TEDxFargo - Xccelerate Speakers
What if everything you ever wanted isn’t what you actually want?
When they were twenty-something, suit-clad, and upwardly mobile, best friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus thought they had everything anyone could ever want.
Until they didn’t want any of it anymore.
When Joshua was blindsided by the loss of his mother and his marriage, and Ryan was faced with crippling debt and depression, they began questioning every aspect of the lives they had built for themselves. Then they discovered a lifestyle known as minimalism—and everything began to change.
In their pursuit for something more substantial than compulsory consumption and the broken American Dream, Joshua and Ryan both walked away from six-figure careers and embarked on a new journey. Since embracing simplicity as a lifestyle, they have written four books, including the bestselling memoir, Everything That Remains; cofounded Asymmetrical Press, a publishing house for the indie at heart; embarked on a 100-city international speaking tour; and spoken at Harvard Business School, Apple, SXSW, TEDx, World Domination Summit, and many other organizations, schools, and conferences. Their new film, Minimalism, is currently the #1 documentary of 2016.
Joshua and Ryan have garnered an audience of more than four million readers at their website, TheMinimalists.com, where they write about living a meaningful life with less stuff. Their story has been featured on the Todayshow and in Time, People, Forbes, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, Vancouver Sun, Village Voice, LA Weekly, and numerous other outlets.
Both born in 1981 and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Joshua & Ryan now live in Missoula, Montana.
At Stanford University since 1995, Professor Tom Byers focuses on education regarding high-growth entrepreneurship and technology innovation. He is the first holder of the Entrepreneurship Professorship endowed chair in the School of Engineering, and is also a Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. He has been a faculty director since the inception of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP), which serves as the entrepreneurship center for the engineering school. STVP includes the Mayfield Fellows work/study program for undergraduates and the Entrepreneurship Corner (ECorner) collection of thought leader videos. He is a principal investigator and the director of the Epicenter, which is funded by the National Science Foundation to stimulate entrepreneurship education at all USA engineering and science colleges. He is the co-author of a textbook called Technology Ventures: From Idea to Enterprise, published by McGraw-Hill.
Byers is a past recipient of the prestigious Gordon Prize by the National Academy of Engineering in the USA and Stanford University's Gores Award, which is its highest honor for excellence in teaching. He has been a member of advisory boards at Harvard Business School, UC Berkeley, World Economic Forum, Conservation International, and several private enterprises. Tom was Executive Vice President and General Manager of Symantec Corporation during its formation, and started his business career at Accenture. Tom holds a BS in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and an MBA from UC Berkeley. He also earned a PhD in Business Administration (Management Science) at UC Berkeley.
In 2007, Anna became the Executive Director of the Red River Children’s Advocacy Center (RRCAC). The RRCAC is an important step in the healing journey for children and youth living in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota who are the victims of child sexual abuse. Through the collaborative efforts of law enforcement, social services, and medical mental health and advocacy professionals, the mission of the RRCAC is carried out on a daily basis: providing a child-friendly, neutral setting where children and youth disclose their account of abuse and receive related services from partnering agencies and organizations. The RRCAC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit accredited by the National Children’s Alliance.
The partners of the RRCAC, along with Dakota Medical Foundation, schools, and numerous other organizations, are moving the fight to stop child sexual abuse in our community. No longer willing to focus primarily on intervention (stopping ongoing or past abuse), these professionals and organizations are increasing their efforts to prevent child sexual abuse from ever happening and enlisting the help of every adult!
There are human behaviors that are so revolting and incomprehensible that they are taboo, like eating human flesh. Anna believes that when we hear of a child who has been sexually abused, it should similarly revolt and horrify all of us. While embracing and supporting the child, we should be shunning the perpetrator and holding them accountable until one day it does not happen. We need to change our policies and practices to support the protection of our children from these perpetrators. It may take a generation or two, but our community can protect its children. You can help us make it happen…not one more child, not here. Email Anna to get involved: email@example.com
Bec has spent the past eighteen years focused on developing leaders of all ages. Bec launched her first business at the age of sixteen, and her second, a social enterprise which consulted to the education sector in Australia to design and facilitate leadership and character development programs, at the age of 21. She spent ten years scaling this organization, which worked with more than 185,000 young people and impacted more than 500 schools nationally.
