Chairman: Brent Sanford, Lt. Governor of North Dakota
Brent Sanford took office as North Dakota’s 38th lieutenant governor on December 15, 2016. A Watford City native and third-generation business owner, Sanford served as mayor of his hometown from 2010 to 2016 when he led the city through a massive population and infrastructure increase amid the state’s oil boom.
Sanford is a University of North Dakota alumnus and was a certified public accountant for Eide Bailly in Fargo, chief financial officer for Transwest Trucks in Brighton, Colorado, owner and president of S & S Motors in Watford City and a Waterford City councilman.
As lieutenant governor, Sanford serves as president of the state Senate, leads the North Dakota Trade Office and chairs the State Investment Board, the Capitol Grounds Planning Commission, the Higher Education Challenge Fund Commission, the Early Childhood Education Council and the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Authority. Sanford and his wife, Sandi, have three children.
Vice Chairman – Treasurer: Representative Al Carlson
Al Carlson has served in North Dakota’s House of Representatives since 1993 and as House majority leader since 2008. Originally from Gwinner and Mooreton, ND, Carlson attended North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton and North Dakota State University in Fargo before teaching history and geography at Agassiz Middle School in Fargo.
He’s worked in real estate, currently owns a construction company and is a partner in Up North Recreation. Carlson currently chairs the State Legislative Leaders Foundation. He and his wife, Sharon, have three children and twelve grandchildren and attend St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Fargo.
Secretary: Jay Schuler, North Dakota Commerce Commissioner
Jay Schuler was appointed by Governor Doug Burgum as Director of the North Dakota Department of Commerce in January 2017. A native of Wahpeton, ND, and neighboring Breckenridge, MN, Schuler started his first company while attending North Dakota State University, from which he graduated with a degree in agricultural economics and minors in agronomy and genetics.
He is a founding investor in both GIANT Sunflower Seeds and Richland IFC. Schuler was the 2003 recipient of the NDSU Agribusiness Club’s John Lee Coulter Award and in 2012, he was named by the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation as its first Holaday Entrepreneur-in-Residence, where he’s drawn on his experience of launching 15 start-up companies spanning five continents to engage and advise entrepreneurial students at UND.
Eric Bartsch, AGT Foods
As the Director of the Global Ingredients Division of AGT Foods, Eric Bartsch oversees the production, sale and R&D of all the pulse-based products such as pulse proteins, flour, and fiber that are produced by AGT.
Formerly, Bartsch served as executive director of the Northern Pulse Growers Association and general manager of U.S. operations at United Pulse Trading Inc., which is now known as AGT Foods.
Bartsch was raised on a family farm near Velva, North Dakota. He graduated from North Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Crop and Weed Sciences. He currently resides in Bismarck, North Dakota with his wife Kathryn and their three children.
Steve Dickinson, Cozen O’Connor
Steve Dickinson’s law practice centers on domestic and international business transactions for both U.S. and international companies.
Dickinson represents U.S. and global companies in their international business, including acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances, construction and sales contracts, and distribution arrangements, as well as operational issues such as international tax planning, entity formation, financing, employment, intellectual property, and compliance matters, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and export control regulations.
Dickinson has represented many companies in doing business in China and throughout Asia, as well as in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and Canada.
Beverly Flaten, JM Grain
Beverly Bauman Flaten is Vice President of International Marketing for JM Grain in Garrison, North Dakota. After a career in education administration, she joined her son, Justin, and husband, Marvin, to found JM Grain, where they began exporting peas into Canada to help their family and local farmers in the Makoti-Roseglen area receive more value added for their products. They now export pulse products to 38 countries and won North Dakota’s Exporter of the Year award in 2012.
Flaten received her bachelor’s from Minot State University, master’s in organizational leadership from Montana State University and a doctorate in organizational change from the University of Montana.
Doug Goehring, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner
Doug Goehring has been North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner since 2009. A third-generation farmer, Commissioner Goehring, along with his son, Dustin, operates a 2,000-acre, no-till farm near Menoken, ND. Goehring is a member of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, the North Dakota Soybean Association, the North Dakota Corn Growers Association and the National Association of Corporate Directors.
Commissioner Goehring attended Bismarck State College and is a licensed medical laboratory technician. He and his wife, Annette, have six children, seven grandchildren and attend Evangel Assembly of God in Bismarck.
Laura Oberst, Wells Fargo
Laura Oberst has been the Head of Business Banking Group at Wells Fargo & Company since 2016. Oberst serves as a Senior Vice President and Minneapolis Regional Manager for Wells Fargo Commercial Banking.
Oberst’s career with Wells Fargo started in 1984 as a management trainee before advancing to oversee more than 350 team members in 10 states, from the Dakotas to Ohio.
Oberst serves on the Board of Directors of HealthPartners, Inc. and the Greater MSP Economic Development Partnership. She chairs the Wells Fargo Minnesota Leadership Council and its Metropolitan Contributions Committee. Oberst holds a B.S. in Business Administration from North Dakota State University and Associate’s Degree (AS) in Accounting from Minnesota State University.
Bob Sinner, SB&B Foods
Robert Sinner grew up working in the family farming business that his great-grandfather started in 1906 near Casselton. After graduating from North Dakota State University in 1975 with a degree in Agriculture Economics, he spearheaded the company’s expansion into global identity-preserved, non-GMO soybean markets.
Sinner is president of both the farming operation’s processing company, Identity Ag Processing and its marketing entity, SB&B Foods, which won the North Dakota Exporter of the Year award in 2007 and North Dakota Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2009.
Sinner currently serves on the United States Soybean Export Council Advisory Board, is chairman of the Human Nutrition Committee and is active on the National Agriculture Transportation Coalition Advisory Board.
Tom Shorma, WCCO Belting
Since 2002, Thomas Shorma has been CEO/President of Wahpeton-based WCCO Belting, Inc., a privately-owned manufacturer of agricultural and industrial rubber belting and conveyor products.
During his tenure with WCCO, the company has received the President of United States E-Award for export excellence, the E-STAR Award for sustaining export growth and was named the 2003 North Dakota Exporter of the Year.
Shorma currently chairs the North Dakota District Export Council. He is a business, marketing, and advertising graduate of the University of North Dakota and the North Dakota State College of Science. He lives in Fargo with his wife, Julie, and has four children.
Sherm Wehlander, Doosan
Sherm Wehlander has more than forty years of experience in logistics, supply chain, manufacturing, export sales, import & export logistics, and trade compliance. He has served his entire career at Doosan Bobcat, and currently serves as the Director of Global Trade and Compliance for Doosan Bobcat and related companies, where he oversees all aspects of North America/Oceania import and export operations, as well as other trade and cross-border activities. Wehlander lives in Fargo with his wife, Sue, and his children and grandchildren live nearby. He is originally from the Milnor/DeLamere area of North Dakota.