Mirja Hanson joined Millennia in 2009 with well over three decades of experience assisting managers, public officials, school administrators, and executive directors with strategic and business planning, group decision making, guidance with mergers, restructuring and transitions, leadership development, and inter-organizational partnerships.
Mirja is a leading expert in facilitating binding agreements and large-scale collaborations between diverse stakeholders and has compiled key findings and advice about consensus-based decision making in her latest publication, Clues to Achieving Consensus: A Leader's Guide to Navigating Collaborative Problem Solving (2005). She has led numerous statewide or regional sustainable development initiatives in forest and natural resource management, multi-purpose land use planning and integrated community development including a project to transform mine landscapes in Minnesota. Other areas of specialization have included partnerships to address homelessness and affordable housing, adult mental health services, independent living for elders and disabled persons.
Prior to private practice as CEO and principal consultant of M.P. Hanson Associates in Minnesota, she was an in-house consultant for the State of Minnesota, conducting comprehensive agency audits and helping managers improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of public service. She also carried out several special assignments —director of Minnesota's award-winning quality improvement program, coordinator of Minnesota World Trade Center's international conferences and Director of Transition for the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council. Before her public service career, Mirja worked in the non-profit sector as senior staff of the Osaka (Japan) and Kansas City offices and director of the Minneapolis offices of the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), a worldwide community and organization development organization with U.N. consultative status.
Mirja holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, an M.B.A. from the Carlson School at the University of Minnesota, and BA from Metropolitan State University. She is an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas, instructor for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and guest lecturer at other area universities. Mirja was recently appointed Honorary Consul General of Japan in Minnesota. She has also served as founding member and past president of the International Association of Facilitators, Global Facilitator Service Corps, Japan America Society of Minnesota and Simpson Housing Services.
The underlying driver of her work is trust in the power of collective entrepreneurship. According to Mirja, the adage “where there is a will there is a way" is still the most important management theory. "The challenge these days is identifying what is the common will among diverse perspectives and convictions. As an external facilitator and consultant, I am dedicated to developing decision-making processes that result in agreements that all stakeholders will support.”