is the past director of Economic Development and Finance at the ND Department of Commerce. She served in that capacity during the creation of the Department of Commerce and was instrumental in creating the ND Ambassador’s program.
She worked collaborative to create the ND Trade Office, and developed InnovateND with University partners. She was appointed by President Bush to serve on the Strengthen American’s Communities Initiative, an effort to review all federal economic development programs with the goal of increasing efficiencies and eliminating redundancies. She moved to the NDDOT and served as the head of North Dakota’s Driver and Vehicle Services. While there, she served a 3-year term as treasurer of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, an international organization of state executives. Linda is a CPA and former business owner. She was named ND Women in Business Champion of the Year by the SBA, co-chaired the state’s delegation to the White House Conference on Small Business, and was twice named ND’s Outstanding Woman-Owned Business. She has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Higher Education Roundtable, the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, and the ND Trade Office.
is the Director of Business Development for Industrial Builders Inc., a third generation, family owned, general contracting company located in West Fargo that focuses on heavy civil construction. While attending North Dakota State University earning his bachelor’s degree in construction management, Erik had the opportunity to work at the Kilbourne Group in downtown Fargo. He currently sits on the NDSCS Building Construction Technology Industry Advisory Board and “Team ND”, a group of business leaders and representatives from the state, who are working with the Global Pathways Institute to increase workforce development in the state of North Dakota. Erik also sits on the YoungLife of Fargo/Moorhead Board of Directors.
Maria Effertz Hanson
is a Communications Strategist for AE2S Communications. She has over 20 years of experience supporting communication planning and implementation for political subdivisions, private corporations and small businesses along with economic development background. She has degrees from the University of North Dakota and University of Mary.
Maria, and her husband Mike, live on a small ranch near Velva, North Dakota where they are raising commercial cattle, two children, two horses, two dogs and an unknown quantity of cats. Maria also serves on the North Prairie Rural Water Board and the Velva Public School Board.
retired in 2017 as CEO Emeritus, Founder, and Entrepreneur Coach of the Center for Innovation Foundation at the University of North Dakota, an entrepreneur center focused on innovation, entrepreneurship, private investment and entrepreneur ecosystem. Launched in 1984, under his leadership the UND Center for Innovation Foundation became one of the nation’s premier venture development organizations. They received 18 national and international awards for excellence, and is one of just six entrepreneur centers nationwide that has been featured for best practices and outstanding performance of venture development organizations. Since 2006, their two incubators are certified as a “Soft Landings International Incubator” from NBIA, one of just 25 incubators - and among the first six worldwide. He serves as Vice Chair of the North Dakota District Export Council as an appointee of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and is a member of the U.S. Air Force Civic Leader Group as an appointee of the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. He also serves on several non-profit and for-profit boards related to the public policy, drones, angel capital, entrepreneurship, public art, education and exchanges with the country of Norway.
Kristin R. Hedger
is the vice president for business development for Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing Inc., a third-generation, family-owned company which makes circuit cards, wire harnesses and electronic subassemblies that are used in military and civilian aircraft. KMM has received “supplier of excellence” awards from The Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. Hedger is a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s North Dakota District Export Council, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, and the Aerospace Industry Steering Committee, a select group of representatives of the world’s largest aerospace manufacturers. She is a former Marshall fellow -- an honor bestowed by the German Marshall Fund of the United States -- and has served on the North Dakota Humanities Council. She holds a bachelor’s degree from American University in Washington, D.C., and a master’s from Yale University. Hedger lives in Dickinson.
Chuck Hoge serves at the Executive Director for the NDSU Research & Technology Park overseeing the management of the park including cultivating an environment for start-up and emerging technologies, advancing partnerships with North Dakota State University and key colleges on campus along with the private sector and directing the strategic planning process for the park to ensure its growth is consistent with academic and community values. Chuck earned his master’s degree in Business Administration from Andrews University and has participated in the Notre Dame University Graduate Studies-Executive Program. Chuck serves on the Growth Initiative Fund Board.
