• ND Transportation Forum Speaker Information

  • WELCOME ADDRESS

    Arik Spencer, President & CEO, GNDC 
    Arik Spencer is the President & CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber (GNDC), the largest statewide business advocacy group in North Dakota representing businesses of every size and in every sector throughout North Dakota. Spencer has more than two decades of experience in government relations and public policy advocacy, non-profit management, operational planning, project management, event planning, coalition building, organizational strategy, and membership services. He serves on the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute Advisory Board, the North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance Coordinating Committee, is the Chair of North Dakota’s Transportation Coalition and is Chair of the Business and Labor Subcommittee for the recently announced Census 2020 Complete Count Task Force. Spencer has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from the University of Mary.
     

    Cory Fong, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, MDU Resources Group, Inc
    Cory Fong joined MDU Resources on Feb. 1, 2016, as director of communications and public affairs. He previously was a public affairs senior specialist at Odney in Bismarck and, prior to that, was tax commissioner for the state of North Dakota. Before serving as tax commissioner, Fong held a number of government positions, including deputy commissioner for the North Dakota Department of Commerce, deputy secretary of state and director of elections. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and speech communications from Gonzaga University. Fong serves on the GNDC Board of Directors.
     


    THE STATE OF TRANSPORTATION
    Bill Panos, Director, ND Department of Transportation

    Gov. Doug Burgum appointed William T. Panos to lead the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) on Aug. 16, 2019. Panos served as Wyoming’s DOT director from 2015 to 2019. Panos’ career history includes experience as a state agency director for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a special advisor to the chancellor for the California State University System. He also worked in the private sector for TRW Inc. for 10 years in its defense and automotive business units. Panos earned a bachelor’s degree in forensic science from California State University at Long Beach. He has served as a board member for both the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and the National Operations Center of Excellence, chaired the National Committee on Transportation System Operations, and was a board member of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.



    NORTH DAKOTA TRANSPORTATION NEEDS GAP
    Denver Tolliver, Director, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute
    In addition to being the director of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, Denver Tolliver is the Director of the Mountain-Plains Consortium (MPC)—a multi-university consortium that serves as the university transportation center in federal Region 8. He is Director of the interdisciplinary graduate program in Transportation and Logistics at North Dakota State University, as well as the Executive director of the Transportation Research Forum and the Chairman of the Transportation Leadership Graduate Certificate Program—a national online education program that involves 13 major universities located throughout the United States, with participation from many others. During his career, Tolliver has been awarded more than $20 million in grant funding and has authored and co-authored more than 150 transportation research papers, including reports for federal and state agencies such as the Research and Innovative Technology Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Idaho Transportation Department, the Nebraska Department of Roads, the North Dakota Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

     

    LOCAL INFRASTRUCTURE - A KEY TO NORTH DAKOTA'S ECONOMY
    Terry Traynor, Executive Director, ND Association of Counties
    Terry Traynor has served as the Executive Director of the North Dakota Association of Counties since May of 2018, having been the Assistant Director of NDACo prior to that time.  He leads a staff of 22, serving counties and county officials in the areas of legislative advocacy, member programs, communications, and professional development. Terry also serves as chairman of the board of the Association’s automation support subsidiary, NRG, which employs another 15. Prior to coming to NDACo, Traynor served as an engineering assistant to the Morton County Engineer and was a senior partner in a consulting firm that worked on projects ranging from planning and zoning assistance for local governments to siting and permitting of hazardous waste facilities and a telecommunications earth-station. Currently, Traynor serves as Chair of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute Advisory County and is Chair-elect of the North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund. He graduated from the University of North Dakota with a B.S. degree in Geology.
     

    Blake Crosby, Executive Director, ND League of Cities
    Blake Crosby is the seventh executive director to serve the North Dakota League of Cities, beginning in 2013. He is a member of the board of directors for the North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund, a member of the Economic Development Association of North Dakota and a member of Rotary District 5580 District Grants Committee. As the state municipal league director, he represents North Dakota’s 357 incorporated cities. Crosby has a master's degree from the University of North Dakota.    


