Dayton’s Interagency Coordinating Council on Early Childhood Intervention, Dr. Chawla is a champion for Children’s efforts to create an environment for child health that extends beyond the clinic. She’s been consistently named to Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine’s Top Doctors annual list.

Maria Christu, Chief legal officer, vice president advocacy and health policy

Maria C. Christu, JD
Chief legal officer, senior vice president advocacy and health policy

Maria Christu joined Children’s as its first general counsel in 2003. In her current role, she oversees legal services, risk management, compliance and information security. Ms. Christu also leads the advocacy function at Children’s, including government affairs. Prior to joining Children’s, Ms. Christu spent nine years as an associate general counsel at UnitedHealth Group in Minnetonka, where her work included legal support for United’s Medicare and Medicaid programs. Maria began her career in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, serving as counsel for the medical and nursing licensing boards as well as the Minnesota Department of Health.

Ms. Christu is active in the community serving as past chair and current director of the board of directors of Way to Grow, a member of the board of directors for Girls on the Run Twin Cities and the Minnesota Advisory Board of the Children’s Defense Fund, and a member of the Mitchell Hamline Health Law Advisory Board. In 2013, Ms. Christu was recognized as a Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Women in Business honoree.

Ms. Christu’s interests include running, travel and community service.

Anupam Kharbanda MD, Chief of critical care services

Anupam Kharbanda, MD
Chief of critical care services

Anupam Kharbanda, MD, is a pediatric emergency medicine physician. He currently has overall responsibility for the care delivered and the quality, safety  and operations for critical care services. This includes the departments of cardiology, emergency medicine, radiology, telehealth, transport services and our intensive care units (Neonatal, Pediatric and Cardiac ICU) . He joined Children’s in  2012 as research director for emergency services after serving as an attending physician at Columbia University for five years.

Dr. Kharbanda attended medical school at the University of Iowa and completed his residency training in pediatrics and served as Chief Resident at Columbia University. He completed a fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He also received a Masters in Biostatistics at Columbia University.

Dr. Kharbanda has published numerous articles in the field of pediatric emergency medicine and he is nationally recognized for his work on developing clinical pathways for the management of pediatric appendicitis. He currently leads a federally-funded multi-center study to implement appendicitis care pathways into the HealthPartners and Kaiser Northern California health systems. Additional current research areas include developing and implementing evidenced-based care pathways in order to enhance patient experience, improve quality of care, and to minimize health care expenditures. He has written several textbook chapters on topics in emergency medicine including abdominal pain, pediatric appendicitis and pediatric trauma. Dr. Kharbanda is married and has two school-aged children. He is an avid runner and enjoys being outdoors.

Jim Leste, MS, FACHE, CHSP

Jim Leste, MS, FACHE, CHSP
Vice president of support operations

Jim Leste joined Children’s Minnesota in 1999. He currently has executive oversight of support operations including real estate, construction, facilities/engineering, supply chain, biomedical engineering, environmental services, nutrition services, security, emergency management, environmental health and safety, home medical equipment and sustainability.

Mr. Leste is the Board Chair on the Lifelink III Air Medical Consortium and is also a Board Member of Health System Cooperative Laundries and of Nexus Youth & Family Solutions. Additionally, he is a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives, a Certified Emergency Manager in the State of Minnesota and a Certified Health Care Safety Professional. Mr. Leste also served as an adjunct faculty member at Saint Mary’s University and was a past officer of the Metropolitan Hospital Emergency Management Compact located in Minnesota.

Mr. Leste earned his bachelor’s degree in public health as well as a master’s degree in industrial safety, both from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Mr. Leste enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters as well as traveling, golfing and enjoying the outdoors.

Dave Lundal
Chief information officer and vice president of ITS

Dave Lundal joined Children’s in March 2019 as acting chief information officer, he was named chief information officer and vice president of ITS in February 2020. He is responsible for the strategic direction and technical support of all information systems supporting the hospitals and clinics. He also provides leadership for the Health Information Management department, which maintains the confidentiality, quality and timeliness of medical records and health information.

Mr. Lundal brings more than 25 years of experience in health care information technology and leadership in domains including ambulatory, hospital, home care and insurance. He recently held leadership positions at WellStar Health System, Presence Health and SSM Health.

His education includes Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University Bloomington and an MBA from Bethel College in Mishawaka, Ind.

