Valorie Knudsen serves as Chief Financial Officer of Cote Family Destinations where she is responsible for the oversight of financial and risk management and all accounting functions. Knudsen has 25 years of experience in accounting and finance, holding top-level finance management positions in companies including Carlson Companies (including Carlson Travel), NRG Energy, Inc. and Opus Corporation. Her industry experience includes hospitality and travel, independent power generation, real estate development, property management, and manufacturing.
Knudsen is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive license) with over seven years of experience in public accounting, including three years with Grant Thornton in Minneapolis. Knudsen is a member of Financial Executives International (FEI), Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), and of the Minnesota State Society of CPA’s. She was recently a board member of HIRED, a non-profit organization in Minneapolis and is currently treasurer and a board member for Bridges of Hope, a non-profit in the Brainerd area dedicated to assisting families in need.
Knudsen graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Bemidji State University in northern Minnesota.
Juliano started his career with Westin and Marriott, where he developed strong operational knowledge as food & beverage director, rooms director and general manager, before ultimately supervising multiple properties at the executive level. He continued along the executive path in the roles of assistant vice president of operations of Aston Hotels & Resorts, regional vice president of RockResorts, and vice president of lodging of Vail Resorts. Additionally, Juliano spent nearly a decade supervising luxury hotels and resorts in Hawaii and Mexico as vice president of the Kea Lani Hotel (now The Fairmont Kea Lani), President and CEO of Kapalua Resort and CEO of Paraiso del Mar.
Educated in the law, Merrick transferred that skill-set into Human Resources, and has been a Human Resources Executive for over eighteen (18) years. Merrick currently is the Company Director of Human Resources for Cote Family Destinations, a growing organization overseeing resorts and related activities in both Minnesota and Arizona. He also continues to consult providing both strategic and tactical human capital management guidance to his clients. He had previously opened and assisted in the successful operating of the highest profile hotel in the country – Trump International Hotel, Washington, DC. Prior to that, he served as the Vice President of Human Resources at United Service Companies, where he had partnered with key business leaders to reshape the “people management” approach of the organization. He had previously held the position of Vice President of Human Resources at Rivers Casino where he helped orchestrate the successful opening of the property in July 2011. Prior to Rivers, he left California in 2007 for Illinois when recruited by the Hyatt Hotel Corporation to lead the HR team at the Hyatt Regency Chicago through a time of labor unrest and challenge. He had previously led HR at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, a California 4-Diamond hotel/gaming destination, for five (5) years, opening that property. Merrick earned his BA from UC Santa Barbara – double majoring in history and anthropology. He earned his JD from American University (Washington College of Law). Merrick has his Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) Certification, and has taught/advised at Kendall College, DePaul University and Georgetown.
Kathy Kosobud serves as Corporate Controller of Cote Family Destinations where she is responsible for overseeing the accounting functions. Kathy has over 20 years of experience in accounting. Prior to working for Cote Family Destinations, Kathy lived in the Minneapolis Metropolitan Area and was a Staff Accountant for the publishing company, American Guidance Service, as well as Assistant Controller for Air-Cure, an engineering firm that designs pollution control systems.
Kathy is a member of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), and has served as an officer of the local school organization. Kathy graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Financial Management from the University of North Dakota.
Frank Soukup is the Director of Marketing for Cote Family Destinations. He also serves on the Brainerd Chamber Advisory Committee. Frank’s areas of expertise include advertising, marketing, web direction, videography, photography, search engine optimization, social media, and more.
Frank has been a freelance artist for over 20 years, creating innovative marketing and graphic concepts for many companies, including ProfitPro Ag, Rapala, Miller Nitro, Bitterboy Activewear, Turck, Golden Care Financial, United Way, and much more. He is an internationally produced artist, from illustrating children’s books to art director for publications in conservation agriculture.
Frank graduated from Minnesota State University, Moorhead with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communications and a second major in Mass Communications. Frank concentrated heavily on advertising, film, TV & radio production, psychology, and graphic design. Frank also has over twenty years of experience in the hospitality industry, including owning a bar and grill, and is a professional mixologist. He also volunteers as a hockey coach for the Brained Area Hockey Association.
