Lisé Freking Receives 2023 NCMPR District 5 Rising Star of the Year Award

DCTC and Inver strategic marketing and communications director represents colleges at annual conference in Missouri

Lisé Freking, JD, strategic marketing and communications director at Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College, has been honored with the 2023 National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) District 5 Rising Star of the Year Award. Lisé accepted the award in early October during the 2023 District 3 & District 5 Conference, “Meet Me in St. Louis,” at the Two Convention Center Plaza in St. Charles, Missouri.

Kristin Kollbaum, M.E.d, NCMPR District 5 director, reported that NCMPR presents an annual Rising Star Award in each of its seven districts. District 5 encompasses the community, technical, and junior colleges in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, the Canadian province of Manitoba, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands.

“The Rising Star Award recognizes an innovative and progressive professional who has demonstrated special creativity and ability in marketing and PR and shows evidence of a promising future in the field,” Kristin said.

Kristin Kollbaum introducing Lisé at District 5 Conference

Kristin Kollbaum

“Lisé Freking comes from outside the higher education world and brings great insight and leadership to our world. She has made a significant difference in marketing for two institutions: Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College.

“In between events such as COVID, a U.S. presidential visit, bonding tours, and legislator campus visits, she has created strong marketing strategies to weather the enrollment ups and downs to promote our colleges to students.

“I met her in Omaha, where she approached me about getting involved in NCMPR. Since then, she has presented at conferences, has been a Medallion judge, serves as the D5 rep on the National Programming Committee, and is on the D5 Executive Board. I would like to introduce the D5 Rising Star, my friend, Lisé Freking.”

More about the award…

DCTC Open House Fall 2022

Lisé appreciates the significance of the NCMPR Rising Star of the Year Award. She serves as the NCMPR District 5 conference content and programming coordinator and was a Medallion Awards judge this year for NCMPR District 4 (Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming). She is happy that her marketing team—whose members support the DCTC and Inver Hills missions by focusing their efforts on recruitment, retention, and reputation—is also honored by the award.

“Being recognized among other talented community and technical college peers in District 5 is a wonderful compliment,” she said. “I’m looking forward to more opportunities to learn from and engage with other technical and community college marketing professionals throughout NCMPR.”

Michael Berndt, DCTC and Inver Hills president, was delighted to hear Lisé received the Rising Star Award. “What distinguishes Lisé from other marketing leaders is her commitment to building the marketing capacity of her department and our colleges,” President Berndt said. “For the last four years in her role as strategic marketing and communications director, Lisé has consistently developed sound strategies to promote both DCTC and Inver Hills. She shows strong leadership of her department and is adept at managing college-wide projects. Her ability to build capacity has elevated the marketing function to deliver high value to both colleges.”

As the District 5 2023 Rising Star, Lisé will automatically become one of seven finalists for the national Rising Star of the Year Award, which will be presented in March 2024 during the NCMPR National Conference, “NCMPR into the Future,” in Seattle, Washington.

Michael Berndt, Day of Service 2023

Learn more about Lisé Freking’s contributions as strategic marketing and communications director by reading President Berndt’s NCMPR District 5 Rising Star Nomination Letter of Support.

Colleges win Bronze Medallion

Lisé related that DCTC and Inver Hills were presented a Bronze Medallion in the Original Photography–Unmanipulated category during the NCMPR District 5 Conference.

“Chris Hayes, senior writer and photographer in our department, was behind the lens during the 2023 Inver Hills commencement ceremony,” she said. “He covers photography for events, activities, sports, and theatre at both colleges. Congratulations to Chris, too!”

More About Lisé…

Inver Student Success Day Fall 2023

Lisé Freking, JD, accepted the director of strategic marketing and communications position at DCTC and Inver Hills in 2019. Lisé is responsible for the strategic direction for marketing, branding, and communications for both colleges.

She also serves as the DCTC and Inver Hills public information officer and leads the marketing, public relations, graphic design, and web development teams.

Lisé is currently a co-chair on the Minnesota State Womxn in Higher Education Employee Resource Group, a programming and resource committee member on the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR), an ambassador for the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce (DCRCC), and a member of the Community Relations Committee on the Dakota-Scott Workforce Development Board.

She previously held positions at Thomson Reuters in strategic product and customer marketing, product management and development, and legal editorial operations.


Lisé holds a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from John Marshall Law School in Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Journalism and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She earned a TESOL graduate certificate from St. Cloud State University, a mini-MBA certificate from the Opus School of Business at St. Thomas University in Minneapolis, and a Paralegal certificate from Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Lisé and her husband, Dale, have been married 32 years. Dale serves as the judicial caselaw processing director at Thomson Reuters. Lisé and Dale have three grown children.

Grayson, 28, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.S. in Computer Science degree in 2017. He is a lead engineer at Target and is based at the corporate campus in Brooklyn Park. Grayson and his wife, Alex, reside in St. Louis Park. Alex is a lead teacher at St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development.

Gabriella, 23, graduated from the Wisconsin School of Business, University of Wisconsin–Madison with B.B.A. degrees in Marketing, Management, and Human Resources. She works as a social brand engagement specialist at Clearlink, a media company based in Draper, Utah. Gabriella resides in Eagan.