In his spare time, Mr. Lundal enjoys reading, hiking, coaching youth sports, and spending time with his wife and their three children.

Brenda McCormick
Chief financial officer and senior vice president

Brenda McCormick joined the organization in August 2019, and is responsible for the leadership, direction and performance of all finance functions, including accounting and financial reporting, financial planning and analysis, health information management, investments, payer contracting and strategic pricing, revenue management and treasury.

Ms. McCormick’s background includes strategic planning, controllership, mergers and acquisitions and business operations. Previously, she was the chief financial officer and senior vice president of finance at Smiths Medical and served as the vice president, corporate controller and principal accounting officer at Valspar. She has held financial management positions at Lawson Software, International Multifoods, The Pillsbury Company (Diageo) and Coca-Cola Enterprises. She received her bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and her MBA in finance from the University of Minnesota.

Ms. McCormick volunteers her time as the Children’s Minnesota Representative on the Ridgeview Medical Center Board, as a member of the St. Olaf College Board of Regents, and as Chair of the St. Olaf Alumni Board.

In 2020, Ms. McCormick was recognized as a CFO of the Year Honoree by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and in 2020 and 2015 as a Top Women in Finance Honoree by Finance & Commerce.

Ms. McCormick and her husband have two teenage children. Her interests include spending time at their family cabin, hiking and photography.

Jennifer Olson, Senior vice president of system operations and chief strategy officer

Jennifer Olson, MBA
Senior vice president of system operations and chief strategy officer

Jennifer Olson joined Children’s in 2001. In her current role, Ms. Olson oversees strategic planning, partnerships, innovation, marketing and communications, provider outreach, organizational planning and analytics, and human resources; she also provides strategic and operational oversight of the Mother Baby Fetal, Cardiovascular and Neurosciences Institutes.

Prior to this position, Ms. Olson has held a number of leadership positions at Children’s, including vice president of strategy, business development, and innovation, as well as the vice president of operations for The Mother Baby Center clinical service line. Before coming to Children’s, Ms. Olson was a senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting.

Ms. Olson earned her MBA with a focus in management and health care, and her bachelor’s degree in finance, both from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Ms. Olson currently serves as the vice-chair of the March of Dimes board for the Twin Cities market. She is a national board member for the International Society for Pediatric Innovation (iSPI) and is the Education Committee Chair and member of the Minnesota ACHE chapter. She is a member of the Society for Health Care Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD) and the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST.

In her spare time, Ms. Olson enjoys spending time with her husband and golden retriever.  Her interests include Badger and Packer games, boating on the Mississippi River and downhill skiing.

Trevor Sawalish, Senior vice president of clinical operations and chief operating officer

Trevor Sawallish
Senior vice president of clinical operations and chief operating officer

Trevor Sawallish has responsibility for ambulatory services and support operations. Mr. Sawallish brings 20 years of experience working in ambulatory and integrated health care environments and has a passion for driving the transparency and value of health care through technology, improvement systems and aligned incentives.

Prior to joining Children’s in 2015 as chief ambulatory officer, Mr. Sawallish worked at his own health care operations and IT consulting firm, was the vice president of operations for Dean Clinic, an integrated delivery network in Madison, WI, and served in various health care information technology leadership roles.

Mr. Sawallish holds a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Mr. Sawallish’s interests include writing and performing music, snowboarding, and spending time with his two children.

Monica Schiller, Vice president of ambulatory services

Monica Schiller, MBA
Vice president of ambulatory services

Monica Schiller is the vice president of ambulatory services and has responsibility for primary care, behavioral health, medical specialties, surgical services, and rehab and contact center operations. She is dedicated to leading teams to deliver high quality care, patient experience and financial sustainability in health care organizations.

Prior to joining Children’s in 2015, Ms. Schiller was the director of strategic operations and improvement at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, as well as the clinic operations manager at Park Nicollet Jane Brattain Breast Center. She also held roles at Carlson Hospitality Worldwide, Be the Match and Fox News Corporation.

Ms. Schiller earned her MBA at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis and her bachelor’s degree in communications, broadcasting, journalism and performing arts from Marquette University in Milwaukee. She currently serves as a member of the University of St. Thomas Health Care MBA Advisory Board, Marquette Alumni Association and the Gamma Phi Beta Alumna Chapter.

In her spare time, Ms. Schiller enjoys spending time with her two daughters, downhill skiing and a round of golf.

