The Board

Paul Thomas

Interim Executive Director:

Morning show personality, marketing consultant, and event promoter, Paul Thomas (aka “PT”) is involved with a wide variety of organizations around the Twin Cities. His current role is morning show host for Entercom station The WOLF 102.9.
His passion for giving back to the community is evident in his 10 years of volunteer work as a youth hockey coach and his emcee work for various other charitable causes. He is also the founder of the LIVIN Foundation for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

Bob Keseley

Director of  Strategy & Operations:

Bob Keseley is a recently retired consulting services executive now pursuing philanthropy, giving back, and cultivating county music in the Midwest. As a board member of the Midwest Country Music Organization, his current focus is strategy, operations and business development.

Shannon Hoheisel

Director of Sponsorships:

Shannon is an experienced business developer and strategist, specializing in partnership building and team leading.  With over 20 years of Marketing and Sales Management within the media, event and entertainment industries, she has a deep understanding of Radio, Event, TV, Social & Digital Advertising.  She spent many years in radio, including her role as Director of Live Events for Entercom Minneapolis (now Audacy) where she oversaw all station events, concerts, and strategic event partnerships.  She currently works in the outdoor media industry, does consulting and serves as Director of the LIVIN Music Festival.  Shannon holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Operations.  

Besides events and music, Shannon’s passions include her travels across the globe, camping with friends and family, and most importantly being a mom to two active kids, Skyler and Madelynn, that keep her on the run every day and cheering from the sidelines.


Shannon has a passion for music and helping cultivate opportunities and relationships to help local artists, organizations and partners all advance and succeed as one local Midwest music community. 

Jeanette Backer

Director of Artist Member Acquisition:

Jeanette’s primary board role is to grow our Artist membership. Her responsibilities include helping refine artist member services, recruiting new artist members and helping new artist members successfully take advantage of the services provided.

Jeanette received her BA from Gustavus Adolphus College in Organizational Management. Her business experience includes; VP retail banking, Mortgage Representative, Branch Lending Manager, Business Development, Consumer Loan Representative and Publicity/Band Promotions. Over the past twenty years Jeanette has traveled frequently to Nashville attending many country music functions, concerts, and events. She has also attended both the CMA and ACM award shows. More recently Jeanette has become very active with the Midwest country music scene and artists. She is excited to now be part of the Midwest Country Music Organization helping promote music, help artists, and give back to our community.

Tanya Turner

Director of Business Member Acquisition:

Tanya brings deep experience identifying, negotiating, launching and managing new products, programs, business units and successful partner relationships with a strong emphasis on affluent customer acquisition, loyalty and retention strategies. She held executive management positions with Fortune 50 companies in the Airline, Travel & Hospitality, Finserv and Telco categories prior to starting her entrepreneurial journey with Karma & Co – curating bespoke “bucket list” experiences for ultra-HNW clientele. Tanya is a consummate marketer with an entrepreneurial spirit, and fully enjoys contributing as both a board member and volunteer for various non-profit organizations nationwide.

Ryan Pilgrim

Director of Finance:

Ryan is the Treasury Manager for Liberty Diversified International. In addition, he is part of the corporate development team. Ryan has been with LDI for 9 years. Prior to that he was in the finance industry as an Equity Trader. Ryan has a B.S in Accounting and in Finance from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Matt Graunke

Director of Membership:

Matt has been a member of the Midwest Music Scene since the early 2000’s, working as a band leader, guitarist, bassist, songwriter, producer and hired gun. His business experience includes Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and Management. He works within the org to bring value to the membership and continuously improve  the offering. He can be reached at

The Team

Melissa Petersen

New business ventures, country music and serving others are true passions of Melissa’s, so when the opportunity to be a part of launching Midwest CMA was presented to her, it was a done deal. Melissa’s desire for volunteering and event planning has given her the honor of coordinating numerous benefits, golf tournaments, weddings and private parties. Add to that, 11 years of working for Marriott Hotels Int’l, Melissa brings a wealth of knowledge to the event planning and networking portion of Midwest CMA. Along with her many years in the hospitality and event planning industry, Melissa has been a licensed Realtor since 2001 and she and her husband, Chris own a small business where Melissa manages the sales, marketing and other day to day tasks. Melissa, Chris, their two teenage daughters and chocolate lab, Hank reside in Lakeville, MN and are active members in their church and their community they love.

