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Welcome Back!

The Minnesota Higher Education Facilities Authority is inviting you to attend the 35th Annual Conference on Financing Issues for Higher Education. We are returning in person to the Union Depot in Saint Paul. We will also be offering online viewing.

We have a great line-up of speakers on topics relevant to your work. We look forward to you joining us for interesting presentations, an opportunity to meet your peers, and a great networking opportunity.


9:15 am Registration, Networking, and Breakfast

9:45 am Introduction, Welcome & Authority Perspective

  • Barry Fick, Executive Director, MHEFA

10:00 am Saint Paul Police Chief Introductory Remarks

  • Axel Henry, Chief of Police, Saint Paul Police Department

10:15 am Market and Investment Review/Outlook

  • George T. Cook, Institutional Consulting Director, Graystone Consulting

11:00 am networking break

11:15 am Moody’s Investors Service Overview and Insights on Higher Education Trends

Moody’s Investors Service Global Higher Education and Not-For-Profit Ratings:

  • Debra Roane, Vice President, Senior Credit Officer
  • Jared Brewster, Vice President, Senior Analyst
  • Melissa Nicandri, Associate Lead Analyst

Moody’s Public Finance Group:

12:00 pm Higher Education Topics: Updates in the Areas of Accounting and Financial Reporting

  • Jessica Richter, Partner, Forvis
  • Keith McGovern, Partner, Forvis
  • Nick Wallace, Director/Nonprofit, Education & Public Sector, Forvis
  • Forvis Presentation

12:45 pm Energy Options and Management for Campus

  • Andrew Kasid, EVP, Chief Financial Officer, Ever-Green Energy

  • Michael Auger, SVP, Chief Business Officer, Ever-Green Energy

  • Ever-Green Energy Presentation

1:15 pm Lunch and networking


speaker biographies

Andrew Kasid: Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Ever-Green Energy

Andrew Kasid is the executive vice president and chief financial officer at Ever-Green Energy. He has been with District Energy St. Paul and its affiliate companies since 1990. He is responsible for financial management, project finance, financial strategic planning, financial analysis of business opportunities, forecasting and budgeting, financial risk management, energy rate setting and analysis, energy futures contracts, analysis of energy purchases, and investment analysis and management. He has an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, a B.A. in Financial Economics from Gustavus Adolphus College and he has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Axel Henry: Chief of Police, Saint Paul Police Department

Axel Henry joined the Saint Paul Police Department in 1998, after serving three years with the Roseville Police Department. Over his past 24 years of service in Saint Paul, he has served as a patrol officer, sergeant, commander in Central District, and senior commander of the Eastern District from 2016 to 2019, where he led 105 personnel in service to Saint Paul’s busiest police district.  

He previously served in command positions in the Office of the Chief and Family and Sexual Violence Unit and was logistics chief for Saint Paul’s emergency response at the start of the pandemic. Most recently, he served as the commander of Narcotics, Financial Intelligence & Human Trafficking, a position he has held since 2019. Through his array of assignments, he has command experience in every division.  

Chief Henry spearheaded the City’s body-worn camera program, designed and led the Blue-Print for Safety Program, and has more than 20 years of experience as a trainer and use of force expert.  

Chief Henry holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting, and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from the University of St. Thomas. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Command College at FBI Quantico and University of Virginia Master’s Program, and the Wilder Foundation’s James P. Shannon Leadership Institute.

Debra Roane: Vice President, Senior credit officer, Moody’s Investors Service Global Higher Education and Not-for-Profit Ratings

Debra Roane is a Vice President/Senior Credit Officer for the Higher Education and Not-for-Profits Ratings Team covering higher education and not-for-profit institutions across the United States including large public university systems, complex academic medical centers and prominent not-for-profit organizations. Debra was instrumental in expanding Moody’s coverage in the high-profile sector for sub-sovereign ratings in Australia and New Zealand and, in particular, in the Australian and Singaporean universities sectors. She also helped Moody’s to strengthen its presence in the Chinese regional and local government sector by leading the initiative to develop a knowledge base, research and outreach, and credit architecture from an early stage.

