• ND Future Forum Session Details

  • June 4 | Minnkota Power Cooperative - Grand Forks, Hybrid option available

    GNDC’s Future Forum marks the celebration of the Greater North Dakota Chamber’s 100-year anniversary. This event is not just about recognizing past achievements; it's about looking ahead to the next century. At GNDC, we recognize that the business community is leading the way towards the future, guaranteeing North Dakota's global competitiveness.

    The forum will bring together thought leaders to delve into trends, technologies, and strategies that will drive North Dakota's future progress.


  • 9:15 AM: Empowering the Next Wave of Business: Insights from Young Business Leaders 9:15 AM: Empowering the Next Wave of Business: Insights from Young Business Leaders

    As Generation Z establishes its presence in the business realm, a growing number are recognizing entrepreneurship as a viable career path. In this panel discussion, young business leaders will share their experiences of launching their ventures and discuss the support systems that have helped them get started. They will also outline their strategies for advancing their businesses towards long-term success and sustainability.

    Blog post on panel

    Jade Scherr, HexaHive Jade Scherr, HexaHive

    JADE SCHERR is the founder and CEO of HexaHive, a strategic marketing agency established in 2019. Under her leadership, HexaHive has been recognized as a Top 10 Employer in Bismarck-Mandan for three consecutive years and has earned accolades such as Women-Owned Business of the Year. Jade and her team partner with a diverse range of clients—from billion-dollar corporations to local family-owned businesses—driving success through cutting-edge marketing strategies. She fosters a dynamic team environment that emphasizes innovation, relationships, and results. This has solidified HexaHive’s reputation as a community partner and as a leader in propelling organizations toward their goals.

    Kaleb Dschaak, Fenworks Kaleb Dschaak, Fenworks

    CEO, KALEB DSCHAAK, a pioneer in esports, began using gaming as a communication tool with his autistic brother. He established the first esports lab at the University of North Dakota, where he served as student body vice president, and has held positions on several board, earning him multiple leadership awards. Kaleb's deep understanding of esports, derived from his personal and professional experiences, positions him to effectively lead Fenworks and serve its community. 

    Thomas Stromme, First Western Bank & Trust Thomas Stromme, First Western Bank & Trust

    THOMAS STROMME is a Vice President Commercial Banker at First Western Bank & Trust in Fargo. Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Mary, with a certification from the Harold Schafer Leadership School. He is also a graduate of the Barret Graduate School of Banking, the Iacocca Institute‘s Global Village for Future Leaders in Business and Industry, and the Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program. Stromme currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater North Dakota Chamber, North Dakota Economic Development Foundation, and State Chapter of ND Dollars for Scholars. 

    Liz Markham, GNDC Liz Markham, GNDC


    LIZ MARKHAM is the Membership Director at the Greater North Dakota Chamber (GNDC), North Dakota’s premier business advocacy association who is solely dedicated to promoting and defending the free enterprise system on behalf of businesses of every size and in every sector.

    Markham places great significance on relationships. She is dedicated to comprehending the needs of members/businesses; her prior experiences equip her with valuable business acumen and providing meaningful context. 

    Before joining GNDC, Markham owned and operated a funeral home in Iowa for fourteen years. In this capacity, she emerged as an active figure within her trade association, using her insight to champion the initiatives and concerns of her industry before the Iowa legislature. 

    Originally raised on a horse farm in MN, she is on the constant hunt for adventure. Markham likes hiking on any terrain. She holds two associates (Mortuary Science & Business Marketing). She relocated to Bismarck to be with her fiancée - her high school sweetheart. She is the proud mother of 5 children with 2 bonus daughters. When she's not adventuring, she's watching Yellowstone, shopping for totes, or probably listening to vintage country music. 

  • 10:45 AM: Technology: Changing the pace and flow of business 10:45 AM: Technology: Changing the pace and flow of business

    Experts in their fields, will delve into the latest technological trends and their impact on industries worldwide. Covering AI, automation, drones, connectivity, and other advancements, these innovations are revolutionizing traditional business models and accelerating the speed of operations. How will North Dakota adapt and change to move into the future. 

