Changing course to make change

August 16, 2017
Carlson student Edward Presley

Edward Presley begins his MBA at the Carlson School of Management this fall, but he’s already interning with a local nonprofit.

It’s the kind of initiative one might expect from a graduate of West Point, U.S. Army veteran, and former FBI agent. He’s also a husband and a father of seven.

His internship is with local nonprofit All Square, a gourmet grilled cheese shop set to open this fall in south Minneapolis that aims to hire individuals with criminal records. The name refers to the shape of its signature dish, but also to its founder’s (Emily Hunt Turner) belief that those who have paid their debts to society are “all square.”

Presley, who as a former FBI agent has lots of experience on one side of the law, agrees with that sentiment.

“When you’re removed from society in any way, it’s always difficult to make an adjustment. Whether it’s deployment, incarceration, or a traumatic incident,” he says.

He’s using his rich life experiences to help get those future employees on the right track by developing All Square’s HR and hiring policies, as well as equipment procurement and something unique to All Square—a student-employee curriculum, the first of its kind in Minnesota.

The goal will be for employees to work at All Square, but over their first 13 months they’ll be set down a path of professional development, personal wellness, and financial literacy in what Presley and Turner hope will be a thriving restaurant.

“What I hope to do is at least create an open door for people to walk through to reenter society,” Presley says.

At age 45, most people don’t choose to chart a new course, but Presley is confident that his experience at the Carlson School will become integral to the process of what he can give back to the community, and who he will become next.

The value of veterans

The U of M Carlson School of Management’s MBA program has graduated 79 Military Veterans over the past six years, growing by 16 percent. Nearly 20 percent of the class of 2018 are veterans.