Minnesota High Tech Asociation Staff

Jeff Tollefson

Jeff Tollefson
President & CEO
Email Jeff

Jeff leads the overall management and strategic direction of the MHTA, with a focus on enhancing member value and driving community impact.  Prior to joining the MHTA in August 2019, Jeff held various leadership roles with Genesys Works, a national nonprofit helping low-income high school students achieve career success in the tech field through skills training and meaningful work experiences. Before founding Genesys Works’ Twin Cities program in 2008, Jeff spent 17 years in the venture capital industry, including ten years as co-founder and General Partner of Crescendo Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm with more than $1.1 billion under management and offices in Minneapolis, Palo Alto, and London.  A graduate of the University of Iowa, Jeff is a 25-year resident of the Twin Cities where he lives with his wife and their three rescue animals.


Lonni Ranallo, Director of Finance and Administration

Lonni Ranallo
Director of Finance and Administration
952-230-4556 | Email Lonni

Lonni Ranallo manages administrative and accounting activities for MHTA. She has worked with the association for more than five years. Lonni enjoys biking and is active in the local arts community.

Ray Hoover, Director of Membership & Sponsorship

Ray Hoover
Director of Membership & Sponsorship
952-230-4557 | Email Ray

Ray Hoover is responsible for carrying MHTA’s mission statement to members (and potential members) by facilitating thousands of meaningful connections between startups, fortune 500 companies, technology professionals, students, government agencies, and institutes of higher learning through MHTA’s respected programs and services, educational opportunities and networking events. Ray previously worked for Hennepin County and has a strong background in data analysis. Ray is a graduate of St. Cloud State University.

John Dukich, Director of Public Policy & Research

John Dukich
Director of Public Policy & Research
952-230-4535 | Email John

John Dukich leads government relations and research for MHTA, and has resposibility for MHTA’s workforce development activities. He advocates for Minnesota’s science and technology community and conducts research related to funding of early-stage companies, STEM workforce, and innovation. Prior to joining MHTA, John worked in government relations at the Minnesota State Bar Association and the law firm of McGrann Shea Carnival Straughn & Lamb. John holds a B.S. in Statistics and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota, and an M.A. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

Patty Carruth, Director of Programs and Events

Patty Carruth
Director of Programs and Events
952-230-4554 | Email Patty

Patty Carruth leads program events & sponsorships at MHTA. She joins us from Dell, where she worked with commercial channel partners on marketing and demand generation activities including educational seminars, showcase & hospitality events, trade shows, direct mail and digital campaigns. With more than 20 years of event planning experience at BI Worldwide, Carlson Companies and Conklin Company, Patty’s work spans several continents and groups from 20 to 5000. Patty is a graduate of the College of St. Benedict. She is eager to serve the members of MHTA.

Claire Ayling, Events and Data Specialist

Claire Ayling
Events and Data Specialist
952-230-4553 | Email Claire

Claire Ayling is MHTA’s Events & Data Specialist. Claire has a background in customer service and previously worked at the St. Paul Hotel. She graduated with degrees in History and Gender Studies from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA in 2015.


Pat Dillon, Director, SBIR/STTR Program Assistance

Pat Dillon
Director, SBIR/STTR Program Assistance
952-230-4540 | Email Pat

Ms. Pat Dillon is the director of MNSBIR that helps seed, early stage, emerging and existing firms to successfully access non-dilutive funding through the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs.

Since 1994, Dillon has been working with innovators and entrepreneurs in their quest for federal funding of technological innovations with commercial potential. Dillon is actively involved in national and state initiatives to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the private sector, the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, and many other institutions. Dillon is a 1999 recipient of the prestigious Small Business Administration Tibbetts Award and a 2001 recipient of the City Business’ 25 Most Innovative Woman Award (now the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal). Dillon is a retired United States Navy Reserve Commander with 40 years of service (active and reserve), aviation and intelligence communities. Dillon is a combat veteran having served 10 months in Kabul, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Dillon earned a MBA and BS in Business Administration from Winona State University, Winona, MN.


Becky Siekmeier, SciTechsperience Internship Program Director

Becky Siekmeier
SciTechsperience Internship Program Director
952-230-4241 | Email Becky

Becky Siekmeier is the director of the SciTechsperience Internship Program at the Minnesota High Tech Association. She has directed SciTechsperience since 2012, when she was brought on board to pilot the program.

Becky describes SciTechsperience as sort of like a dating service, to connect college students with small and growing Minnesota companies and provide employers with a 50% wage match on their intern’s wages (up to $2,500). The program is funded by the State of Minnesota. Becky is an experienced team builder and project planner in both corporate and nonprofit settings. Prior to her position at MHTA, Becky spent nearly 17 years in advertising and in-store merchandising at Best Buy. Becky has an associate’s degree in advertising design, and two degrees from the University of Minnesota, a bachelor of arts in social welfare and a master’s in public affairs. As an undergrad, Becky competed for the Golden Gophers in women’s track and field. Becky and her husband enjoy the outdoors, following their son’s collegiate career (he’s also a Gopher T&F athlete), and road trips.

Maria Rico Mendoza, SciTechsperience Student Outreach Coordinator

Maria Rico Mendoza
SciTechsperience Student Outreach Coordinator
952-230-4536 | Email Maria

Maria Rico Mendoza is MHTA’s SciTechsperience Internship Program Student Outreach Coordinator. She leads the outreach to connect college students in STEM majors with paid internships in small Minnesota companies. In addition, she provides students with information on career development and job search strategies. Maria has a background in research laboratory work, customer service, and holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Augsburg University in Minneapolis, MN. She loves to experiment in the kitchen- she calls it her “lab.” Some of her other hobbies include, drawing and learning about molecular gastronomy. Her philosophy is “Si se puede- arriba y adelante!” which translates to “It can be done- get up and keep going!”

Piper Cleaveland, SciTechsperience Marketing and Communications Specialist

Piper Cleaveland
SciTechsperience Marketing and Communications Specialist
952-230-4539 | Email Piper

Piper Cleaveland manages the social media and communications for MHTA’s SciTechsperience Internship Program. She comes to MHTA with a background in corporate PR and freelance journalism. In 2016, Piper graduated Cum Laude from Mankato State University with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications. When she’s not blogging and Tweeting for SciTechsperience, Piper is likely illustrating, watching and discussing cinema or writing creatively in hopes of completing a novel.