Jamey Worley

Jamey Worley is a local business owner, band manager, event producer and mom to three dynamic kids. She loves live music and is frequently on the road tour managing her favorite project, The Devon Worley Band. In her infrequent spare time she enjoys gardening and cooking.

Andrew Ellis

Andrew Ellis’ passion for country music went into overdrive when he was 16, and he’s been covering the genre as a journalist since 2011 when he got his start at his alma mater Bemidji State University. He’s interviewed artists such as Kelsea Ballerini and has written for publications such as City Pages, Sounds Like Nashville, and the Growler. He got a taste of the top notch talent in the Midwest when he shot performance footage for The Homegrown Show on BOB Country. He’s excited to be part of the Midwest CMA team and work closely with artists to further their careers and help them realize their dreams.

Megan Lyons

When she about 10 years old, Megan toured the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting, and was bit by the radio bug. Fast forward a couple decades, and she now works as Traffic Director at Milestone Radio. Combine that with her 12 plus years working concerts at a local venue, and you have a combination that makes Megan passionate about helping local talented artists get the recognition they deserve. She truly believes in the healing power of music, whether it be someone sick with a chronic illness, or someone sick with a broken heart. When she is not working or at concerts, Megan enjoys spending time with her family, cooking new recipes, and spending time on the North Shore. 


Joe Flip

Award winning musician, Joe Flip, performing with his hand-made oil can guitars, is now receiving international radio-play from his recent album, “Tin Can Tunes.”  His hand-made oil can guitars, “Hayburners,” have been sold all over the world and have been featured in many magazines and news publications. He also volunteers and offers consulting with organizations such as The Midwest Country Music Organization, MN Music Coalition, The Cottage Grove Arts Commission, and the Burnsville Art & Jazz Festival.

Kari Freund

After 14 years in office administration, I left for the road leading toward the pursuit of my true passions. I’m a full-time Marketing student, and after one year spent working for MJG Productions as a jack-of-all-trades, have found my niche in digital marketing, digital arts/editing, photo/video work, promotion, and back-end music industry business. Currently I own/run C&K Johnson Productions and work with Chad Johnson and The Minnesota Transplants. In addition to the work above, I am also a long-time writer and lyric writer, having co-written a number of great songs in recent years. I’m thrilled to be involved with the environment, people and mission of the Midwest CMO. I will be writing content and providing event support for the organization.

Maygen Lacey

Maygen Lacey is a studio vocalist, songwriter, and fellow Midwest Country member. She has solo songs as well as a band called Maygen & The Birdwatcher. She loves meeting new people and collaborating on songs, so Midwest Country was an exciting org to join for her! Maygen is in charge of organizing and sending the Midwest Country Newsletters and also initiated a series called What Even Is Country Music (inspired by the Ken Burns Documentary), which followed the history of country music from folk roots to the peak of 90’s radio country. Maygen is just about obsessed with being outdoors and thinks nature is pretty much the cure for most things.

Owen Schultz

I am the assistant General Manager at Charlie’s on Prior where I have made it my focus to grow the music program with live music on our patio. I grew up in Savage MN and now live in Montgomery, MN with my wife and 2 daughters.  Fun fact about me is I have an identical twin brother whom I am older by 1 minute.

Tari Mosby

Tari is a Senior Business Systems Analyst by day. When not watching live music (favorites: MoeDell, Ledfoot Larry, Mark Stone) on the evenings and weekends I can be found near the water, swimming, fishing or boating.

My obsession is identifying and finding solutions for improving processes and efficiencies.

Ted Hajnasiewicz

Driven to write the perfect song, Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter Ted Hajnasiewicz (Hi-Nah-SHEV-Its) performs with a magnetizing honesty and reflective tone that speaks to the very essence of the human spirit. His love of song has made him a fan of the midwest songwriters.  Ted will be handling the Midwest Country Music Organization playlists.

Advisory Board


Arnie Andrews

Program Director / Ops Manager WCOW COW97


Jeana Kunkel

Entertainment Manager, Treasure Island Resort & Casino


Eryk Haapajoki

Director of Partnerships, Lakes Jam


Ken Lacy

General Manager, Lakes Jam


Michelle Westberg

Advertising Brand Project Coordinator, Treasure Island Resort & Casino


Neil Freeman

Group Manager, BOB FM


Volunteers (Not Pictured)

Advisory Board (Not Pictured)

Lara Engh – 

Tom Pickard – Le’ Musique Room

Nick Hoffman – Nashville Artist, Nick’s Wild Ride

Ron Backer –