Lyn James is co-owner of Flowers and Cappuccino by Lasting Visions in Bowman, ND. She is committed to her community and is currently serving her third term as President of the Bowman City Commission, after serving two terms as a City Commissioner. Lyn also serves on the Bowman County Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors and proudly represents North Dakota as a member of the ND Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, and as a member of the ND Energy Impact and Infrastructure Advisory Committee. She is a member of the Bowman Area Chamber of Commerce and Bowman Rotary Club. Lyn is the past President of the ND League of Cities Executive Board, and served as a member of the Bowman Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, along with various other local and regional boards, committees and advisory positions.
Tommy Kenville is the Founder and President of Tglobal Inc. He is also a consultant with
Center for Innovation as Rainmaker and VP of Development. Kenville established T-Kort LLC and founded Unmanned Applications Institute International. He serves as Managing Member for University Hotel Development LLC and chairs the Valley Angels investment fund. Kenville serves as a mentor and business plan judge, and on Innovate ND and Idea Fest in Northwest Minnesota. He graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing.
Craig Lambrecht, MD, is President of the Western region of Sanford Health, which includes a medical center in Bismarck, three long-term care facilities in Bismarck-Mandan and clinic locations in Bismarck-Mandan, Dickinson and Minot. He is board-certified in Emergency Medicine. A native of Wishek, ND, Dr. Lambrecht served as a member of the North Dakota National Guard for 30 years, serving two wartime deployments, and recently retired as a colonel. He is previous chair of the North Dakota Board of Medical Examiners and the Bismarck Mandan Development Association. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Missouri Valley Family YMCA, the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Sanford Health Plan. He is chair-elect of the North Dakota Hospital Association, assuming the position in October 2015.
Megan Laudenschlager is the Executive Director of Strengthen ND and has served in this position since August 2015. Laudenschlager is a graduate of Minot State University with a B.A. in Mathematics and has obtained a Certificate in Fundraising through the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. Laudenschlager’s areas of expertise include board and staff development, fundraising planning, grant writing, strategic planning, organizational action planning, program design and evaluation, succession planning, and meeting facilitation. Before founding Strengthen ND, Laudenschlager was employed at the Minot Area Community Foundation as the Finance & Program Director. In addition to the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Laudenschlager is a 2014 Bush Foundation Fellow and has participated in professional development activities through the Harvard-Kennedy School of Government, Midwest Academy for Social Justice, Independent Sector, and TED. In addition to her position at Strengthen ND, Laudenschlager is active in the community and across North Dakota by serving in leadership positions with North Dakota Rural Development Council, Minot Young Professionals, Visit Minot, Minot Family YMCA, Minot Alliance of Nonprofits, Magic Day of Giving, USDA-Rural Development Livability Steering Committee, Sunrise Rotary, and Rotary District 5580. Through her experiences, Laudenschlager has been able to refine her approaches to rural community fundraising, organizing, and advocacy.
Jared Melville is the former Vice President of Governmental Relations for the North Dakota Student Assocation. A third-year student studying Business Administration and Political Science at North Dakota State University, Melville now serves as the Chief Justice of the NDSU Student Government's Student Court. He has received awards on the regional and national level for competing in collegiate forensics as the President of the NDSU Lincoln Speech & Debate Society.
Perry Miller works with the purchase, renovation and management of apartments, hotels and other commercial properties. Miller has served as a township supervisor and Richland County commissioner and is a current member of the Wahpeton City Council. In addition, he is a board member for the Wahpeton Community Development Corporation, Richland-Wilkin United Way, Wahpeton Recreation Committee and ND Farmers Union Policy Committee. Miller is a past board member of the Wahpeton-Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce and NDSCS Alumni Foundation.
Kari Ness is the President and CEO of Newman Signs, Inc. Kari worked in public accounting in her early career and has been with Newman Signs for 20 years. Kari is a graduate of Concordia College and a Certified Public Accountant. Ness sits on the Job Service North Dakota Advisory Board, the State's Judicial Nominating Committee, Inquiry Committee Southeast, and the University of Jamestown Board of Trustees.
