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 Chet Pollert
Chet Pollert has served in North Dakota’s House of Representatives since 1999 and became House majority leader in 2018. He has served on the House’s budget writing committee and chaired the human resources division. Pollert is a graduate of Valley City State University and now owns and operates G & R Grain and Feed in New Rockford, which sells fertilizer as well as manufactures pelleted feed for bison and beef cattle. He and his wife, Jo, have three children, live in Carrington, and attend Trinity Lutheran Church.
James Leiman, North Dakota Commerce Commissioner
Prior to being appointed commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Commerce in March 2021 by Gov. Doug Burgum, Leiman served as North Dakota Department of Commerce’s director of Economic Development and Finance (ED&F) from March 2018 to February 2021. As ED&F director, Leiman was responsible for statewide economic development and finance initiatives. He’s played crucial roles in efforts to develop North Dakota’s abundant natural gas resources, attract new capital to the state, find new markets for exporters, commercialize intellectual property, grow the tech sector including autonomous technology, increase foreign and domestic investment in North Dakota, and establish the nation’s first statewide network for flying unmanned aerial systems beyond visual line of sight. Prior to joining Commerce, Leiman served as city administrator in Ada, Minn., from 2015 to 2018 and as chief of integration and synchronization for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from 2011 to 2015. A U.S. Army veteran, Leiman served as an intelligence analyst and interpreter during Operation Enduring Freedom. He later managed several national security programs at the departments of Homeland Security, State and Agriculture, focusing on counterterrorism efforts. After over a decade of fighting terrorism, Leiman sought to use his skills to solve domestic issues. Leiman earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics at Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland, Wash., a master’s in public administration from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., and a doctorate in transportation and logistics from North Dakota State University.
Doug Goehring, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner
4Doug 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.
Rick Brandenburger, Richland IFC
Rick Brandenburger is the president of Richland IFC, a specialty food-grade agriculture company that started in 1999. The company exports more than half of its products globally, and Brandenburger has more than 32 years of experience in senior management positions and exports throughout Europe and Asia. He has a passion for value-added ag processing for North Dakota and believes that the state will have a global impact. With experience in sales trips and trade missions to more than 28 countries, he understands many of the challenges and intricacies of exporting and is excited to be an advocate for North Dakota.
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.
Kermit Nash, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP
Kermit Nash counsels domestic and international clients on legal issues connected with their business operations, governance, strategy and investments. Privately held domestic and international corporations rely on Kermit to advise them on transactions ranging from mergers and acquisitions and sales development to distribution, licensing and financing. In his nearly 20 years of practice, he has represented both acquirers and investors, including private equity funds and venture capital firms, hedge funds and wealth funds. This breadth of experience, together with the hundreds of deals he has led, positions him to handle complex transactions involving multiple jurisdictions. Kermit advises offshore companies on their U.S. market-entry, including providing counsel on compliance, operational requirements and corporate strategies. He, in turn, works with U.S.-based companies on their offshore investments and relationships with non-U.S. partners. Beyond the borders his work crosses, Kermit is counsel to companies in industries including software, agribusiness, biotechnology, life sciences, energy, engineering, food processing, manufacturing, and e-commerce. Many of these industries are highly regulated, which demonstrates Kermit’s ability to guide clients through difficult legal environments. Kermit’s understanding of issues affecting businesses and their deals is also informed by several experiences beyond his law practice, including his studies in ethics and comparative international law at Rothberg International School, Hebrew University, in Jerusalem, Israel and his service on for profit and non-profit boards. Kermit also teaches business law, contracts, and business ethics as an adjunct professor at Northwestern College.
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.
Bill Price, Global Beef Consultants
Bill is a 4th generation native North Dakota Rancher and Farmer, Educated in Center, North Dakota and college at North Dakota State University. Bill has been the managing partner of Price Cattle Ranch LLP and the managing partner of Missouri River Feeders LLP, a permitted feedyard and diversified farm. He also serves as a Governor of Quality Dairy Growers LLC, and Sunnyside Feeds LLC which is a partnership between Prices and Westway Group Inc. which is a Global manufacturer and distributor of liquid animal feed supplements with a extensive global network of 54 operating Facilities through out North America, Europe and Asia. Bill is one of the Board of Governors that had started Red Trail Energy which is a 55 million gallon Ethanol plant located in Richardton, North Dakota. Along with that Bill is also one of the founding partners and Governors of North Dakota Sow Center which is a 10,000 head isowean facility. Bill has also served as Chairman for the North Dakota Feeder Council, He is also a member of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
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.