     

    INDUSTRY OPPORTUNITIES AND IMPACTS
    Ron Ness, President and CEO, ND Petroleum Council

    Ron Ness is President of the North Dakota Petroleum Council. He has held that position since 1999; his primary function is governmental relations in North Dakota. He serves as the industry spokesperson and manages the association which represents more than 700 companies involved in all aspects of North Dakota’s oil and gas industry. Ness was previously President of the North Dakota Retail and Petroleum Marketers Association. Prior to that, he spent ten years with the State of North Dakota, most of which as the Deputy Commissioner of Labor. Ness was appointed by Governor’s Schafer, Hoeven, Dalrymple, and Burgum to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, the Oil and Gas Research Council, the Empower North Dakota Commission and the Governor’s Revenue Advisory Committee. Ness is a Tolna, North Dakota native, a graduate of North Dakota State University in Business and Economics, and received his master’s in management from the University of Mary.
     

    Dan Wogsland, Executive Director, ND Grain Growers Association
    Dan Wogsland has served as the Executive Director of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association since 2004. Wogsland’s previous experience includes serving as the Legislative Assistant for Agriculture for U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan from 2002-2004, served four terms in the North Dakota State senate – including one term as senate majority leader, and was the owner/operator of Wogsland Farms, located in Walum, North Dakota. He is a graduate of North Dakota State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics.
     

    Sara Otte Coleman, Tourism Director, ND Department of Commerce
    Sara Otte Coleman has been with the North Dakota Department of Commerce as Director of the Tourism Division since 2003 and has over 3 decades of destination management, marketing, and leadership experiences. She serves the state as Tourism-Marketing Director and focuses on growing the awareness of North Dakota through industry development, strategic planning, statewide branding, consumer marketing and media relations. Coleman also works to develop strategies to support workforce and business recruitment, leveraging the Be Legendary brand and marketing campaigns created for tourism to drive workforce development and strengthen North Dakota’s economy.
     

    Chad Wolf, General Manager, McNeilus Steel
    Chad Wolf has worked with McNeilus Steel for the past 12 years, working in various leadership roles. For the last 6 years, he has served as the General Manager of the Fargo division, overseeing approximately 150 team members including sales for raw steel and steel fabrications for North Dakota, west-northwest Minnesota, northeast South Dakota and southern Manitoba. Chad grew up in Fargo and graduated from the University of Mary.




    FUNDING AND THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY BILL
    Ed Mortimer, Vice President of Transportation Infrastructure, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    Ed Mortimer serves as vice president of Transportation and Infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Mortimer oversees the development and implementation of the Chamber’s transportation infrastructure policy and represents the Chamber on Capitol Hill as well as before the administration and industry organizations. He also leads the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition, a collaborative effort by business, labor, transportation stakeholders, and concerned citizens to advocate for improved and increased federal investment in the nation’s aging and overburdened transportation system. Mortimer comes to the Chamber from AECOM, an engineering and construction company, where he served as director of government relations. He was responsible for coordinating government affairs efforts with the company’s infrastructure market segment, representing AECOM’s interests before federal, state, and local officials. Prior to that, Mortimer was director of Transportation and Infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber. Earlier in his career, he was director of government relations for the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) and a legislative representative for the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. Mortimer received a bachelor’s of arts in political science from American University and completed an executive management program at Georgetown University.


     

    FREIGHT MOVEMENT IMPACT
    Amy McBeth, Director of Public Affairs, BNSF Railway
    Amy McBeth is Regional Director Public Affairs for BNSF Railway, responsible for media and community relations for the railroad in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Manitoba. She works regularly with local officials and the public, overseeing outreach on BNSF’s operations, expansion and construction projects. A Valley City native, McBeth began her career working for Congressman Earl Pomeroy on Capitol Hill, later moving to Minneapolis where she served as a public affairs officer for the Government of Canada. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for GNDC.
     

