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PRAIRIE PEOPLE: Week of Feb. 20

Executive director hired at Consensus Council

Ann Crews Melton, an associate editor at the State Historical Society of North Dakota, has been hired as the executive director of the Consensus Council.

She will become the third executive director in the council’s 30-year history, succeeding Rose Stoller, who died in November after nearly 17 years at the helm of the organization.

Prior to her work with the State Historical Society, Crews Melton worked as a reporter and magazine editor at the Bismarck Tribune. She is currently vice chair of Humanities North Dakota's board of directors. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and a master of arts degree from Emerson College in Boston. 

Also, Greg Gallagher has been promoted from director of programs and research to deputy director. He has been with the Consensus Council for two years after a 28-year career with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

Gallagher earned a bachelor’s degree in human development from St. Mary’s College in Winona, Minn., and a master’s in religion and religious education from Fordham University in New York City. Prior to his service at DPI he worked for 10 years as director of non-public education programs for the Diocese of Bismarck.

New chairwoman joins University of Minnesota Crookston 

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Teresa Spaeth recently joined the University of Minnesota Crookston as the veden chair of Rural Economic Development and director of strategic initiatives. Previously, she held executive director positions at the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute and the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa. 

Spaeth served as interim dean at White Earth Tribal and Community College, and has more than 20 years of experience catalyzing rural economic development, spearheading communities of practice in value-added agriculture, renewable energy, conservation and experiential learning.   

Spaeth also serves on the advisory board of Lead for Minnesota, an AmeriCorps program focusing on rural opportunity development as well as the Charities Review Council program committee. 

Regional economic development groups name new executive director

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Jesse Fonkert, Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development director for the city of Hartford, has been selected as the new executive director of the Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations. 

Fonkert succeeds Nick Fosheim, who accepted a position with the American Coalition for Ethanol.           

Fonkert began as Hartford’s Chamber and Economic Development director in July 2016. He worked with the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce and Hartford Area Development Foundation to support existing businesses, increase the number of jobs and businesses in Hartford and to enhance community prosperity.

Prior to his work in Hartford, he interned for several years at First PREMIER Bank, followed by internships with the Office of Rep. Kevin Cramer and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. 

His office is centrally located in downtown Sioux Falls in the Commerce Center and he will work closely with the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

New hire to lead Banner Associates’ environmental division

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Rebecca Baker has joined Banner Associates to lead the firm’s environmental division.  

Baker earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental management and biology from South Dakota State University. Since then, she has gained extensive experience working as a consultant on projects in South Dakota, North Dakota and the surrounding states over the past 16 years.

Baker joins the Sioux Falls office and will be leading projects throughout the region. In her role, she will facilitate environmental permitting, assessments, impact statements and other environmental reporting for various types of projects.