Prior to joining Moody’s, Debra worked for the Federal Transportation Administration in Washington, DC as a Presidential Management Intern and in New York City as a Project Manager. Debra holds an MA from the New School for Social Research in Urban Affairs and Policy Analysis and a BA from McGill University in Montreal in Geography.

George T. Cook: Managing director and Institutional Consulting Director, Graystone Consulting

As Managing Director and Institutional Consulting Director, George has dedicated his entire career to serving the specialized needs of institutional clients. He is responsible for shaping strategic policy, combining his deep knowledge of the global financial markets with keen insights about upcoming market trends. These insights guide important decisions impacting portfolio optimization and investment manager selection. They also serve as the foundation of his highly anticipated capital markets webinars, which are presented quarterly to several hundred clients and industry insiders. 

An education advocate, George has always been committed to advanced learning – for himself and his clients. An alumnus of North Illinois University, George earned the prestigious designation of Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®) from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1997. He attained the Alternative Investments Director designation in 2014. As a Consulting Group Associate, he pioneered the institutional consulting program in the firm’s Barrington, Illinois, branch. In 1990, he became a Consulting Group Director, focusing on key institutional relationships. He is also a member of the Investment Management Consultants Association and has served on the board and on the Best Practices committee of the Association of Professional Investment Consultants. 

A strong believer in giving back, George is passionate about community service, particularly issues of justice and poverty. He has made regular humanitarian trips to Cuba, and actively volunteers for a number of nonprofit agencies, including Bright Hope International, International Justice Mission, and World Relief. 

In recognition for his dedication to his community and his clients, George has received numerous distinctions and professional accolades throughout his career. In 2011, Registered Rep magazine awarded George the “Altruism Award: Advisors with Heart,” honoring advisors who exemplify the highest standards of professionalism and are active in charitable giving and mentoring. In 2013, George was awarded the Community Leadership Award by Morgan Stanley for his efforts in eradicating human trafficking around the globe and was also awarded the firm’s John J. Mack Leadership Award, recognizing his efforts to put clients first, lead with exceptional ideas, act with integrity, and be generous with his time, resources, and talents. From 2016 to 2022, George and his Graystone team have been recognized as one of BARRON’S Top Institutional teams*. 

George is often invited to speak at various industry conferences. The conference hosts include the College & University Business Officers, Healthcare Financial Management Association, American Property Casualty Insurance Association, Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority, and Minnesota Higher Education Facilities Authority to name a few. 

Jared Brewster: Vice President, Moody’s Investors Service Global Higher Education and Not-for-Profit Ratings

Jared Brewster is a Vice President/Senior Analyst for the Higher Education and Not-for-Profits Ratings Team covering higher education and not-for-profit institutions across the United States, with a focus on the Midwest. Prior to joining Moody’s, Jared worked as a Director of Research for a private foundation.

Prior to working at the foundation, Jared was a Principal Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office where he was responsible for estimating and projecting debt and interest costs of the federal government. Jared holds an MPA from the University of Delaware and a BA in Political Science from Capital University.

Jessica Richter: Partner, Forvis

Jessica has over 22 years of experience providing audit, tax and consulting services for a variety of nonprofit organizations, school districts, public universities, state agencies, municipalities and telecommunications companies. Jessica’s specialties include financial reporting and auditing, financial projections and forecasts, due diligence, cost allocations, revenue assurance, loan applications, Single Audit (Uniform Guidance) and business consulting.

She is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, Iowa Society of CPAs, the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance and the ISACA. Jessica is a licensed CPA in Iowa.

Jessica obtained her CPA certificate in 2000 and her Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) accreditation in 2008. In 2015, she obtained her Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification.  In May 2022, Jessica was appointed to the Iowa Accountancy Examining Board.

She currently serves as a board member for Dress for Success Des Moines and Waukee Athletic Club (Waukee Fastpitch).

Jessica is a 2000 graduate of University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, with a B.A. degree in accounting

Keith McGovern: Partner, Forvis

Kieth serves as the Kansas City office industry leader for nonprofit, education, and public sector. He has more than 18 years of experience performing financial statement audits of nonprofit organizations, colleges, and universities. His experience includes implementing new accounting standards, reviewing internal control structures, and performing firmwide trainings. In addition, Kieth is knowledgeable about federal audit and grant reporting requirements.

