Farmington council member works for the Vikings and bleeds purple

Body: 

Cheering for the Minnesota Vikings to win is serious business for Farmington City Council member Katie Bernhjelm.

As a passionate, a diehard football fan, it is also her job.

She works for the Minnesota Vikings, but this career is certainly not a chore.

Wearing "Bold North" mittens to show team spirit, Bernhjelm is celebrating like most Minnesotans after the Vikings won the NFC North Division.

Bernhjelm admits she bleeds purple and loves working for the National Football League team. As a senior manager of partnership activation, Bernhjelm is thrilled Minnesota will soon host Super Bowl LII, on Sunday, Feb. 4, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Bernhjelm was appointed in April 2017 when she filled a vacancy left when former council member Tim Pitcher resigned his seat on the council.

As a Minnesota native who grew up in Apple Valley, Bernhjelm mentioned to her husband she held aspirations of working in government and her husband took note.

"When we moved to Farmington, I told my husband I had wanted to do something politically, and for me it did not mean the following year but at some point," she said.

Bernhjelm, 30, learned how in life timing can be everything and unexpected actions can propel a person ahead with life goals. Last April when there was a city website posting for the open seat on the Farmington City Council, she applied when she was nine months pregnant.

"My husband said here is your chance and if you want to do something," Bernhjelm said. "I went for it, and it ended up being a good fit for me and I have really enjoyed it so far."

When asked if she plans to run when her term expires, Bernhjelm said she has not decided and is weighing the time commitment.

"We are talking about it and I have not decided but I love it and I don't know why I would not," Bernhjelm said.

Career influences leadership

In her fifth season working for the Minnesota Vikings, Bernhjelm brings her knowledge of marketing and building partnerships into her role as a city leader on the council.

As a former Mall of America employee, today her marketing work allows her to build the foundation and learn how to best network and build relationships.

"I worked with events and business development with Mall of America, and that is where I met my husband who still works there," she said. Her passion lies in working within the marketing and entertainment industries and today she said she feels fortunate to work for the Minnesota Vikings.

When asked if she can utilize her career experience in civic government, Bernhjelm said she does think so and points to several ways.

"For me, marketing here (at city hall) a lot of our time is spent on the civic type of things with water, police and sewer, but I think from a marketing perspective my role here is to tell our story and what we are doing in Farmington and all the great things down here," Bernhjelm said.

Bernhjelm is ready for all the challenges that lie ahead for Farmington to make economic development progress. She will work to share the marketing message of how Farmington is a community with a strong hometown feel that is authentic, and how she believes this can become an asset to share with others.

"We have so many young families moving in to Farmington and how we need to capitalize on downtown in Farmington, and I think we need a combination of businesses that are established, and also I liked that we have ones that are run by residents and the people who live here are building businesses here, too," Bernhjelm said.

"In those roles, I think my biggest asset is being a connector and finding ways for our businesses to work together or even finding those public private partnerships," she said, adding "US Bank stadium stands out as a prime example of the public-private partnership."

During the last few months, Bernhjelm said the council has been encouraging city staff to think outside the box and brainstorm. To find ways to fund projects and see if opportunity exists to delve into potential public-private partnerships.

"There are great businesses in this community that already do a lot for this city and are there ones that we can strategically align with them and it can make sense for both of us," she said.

Hosting Super Bowl

In just a few weeks, the state will showcase Minnesota Nice via hospitality. Many preview events and activities will be free or affordable for families, Bernhjelm said. Connect on Facebook or online for a complete schedule at www.mnsuperbowl.com.

"Mall of America I think is getting forgotten in a lot of this, and they will be hosting Radio Row where traditionally it has been a part of a ticketed event," she said. This year Radio Row will be free and open on the third floor, MOA north food court.

"I think this is something everyone would want to go see because you never know who you are going to see from a celebrity perspective with more than 5,000 radio celebrities, personalities and radio outlets will travel to Minnesota from across the globe," Bernhjelm said.

The media comes to cover the game, but everything related with the food scene in Minnesota or entertainment or businesses. "Reporters that are coming to cover far beyond just football in itself," she added.

Best in class

When contemplating how to move the city and community of Farmington forward, Bernhjelm looks to her corporate leader for inspiration as a mentor.

"Our Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren talks to staff about always being best if class and setting an example and how we should be in being an NFL team, and I have thought about that a lot within the city of Farmington and our staff when they are bringing us new ideas," she said.

At some point, Bernhjelm would like other cities to look to Farmington when working on new projects as a best in class way to perhaps set a precedent.

"It is okay to think differently and do things that other cities are not doing and start something new and be bold in that regard — we not the biggest city in Minnesota, but we are not the smallest either and I think there are a lot of things Farmington is doing right and I think we can continue to showcase that to other cities as well," she said.

For now, the focus in her job is on the Super Bowl. She hopes the Vikings will continue on a winning streak pathway to compete in the Super Bowl since the field is in the backyard.

"It is unprecedented that a team could come this close to playing the Super Bowl in their home state, and this is a really cool story that could come out of Minnesota this year if we go really far in the playoffs," Bernhjelm said. "Minnesota should be really proud of that, and that it is even a possibility right now and it would be exciting to bring it home here to Minnesota."