Board selects Smith for Commissioner of North Dakota Department of Trust Lands

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 1:30pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Board of University and School Lands (Land Board) voted today to offer the position of Commissioner of the Department of Trust Lands to Jodi Smith of Bismarck.

“The Selection Committee forwarded three strong candidates for the board to consider,” said Gov. Doug Burgum, who chairs the Land Board. “All of them came with strong references and varied experiences. The board had a robust, open and transparent discussion. Jodi Smith’s background, education and experience will provide a strong foundation on which to advance the department’s mission and duties.”

Smith was vice president of the western region for Sanford Health Foundation from August 2015 to August 2017, directing all business aspects of the foundation. She previously served as foundation director for Trinity Health Foundation in Minot and executive director of the St. John’s Foundation in Billings, Mont.

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in business administration from Regis University in Colorado, where she was also part-owner of a dairy farm.

“I am humbled and honored to accept the position of Land Commissioner, and to serve the board and the citizens of North Dakota to honor the fiduciary responsibility entrusted to the Department of Trust Lands,” Smith said. “I look forward to working with the Land Board members, department staff and our constituencies to best serve the important mission of managing the state’s trust funds and assets for the benefit of all North Dakotans.”

Smith was selected from a pool of 32 candidates. A Selection Committee narrowed the pool to three finalists, the other two being current Land Commissioner Lance Gaebe and Douglas Lee of Bismarck, who most recently worked as general manager of KLJ Progress Solutions in Bismarck.

Burgum expressed his gratitude for Gaebe’s service as Land Commissioner since August 2010.

“Lance led the department through a time of significant change and growth in assets, and I am grateful for his leadership and service,” Burgum said.

The five-member Land Board consists of Burgum as chair and State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler, Secretary of State Al Jaeger, State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem as members.

Land Board members voted last May to open a search for Land Commissioner, extending Gaebe’s appointment through Dec. 31, 2017, or until a new commissioner was appointed. Terms of Smith’s appointment will be approved by the Land Board at a later date.

The Department of Trust Lands manages the permanent educational trust funds and assets under the Land Board’s control as outlined in the North Dakota Constitution. The department also is responsible for managing several funds and mineral acres in addition to the trust assets, operating the state Unclaimed Property Division and the Energy Infrastructure and Impact Office.