Tomorrow's Workforce Through Today's Educators

Meet Our Speakers

Jim Gartin, Our Emcee, serves as President of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation

Jim serves as President of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC). Gartin has spent more than 40 years in economic development and commercial real estate and his extensive experience in business development, operations and financial analysis brings unique strengths to the Fargo Moorhead region building upon the success of the GFMEDC. Jim attended Ohio State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Franklin University.

Dr. Kristi Jean, Nanoscience Program Coordinator, NDSCS

Kristi is the Nanoscience Program Coordinator at the North Dakota State College of Science. Dr. Jean received her doctorate in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2000, specializing in microelectronics fabrication. Her time in industry resulted in twelve invention records and one U.S. patent. She is currently employed at the North Dakota State College of Science where her work includes teaching a two-year nanoscience technician program, training local workforce in micro/nanofabrication, and conducting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outreach sessions to North Dakota youths. Dr. Jean serves as a positive female role model, providing a glimpse into the personal impact of pursuing a STEM-related field.

Rick Davis, CEO and Owner of Insight Technologies

Rick Davis is the CEO and an owner of Insight Technologies. Rick’s experience in designing and implementing enterprise level technology solutions has resulted in Insight Technologies emerging as the “go to” technology solutions company in the Red River Valley and regionally. Rick has received numerous industry awards and also serves as an advisor to the Boards of Directors of several companies and organizations.

Katie Kuker, Manager of Human Resources, John Deere Electronic Solutions

Katie currently serves as the Manager of Human Resources at John Deere Electronic Solutions in Fargo. In this position, Katie provides HR leadership and support to the management team and all salaried employees at JDES. Katie completed her B.A. in Psychology and her M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Northern Iowa and joined John Deere in 2008.

Eric Watson, Executive Chef at Mezzaluna

Eric’s passion for all things culinary originated in a quaint Colorado town where he grew up. Small game hunting and trout fishing helped guide him to a style of cooking based on whole, fresh ingredients. Eric believes food should be prepared with quality ingredients and classic technique combined with a simplistic approach. Chef Eric pursued formal culinary training immediately following high school graduation. During his time as a culinary apprentice, he traveled throughout the United States with a culinary team. Eric has cooked in numerous fine dining establishments in Colorado, Arizona, Hawaii and Rhode Island. He never would have imagined ending up in Fargo /Moorhead, but if asked now, he can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Dayna Del Val, Executive Director of The Arts Partnership

Dayna is the executive director of The Arts Partnership, an umbrella arts organization representing over 120 artists, arts-related businesses and arts non-profits. TAP cultivates the arts in our community through granting, advocating and communicating about the arts, specifically through ARTSpulse, an online multi-media platform, and a monthly column in the Forum. She is also a professional stage and commercial actor and freelance writer.

Jake Joraanstad, Co-founder and CEO of Myriad Mobile

Jake is the co-founder and CEO of Myriad Mobile, a mobile technology (apps!) consulting, design, and development company in Fargo. Myriad Mobile's purpose is to be the single best source for mobile technology, mobile design, mobile strategy, and mobile consulting in the nation. Jake is also heavily involved in the entrepreneurial community of Fargo, as a co-founder of Emerging Prairie and also enjoys helping with local startup events. He is passionate about helping others succeed in business, and is completely obsessed with technology that makes life simpler.

Paula Klein, Owner and Founder of Smartt Interior Construction, LLC

Paula is challenging convention as owner and founder of Smartt Interior Construction, LLC based out of Fargo, ND. As an early adopter of 21st century construction methods, Paula started her 100% women-owned general contracting company in 2011 and recently grew the company by 568% in 2013 alone. Paula has worked in the design and construction industry for over 17 years, both in commercial and residential markets. A graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, with a degree in Mass Communications, Paula has used her passion for marketing and communications to propel herself as an entrepreneur in an industry she never formally went to school for. Paula is active with the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce, YWCA Women of the Year Committee and is past president of the Fargo Lions Club.

Jeff Boyer, Ph.D, Learning Designer, Technologist and Faculty Developer for NDSU College of Science and Mathematics

Jeff is currently a learning designer, technologist, and faculty developer for NDSU's College of Science and Mathematics. He assists faculty in transitioning from face-to-face to blended and online teaching and by infusing technology into learning environments. Dr. Boyer earned his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida. Over his 16 years of teaching, he has designed, developed, and delivered multiple face-to-face, blended and online learning experiences in a wide variety of contexts and for diverse populations of learners.

Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction

Kirsten, North Dakota’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, is committed to providing the best possible learning environment and educational experience to every child in North Dakota. Having served various roles in education (instructional assistant, teacher, library media specialist, vice principal, school board member), Baesler brings her diverse perspectives and deep understanding for the world of education to the North Dakota political scene. A native of Flasher, ND, Superintendent Baesler earned two Associate degrees from Bismarck State College, her bachelor’s degree in Education from Minot State University and her master’s degree in Education and Library Information Technology from Valley City State University. Kirsten makes her home in Mandan, where she serves her community as a board member for several local non-profit organizations.

Brad Schmidt, Our Panel Discussion Moderator, is the Vice President of Engineering and Operations for Cass County Electric Cooperative

Brad is a registered professional engineer with Cass County Electric Cooperative and is presently the Vice President of Engineering & Operations. A North Dakota native from the Emmons County area, Schmidt graduated from NDSU with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Agricultural Engineering and has a passion to help mentor students in the profession of engineering.