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Executive Management

G. Thomas Ahern
CEO, Capstone and Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Tom joined Capstone and its parent company, Coughlan Companies, Inc., in 2007. He is responsible for the overall vision, strategy, and direction of the company. Prior to joining Coughlan Companies, Tom served as CEO of Swiftknowledge, Inc., a Minnesota Fastest 50 growth company and was Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for PLATO Learning, Inc. Tom earned a B.A. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University, Evanston.

William R. Rouse
COO and CFO, Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Bill provides direction in operations and finance for Coughlan Companies, comprised of Capstone and Jordan Sands. Before joining Coughlan Companies in 2008, Bill served as the Vice President and General Manager of Anchor Block Company and the Holmberg Company, and as President of Cargill’s Seed Division. Bill has a B.A. in Political Science from Northwest Missouri State University, Marysville.

Ashley C. Andersen Zantop
Capstone Chief Content Officer

Before joining Capstone in 2011, Ashley served as CEO, President, Publisher, and a member of the board of directors of Palm Publishing, LLC and prior to that, at Trudy Corporation, an independent children’s publishing company.  She began her career in publishing with Plymouth Press, Vergennes, Vt.  She has over 20 years experience in the publishing industry and is responsible for the strategic development and growth of the Capstone product line.  Ashley holds degrees in English Literature (AB) and Elementary Education (AB.ED) from the University of Michigan as well as teaching certificates (CERT K-5, CERT 6-8).  She also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University, Fairfield, Conn, where she founded and serves as Co-President of the MFA Alumni Association.

Todd R. Brekhus
President, Capstone Digital

Before joining Capstone, Todd held a variety of executive positions, including Vice President and CMO of PLATO Learning, President and COO of Learning Elements, and Education Program Director for MCI WorldCom, where he helped build and implement the Marco Polo program.  Todd also spent eight years in education as a teacher, department chair, and Technology Director and currently serves on the Board of the Educational Division of The Software Information Industry Association.  A graduate of Concordia College, Todd completed graduate studies at John Hopkins University.

Lora E. Geiger
Vice President of Human Resources, Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Vice President of Human Resources, Coughlan Companies, Inc. Prior to joining Coughlan Companies, Inc., Lora gained extensive experience in senior HR business partner, organization development, and leadership roles having worked in the software development and manufacturing industries, as well as consulting and account management experience in the medical equipment and insurance/financial service industries. During Lora’s leadership as Director of Human Resources for Turck Inc., the company received local and national recognition for their holistic approach to culture, well-being and leadership development and related positive organizational and individual outcomes. Lora earned her doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University. She earned her B.S. degree in Human Resource Management from Winona State University and her Master’s in Human Resource Development from the University of St. Thomas. She has the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation from the Human Resources Certification Institute and is an ICF (International Coaching Federation) accredited coach.

Ross Gilbertson
Chief Information Officer, Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Ross joined Coughlan Companies, Inc. in April 2013. He focuses on developing the company's information technology strategy and roadmap, driving innovation and building a customer centric platform that allows for expanded growth. Prior to joining Coughlan Companies, Ross was Vice President of Information Technology for Caribou Coffee Companies and has also held technology leadership positions at Chamilia and Pro Staff Personnel Services. He brings more than 25 years of business and technology experience from a variety of industries including retail, wholesale, banking, and professional services. Ross earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Information Technology Management from Concordia University in St. Paul, MN.

Matthew A. Keller
Chief Marketing Officer, Capstone

Before joining Capstone in 2002, Matt served as Vice President of Marketing for AGS, a curriculum and assessment publisher for special needs children.  Matt brings more than 25 years experience in the publishing industry to his role as Chief Marketing Officer.  Matt holds a B.A. in English and Business from St. John's University, Collegeville.

David Samuelson
Executive Vice President and General Manager

David Samuelson leads Capstone Education and Trade as its Executive Vice President and General Manager. David’s 20+ years’ experience in the K-12 education market began at the Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC) as Vice President and Executive Producer. David also was at Pearson in senior positions including President of Global Schools, Chief Marketing Officer and Product Strategist for Pearson’s US School division as well as Vice President of the Family Education Network. David’s career began in theatre and television where he was an Emmy award-winning producer of children’s programming.

Miles E. Stevens-Hoare
Managing Director, Heinemann-Raintree, Raintree

As the Managing Director of Capstone’s Heinemann-Raintree division, Miles leads the publisher’s U.K. and U.S. business.  Before joining Capstone in 2009, Miles was the Managing Director of Scholastic Book Clubs and Fairs.  Miles has extensive experience across a range of other publishing formats having lead Panini in the U.K. and worked for DeAgostini and EMAP.

Senior Management

Gail S. Beer
Vice President of Customer Relations & Fulfillment, Capstone

Gail is responsible for Capstone’s distribution center, customer service, purchasing, and bids and contracts area.  Before joining Capstone in 1997, Gail managed the customer service department at Coloplast.  Gail attended Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Eric S. Fitzgerald
Vice President of Direct Sales, Capstone

With 16 years of sales experience, Eric is responsible for the internal and external publishing company sales representatives.  Prior to joining Capstone in 2001, Eric owned Fitzgerald Library Resources and served as National Sales Manager at Sagebrush Corporation.