    Kyle Wanner, Director, ND Aeronautics Commission
    Originally from Mandan, North Dakota, Kyle Wanner is a graduate from the University of North Dakota’s aviation program where he received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Airport Management, a Bachelor of Science in Air Traffic Control, and a private pilot’s license. Wanner has worked for the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission since 2011 and spent three years working as an airport planner where he was responsible for prioritizing and developing airport infrastructure projects throughout the state. In 2014, he was appointed as the Executive Director of the state agency where he works in a leadership role to support and grow aviation-related opportunities throughout North Dakota. Wanner also serves as a member of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site Authority, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute Advisory Board, the North Dakota Atmospheric Resource Board, and the North Dakota Aviation Council.
     

    Dan Zink, Vice President of Economic Development and Community Affairs, Red River Valley and Western Railroad
    Dan Zink is a native North Dakotan and currently serves as Vice President for the Red River Valley & Western Railroad Company, a short line railroad headquartered in Wahpeton, ND In this capacity, he is engaged in business development, analysis of growth initiatives, strategic planning, and capital investment. Prior to his assignment at the Red River Valley & Western, he served as Research Associate at the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, focusing on research and public service related to ND grain transportation. He holds a degree in Agricultural Economics from North Dakota State University. 

     


    THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF TRANSPORTATION CONSTRUCTION
    Kenneth D Simonson, Chief Economist, The Associated General Contractors of America
    Kenneth D. Simonson has been Chief Economist for the Associated General Contractors of America since 2001. He provides insight into the economy and what it implies for construction and related industries through frequent media interviews, presentations and The Data DIGest, his weekly one-page enewsletter that goes to 47,000 subscribers. Simonson has 40 years of experience analyzing, advocating and communicating about economic and tax issues. He currently serves on the Census Bureau’s Scientific Advisory Committee and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Data Users Advisory Committee. He is a Fellow and past president of the National Association for Business Economics, and he is co-director of the Tax Economists Forum, a professional meeting group he co-founded in 1982. Simonson has a BA in economics from the University of Chicago, and an MA in economics from Northwestern University.


     

    POLICYMAKER PANEL
    Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner

    Senator Rich Wardner has served in the North Dakota Legislature the past 30 years and was first elected to the North Dakota House of Representatives in 1990. He served four sessions in the North Dakota House and in 1998 was elected to the North Dakota Senate where he has served ten sessions. He was a member of the Finance and Tax, Government (eight Sessions) and Veterans Affairs (seven sessions), Natural Resources (one session) and Senate Appropriation (three sessions). Senator Wardner served as the President Pro Tempore of the North Dakota Senate in the 2011 session and in September of 2011 he was elected as the Majority Leader of the North Dakota Senate. During the interim, Wardner serves as chair of the Energy Development and Transmission Committee. His focus has been on using the resources of the state in the most efficient way to improve the quality of life for all North Dakotans. He is a retired educator during his career he taught and coached at Mohall and Dickinson High Schools. Currently, he serves District #37 in the North Dakota Senate.
     

    Representative Corey Mock
    Presentative Corey Mock is an easily distracted, optimistic professional with an aversion to the word 'no.' He represents Grand Forks in the North Dakota House of Representatives, where he's a member of the Appropriations Committee and chairman of the Information Technology Committee. Outside of the state capitol, Representative Mock is better known as a Realtor, leadership consultant, bookstore owner, husband to Jeannie, father to Grayson and Camdon, expert Frisbee thrower to their two Golden Retrievers, and son who will never know what he wants to be when he grows up to his parents.  
     

    Representative Don Vigesaa
    Representative Don Vigessa, an auto dealer from Cooperstown, has served District 23 since 2003. Previously, he served on the Transportation Committee as well as the Industry, Business, and Labor Committee, his current committee assignment is Appropriations. He is a member of the Republican Party.