    Blog post on panel

    Seth Arndorfer, DCN Seth Arndorfer, DCN

    A lifelong North Dakotan, SETH ARNDORFER is the CEO of DCN, a North Dakota fiber optic network owned by 13 independent broadband service providers. His passion for the fast-paced telecommunications industry started in 1997 while working in sales at Consolidated Telcom in Dickinson. He joined DCN in 2002 as a sales account executive and served in product and business development roles before being named CEO in 2013. Arndorfer serves on several national boards including INDATEL Services Board of Directors, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association’s Futures Task Force, and the FCC Precision Ag Connectivity Task Force, focusing on examining current and future connectivity demand for precision agriculture. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Dickinson State University and an MBA from the University of Mary in Bismarck. Arndorfer lives in Bismarck with family.

    Joshua Riedy, Thread Joshua Riedy, Thread

    Dr. JOSHUA RIEDY is the Founder and CEO of Thread, an asset performance management solution for the Electric Utility Sector. His background as a startup COO in the renewable energy inspection sector, and more than 15 years of experience as a former CIO, inspired him to help utilities build resilient infrastructure.

    Taya Spelhaug, Microsoft Taya Spelhaug, Microsoft

    TAYA SPELHAUG is the Microsoft TechSpark Manager for North Dakota. Her primary focus is to build out Microsoft Philanthropies’ initiative, TechSpark in North Dakota. TechSpark is a civic program aimed at fostering greater economic opportunity through partnerships with rural and smaller metropolitan communities across the US and to expand the great synergies between the company and community.

    Before her role at Microsoft, she was the Resource Development Manager for the United Way of Cass-Clay and in various roles at North Dakota State College of Science for over seven years including TrainND. She serves on several local and state boards including the Grand Farm Board of Directors, the State Workforce Development Council for ND, TechND and CCRI to name a few. She was awarded YWCA’s Women of the Year in Technology in 2019.

    Taya grew up on a farm outside of Kindred, North Dakota and was very active in FFA and 4-H. She attended North Dakota State University and graduated with a BS in Psychology and a MS in Mental Health Counseling. She currently lives in Horace, ND with her boyfriend, Grant and their daughter, Olive.

    Chris Whalen, Fireside Office Solutions Chris Whalen, Fireside Office Solutions


    CHRISTOPHER WHALEN is the President/Principle of Fireside Office Solutions. He is a second-generation owner and assumed the role as President in 2015. Chris has 3 adult children and has lived in Bismarck since 2003.

    Chris is a graduate of Century High School, Bismarck State College, and the University of Mary. He has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and minor in Computer Science.

    Chris has worked in every aspect of the company starting out when he was in high school helping with deliveries and furniture installs, working his way through the technology service department through the early 1990’s. During the time away from Fireside, Chris worked for a banking software company (SPARAK), Forum Communications and ITD for the State of North Dakota before returning to Fireside in 2005 in a sales role.

    Fireside Office Solutions, a locally owned business, was established in 1979. The Company serves central and western North Dakota, offering office furniture/technology specializing in contract office furniture, interior/space planning design, managed print and and IT services, and records management. 

  • 1:00 PM: Fireside Chat with President of General Atomics 1:00 PM: Fireside Chat with President of General Atomics

    A casual conversation between organization presidents about the progression and engagement of one business, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), who has advanced their operations to be a global leader in various industries including manufacturing and unmanned aircraft aeronautics. Receiving numerous awards in aerospace engineering, their commitment to innovation and North Dakota isn’t planned to be a short flight. 

    Moderated by GNDC CEO and President Arik Spencer, he and David Alexander will delve into key topics impacting North Dakota's future with emphasis on technology, innovation, and global competitiveness. Attendees will have the opportunity to gain valuable insights from Mr. Alexander's wealth of experience and expertise in the aerospace field.

    Press Release on Session

    David R. Alexander David R. Alexander

    DAVID ALEXANDER is currently President of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI). GA-ASI manufactures, supports, and operates a variety of combat proven, highly reliable remotely piloted aircraft systems, as well as cutting-edge radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems for military and commercial applications worldwide.