Stephen A. Neir
Director of Finance of Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Steve joined Coughlan Companies, Inc., in 1990 and is responsible for the accounting, tax, banking, and insurance portions of the business.  Steve has more than 20 years of finance experience, serving as Controller at Shari Candies and as the Office Manager at Lagers.  Steve holds an Associates degree in Accounting from Mankato Commercial College, Mankato.

Steven J. Sorenson
Vice President of Finance, Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Steve has more than 20 years experience in all phases of finance, operations, administration, and systems management. Before joining Coughlan Companies, Inc., Steve served as Chief Financial Officer for NuWay Cooperative, and as Chief Financial Officer for Associated Milk Producers, Inc. Steve has a B.S. in Accounting from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul.

Board of Directors

Robert J. Coughlan
Owner and Principal, Coughlan Companies, Inc. Board Member: 1992

Bob, with his brother Jim, are the fourth-generation of Coughlans leading the diversified Coughlan Companies, Inc. As the family-owned company expanded with stone, banking, land development holdings and publishing, it developed centralized management and administrative services to serve its two operating companies: Capstone and Jordan Sands. Before Bob’s tenure on the Board, he served in a variety of executive leadership positions in the manufacturing and publishing industries. Bob enjoys being involved in CEO peer to peer roundtables. He graduated from Gonzaga University, Spokane, with a B.A. in History.

James P. Coughlan
Owner and Principal, Coughlan Companies, Inc. Board Member: 1992

In 1983, Jim and his brother Bob became the fourth-generation owners of the Coughlan Stone Quarry. Today, Coughlan Companies, Inc. is comprised of Capstone and Jordan Sands and provides centralized management and administrative services to all businesses under Jim and Bob’s, direction. Jim managed the development of the stone business and expanded the publishing imprints to include fiction under the Stone Arch Books imprint. Jim studied Agricultural Economics at Gonzaga University, Spokane, and the University of Minnesota, St. Paul.

William L. Kozita
Board Member: 2008

Bill is a former Executive Vice President and CFO of Taylor Corporation.  He is Secretary and investor in Rembrandt Enterprises, Inc., an in-line liquid egg producer.  He is also an investor and serves as Director of Riverland Bancorporation, and serves on the Board of Directors of Northland Securities and the Minnesota Racing Commission.  Before joining Taylor Corporation in 1979, Bill worked as a CPA for McGladrey Hendrickson in Sioux Falls.  Bill graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato, with a B.S. in Accounting.

Gary V. Lee
Board Member: 2014

Gary has held his current position of Chief Executive Officer and Director of Rahr Corporation for the past 12 years.   Rahr Corporation is a privately held 167 year old fifth generation family business headquartered in Shakopee, MN.  He also serves as Chairman and CEO of operating subsidiaries, Rahr Malting Co. and Brewers Supply Group and for the past 6 years and he has been a Director of Koda Energy, LLC.  Prior to Rahr he was the President and CEO of Spring Wheat Processors from 1996 – 2001 and prior to that he held various middle and senior management positions over 16 years with Cargill, Inc.  Gary is an Ex-Officio Board member of the Beer Institute, a member of the Master Brewers Association, a member of a CEO Round Table and he serves on the Advisory Council on Agriculture for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.  He has been involved in community activities including past chairman of the St. Francis Regional Medical Facility Foundation Board and he currently serves on the River Valley YMCA Community Board.   Gary holds a B.B.A. from the Cox Business School at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.

Dennis E. Miller
Board Member: 2008

Dennis is a former President and CEO of Midwest Wireless/Alltel, and also served as Vice President of Minnesota Operations for Pacific Telecom Cellular and Corporate Sales Manager for Northwest Telephone Company.  He currently serves on the Immanuel St. Joseph’s-Mayo Health System Board of Directors (Vice Chair) and Minnesota State University Foundation Board of Directors.  Dennis holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a mini-MBA from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

David W. Smith
Board Member: 2012

David is a former Independent Director, Acting CEO and Chairman of Plato Learning Company.  He also served as Independent Director for Scientific Learning Corporation, CEO for National Computer Systems/NCS Pearson, and held several senior executive positions with Houghton Mifflin and McGraw-Hill publishing companies.  David currently is Lead Director at Capella Education Company.  He also is President of Woodwinds, LLC, and serves as an Outside Director for Inscape Publishing.  David holds an M.B.A. from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a B.S. and M.S. from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Bradley J. Schreier
Board Member: 2013

Brad is one of the original founding partners of Taylor Corporation, headquartered in Mankato, MN. He served as President and COO from 1985-2001 and CEO from 2001-2007. Upon retirement in 2008, he served as Vice-Chairman of Taylor Corporation until 2011. Brad is currently Chairman of Schreier Family Holdings, which is comprised of several family owned businesses managed by his two sons. He was a member of the Malto Meal Company board for nine years serving as their lead director for six of those years. He has been active in many volunteer and civic organizations including the United Way, Mankato Hospital, Mankato Area Catholic Schools, and Holy Rosary Church.