Meet Our Expert Speakers

The SME Minnesota Conference is proud to present speakers who are experts in their respective fields with a focus on industry developments, trends and innovations specific to the Midwest.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022 | 8:30 am – 9:30 am
Ethics Course

Business Ethics and Sustainability

Josh Skelton, COO, Minnesota Power

About The Speaker
Josh Skelton is the Chief Operating Officer for Minnesota Power. He has been with Minnesota Power since 1999, working a number of different positions including facility Engineer, Technical Superintendent, and Business Unit Manager at a number of MP’s generating stations; as well as the general manager and vice president of Generation Operations. In his current role he supports all of the operating functions at Minnesota Power as well as the ALLETE Safety team.
He has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Michigan Technological University, and a Master of Science in Engineering Management from the University of Minnesota. He also is a professional engineer in the State of Minnesota. Josh has formally served on the Board of Directors for the Range Engineering Council and the Minnesota Power Foundation, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and is currently serving on the Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital Board and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

He, his wife Maggie, and son Brooks reside in Grand Rapids, MN, and enjoy the outdoors that Northern Minnesota offers.


Tuesday, April 12, 2022 | 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Opening Plenary

Producing Cleaner Steel for a Sustainable Future

James Kochevar – Vice President, Iron Ore Operations, Cleveland-Cliffs

Cleveland-Cliffs recognizes that all aspects of steelmaking, from the extraction and processing of the earth’s mineral resources to the manufacture and finishing of steel, must be accomplished in a responsible manner that minimizes the impacts on the environment and creates value for the company’s stakeholders and society. Cleveland-Cliffs’ climate commitment is to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) 25% by 2030 through five strategic priorities that will transform the industry, enhance the environment and improve the lives of the American public.

About the Speaker
Mr. Kochevar was appointed to the position of Cleveland-Cliffs’ Vice President of Iron Ore Operations in 2020. He maintains leadership oversight for Cliffs’ iron ore mining segment, which consists of five operating iron ore mines in Minnesota and Michigan. Prior to his current position, Mr. Kochevar was the General Manager of Cliffs’ Michigan Operations since 2011. He began his career at Cleveland-Cliffs in 2008, as Energy and Technical Service Manager. Prior to joining Cleveland-Cliffs, Mr. Kochevar worked as a Production Engineer at Northern States Power Company in Minneapolis, MN and as General Manager of Hibbing Public Utilities. Mr. Kochevar earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, and is a licensed professional engineer in both Minnesota and Michigan. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2022 | 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Closing Plenary

Legislative Panel on Mining in Minnesota

Moderated by Kelsey Johnson, President of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota

Join us for a candid discussion with northeast Minnesota legislators about Minnesota Mining moderated by Kelsey Johnson. Topics to include the following while reserving time for questions.

  • Statewide opinion on mining is mixed, how do we help educate on the importance of responsible mining, specifically Minnesota mining, and share that message with all 87 counties?
  • What are the prominent issues in the 2022 legislature? What should the region be prepared for in 2023?
  • How does the legislature consider the value of mining when it comes to the economy of Minnesota?
  • Mining is dynamic with mine extensions, expansions and new projects: how does agency funding and technical staffing impact the review and approval process?






Don't miss this innovative conference! Sign Up for News