Bec moved to the United States 2 years ago, and today is a manager at Deloitte’s Washington DC Greenhouse, an innovation and collaboration space where she helps executive-level commercial, government and non-profit clients focus on strategic conversations around their most difficult business challenges. Bec has degrees in politics and law from Macquarie University in Sydney, has studied social entrepreneurship and innovation at Stanford University and recently completed a master’s in leadership at Georgetown University. Her thesis was on the impact of rest on the performance of leaders, inspired after she took a year-long sabbatical to learn how to slow down in order to speed up.
Ben Hecht, President & CEO, Living Cities: Mr. Hecht was appointed President & CEO of Living Cities in July, 2007. Since that time, the organization has adopted a broad, integrative agenda that harnesses the collective knowledge of its 22 member foundations and financial institutions to benefit low income people and the cities where they live. Living Cities deploys a unique blend of more than $140 million in grants, loans and influence to re-engineer obsolete public systems and connect low-income people and underinvested places to opportunity.
Prior to joining Living Cities, Mr. Hecht co-founded One Economy Corporation, a non-profit organization focused on connecting low-income people to the economic mainstream through innovative, online content and increased broadband access. As President, from 2000-2007, Mr. Hecht led the growth of the organization from 4 employees to a $12 million organization with 50+ staff, online media properties serving more than 150,000 low-income people a month, and programs in 40 states, the Middle East and Africa.
Mr. Hecht received his JD from Georgetown University Law Center and his CPA from the State of Maryland. For 10 years, he taught at Georgetown University Law Center and built the premier housing and community development clinical program in the country. In 1997, he was awarded Georgetown’s Charles Fahy Distinguished Adjunct Professor Award.
Mr. Hecht has written three books, ManagingNonprofits.org (2001) with Rey Ramsey, Developing Affordable Housing: A Practical Guide for Nonprofit Organizations(3rd Edition, 2006) and Managing Affordable Housing: A Practical Guide for Building Stable Communities (1996) with James Stockard, all published by John Wiley & Sons.
Ben is currently Chairman of EveryoneOn, a national initiative founded by the Federal Communications Commission to connect low-income Americans to digital opportunity. He also sits on the National Advisory Board for StriveTogether and Duke University’s Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) Advisory Council. In 2013, Ben was selected as one of the Top 100 City Innovators Worldwide in the area of Urban Policy.
Chris started Chris Hawley Architects (CHA) on the belief that great process has the potential to result in quality design, timeless in their ability to both shape neighborhoods and transform communities. As a 2004 graduate of North Dakota’s State University’s Architecture program with an emphasis in Art, Chris has refined his skills over the years, emerging as a successful young architect with a discerning eye for quality, creativity, and design.
CHA’s residential design roots began when Chris designed and built his family’s cabin near his hometown of Minot, ND, prior to his graduation from NDSU. The cabin’s design is characterized by serendipitous architectural details that reference the North Dakota prairie, his family’s agricultural roots and his strong Scandinavian heritage. The four core beliefs that guided the design: a passion for residential design, architecture as storytelling, it’s all about the details, and North Dakota design excellence are the defining beliefs that founded CHA in 2011 with Chris as a solo practitioner of architecture.
Chris’s capacity to tell a story through architecture has enabled him to translate a sense of visual craft and integrity into vision. The ability to invoke a one‐of‐a‐kind design through storytelling is one of the many factors that lead to Chris’ recent award as People’s Choice for ‘Best Residential Architect’ published by Design and Living Magazine. CHA’s commitment to designing elegantly proportioned and detailed structures that are uniquely tailored to the site and the client have allowed five of our top detailed projects: The Starving Rooster, BREW Ales & Eats, SkyBarn Residence, Fargo Laundry Residence, and Historic 8th St. Remodel to win ND AIA design awards in the past two years. Chris’s attention to details, sourcing local materials, and repurposing old historic resources has allowed past work to be featured in Dwell, CBS Sunday Morning, Inspired Home, Custom Home, Sara Susanka’s ‘Not So Big Remodel’, Wall Street Journal, Trends Magazine, Houzz, and Midwest Home.
