Women You Need to Know & Watch List
The Greater North Dakota Chamber (GNDC) is excited to announce their inaugural lists of 15 Women You Need to Know and 5 Women to Watch in North Dakota business. These lists call out individuals to celebrate their success as these accomplishments are furthering the progress of their organizations and industries.
FULL PRESS RELEASE (with list in entirety)
CELEBRATE with us - reserve your seat at the Luncheon (May 9)
GNDC will be honoring these individuals with weekly spotlights, unveiling more information about their awesomeness.
This week's spotlights:
Women You Need to Know:
Kristi Jean, ComDel Innovation, Inc.
Dr. KRISTI JEAN is a quality engineer at ComDel Innovation in Wahpeton, ND. ComDel is a product development and manufacturing company, serving a variety of markets including medical, commercial, agriculture, and aerospace. In her role, Kristi works with a customer base ranging from large OEMs (big companies that buy components to make product) to individual entrepreneurs with ideas that they would like to commercialize. She ensures they get exactly what they are expecting and works to identify and mitigate risks to consumers or her clients. Her portfolio includes numerous fledging customers in the medical arena attempting to bring their device to market, joining them as they navigate the FDA landscape.
She briefly stepped away from manufacturing for almost 10 years to work in education, teaching at a NDSCS. During this tenure, she co-authored a handful of peer-reviewed journal articles, was awarded numerous STEM-related grants and selected as 1 of 13 nationwide Nation Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Coaches. She introduced our youth to nanoscience back in 2007 as a dynamic part of a Nanoscience Roadshow team, reaching more than 5,000 students and 500 teachers throughout North Dakota. She was part of a group that formulated a STEM Day construct that shattered the classroom bell norm, invoked the community engagement, and is still in use today. She has worked with multiple colleagues and many ND schools to promote careers in STEM and encourage young women to pursue non-traditional STEM roles. In 2011, she received the FIRST® LEGO® League Coach award, from The Lego Group, for her daughter’s team. She even got a hug from Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder, thanks to the ND Research Corridor bringing him to our state as a keynote speaker.
Kristi grew up on a farm in Alsen, ND. She received her BS from the University of North Dakota, her MS from Lehigh University and her PhD from Georgia Tech, all in Chemical Engineering. After receiving her doctorate, she moved back to ND to work at Imation, now ComDel, in Wahpeton, ND. She also received a ND Career and Technical Education Professional Teaching License.
Kristi is active within her community, inaugural Bioscience of ND board member, Hankinson Education Foundation, Dollars for Scholars, and recently the ND Soybean Council’s Research Committee. Kristi and her husband, Mark, have 2 sons, a daughter, and a new son-in-law; Andrew, Alex, Madelyn and Tyler.
NDWBC Spotlight: Meg Wold, Meg-A-Latte Coffee House
MEG WOLD was born and raised in Williston, and went to college in Fargo, ND. While attending college she managed a coffee shop, this is where her love for the industry began. She graduated NDSU in 2007 with a double major in Public Relations and advertising & Fashion Marketing. After marrying her high school sweetheart Eddie Wold, they moved back home to Williston, ND in 2008. Meg worked at Halliburton for a few years as a Buyer. Once they had their first born, Meg had a desire to be her own boss and run her own business.
When the initial idea for Meg-A-Latte Coffee House was born, Meg collaborated with her husband Eddie on the concept. She was the coffee connoisseur, while her husband assisted with the interior design of the shop. Eddie is an airbrush artist, and all Meg-A-Latte shops walls are filled with his art. The original shop opened in Feb 2012. Meg-A-Latte’s second location opened in 2014. The third – the first with the drive through opened in 2016 and created conversation on menu expansion to enhance the experience and offerings. After relocating their original location to accommodate market and menu changes, the fourth location opening happened in Watford City.
Meg enjoys managing the businesses and building relationships with her baristas and customers. She has a strong mission to help the community in any way that she can through her business. Meg and Eddie have four children which keeps them both very busy as well.
Meg has big goals and aspirations for Meg-A-Latte, she hopes to continue to expand and provide all that Meg-A-Latte offers in more communities.
Meg’s nomination came from a partnership with North Dakota Women’s Business Center to showcase women in business. Their organization is a leading voice, resource, and partner for women business owners. Their work and mission are to help all women at any stage in the business-ownership journey. NDWBC partnered with GNDC to further spotlight success stories happening in our state.