Pamela Schmidt is COO of The SIA Companies, a Long Term Care Insurance brokerage, administration, and marketing company. A ND-based company, with its national headquarters in Bismarck, SIA has insurance agents/brokers working in all 50 states. A past Chair and current member of the Foundation, Pamela also serves on the Executive Committee of the Bismarck-Mandan Development Association, the BSC Foundation Board, and the Strategic Planning Committee to the Board of Directors of St. Alexius Medical Center. In addition, Pamela serves on the Small Business and Labor Advisory Council to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
is the Mayor of Bismarck and Business Development Manager for Houston Engineering, Inc. bringing 30 years of Business Development & Client Relations Management experience. During his two-terms as Bismarck City Commissioner, he served in the roles of Commission Vice-Chair and Chairman of MEDAG. Mike’s portfolio assignments include Economic Development, Administration, Community Development, Planning and Zoning Commission, County Planning Commission, Intergovernmental Relations/MBBM. He has served as President of Missouri Valley YMCA, and board member for the United Way, Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce and Marketplace for Kids. Mike continues to serve the community with his involvement as church worship leader as well a board member for the Bismarck-Mandan Development Association and Civic Arena Productions.
Jon Simmers serves as the Chief Executive Officer for Bismarck Aero Center (BAC), a full service Fixed Base Operator (FBO)located in Bismarck, ND. As the region's largest aircraft maintenance facility, BAC also specializes in providing aircraft refueling services, avionics, flight instruction, contract pilot services, charter brokerage, aircraft interiors and hangar storage. With roots in Bismarck and Jamestown, ND, Jon earned his Master's in Business Administration from the University of North Dakota and has been honored by the Business Watch "40 under 40" and the Bisman Chamber Mike Fink award for steady growth and profitability. Jon currently serves on the North Dakota Aviation Council, North Dakota Business Aviation Association, BisMan Chamber JA Board, Vistage International, and the Prairie Family Business Association.
Paul Steffes P.E. is the CEO and chief innovation advisor for Steffes LLC, an American manufacturer of oilfield products, off-peak electric thermal storage (ETS) heating systems and contract manufacturing.
Steffes has grown from 2 to 450 employees and sales from zero to over $120 million since 1973.
Paul is known for his innovation and entrepreneurial spirit which has won him many local and national awards to include North Dakota’s Small Business Person of the Year awarded by the federal Small Business Administration. Through his participation and support of various local organizations and economic development efforts, Paul has become a respected leader of his community and inspiration to his family, peers, and employees. His name is on many patents. Paul is focused on successful succession in using the owner board management (OBM) system to help ensure its success.
Bruce Thom is a former Senior Vice President of Otter Tail Corporation (NASDAQ: OTTR) and headed up a diversity effort in which yearly revenues went from zero to $400,000,000 during his 15 years at the helm. Mr. Thom currently serves as President of the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, an independent minor league baseball club that plays in the Northern League of Professional Baseball. He purchased the RedHawks from Otter Tail Corporation in 2004.
Eric Trueblood is an owner of Aircorps Aviation, a WWII aircraft restoration facility. Aircorps, which specializes in fighter aircraft, uses its rebuilding and fabrication expertise to serve a worldwide customer base. Trueblood grew up in Minot, studied Marketing and Economics at the University of North Dakota and graduated in 2006. Eric currently serves on the Bush Foundation, the North Dakota Young Professionals Board, Varsity Bachelor's Club, NDSCS Foundation and is a member of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce. He has a commitment to providing positive growth and opportunities for young people in North Dakota.
Gene Veeder is a Commissioner for McKenzie County, North Dakota. He served as the
Executive Director of McKenzie County Job Development Authority and Tourism Bureau for
over 24 years. Veeder serves as President of the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway and is on the Board of Directors for McKenzie County Water Resource District and the Western Area Water Supply and is a Past President of Economic Development Association of North
Dakota. He has an MS in Administration from Central Michigan University and a BS from the University of North Dakota. Veeder has been recognized as the Governor's Choice Economic Developer of the Year and for Outstanding Achievement in County Government from the North Dakota Association of County Government. Veeder manages the family ranch in McKenzie County where he lives with his wife Beth.