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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, 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.

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.

Steve Robinson
CFO, Coughlan Companies, Inc.

Steve Robinson is the Chief Financial Officer for Coughlan Companies.  He brings to CCI 11 years at Upsher-Smith, a pharmaceutical company here in Minnesota, serving as its’ CFO for the last seven years.  Steve began his career in public accounting working several years for PriceWaterhouse as it was known then.  After obtaining his MBA, he then moved to Minnesota to work for Honeywell.  Steve was with Honeywell for 10 years serving in a variety of finance positions before moving over to Upsher-Smith.

Miles Stevens-Hoare
Managing Director, Global Trade and International Education

Miles leads our Global Trade business and all of our Education business outside of the US. 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 led 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.


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.