Women You Need To Know
Paula Anderson, Sterling Carpet One Floor & Home
PAULA ANDERSON graduated from UNO with a bachelor's degree in marketing in 1885. After college she worked as fourth generation in her family business, Congress Inc. This business was sold in 2006 and Paula started Sterling Carpet One in 2009. Paula serves as president of both Sterling Carpet One Floor & Home and Sterling Siding & Remodeling. She has served on the Carpet One Corporate Advisory Council as well as the UNO CoBPA Advisory Council and in 2020 was the Board Chair of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber. Prior to the that she was also the president of the Grand Forks Parks and Recreation Foundation. Paula recently joined GNDC's Board of Directors.
She has three children. Sam lives and works in Northern California for Harrah's Entertainment. Joey and his wife, Abbie, live in Norfolk, Virginia, where he is a dentist in the Navy. Maddie lives in Minneapolis working for Host Healthcare. In her free time find Paula enjoy traveling, fishing, and being with family and friends.
Jill Beck, North Dakota Association of REALTORS
JILL BECK is an accomplished businesswoman originally from Zeeland, ND. She has spent over three decades working at the North Dakota Association of Realtors in Bismarck, where she has been the CEO since 2007. In her role as CEO, Jill has led the organization's efforts to work with its members and protect private property rights in North Dakota. Her dedication to these values has helped the Association become a leading voice in the real estate industry in the state.
Jill is married and has two adult children. She currently resides in Mandan, ND, where she continues to be an active member of the community. She is a graduate of the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton and the University of Mary in Bismarck. Her professional achievements, combined with her commitment to her family and community, make her a well-respected figure in North Dakota.
Jill Berg, Spherion Staffing Services/Insight Consulting
JILL BERG is the Owner/President of Spherion in North Dakota, South Dakota and West-Central, MN with offices in Fargo and Bismarck, ND, Sioux Falls, SD and Perham, MN. Spherion, a recruiting and staffing leader, supplies temporary, temp-to-hire, permanent placement and outsourced personnel to client companies.
Jill has a B.A. in General Studies with an Emphasis in Psychology and English from Ambassador University in Pasadena, California.
Jill delivers over 25 years of business entrepreneurship, staff development, sales and financial business management. In addition to her recruiting and staffing expertise, Jill consults and trains with clients on workforce development and human resource strategies across the country. She is a Consultant with the Predictive Index and sells and trains on the Predictive Index® (PI®) assessment and the Customer Focused Selling (CFS) system.
She has received numerous recognition awards for operational, sales and service excellence from Spherion Corporation including the 2015 Franchise Owner of the Year, the Special Achievement Award in 2016 and the Excellence in Service Award in 2017.
Jill is Past President of the national Spherion Franchise Advisory Board and has served numerous terms as a Regional Director. She has served as Board President of the Greater North Dakota Chamber and the American Red Cross – Dakotas Region. Jill is a member of the Agassiz Valley Human Resource Association, Fargo West Rotary, the Paradigm Group, a CEO Roundtable exchange between area business leaders and CEO Solutions, a “Traction” focused strategy group.
Helen Bullinger, Bullinger Tree Service
Throughout her life HELEN BULLINGER has been involved in small business, watching her grandparents and father operate businesses in Mandan. This helped her make the transition from working at USDA-ARS in Mandan and US Geological Survey in Bismarck, to working side by side with her husband, Leonard, in small business again as owners of Bullinger Tree Service in Mandan, ND.
She has two children and five grandchildren, all of which are still a part of the North Dakota community. Helen currently serves on the Board of Directors for Mandan Union Cemetery and in the past has served on the Board of Directors for the Bismarck Mandan Apartment Association.
When not at work, Helen enjoys spending time with family, gardening and sewing.
Cindy Griffin, Harvestone Low Carbon Partners
CINDY GRIFFIN, PHR, SHRM-CP, is the VP, HR & Corporate Services for Harvestone Low Carbon Partners (HLCP), formerly Midwest AgEnergy, which currently owns and operates Dakota Spirit, in Spiritwood, ND Blue Flint in Underwood, ND and Iroquois Bio-Energy Company (IBEC), Indiana. Cindy started with the company in 2011 as the solo HR member who was responsible for building the HR team, processes, and procedures. She oversaw the development, hiring and construction of the human resource and corporate service functions when the DSA facility was constructed in 2015.
Cindy resides in Bismarck with her spouse, Logan and three children. She is a volunteer at her local parish, her daughter’s volleyball, ND Workforce Development Council member, ND Workforce Executive Committee, Bismarck-Mandan Chamber EDC Workforce Committee along with planning numerous family reunions and events for friends and family. She enjoys physical fitness, hosting family and friends, great food, traveling and being a part of the HLCP team. She is grateful for the support she gets from her spouse along with Harvestone Low Carbon Partners CEO, Jeff Zueger and her teammates that challenge her to be the best version of herself each day.