Jessica Jacobson serves as Revenue Manager of Cote Family Destinations. She oversees yield management, forecasts revenue performance and strategy adjustments among other duties. Jacobson has been with the Cote Family Destinations company for over 10 years and has performed roles as Reservations Supervisor, Family Reunion Sales Manager, Reservations Manager, Front Desk Manager, and Guest Services Manager. She graduated on the President’s List from St. Cloud Technical College with an AAS in Advertising. While at SCTC she was president and presenter of a student organization called American Advertising Federation (AAF). AAF is a student run, in-house advertising agency. After graduation, she started her career at US Bank as a Banker. Originally from Cold Spring, MN, her hobbies include traveling, running, biking, and camping. She has served on the Pequot Lakes Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter for nine years and also serves on the Board of Directors for the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce.
Mark Ronnei serves as General Manager of Grand View Lodge resort where he is responsible for the management of resort operations and represents the company in the areas of planning and permitting for new developments and projects. Ronnei has been with Grand View Lodge for 30 years and previously held management positions in sales, development, real estate, and resort operations. In 2006, Mark was named Minnesota Resorter of the Year in recognition for his contributions to the industry.
Ronnei has been actively involved in City and County steering committees, specifically those related to the resort industry and land development. A strong advocate for encouraging children to read, Ronnei founded the Enhanced Reading Foundation to provide funds for books in every classroom at the local Elementary School.
Ronnei serves on the Board for the Brainerd Community Foundation, Bridges of Hope, the Minnesota Chamber, and the Nisswa Enhanced Reading Foundation. He is also a member of the Community Budget Committee for Independent School District 181. Ronnei attended both Southwest State University and Cornell University.
Terry Hanley serves as the General Manager of Tanque Verde Ranch. Terry is responsible for day-to-day operations, employee satisfaction, guest satisfaction, assisting in maintaining the property, driving revenues, expense control, budgeting, and if the roads flood, cooking breakfast!
Terry carries an array of hospitality experience. He started in Calgary Alberta, with a family-owned restaurant business. After 11 years in the food and beverage industry, he began his first hotel job at Westin Calgary. Terry quickly moved from the Food and Beverage side of things to explore more on the hotel side. After a good three years, Terry received another great opportunity to work at the Westin Maui. Here, Terry worked with the front desk, housekeeping, profit improvement, and Service Express for almost seven years. He then moved to the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, before transferring to Portland, Oregon, where he was General Manager of The Four Points by Sheraton.
Terry was born in Alberta, Canada, and moved to Calgary when he was three years old. He considers Calgary home. In his free time, Terry enjoys traveling, golfing, ice skating, hiking, and spending time with his two sons.
Samuel Ruggles Cote serves as Executive Director of the Cote Family Destinations two childrens camps – Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert. As a third generation camp director, Ruggs follows his family’s legacy and passion for camp and its mission with children from around the world. Cote has been actively involved from his years as a young camper to his present leadership position, where he served as Camp Director for 13 years before becoming Executive Director.
Cote has been an active member of the American Camp Association since 1997, the ACA Standards Visitor since 2007 and volunteer at Excelsior Elementary. He graduated from DePauw University in 1993 where he majored in Economics and was treasurer of his fraternity. Ruggs continues the Cote Family’s tradition of excellence in camping and youth development.
Julie Herubin joined Cote Family Destinations in 2004 and had served in the position of Director of Owner Services since 2012, before which she held the position of Executive Assistant. In her current position, Julie is responsible for overseeing Grand View’s managed properties, working closely with the property owners and Grand View’s maintenance, grounds and housekeeping teams. Additionally, Julie manages six homeowners associations and provides assistance to the Company’s Board of Directors.
Before joining Cote Family Destinations, Julie worked for a publicly traded, network security company where she held various positions in her 18-year tenure including serving as the lead writer for the company’s public relations department. Julie has a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and Marketing and has been a licensed realtor with Grand View Real Estate since 2005. Julie is a member of the Community Association Institute (CAI), the Greater Lakes Association of Realtors (GLAR) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Julie and her two daughters have resided in the Brainerd Lakes Area since 2002. She enjoys volunteering in the community, serving through her church, and previously at community events and as a co-chair of the Lakes Area Food Shelf Christmas Tour of Homes. Nisswa Elementary School is near and dear to Julie’s heart, and serving on the Nisswa Library Board has allowed her to give back to the school that served her daughters through their elementary years. In her free time, Julie enjoys reading, spending time with friends, and catching as many moments as possible with her busy daughters.