Meet Our Expert Speakers

The Minnesota Conference is bringing together top industry thought leaders to share experiences and insight.

Patrick Huston
TH 53 Project Director, Minnesota Department of Transportation-Duluth

Opening Plenary - Opening Remarks | Tuesday, April 18, 2017 | 8:30am-10: 00am

Pat Huston is currently assigned as the Project Director for MnDOT for the Highway 53 Relocation Project in Virginia, MN. He is a member of MnDOT’s District 1 Duluth Management Team. He has worked for MnDOT for 26 years in 11 different positions. Prior to joining MnDOT, he worked for the BNSF Railroad in the Pacific Northwest the Minneapolis-St. Paul Region. Pat is a Duluth native, with a degree in civil engineering from the U of M Twin Cities and is a licensed civil engineer in Minnesota. He says the Highway 53 Relocation Project has challenged him more than any other project in his career.

Pat is appreciates the wide variety of experience he has gathered working and learning different positions within MnDOT. He draws on lessons learned and relationships built to overcome the many challenges his team has encountered on the Highway 53 Project.


Kelsey Johnson
President,Iron Mining Association

Ethics Course | Wednesday, April 19, 2017 | 8:00am-9:00am

Kelsey Johnson is the new president of the Iron Mining Association. Kelsey grew up in northeastern Minnesota. She has a bachelor and masters in ethics and leadership from St. Catherine University. Prior to joining the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota, Kelsey was the Director of State Affairs for an international trade association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association or GMA. GMA is the world’s largest trade association representing food, beverage and consumer product manufacturers here in the United States and internationally. While at GMA, Kelsey lobbied on behalf of the food industry in 27 states across the nation and at the federal level, fought countless food related measures and helped create a grassroots campaign that lead to the eventual passage of federal legislation. Having grown up in rural Minnesota, Kelsey understands the unique needs facing rural areas of the state.


Lourenco Goncalves
Chairman, President, Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.

Closing Plenary | Wednesday, April 19, 2017 | 10:45am-12:00pm

Lourenco Goncalves was appointed Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. in August 2014. Since joining the company, he has implemented and has been executing a strategic initiative designed to strengthen Cliffs’ position as a major supplier of iron ore pellets to the U.S. steel industry.

In the spirit of the theme, Think Global, Mine Local, Mr. Goncalves will provide his unique perspectives on recent activities in steelmaking and iron ore production in China as well as in the rest of the world. Additionally, Lourenco will hone in on the Cliffs strategy in Minnesota, including new product development with their Project Mustang initiative and their work on entering into the Electric Arc Furnace market.


Barbara A. Filas
Partner, Filas Engineering & Environmental Services LLC

Professional Networking Luncheon | Wednesday, April 19, 2017 | 12:00pm-1:30pm

Barbara Filas earned a B.S. in mining engineering from the University of Arizona. She is a registered professional engineer, a certified environmental professional and a qualified mine safety instructor. She held increasingly responsible positions with Knight Piésold and several mining companies. She is currently a partner with Filas Engineering & Environmental Services LLC. Filas has served the Coal and Energy Division as its representative and chair of the Professional Engineers Exam Committee, on its Executive Committee and as member and chair of its Environmental Unit Committee. She represented the Mining and Exploration Division on its Environment and Reclamation Committee, its Executive Committee and as a Standby-Alternate to the SME Board of Directors. She was active in the creation of the Environmental Division and served as division chair in its inaugural year. She represented the division on the SME Board of Directors, the SME Executive Committee and the Nominating Committee. She may be the only person in SME history to sit on the executive committees of three divisions and represent two divisions on the SME Board. She was instrumental in founding the SME Student Mentor Program and currently serves as an ABET program evaluator. She was president of SME in 2005.

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