    Prior to assuming the role of GA-ASI’s President in 2019, Mr. Alexander served as President of its Aircraft Systems business unit. He previously was Senior Vice President of Engineering, where he was responsible for the hands-on management of programs, technical activities, planning, budgeting and proposal definition/preparation activities for the company’s RPA and ground control systems. In addition, he directed all product development, system analysis, mechanical engineering, electro/mechanical engineering, software design, technical data and user training.

    Mr. Alexander began his career with GA-ASI in 1996 as Manager of Mechanical, Specialty Engineering and Configuration Management, where his first task was to productionize the company’s Predator® RPA. Following that, his duties grew to encompass all disciplines of engineering, with both production and pre-production engineering under one roof.
    Among his achievements, Mr. Alexander has led all six block upgrades on Predator and initiated five different (fielded) weaponization programs. He has developed nine different aircraft models for series production, including Predator, Predator B turbo prop, Predator C Avenger® turbofan and Gray Eagle with heavy-fuel engine. He also has led the development and successful deployment of the company’s first auto takeoff and landing system. In addition, he developed and implemented GA-ASI’s first engineering operations procedures and manuals, as well as established a company-wide configuration management system. He successfully qualified Design Control to ISO 9001/AS9100, and more recently to CMMI Maturity Level 5 Rating.

    Prior to GA-ASI, Mr. Alexander spent 16 years at Brunswick Defense. In his final role as Manager of Engineering he was responsible for all design and development of unmanned air launched targets and decoys, including Tactical Air Launched Decoy, Improved Tactical Air Launched Decoy and AQM-37 high-speed high-altitude target.
    Mr. Alexander is a strong proponent of supporting college student interest in things that fly given the decreasing engineering work force in the RPA/aerospace industry. He is actively involved with several universities in preparing the industry’s next generation of engineers through American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA) Design/Build/ Fly competitions, aerospace course teams, and technical paper presentations. A Professional Engineer, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

  • 2:00 PM: Healthcare Revolution: Navigating Delivery Evolution and Cost Control Responses 2:00 PM: Healthcare Revolution: Navigating Delivery Evolution and Cost Control Responses

    Professionals from diverse healthcare sectors, including representatives from insurance, pharmaceuticals, and hospitals, will participate in a moderated discussion. The focus will be on exploring innovative approaches alongside challenges in healthcare delivery required by our population locations in the coming years. This discussion aims to ensure positive outcomes while effectively addressing the cost pressures impacting providers and users.

    Lacey Bergh, BCBSND Lacey Bergh, BCBSND

    In her role as Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota's Senior Vice President of Health Delivery, LACEY BERGH provides leadership, builds partnerships with providers and helps direct programs to improve member health. She is passionate about changing the way health care is delivered through value-based care that measures success based on the quality, not quantity, of care. Through this work she is leading the Health Delivery team to further the BCBSND mission of establishing a new level of health and well-being in North Dakota and beyond. 

    Bergh’s commitment and devotion to North Dakotans’ well-being began well before coming to BCBSND. She brings a wealth of knowledge through her unique combination of health care, clinical management and business experience – which includes time in patient care and leadership roles at MeritCare and Sanford health. 

    She joined the BCBSND team in 2013 and has used her expertise to create and advance innovative partnerships and approaches with health care providers, employers and other organizations to influence the way care is delivered and paid for in North Dakota. Bergh also works to advise a new generation of leaders as a mentor in BCBSND’s leadership program. 
    Bergh earned her nursing degree at North Dakota State University in Fargo and her Master of Science in Business from the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. In addition to her day-to-day work at BCBSND, she volunteers as the secretary for the Kindred Renaissance Zone Committee. She was named one of the top 25 women in business by Prairie Business magazine in 2024. 

    Outside the office, Bergh enjoys spending time with her family and says her North Dakota roots remind her of the BCBSND mission to elevate the well-being of her friends and neighbors alike. 