CHA is a North Dakota based team characterized by design which exhibits a passion for place, an understanding of heritage, and a flare for the creative. A testament to this is Chris’ recent ND Early Career Architect Award, an ASLAMN design award, and a nomination for the FM Chamber of Commerce ‘Entrepreneur of the Year Award’. Within the last 4 years, the demand for our firm’s custom architectural designs and ability to provide seamless design/build services resulted in the expansion to 10 team members. The request for our architectural services beyond residential design has meant two of those staff members leading commercial and multi‐family projects. Currently, over 80% of our portfolio includes custom high‐end residential homes, totaling nearly $200 million worth of work from over 400 projects. CHA takes pride in its local community and is dedicated to planning for the future through sustainable practices and innovative thinking for years to come. As a testament to CHA’s great work, they are currently honored to be working on North Dakota’s new Governor’s Residence, a legacy project taking place on the Capital Grounds and scheduled to start in August of 2016
Bringing decades of fundraising experience, Jim has been with CU Anschutz since October 2014 as associate vice chancellor. In this role, Jim leads the principal gifts team, charged with raising gifts of $1 million and more, and he helps shape strategies around big ideas on campus.
Previously, Jim was with Mayo Clinic, where he was a Vice Chair and senior development officer responsible for building relationships with Mayo’s philanthropic partners. Jim was the most prolific fundraiser in the history of Mayo Clinic.
Jim teaches graduate-level classes in philanthropy and is an instructor in the Fund Raising School at Lilly Family Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. He lectures and keynotes frequently on the topics of values-based philanthropy, transformational philanthropy and working with entrepreneurs as philanthropists. He has served on the editorial board of “New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising,” which is published by the Center on Philanthropy, a member of the Philanthropic Index, an organization that operates much like the U.S. consumer confidence index but is designed to analyze the atmosphere for philanthropy in the United States. He authored a chapter titled "Gifts of Significance" in the publication “Achieving Excellence in Fundraising.”
Jim was the co-founder of a multimillion-dollar, for-profit business within Mayo Clinic called Mayo Clinic Preferred Response, a 24/7 service that provides nursing and medical advice worldwide to individuals and organizations. Among his committee assignments at Mayo was the Executive Committee for the President's Discovery and Translation Program, which makes grants to projects with commercial viability that have the potential to transform the practice of medicine.
An Ohioan by birth, Jim earned bachelors and masters degrees from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He has additional Graduate work at Stanford in the area of Social Enterprise.
Ian Abston is an expert in Millennial talent attraction and retention. Abston founded NEWaukee, the largest Millennial group in the Midwest helping to connect and engage the next generation with today’s cities.
Speaking nationally on the emerging trends of this young audience, Abston has worked with both large corporations, and civic leaders on strategies and placemaking efforts to enhance the quality of life in Urban environments.
Abston studied Marketing and Advertising at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh –and began his career at Junior Achievement of Wisconsin as a corporate fundraising event planner. After a year in the non-profit sector, Abston took a position at GMR marketing running campaigns with national brands such as Power Bar, MLB, Gatorade, and NEW Balance.
Abston is a proud Eagle Scout, sits on the board for the Salvation Army of Greater Milwaukee, is a member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and In 2014 Abston was appointed to the Governor’s Talent Development Workforce Committee.
Jack Wood is one of the founders of Growing Together, which will be celebrating its tenth year in 2016. Started in 2006 with eight families and a small garden on church property, the organization has now grown into six gardens supporting over 150 families. In 2015, the Growing Together gardens produced over 45,000 pounds of produce.
Growing Together has utilized their toolkit to help over a dozen organizations begin their own community gardens. They also help area elementary schools develop gardens and will offer a JR Master Gardener program to youth this summer.
Kellam Barta wants everyone to know that there is no such thing as “correct” English. And even though we in Fargo pronounce Bison as though it has a z in the middle, that doesn’t mean that folks who don’t are doing it wrong.
Kellam has an MA in Sociolinguistics from North Carolina State University, where he led the Diversity Ambassadors, an outreach program aimed at spreading awareness of language variation and promoting celebration, instead of subordination, of different ways of speaking English.
Kellam is currently a Lecturer in the NDSU English Department and the founder of the NDSU Language Diversity Ambassadors, a fledgling group cast in the mold of NC State’s program. Kellam’s goal is to carry the message of the Ambassadors well beyond the boundaries of college campuses, so that those in positions of relative power may recognize the privilege that comes with speaking prestige varieties of English and so that we all may take care to respect mere differences - and not deficits - in English pronunciation, grammar, and word choice.