David Schmeling MD, Chief of surgery

David J. Schmeling, MD
Chief of surgery

David J. Schmeling, MD, is a pediatric surgeon with Pediatric Surgical Associates, and is Chief of Surgery at Children’s. Dr. Schmeling is a Minnesota native and University of Minnesota Medical School graduate.   He completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Michigan, and his Pediatric Surgery fellowship training at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He joined Pediatric Surgical Associates and the staff of Children’s in 1992, upon completion of his training.

Dr. Schmeling has authored or co-authored more than 40 journal articles and seven book chapters. He has served on the Pediatric Surgery Board of the American Board of Surgery, as well as the Board of Governors of the American Pediatric Surgical Association. He has also held membership positions in a number of other committees in national organizations, as well as serving as an examiner for the American Board of Surgery Certifying Examination in Pediatric Surgery (“Orals”) for more than 15 years. His areas of surgical interests are newborn surgical anomalies and surgical oncology, in addition to the broad scope of Pediatric General Surgery.

Dr. Schmeling is married with four adult children and five grandchildren added over the past three years. He enjoys travel, time with family and music.

Susan Sencer

Susan Sencer, MD
Chief of specialty pediatrics

Susan Sencer, MD, oversees all medical specialty departments at Children’s Minnesota including Cancer and Blood Disorders; Pain, Palliative, and Integrative Medicine; Endocrine and Diabetes; Pediatric Gynecology; Minnesota Children’s Resource Center; Nephrology; Neurology; Genetics and Genomics; Immunology; Infectious Disease; the Sleep Center; and the Cystic Fibrosis and Primary ciliary dyskinesia programs.

Dr. Sencer is a pediatric hematologist-oncologist with a deep understanding of Children’s mission, culture and values after more than 27 years of service. She joined the Cancer and Blood Disorders program at Children’s Minnesota in 1991 and was medical director of that program from 2001 through 2016. Dr. Sencer attended medical school at the University of Minnesota where she also completed her pediatric residency and pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship training.

Her areas of interest include supportive care of children with cancer and integrative oncology. She also has specialty clinics for children with melanoma, hereditary cancer predisposition syndromes and Ehlers Danlos syndrome. She is a “founding mother” of the Integrative Medicine program and was instrumental in helping start the Pain and Palliative Care Program.

Susan is married to the writer David Mura. They have three adult children Samantha, Nikko and Tomo. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and is still not used to Minnesota winters.

Clark Smith MD, Chief of medicine

Clark Smith, MD
Chief of medicine

Clark Smith, MD, first joined the professional staff at Children’s in 1983, becoming employed in 1995. His current responsibilities are in the professional staff office and over the medical surgical units in St. Paul. He is involved in quality, safety, partnership discussions and further evolution of the employed professional staff practice model.

Dr. Smith started out at the University of Minnesota in hematology oncology and biomedical engineering, publishing over 60 papers. After moving to Children’s he served as the medical director of hematology oncology, overseeing the launch of the service line, integration of the programs on both sides of the river, and partnering with health care systems to establish regional infusion centers. He subsequently served as Chief of Pediatrics for 13 years during Children’s rapid growth and expansion. He remains clinically active in hematology oncology.

Except for a stint in college at UCLA, his entire training and work experience have been in Minnesota at the University and at Children’s Minnesota.

Dr. Smith’s interests include history, philosophy, paddling and boating.

Jennifer Soderholm
Chief development officer and President of the Children’s Minnesota Foundation

Jennifer Soderholm is responsible for planning, growing, staffing and executing Children’s development program to champion the health needs of children and families. She joined Children’s Minnesota in August 2019.

Ms. Soderholm brings more than 26 years of fundraising and leadership experience. She recently served as executive vice president and chief development officer at Planned Parenthood North Central States, where she oversaw a 38-person team and all aspects of fundraising strategy and operations for the five-state region. Ms. Soderholm has also served as President of Children’s HeartLink, a Twin Cities-based international non-profit and had enjoyed over twenty years of fundraising at the University of Minnesota for medical research, education and care, ending her tenure serving as vice president of development, Medical School and University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Fairview, including University of Minnesota Physicians and Fairview clinical service lines.

Ms. Soderholm was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minn., and is the youngest of eight children. She met her husband, John, at the University of Minnesota. They have been married 30 years and have two adult daughters, Maggie and Ellie. They currently live in downtown Minneapolis. Jennifer has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, hiking and spending time with her family and friends.