Gabriella, Grayson, Gianna

Gianna, 21, is a double-majoring senior at the UW–Madison. She is earning a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.S. in Computer Engineering. Gianna is graduating in May 2024 and is looking forward to working as a cloud engineer at Humana in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Freking family has one dog, a 6-year-old golden doodle named Millie. “Millie is a natural-born hunter,” Lisé said. “She spends her days keeping an eye on the squirrels and rabbits and will be starting barn hunt classes this fall!”

Lisé enjoys exploring the world, planning her next international trip, and learning new languages. With a newfound minimalist mindset, she has set a goal to travel with only a backpack and appreciate experiences instead of things.

When she’s not traveling (or dreaming of traveling), Lisé stays active playing pickleball, exercising, and hiking in local parks with Millie. Refreshing her violin skills, learning to play the piano, and reading more are all on her to-do list this year. Experiencing new restaurants, going to movies, and planning adventures with her husband and three adult children are her favorite things to do.

After downsizing three years ago, Dale and Lisé are loving apartment life in Eagan.

Lisé life and family gallery

Learn more about Lisé by reading the DCTC News story:

Title IX Girl Power

Lisé Freking Q & A

College Game Night 2022

What do you enjoy most about your role as the strategic marketing and communications director at the colleges?

My team! They are the most creative and fun group. Everyday, I am impressed with the quality and quantity of marketing services they each provide to our two colleges. I also like the variety of work I do. I could be brainstorming creative concepts with my team one day and leading a legislative campus event the next day. I enjoy collaborating with colleagues across both colleges on a multitude of special projects as well.

Can you share how two-year college marketing works?

Try and try again! The fun thing about marketing is that we have the ability to change our strategies frequently to see what is resonating with our targeted student audience. Our goal is to increase student enrollments, support retention efforts, and to promote our colleges’ brand.

What are the most challenging aspects of your work as the director of strategic marketing and communications?

Sometimes, there are not enough hours in the day to manage marketing services at two colleges. That said, we employ a “build once, deploy twice” mentality that helps drive efficiencies and avoid duplicative work where possible.

Three words that describe you as a marketing professional:

What area of marketing interests you the most and why?

I like the strategic aspect of marketing and the ability to use different tactics depending on the desired outcomes.

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

My children. They are my Ohana. We gave them wings so they can fly.

If you could make one thing happen on Earth right now, what would it be?

Cure cancer.

Lisé Freking 12 Answers

College Game Night 2022 with daughter, Gabriella

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Pickleball (tennis when my knees were younger!)
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu; I would also like to explore the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (those that are still standing) and the New 7 Wonders of the World (minus two I’ve already checked off of my list: Chichén Itzá and the Colosseum)
  3. Most exciting thing you’ve ever done: A few hiking adventures come to mind; hiking the Samaria Gorge in Crete, Greece, on my 30th wedding anniversary; climbing the Manitou Springs Incline near Colorado Springs, Colorado, and being the water mule; hiking the Cinque Terre, Italy; hiking the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia; and hiking the Path of the Gods in Positano, Italy; other than that, being 18 years old and a processing interpreter for the United States Marshal’s Service at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, an army installation, during the Cuban refugee 1980 Mariel boatlift; best summer job ever!
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Travel, travel, and more travel 2) Donate to a children’s hospital 3) Of course, I would share it with my three children, too!
  5. Best book or movie you’ve read or seen lately: Barbie!
  6. Time period (past or future) you would explore if you could time travel: I’ve always been intrigued with the Renaissance period and now the Regency period and the Georgian era (thanks to Bridgerton and Queen Charlotte, respectively, on Netflix!
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in your life: I’ve been to four (North America, Africa, Australia, and Europe) of the seven continents, so I would like to round out my travel experiences with trips to Asia, Antarctica, and South America
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Silver-spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben chicken
  9. Dream occupation: I can’t pick just one! Travel blogger, flight attendant (my 8th grade dream), or an interpreter at the United Nations
  10. Person you would most like to meet: My dad—he died when I was two years old. I would like to sit down with him, share a few beers, and get to know him and about his time in the service; a few years ago, I went on a pilgrimage to Trieste, Italy, to all of the places he had visited and relived his time there through pictures he had sent to his mother—my grandmother
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: I would love to speak multiple languages fluently; I know Spanish the best, but would love to improve my German, Italian, and French language skills.
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Politics: they are destroying our democracy
Learn more about Strategic Marketing and Communications at DCTC and Inver Hills by contacting:

Lisé Freking, JD
Strategic Marketing and Communications Director
Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College

DCTC Open House Spring 2022 with Maranda Steinmetz-Robey, Marketing and Communications Team Graphic Arts Specialist

About NCMPR¹

Your Connection to Community College Communicators

The National Council for Marketing & Public Relations is the only organization of its kind that exclusively represents marketing and public relations professionals at community and technical colleges. As one of the fastest-growing affiliates of the American Association of Community Colleges, NCMPR has more than 1,600 members from nearly 550 colleges across the United States and Canada.


NCMPR is governed by a 14-member board of directors. All of them are community college marketing professionals just like you who volunteer their time and expertise to deliver responsive member services and advance the interests of the organization.

Mission Statement

The National Council for Marketing & Public Relations provides professional growth for those working in marketing and communication at community and technical colleges. With a focus on learning, networking and advocacy, NCMPR helps members become better at their jobs and supports two-year colleges in their mission to promote student success.