Topic: Medicine of the Wolf: How wolves heal the planet:
Filmmaker Julia Huffman has won the 1st place Animal Content in Entertainment Award from the Humane Society of the United States for Medicine of the Wolf. The film was predominantly funded through a successful kick starter campaign, with people from all over the world donating to see the film happen. The film has been praised and endorsed by Dr, Jane Goodall, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash, Michael Stipe, Jim and Jamie Dutcher from Living with Wolves, to name a few. Medicine of the Wolf won the Grand Jury Award at the Arizona International film festival, the Audience choice Award at Minneapolis International film festival and the Audience pick at the G2 Green Earth film festival in Venice Ca. Medicine of the Wolf also made it to the top ratings,placing #9 on the iTunes Documentary charts.
In this beautiful and important documentary, filmmaker Julia Huffman travels to Minnesota and into wolf country to pursue the deep intrinsic value of perhaps the most unjustly maligned animal on the face of the planet. Medicine of the Wolf centers on the remarkable, world-renowned environmentalist and National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg, who has photographed, studied and been on the ground with wolves for 45 years—longer than anyone in history. As our guide, Brandenburg enables us to see the world of the wolf as we have never seen it before.
The film also has a crucial message for us: The gray wolf, a top predator of the ecosystem must be preserved on the endangered species list.
Lissa Rankin, MD, New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine, The Fear Cure, and The Anatomy of a Calling is a physician, speaker, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute, and mystic. Passionate about what makes people optimally healthy and what predisposes them to illness, she is on a mission to merge science and spirituality in a way that not only facilitates the health of the individual, but also uplifts the health of the collective. Bridging between seemingly disparate worlds, Lissa is a connector, collaborator, curator, and amplifier, broadcasting not only her unique visionary ideas, but also those of cutting edge visionaries she discerns and trusts, especially in the field of her latest research into "Sacred Medicine." In 2012, Lissa founded the Whole Health Medicine Institute, where she and a team of luminary faculty like Deepak Chopra, Rachel Naomi Remen, Bernie Siegel, and Joan Borysenko train physicians and other health care providers about "Whole Health" and the "6 Steps to Healing Yourself." Lissa has starred in two National Public Television specials, her TEDx talks have been viewed over 2.5 million times, and she leads workshops, both online and at retreat centers like Esalen and Kripalu.
Lissa attended Duke University, the University of South Florida, and Northwestern University during her twelve years of medical education before practicing as an OB/GYN physician in a conventional medical practice for eight years in San Diego. In 2007, she left her practice and spent two years realizing that you can quit your job, but you can’t quit your calling. She opened an integrative medicine practice, where she became fascinated with spontaneous remissions and began a sincere study of mind-body medicine that led to her research in Sacred Medicine. Since 2010 she has dedicated her life to writing, teaching, speaking, and researching Sacred Medicine full time. As part of her Sacred Medicine research, Lissa has been traveling around the world, meeting with shamans in Peru, Qigong masters from China, energy healers from Hawaii, electric healers in Bali, and a variety of other mystical healers. Lissa is on a grass roots mission to put the “care” back in health care, to reunite healing and spirituality, and to inspire sacred activists to participate in the transformation of consciousness that is revolutionizing the world with acts of love, compassion, and kindness. She lives in Marin County, California with her Waldorf-educated daughter Siena. She blogs at LissaRankin.com and posts regularly on Facebook.
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Rieke spent his youth backpacking in the Cascades and Olympics, kayaking the west-side rivers, and summiting a number of Cascade volcanoes. After high school graduation, he attended the Univ. of Montana and enrolled in the forestry program. Finding this less than challenging, he soon changed to a chemistry major. Despite excellent grades, school just got boring and he decided to become a hooker. That is the Montana State, Dept. of Labor and Industry’s official designation for lead choker setter on a logging crew.
After four years of living in the brush in a home-built trailer complete with oak frame windows, wood stove and a small porch (it might now be called a tiny home), he returned to school, got his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Montana and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Arizona. His dissertation focused on photo-electrochemistry of organic semiconductors. Tucson proved a great place to cycle and Peter commuted 20 miles a day and rode longer distance on weekends. It was then on to a postdoctoral job at Los Alamos developing polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells interspersed with cross country skiing and trail running around his home in the mountains near the Jemez Caldera.