Heather Jones, City Air Mechanical, Inc.
HEATHER JONES, a 4th Generation Mechanical Contractor, has two decades of operating one of the largest full service Design-Build-Maintain Mechanical Construction companies in North Dakota. City Air Mechanical opened its doors in Bismarck in 1999 starting as a small sheet metal company that branched into a full mechanical shop and has grown 7-fold over the years, while also opening a branch office in Dickinson ND in 2019. City Air Mechanical is the only Certified Woman Owned Mechanical Construction Company in the State of ND.
The family legacy company, Mowbray and Son Plumbing & Heating based in Minot ND celebrated 100 years in 2016. Heather’s partner and brother, Travis Mowbray, operates that business unit.
Heather studied accounting and business at University of Minnesota – Moorhead, and has focused on building a strong team of technical experts, a financially secure business and a resume of successful projects to match.
She and her husband, Karl of 22 years, have 2 children. Kollin, a Sophomore at NDSU studying Business Management and Ella is a Junior at Legacy High School.
Brekka Kramer, Minot Area Chamber EDC
BREKKA KRAMER has over twenty years of experience leading community initiatives and moving public policy forward at the local, state and national level. She joined Odney in 2001, was promoted to general manager then became a partner/owner. In 2022, she made the move from the private sector to serving as President | CEO of the Minot Area Chamber.
Brekka has served on and chaired both the former Minot Area Chamber of Commerce and Minot Area Development Corporation boards, prior to the merger in 2021. She is on the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Minnesota and Dakotas Board of Directors, JDRF National Advocacy Team, Minot State Board of Regents, Minot Public School Foundation Board of Directors, and is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Minot. Brekka has served on the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Ninth District Advisory Council, along with the Greater North Dakota Chamber and Minot Area Community Foundation boards. She is a graduate of Minot State University.
Brekka’s commitment and passion for the Minot area and State of North Dakota runs deep. She’s been a part of economic development and business initiatives and is a recognized leader in supporting Minot Air Force Base. Since 2015, Kramer has been representing Minot as an Air Force Global Strike Command’s Civic Leader and this year joined the Strategic Deterrent Coalition Board of Directors. She serves on Governor Doug Burgum’s Task Force for Military Issues in North Dakota and has been a part of the commission since it stood up in 2018. Locally Brekka is on Task Force 21 and the Minot Air Force Base Honorary Commander’s program.
Marlene Miller, Altru Health System
MARLENE MILLER serves as the director of people resources at Altru Health System in Grand Forks. Miller has held leadership positions at Altru since 2012 with oversight of a variety of areas including human resources, leadership development, learning and organizational development, recruitment, volunteer services, and many workforce strategies such as reward, recognition and employee wellness. Her career path has included a broad spectrum of experiences working in both non-profit and for-profit businesses such as IBM Canada, social services, and the University of North Dakota.
Within the community Miller serves on the advisory board for the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals, Grand Forks Way Cooler initiative, and the Career Impact Academy Steering Committee. She participates in the Pancratz Mentor Program as a mentor and recently served on the GNDC Workforce Committee and UND’s Strategic Planning work group focused on student success. She is a past board member of the Community Violence Intervention Center, Altru liaison to the Altru Alliance Board of Directors, and she currently enjoys volunteering in varying ways including the Summer Performing Arts program.
Miller earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in social work, graduating summa cum laude from the University of North Dakota. She moved to Grand Forks from Winnipeg in 1997 and has two sons and a daughter-in-law, Cooper, Miles and Grace.
Kelby Hovey, Basin Electric Power Cooperative
KELBY HOVEY is a pilot and safety officer for Basin Electric Power Cooperative in Bismarck, North Dakota. Kelby uses her skills to safely fly passengers in company aircraft throughout the country, allowing employees to more efficiently use their time in furtherance of business. Kelby also conducts low-level powerline and pipeline patrol flights and manages several safety programs in her department.
Kelby is a 20-year veteran of the North Dakota Army National Guard, where she served 9 years as a musician and 11 years flying helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. In 2009, she was deployed overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Kelby graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics and later earned a Master’s degree with a specialization in Aviation Safety from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
In her personal life, Kelby is an active youth coach and church school leader. She enjoys all things outdoors and loves traveling and adventuring with the most important men in her life, her husband, Kevin and sons: Levi (11), Max (10), and Emmet (7).
