VHEDC honors local leaders

Kyia Britts, Lauren Welch, Kevin Whelan, Caleb Peterson

The Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation (VHEDC) celebrated local business and community leaders at the annual Rising Star and Business Leadership Awards event held June 2 at Jimmy’s Event Center.

Kevin Whelan is the recipient of the 2021 Business Leadership Award. Kevin is the president of Frandsen Bank & Trust, located in Vadnais Heights. 

The Business Leadership Award is given annually to a business leader who works in the local community and demonstrates outstanding leadership, both at work and in the community. Leadership qualities include creativity, volunteerism, responsibility, problem-solving, respectfulness, cooperation and organizational skills. Leadership qualities are not limited to VHEDC activities and may include work for other organizations. 

Beside his leadership at Frandsen Bank & Trust and other banks throughout his banking career, Whelan serves on the Merrick Inc. finance committee. He was on the VHEDC board of directors for 10 years and served as board president, and was chair of the Keith Warner Memorial Golf Tournament committee for several years. Whelan has also been a strong advocate of the North Metro Young Professionals in partnership with VHEDC, encouraging his team members to join and inspire their growth and leadership. 

Rising Star awards were given to Lauren Welch, Children’s Discovery Academy, Vadnais Heights; Caleb Peterson, Frandsen Bank & Trust, Vadnais Heights; and Kyia Britts, Children’s Performing Arts, White Bear Lake. The Rising Star award is given annually to individuals who work in the local community who demonstrate outstanding leadership, both at work and in the community.

Lauren Welch has been involved with Children's Discovery Academy of Early Learning for most of her life. She attended Children's Discovery from the time she was an infant through private kindergarten and the school age program. Once she graduated from Luther College with her Bachelor of Arts in business, it was natural for her to be offered a full-time position at Children's Discovery.

In 2018, Welch was a participant in the VHEDC North Metro Young Professionals cohort. She developed leadership skills to the next level — giving her numerous ideas that she was able to bring back to her workplace.

Rising Star award winner Caleb Peterson's nomination said he is someone who truly is “one in a million.” He is the definition of team player. Peterson joined Frandsen in 2016 and was promoted to the position of business banker in 2018. He was a participant in the VHEDC 2019 North Metro Young Professionals cohort. He spearheaded the PPP loan process at the bank and was an integral part in the merger from Peoples Bank Midwest to Frandsen Bank & Trust. His impact is reaching across organizations throughout the community.

Kyia Britts has been working for Children’s Performing Arts for over a year and a half and has risen to the associate director position, where she leads the team in all aspects of running the business.  She stepped up in this challenging year of COVID-19 to help fill a senior leadership role when the previous executive director moved out of state.

Britts participated in the 2020 VHEDC Northeast Metro Young Professionals cohort. She has also developed a behind-the-scenes program to help ensure that all kids in the surrounding communities are able to experience theater at their own comfort level. While COVID-19 hit in 2020 and presented a number of challenges, Brits thrived and always made sure that “the show went on.”


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