He then returned to Washington State to work at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory where he developed programs in bio-mimetic materials, 3D printing of fuel cells, and mechanistic modeling of the dissolution of glass nuclear waste forms. He currently can’t tell you how many dozens of publications he has and doesn’t really care. During his early years in the Tri-Cities, Dr. Rieke built up the climbing program for the Intermountain Alpine Club, teaching basic rock climbing, ice axe use, crevasse rescue and expanding the climbing program to include ice climbing and back country climbing in the North Cascades. In 1994 he totally screwed up an A4 aid climb on Index Town Wall and broke both his neck and back. Since then he has developed new mobility devices to enhance access for disabled folks to the outdoors. Most notably he developed the snow-pod, a human, arm powered, machine with rubber tracks, and used it to summit Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier and, along with three other disabled athletes, Mt. Shasta. He has also developed amphibious kayaks, and builds the only true hand-cranked bicycle (all the rest are tricycles) in the world. Currently he is developing a new device for use by a quadriplegic athlete to summit Mt. Adams. For more information on this latest effort go to simonsclimb.org.
Richard Wiese is the Executive Producer and Host of ABC’s Born to Explore. Since he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro at age 11, Wiese has circled the globe, capturing powerful images and living one adventure after another—from traveling with Bedouins in Africa to cross-country skiing to the North Pole. In 2002, as a respected field scientist, Wiese became the youngest man to become president of The Explorers Club. Wiese’s philosophy is that living an active outdoor nature-filled life in today's society may be challenging but certainly not impossible. The premise of Born to Explore is as much about discovery of the natural world as it is about encouraging a positive understanding of the many distinctive cultures that inhabit our planet. Wiese is dedicated to working with local communities around the world to help their voices be heard in their own words. He believes the most memorable aspect of any journey is not about reaching “the summit”, but the people you meet along the way. Wiese has journeyed to all seven continents, tagging jaguars in the Yucatan jungles, leading expeditions to Australia’s Northern Territory and participating in the largest medical expedition ever conducted on Mt. Everest. He also achieved the first ascent of an unclimbed mountain in Alaska and discovered 29 new life forms on Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Since Born to Explore premiered in 2011, it has won two Daytime Emmy Awards and earned 13 Emmy nominations, as well as 24 Telly Awards, two Parents’ Choice Gold Medal Awards and a CINE Golden Eagle. Richard has received numerous other honors, including a Genesis Award, an Associated Press Folio Award, a Golden Halo Award and the 2012 Walter Cronkite Award for his contributions to journalism and exploration. He is the author of Born to Explore: How To Be A Backyard Adventurer (Harper Collins 2009).
Kaitlin Hopkins is an award-winning actress, director, and educator. She has worked on and off Broadway, in film, television and radio for over 35 years. In 2009 she created a new BFA in musical theater degree at Texas State University, recently named one of the Top 10 Musical Theatre Programs in nation. In 2016 she received the presidential award for Excellence in Teaching from Texas State University, and was recognized by Broadway Dreams Foundation as an innovative voice in education, participating on a panel as one of the 6 top women educators in the country in the performing arts. As an actress, Kaitlin received a Drama Desk and Ovation award nomination for her critically acclaimed performance in Bat Boy The Musical. As a director, Kaitlin’s productions have been recognized by the Austin Critics' Table Awards and by the Central Texas Excellence in Theatre awards; including Outstanding Contribution to Central Texas Theater. Kaitlin is also the proud creator and President of Fontus Dry Throat Lozenges www.FontusSciences.com.