Christie Huber Obenauer, Union State Bank
CHRISTIE HUBER OBENAUER, CEO and President of Union State Bank, was born and raised in North Dakota. After graduating from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota with a dual major in Economics and Political Science, she began her full-time banking career at what was then Norwest Bank in their Management Training Program in Fargo, North Dakota. She continued with Norwest Bank in Business Banking in Bismarck, ND before moving to Boise, Idaho where she was a Business and Private Banker for a regional bank in the Boise market. She moved back to their hometown of Hazen, North Dakota in 2002, where she continued her banking career at her family’s community bank, Union State Bank.
Christie is the fourth generation in her family to lead their over 110-year-old institution. She is active in many local, regional and state-level boards involving banking, and community development, including the North Dakota Banker’s (NDBA) Association Board of Directors, Bank of North Dakota Advisory Board, Graduate School of Banking – Colorado Board of Trustees, American Bankers Association (ABA) Communications Council, and ABA Government Relations Council, Sakakawea Medical Center Board of Directors, and the Mercer County Community Foundation Board. She is passionate about community banking, her community and her state. She firmly believes in “blooming where planted,” and strives to set an example of that philosophy in everything she does.
Worthy of note, while serving as Chair-Elect for NDBA, Christie and two other female bank CEOs, Kathy Torske and Jolene Muscha, were the first state bankers association in the country to have the Executive Board held entirely by women.
Ann Pollert, General Equipment Sales & Supplies, Inc.
ANN POLLERT has been with General Equipment & Supplies Inc. for 10 years and is currently the Director of Workforce Development for the company. Simply put, her role is to help GES recruit the best people by finding people that are the right fit for GES while also making sure GES is the right fit for them.
Mostly targeting high school level CTE Programs, Ann leads the General Equipment Recruiting Team connecting with students in the classrooms, at career fairs, parent teachers conferences and other school events. She does this by walking them through career exploration in the diesel industry and beyond. Ann is focusing on students who are interested in the ND State College of Science Komatsu Diesel program but also tries to connect with students interested in one of the two US Department of Labor Certified Apprenticeship programs offered at General Equipment..
Ann has a Bachelor of Science in Social Work and Criminal Justice from the University of North Dakota as well as minors in Sociology and Psychology. She openly admits that although her education got her where she is today her degrees did not prepare her for the passion and reward of guiding and encouraging students into researching and understanding careers.
Ann is a strong advocate for North Dakota as she was born and raised in the Devils Lake, ND, area and believes the opportunities for our ND youth right now are awesome and exciting. Ann and her husband, Matt, live in West Fargo.
Nancy Slotten, Border States Paving, Inc.
NANCY SLOTTEN is the Executive Vice President of Border States Paving, Inc. a family-owned business founded by her father in 1967. Nancy and her brother, Dan Thompson, are the 2nd generation owners of the 150-employee road construction firm. The family-owned firm takes pride in constructing and maintaining the upper Midwest’s vital highway infrastructure. Border States performs asphalt paving and heavy highway civil construction work throughout North and South Dakota, western Minnesota, eastern Wyoming and eastern Montana. Founded in Fargo; Border States currently has office and maintenance facilities in Fargo, ND and Jamestown, ND.
Nancy had the honor of serving as the first female president of the Associated General Contractors of ND and serves as a Lifetime Governor for the National AGC. Throughout her career, Nancy has had the privilege of serving on multiple regional boards including ND Workforce Safety & Insurance, 1st International Bank and Trust, and Dakota Medical Foundation.
Nancy received her bachelor’s degree at St. Cloud State University and has lived in Fargo her entire life. She has two sons and three grandchildren.
Danita Tysver, Stark Development Corporation
DANITA TYSVER was born and raised in Dickinson, North Dakota. She has been with Stark Development Corporation since 2006.
Danita has been involved in various community organizations over the years and currently serves as the secretary/treasurer on the Dickinson Area Community Foundation board. Danita and her husband Scott have two children.
Women to Watch
Cassie Andress, Cassie’s Cleaning Company/Rural Route Therapies
CASSANDRA ANDRESS is the owner of both Cassie’s Cleaning Co. (CCC) and Rural Routes Therapies.
Cassie started cleaning houses as a way to make extra money while earning her bachelors and masters degrees at Minnesota State University Moorhead. She founded Cassie’s Cleaning Co. to continue serving her cleaning clients following graduation. CCC now employs and empowers 16 other women and serves over 100 homes and businesses in the Fargo, Bismarck, and Dickinson communities.
As CCC grew, Cassie was working as a speech therapist to build her skills knowing of her deep rooted passion to serve small communities like her hometown, Hettinger, ND. In 2022, Cassie founded Rural Routes Therapies by combining her passion for speech and serving rural communities.