    Todd Forkel, Altru Health System Todd Forkel, Altru Health System

    TODD FORKEL came to Altru in 2022 as the chief executive officer. He brings over 24 years of leadership experience in healthcare. Forkel earned an associate degree in radiology sciences from Presentation College, a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Northern State University, a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Cal Coast University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Mary School of Business. In his previous community, he served on boards of directors for the following organizations: Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corp, Presentation College, Northern State University Business School and YMCA. 

    Megan Dooley, Innovative Therapy Solutions & Consulting Megan Dooley, Innovative Therapy Solutions & Consulting

    Dr. MEGAN DOOLEY OTD, OTR/L is an occupational therapist and the owner of Innovative Therapy Solutions & Consulting LLC. She runs a mobile outpatient clinic that serves people across the lifespan and specializing in neurological diseases. She is a Certified Living in Place Professional, Brain Injury Specialist and certified in LSVT BIG, CAPABLE, and Skills2Care Her expertise includes working with caregivers of individuals with dementia, individuals with brain injuries, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions, home modifications, and leading community groups related to health and wellness for people with chronic illnesses. She has done years of research on community-based programs for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and their caregivers. Also, she works closely with the Alzheimer’s Association to best serve individuals with dementia and their families through educational sessions, and collaborating on one-on-one therapy for clients and their care partners. Finally, she enjoys being on NDBIN’s Education Committee which focuses on providing educational opportunities on brain injuries, concussions, and strokes. In her free time she enjoys playing, reffing and coaching volleyball, boating and camping, traveling and spending time with family"

    Rep. Greg Stemen Rep. Greg Stemen


    GREG STEMEN is a Business Banking Officer, VP, for Starion Bank. In addition to those duties, he is a member of the North Dakota State Legislature as a state representative for District 27, currently serving as Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Human Resources Division. On the side, he does broadcast analysis for college basketball games for WDAY TV.

    Stemen, originally from Dickey, ND grew up on a farm and attended LaMoure High School. He attended Valley City State University where he earned his BS degree in Mathematics Education. He taught at Wahpeton High School for four years, assisted the Men’s basketball program at North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) for the last three of those years and then attended the University of Nebraska Omaha for a year as an assistant men’s basketball coach. He returned to NDSCS to assume the head coaching duties for the next four years. After three years in the private sector as a pharmaceutical representative, Greg returned to college basketball coaching at Southwest Minnesota State University. He also earned his MS degree in Educational Leadership. Stemen spent two seasons as an assistant at SMSU and the last eight years as the head coach of the program. At the time of his departure, he was the winningest coach in the history of the program. The last team Stemen coached at SMSU finished their season at the NCAA D2 Elite 8 in Springfield MA. As the SMSU Women’s Golf coach for five years, the team won four consecutive conference championships in his last four years leading the program. After leaving the coaching profession, Greg spent almost a decade in banking and finance prior to going to work for Sanford Health; after four years with Sanford, he returned to the banking industry in April of 2023.

    Additional responsibilities Greg has assumed in the past include three and a half years as a member of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, the last year and a half as Vice Chair. He also served on the board of the North Dakota Veterans Home for multiple years, his final years as Vice Chair. Additionally, Stemen served on the board of St. Rose Care Center in Lamoure, ND, served as president of Dollars for Scholars for Litchville-Marion, ND School District and spent time serving on the Fort Ransom, ND City Council. Greg has a 20-year-old daughter, Taylor, who is a sophomore in college at Oral Roberts University (Tulsa, OK).


  • 2:45 PM: Education Cultivating Tomorrow’s Workforce 2:45 PM: Education Cultivating Tomorrow’s Workforce

    Recently released data from its latest international assessment of high schoolers show that the U.S. is lagging behind many other countries, especially in math, jeopardizing our economic competitiveness and workforce strength. This will have implications on our country’s future – specifically businesses looking for talent. This panel will explore and provide reflection on a national, state, and local level – examining current strengths and future opportunities to ensure we have the skilled workforce we need to support economic growth and compete on a global level. 

