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PRAIRIE PEOPLE: Week ending June 2

Jennie-O Turkey Store hires Abdi

WILLMAR, Minn. — Zakaria Abdi has joined the application services team as an intern for the summer.

During this time, Zakaria will be creating and modifying reports and dashboards and working on data warehouse integration for live production accounting.

Zakaria is from Moyale, Ethiopia. He attends St. Cloud State University, where he is pursuing a software engineering degree and expects to graduate in May 2018.

Prior to moving to Minnesota, Zakaria earned a computer science degree in China and worked one year for a Chinese IT company, after which he spent a year in a business role for an international trading company based in Dubai.

Kensmoe received Employee of Excellence Award from Travel Leaders

ORLANDO — Fargo, North Dakota-based travel agent, Bettie Kensmoe, was singled out from thousands of travel professionals across the United States to receive Travel Leaders’ “Employee of Excellence” Award for her excellence and commitment to going above and beyond on behalf of her business and leisure travel clients, and for mentoring fellow travel agents. Kensmoe was honored at the 2017 Travel Leaders Network International Conference held at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando.

Minot State student government names professors and advisor of the year

MINOT, N.D. — The Student Government Association selected Tawnya Bernsdorf, Dan Conn, Eileen Solberg and Naomi Winburn as 2016 to ’17 Professors and Advisor of the Year. These awards honor faculty members from Minot State University’s three colleges and one faculty or staff advisor for their dedication to students.

Bernsdorf, business administration instructor, was selected as Professor of the Year for the College of Business, while Conn, assistant professor of teacher education and human performance, was chosen for the College of Education and Health Sciences. Winburn, chemistry instructor, was selected as Professor of the Year for the College of Arts and Sciences. Solberg, College of Business advisor and student relations, was named Advisor of the Year.

Hebel named Aldevron chief operating officer

FARGO, N.D. — Henry Hebel has been named chief operating officer of Aldevron, a leading global provider of contract plasmid DNA manufacturing, protein production and antibody discovery services.

Hebel will guide strategy and global planning, customer service, procurement, sourcing, supply chain and global operations of the company’s facilities in Fargo, N.D., Madison, Wisc., and Freiberg, Germany. He will be heavily involved in the construction, startup, and certification of the company’s new 70,000 square foot GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) biologics manufacturing facility in Fargo, part of Aldevron’s new seven-acre corporate campus.

Hebel has more than 20 years of biopharmaceutical manufacturing experience. Most recently, he served as vice-president of operations for Aeglea Biotherapeutics of Austin, Texas, where he was responsible for strategic and operational planning.

Previously he served as vice-president of drug development for Terapio, also in Austin, where he successfully developed a radiation countermeasure product allowing entry into government countermeasure development programs.

Additionally, Hebel was chief operating officer of VGXI (previously known as ADViSYS), of Houston, Texas, where he led cGMP plasmid DNA production in support of FDA and USDA clinical submissions. VGXI successfully obtained regulatory approval for the world’s first commercial plasmid-based gene therapy.

Prior to his work at VGXI, Hebel served as key account manager at Qiagen, in a strategic joint venture known as the “pAlliance,” which was focused on contract plasmid DNA production. His early career included work as senior manager of bioprocessing for GeneMedicine, and he has experience in antibody product development and manufacturing at Tanox Biosystems.

Hebel holds a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and an MBA from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. He has been awarded multiple patents and dozens of his writings have been published in industry journals.

Hebel succeeds Ron Robson, who recently retired as Aldevron’s COO after 18 years with the company.

Two join Beyond Realty

Jess Azure and Ryan Rettig have joined Beyond Realty.

Azure is a graduate of North Dakota State University. Prior to starting in real estate, she worked as a recruiter/talent advisor for TMI Hospitality.

Rettig attended Minnesota State University Moorhead. Prior to starting in real estate, he worked as a sales associate and manager at Halberstadt’s.

Azure and Rettig are licensed REALTORS licensed in Minnesota and North Dakota. They both specialize in residential real estate.

University of Mary names Lennon new Athletic Director

BISMARCK, N.D. — The University of Mary has named Dale Lennon as the new leader of its athletic program. The state’s only private Catholic university made the announcement at a morning press conference today, Wednesday, May 31.

Lennon becomes only the third athletic director in the school’s nearly 60-year history, succeeding legendary Hall of Fame athletic directors the late Al Bortke, and current AD Roger Thomas, who retires at the end of June.

Lennon’s first role as the Marauders head coach 18 years ago and subsequent return to Mary over a year ago have all been memorable and for him and his wife Chris.

Lennon’s experience and leadership credentials span over three decades as football player, coach and administrator. His career has impacted hundreds of fellow coaches and student athletes, including 40 players who have gone on to play professionally in either the National Football League (NFL) or Canadian Football League (CFL).

Minot State recognizes Benson as Staff Emeritus

MINOT, N.D. — Linda Benson, public information specialist, retired May 31 after 34 years of service to Minot State University. Benson is the first staff member to be awarded staff emeritus staff by MSU President Steven Shirley.

The Douglas native’s engagement on campus started as a student, when she was a writer and eventual editor of the Red & Green student newspaper. As a student, she received recognition in the Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities. Her membership in the Beta Theta Sorority also offered many opportunities to be involved in campus activities. She received two bachelor’s degrees in accounting and management in 1983. She later added a history major, while working full time. When the College of Business launched its Master of Science in management program, she enrolled and completed a master’s degree in 2000.

Benson’s 34 years of service to the university include work in the Student Loan Collection Department, the Business Office and in the Public Information Office. Her daily announcements and “Inside,” MSU’s newsletter, kept the campus in touch with relevant news. Her news releases informed the community, state and region about the good work of MSU students, faculty and staff.

On campus, Benson demonstrated her leadership abilities through service in the Staff Senate, including four terms as its president and numerous times as secretary and vice president, and service as a charter member of State Staff Senate. She is also a charter member and past president of the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities Advisory Council. She helped revive the Beta Theta Sorority in 2013, and she has been its alumnae advisor since 2014. In addition, she was a Women’s Heritage Month Committee member.

In the community, Benson belongs to Minot Eagle Auxiliary #2376, where she has advanced through most of the chairs and served as president multiple times. Currently, she serves as a Dakota State Auxiliary trustee, and in 2016, she was inducted into the Dakota State Eagles Auxiliary Hall of Fame, the highest award given by the Dakota State Auxiliary of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. For more than 20 years, she has judged at the Ward County 4H Achievement Days. She also belongs to Sons of Norway Thor Lodge and the Women of the Moose.

Three HEI employees earn professional engineering registrations

FARGO — Three Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) employees earned their professional engineer (PE) registrations. Congrats to Keaton Arneson, Michael Ferrie, and Ashley Rolland on this great accomplishment! Keaton serves out of HEI's Grand Forks office and Michael and Ashley both serve out of HEI's Fargo office.

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