Cassie's favorite days are filled happy clients and making any surly geriatric patients chuckle. Although she typically goes to bed at 8PM each night, she fills her personal time with finding hobbies that aren’t work-related, talking about how cute her pets (Vixen and Sven) are, and spending time with the people who support her through all of the chaos. #ShoutoutMomandDad
Beth Feldner, Xcel Energy
Before joining Xcel Energy in Community Relations and Government Affairs, BETH FELDNER worked in public relations and public information in the Minot area. Her experience includes marketing and communications with oil and gas, construction, financial institutions, retail, and large-scale events. Over her career, Beth’s focus on community, collaboration, and progress has helped improve her community and helped the organizations she’s worked with reach their goals. As a young professional in Minot, Beth has worked to stay engaged with the Minot Area Chamber EDC and Minot Sunrise Rotary and remains involved with the many non-profits doing good work in the community.
Originally from Ray, Beth is a graduate of the University of Jamestown. She and her husband Clay have lived in the Magic City for the last ten years, where they’ve invested in raising their family (Leia-4, Jack-1). Beth stays busy as a wedding photographer, curler, golfer, and volleyball player.
Mackenzie Gable, Northern Improvement Company
MACKENZIE GABLE was born and raised in Fargo, ND. She attended NDSU, where she was a four-year cheerleader for the Bison and graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management. Mackenzie began her professional career at Jamestown Regional Medical Center before returning to Fargo to be Coordinator of Safety and Emergency Management at Fargo Public Schools.
After three years at Fargo Public Schools, she decided she needed a change and made the leap to a new career field. Mackenzie has been the HR Recruiter at Northern Improvement Company since January 2022 and her roles include recruiting, hiring, facilitating the H-2B visa program, social media, advertising, and all those other duties as assigned.
She is very active in promoting trades careers to our North Dakota youth and is involved in several different professional groups across the state. Mackenzie lives in Fargo with her husband Matt and little dog Maeve.
Anna Nelson, Williston Area Chamber of Commerce
ANNA NELSON is a small-town girl, turned city girl, who has found a home in Williston, North Dakota. From Oregon to Alaska to North Dakota, she spent most of her formative years in Rolla, North Dakota.
She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Retail Merchandising at North Dakota State University with minors in Business Administration and Psychology. She immediately moved to Los Angeles where she was the lead sales representative for a prominent showroom, then worked as an apparel buyer for an elite boutique in Oklahoma City. During those years, she earned her MBA with a certificate in marketing.
Upon returning to North Dakota in 2018, she landed a job as a news producer and anchor at KFYR-TV in Bismarck; then assumed those roles for its sister station in Williston, KUMV-TV, in 2021.
The community quickly stole her heart with its warm, friendly people, small town feel, and vibrant economy.
Anna was humbled to be named the President of the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce in April 2022. This role has given her the opportunity to continue serving the community and the surrounding area.
She is so proud of the work that she and her team are doing for the business community in the Williston area. None of it would be possible without the support of the Chamber’s board of directors, staff, and members; the community as a whole; her family; and her loving husband, Eric.
Representative Emily O’Brien, District 42/Bioscience Association of North Dakota
EMILY O'BRIEN a native of Lakeville, MN, and a graduate of the University of North Dakota in Entrepreneurship and Business Management.
In 2016, Emily was elected by her neighbors to represent District 42 as part of the Grand Forks community in the Legislature. She currently serves on the Appropriations Committee, Human Resources Division. She previously served on the Industry Business and Labor and Transportation Committees during the regular session. In the interim, she served on the Acute Psychiatric Treatment Committee and serves as the Vice-Chair for the Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee. Emily was appointed to the North Dakota Lottery Advisory Commission, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators Committee, and the Higher Education Grant Review Committee.
Professionally, Emily serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the Bioscience Association of North Dakota. Emily is an advocate for the creation of an entrepreneurial culture for bioscience and biotechnology research and business development in the agriculture, life, and energy science fields while concurrently nurturing growth and economic opportunities in North Dakota.
Additionally, Emily works alongside her partner, Jacob Green, to grow and develop his commercial and residential framing, drywall, and painting company, Pace Painting, managing several rental properties and doing commercial development. You can find her doing books, punch lists, painting, maintenance, snow removal, bidding, or whatever tasks need to be accomplished!
Emily’s most rewarding job is being a mother to Lennon and Jolene and a bonus mom to Izabella, Mazzy, and Ezra!
Thank you to our sponsors
Basin Electric Power Cooperative
Associated General Contractors of North Dakota