    KEYNOTE: Leah Moschella KEYNOTE: Leah Moschella

    LEAH MOSCHELLA is a strategic innovator focused on transforming education ecosystems to meet the needs of today’s economies. Her expertise draws from 18 years of leadership at national intermediaries including Jobs for the Future and the Education Design Lab where she led the scale and expansion of college and career pathways in partnership with state policy makers, business executives, workforce innovators, and education leaders. Leveraging learner-centered design strategies, she launched community college digital transformation initiatives for upskilling and skills-first pathways in technology, logistics, and green and clean energy. In her current role at the National Center on Education and the Economy she supports education leaders and policy makers to respond to evolving needs of learners in the future of work.

    For over a decade, Leah served as the founder and executive director of Girls’ Leadership, Organized Woman, a nonprofit organization that fosters leadership, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement training reaching thousands of women and girls. Leah is dedicated to global impact having served as a Shafik Gabr Fellow in Egypt, an Entrepreneurial Diplomacy Fellow in Tunisia, and as a volunteer with Hostelling International for over 15 years. Leah has been recognized by the White House United State of Women as a Changemaker, awarded by the city of Boston for social impact and innovation, and honored as a part of the 2023 Women in Power cohort with the 92nd Street Y of New York City. Leah holds a Master's Degree from Northeastern University in Boston and a Bachelor's Degree from Fordham University in New York. When she’s not focused on ecosystems and systems-change she is likely buying cheap plane tickets, dressing her cats up in bow-ties, or cheering for women’s soccer.

    Cory Steiner, Northern Cass School District Cory Steiner, Northern Cass School District

    Dr. CORY STEINER is currently the Superintendent of the Northern Cass School District for the past 10 years. He has been an administrator for 17 years. In his current role, he has worked with a dedicated and passionate group of educators to shift their entire system to personalized competency-based learning. He has served on the Governor’s Task Force on Innovation which has challenged North Dakota’s education system to think differently. Northern Cass was a finalist for the Yass Prize, and they received $500,000 to develop a Full-Service Community School.  Dr. Steiner believes every learner can change the world; therefore, we must provide a world-class education. It is a moral imperative we change our educational system to one which is uncompromisingly learner-centered. He also serves as the Chair of the Education Standards and Practices Board, Vice Chair of The Village Family Service Center, Chair of the Rural Cass Special Education, and the Vice Chair of the Southeast Education Cooperative (SEEC) Board of Directors. He is an adjunct professor for the University of Jamestown and University of North Dakota. He is married to his wife, Jess, and has two children, DelRae (22), and Kelsa (19).

    Wayde Sick, ND Dept. of CTE Wayde Sick, ND Dept. of CTE

    WAYDE SICK has been involved in education and workforce development for over twenty years. His first role with the State of North Dakota was with the Workforce Division for the ND Department of Commerce, starting in that capacity in October 2012. In May of 2018, he was named the State Director for the Department of Career and Technical Education. Prior to serving for the State, Wayde was employed with the Burdick Job Corps Center in Minot from 2003-2011 where he served as an academic instructor, CTE Manager, and the Deputy Center Director. Wayde has a bachelor’s degree in Social Science Education and a master’s in management, both from Minot State University.

    Andrea Pfennig, GNDC Andrea Pfennig, GNDC

    Panel Moderator

    ANDREA PFENNIG is the Director of Government Affairs at the Greater North Dakota Chamber (GNDC), North Dakota's premier business advocacy association who is solely dedicated to promoting and defending the free enterprise system on behalf of businesses of every size and in every sector.

    Analytical by nature, she has a talent for creating order through structured, collaborative approaches to work with a goal in mind. Pfennig’s passion for the success of North Dakota is evident in her professional work and experiences.

    Prior to joining GNDC, Pfennig worked for the State of North Dakota managing programs related to energy, childcare, revitalization, and conservation. Her most recent past position with the Industrial Commission allowed her to further deepen her interest and knowledge in energy, finance, and policy as it applies to business and government regulation.

    Pfennig has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Minnesota State University Moorhead. She lives in Bismarck with her husband, Allen, and two daughters - who have convinced her to also house a dog, cat, 4 chickens, and a fish. Recently, her house has also acquired a rabbit.