He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and Missouri Society of CPAs. He also is a member of the Centurions leadership program, a prestigious two-year program focusing on educational sessions and exposure to community leaders and issues and volunteer work.

Kieth served as a board member and treasurer for El Centro in Kansas City, Kansas, and he is a member of the United Way of Greater Kansas City Tocqueville Society and served as an alumnus of the Centurions Leadership Program.

He is a magna cum laude graduate of Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, with a B.S. degree in accounting and Spanish. In addition, he spent a semester abroad in the Dominican Republic, where he worked on an accounting internship.

Melissa Nicandri: Associate Lead Analyst, Moody’s Investors Service Global higher education and not-for-profit ratings

Melissa Nicandri is an Associate Lead Analyst for the Higher Education and Not-for-Profits Ratings Team, where she covers institutions in the Midwest and South.

Prior to joining Moody’s, Melissa was a Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton where she worked as a public sector consultant primarily for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). She holds an MA in International Economics and Finance from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Economics from Vanderbilt University.

Michael Auger: SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, Chief Business Officer, Ever-Green Energy

Michael Auger is the Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer for Ever-Green Energy and its affiliate companies. As Chief Business Officer, Michael provides leadership in advancing systems and processes across Enterprise Services by providing oversight in the day-to-day operations and partnering with other departments to develop and execute Ever-Green Energy’s overall strategy to effectively achieve company goals. Michael also has experience in managing various energy, environmental, finance, employment, and other corporate legal matters. He is responsible for identifying and analyzing legal issues and drafting recommendations and assures legal compliance and guards against legal risks involving the organization. Michael manages Ever-Green’s policy and government relations work, and provides guidance on topics related to law, regulatory compliance, organizational structure, and contracting for all of Ever-Green’s operations and consulting projects.

Prior to joining Ever-Green in 2015, Michael served as legal counsel for energy service companies dealing with issues related to the sale, use and transportation of natural gas, electricity, and liquid fuels. Michael also spent time in private practice focusing on corporate, transactional, and bankruptcy law. Michael earned his JD from Rutgers School of Law and his undergraduate degree from the University of South Dakota receiving a BS in Political Science.

Nick Wallace: Director/Nonprofit, Education & Public Sector, Forvis

Nick is a member of the Nonprofit Practice, the Public Sector Practice, and the Higher Education Practice. He manages audit engagements and has more than 30 years of experience providing audit and advisory services to private colleges, schools, churches, social service agencies, and other nonprofit organizations.

He has experience with endowments, major gifts, annual funds, accounting operations, accreditation, governance, and strategic nonprofit management. Prior to joining FORVIS, he was with a national niche firm providing audit and advisory services to private colleges and other nonprofits nationwide. Before that, he worked for a large West Coast private university and was responsible for developing and implementing internal accounting procedures for the planned giving program, tax administration for charitable trusts, and external reporting for federal student financial aid programs.

Nick’s industry experience includes serving as a chair of the Taylor University Audit and Business Affairs Committees. In addition, during his six-year term with The Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), he chaired the Financial Exigency Committee.

He is a noted speaker at national and regional industry conferences and has authored articles, seminars, and publications for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, Association of Business Administrators of Christian Colleges, ABHE, Christian College Consortium, and Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

Nick is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, Indiana CPA Society, and National Association of College and University Business Officers.

He is a 1979 graduate of California State University, Fullerton, with a B.A. degree in business with an accounting concentration.

Susan Fitzgerald: Managing Director, Moody’s public finance group

Susan Fitzgerald is a Managing Director in Moody’s Public Finance Group, overseeing the healthcare, higher education, housing, and municipal supported products teams. Previously, Susan led Moody’s global higher education team, covering over 700 colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. She also previously headed up the higher education financial advisory practice at a boutique investment banking firm, and also worked in foundation and government relations for a major research university. She holds an MA in international studies and economics from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and an AB in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College.