Sona Mehring is the founder of CaringBridge, the first and most widely used nonprofit social network dedicated to helping family and friends communicate with and support loved ones during a health journey through the use of free personal websites. Throughout her successful career as a computer programmer, website developer and business owner, Sona found her joy in making the Internet easy to navigate for the average person. In 997 when close friends experienced a health crisis and needed to quickly share the devastating news with their family and friends, Sona’s web developer skills were put to the test. She was inspired to create a website, and CaringBridge was born. Sona was among the first to recognize that the Internet could create a powerful connection for people to receive emotional and physical support during a health journey. Through CaringBridge, Sona’s friends no longer felt alone. The website allowed them to share their heartbreak and sorrow with their family and friends, and in return they received love and strength from loved ones far and wide. What started as an act of kindness for her friends soon became Sona’s passion, and eventually her new career. People around the world are now able to share news, receive strength and coordinate care by creating free personal websites through CaringBridge. Since its creation, more than half a million CaringBridge websites have been visited two billion times. Sona’s business insight told her the success of CaringBridge could be lucrative, but she cared more about its benefit to others than to herself. Choosing mission over profit potential, Sona made CaringBridge a nonprofit in 2002. This ensured that CaringBridge remained free from outside financial pressures and focused on helping anyone, anywhere get the social support they needed during their health journey.
In 2016, after nearly two decades as CEO, Sona transitioned into the role of founder and chief ambassador. As an author, speaker and community builder, Sona will elevate the awareness and use of CaringBridge on a national scale by speaking about improving health outcomes through the power of social support.Sona serves on the National Caregiver Council, a group of industry leaders that study the issues and technology impacting caregivers and their families. Sona is an active member of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Women Business Leaders of the U.S. Health Care Industry Foundation. She is also on the board of Minne*, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing Minnesota’s technology community. She has also participated as a speaker and panelist at many health care, caregiver, technology and women in business related conferences and events.
Cheryl Heller is the Founding Chair of the first MFA program in Design for Social Innovation at SVA, founder of the design lab CommonWise, and winner of the prestigious AIGA Medal for her contribution to the field of design. She is a business strategist and communication designer who has founded two companies, taught creativity to leaders and organizations around the world, helped grow businesses from small regional enterprises to multi-billion global market leaders, launched category-redefining divisions and products, reinvigorated moribund cultures, and designed strategies for hundreds of successful entrepreneurs. She is the former Board Chair and current Advisor to PopTech, a Senior Fellow at the Babson Social Innovation Lab, on the Innovation Advisory Board for the Lumina Foundation, and an advisor to DataKind.
Cheryl created the Ideas that Matter program for Sappi in 1999, which has since given over $12 million to designers working for the public good. She advised Paul Polak and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum on the exhibit, “Design for the Other 90%.” Cheryl is a Matrix Award winner for excellence in communication and has been profiled through articles in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, BusinessWeek and many others, and her work has been published widely. She has written for many publications on the subject of social innovation design and creativity.
Jakub Tolar is a distinguished McKnight Professor from the University of Minnesota, where he is currently a practicing physician in Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation and the Director of the Stem Cell Institute. As a physician-scientist, Dr. Tolar’s research focuses on creating new and more effective treatments for fatal genetic disorders such as Hurler syndrome (MPS-1), dyskeratosis congenita, Fanconi anemia, and adrenoleukodystrophy. He is known for his ground-breaking use of bone marrow transplant to treat the severe forms of epidermolysis bullosa. His laboratory is currently working with state-of- the-art genome-editing technologies to create a platform for gene and cell therapies for patients with these kinds of life-threatening and currently incurable diseases. Dr. Tolar is co-chair of Regenerative Medicine Minnesota, a state-funded program that supports research, education, and patient care improvement in this rapidly advancing field.
Jessica Thomasson serves as the President and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, and Lutheran Social Services Housing Inc. – two non-profit corporations that, together with their partners, help people and communities across the state of North Dakota thrive through their efforts related to affordable housing, child care, disaster response, senior services, and support for young families. Before becoming CEO, Jessica was responsible for creating the organization’s affordable housing subsidiary, which develops, owns and manages affordable rental housing in rural North Dakota communities. LSS currently has more than twenty projects either operating or under development in communities all across the state.
Previously, Jessica was the Senior Deputy Director of the Fannie Mae North Dakota Community Business Center where she partnered with lenders and community leaders from across the state to find creative solutions to local housing challenges. She also spent eight years as the Senior Community Development Planner for the City of Fargo where she was involved with the city’s neighborhood planning, affordable housing, homelessness and downtown development efforts. She has been a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines Advisory Committee since 2008 and currently serves as its chairperson. Jessica is originally from Park River, ND, and is married with two sons, ages 11 and 14.