BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today announced that North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer is returning to the private sector, expressing his deep gratitude for her nearly four years of innovative problem-solving and tireless leadership for North Dakota’s business community.
Kommer will return to the private sector Oct. 2 to operate her own business. She was first appointed by Burgum to serve as state labor commissioner in December 2016 and in 2017 added responsibilities as executive director of Job Service North Dakota. She served in that dual capacity until December 2018, when Burgum appointed her to lead the Department of Commerce.
“We are deeply grateful for Michelle’s service, sacrifice, versatility as a leader and positive impact on the citizens of North Dakota,” Burgum said. “Most recently, she successfully led the Commerce team to support North Dakota businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This swift and strategically organized response to provide businesses with timely information and access to resources will leave a positive mark on our economy well into the future. The many skills Michelle brought from the private sector, her quick adaptability to the workings of state government and her ability to lead by example have made her a valued member of the cabinet, and we wish her all the best as she becomes the newest entrepreneur in North Dakota.”
Under Kommer’s leadership, team members eliminated a backlog of cases in the Labor Department, reinvigorated the state’s Workforce Development Council and drove the Main Street Initiative and Main Street ND summits, Burgum noted.
In her resignation letter, Kommer thanked the governor for the opportunity to be part of his leadership team, noting that the work has been “infinitely rewarding.” She expressed gratitude for Burgum’s leadership, vision and commitment, and for the Governor’s Office team, the cabinet, legislators and her team at the Department of Commerce.
“I am privileged to work with my team at the Department of Commerce who inspire me every day,” Kommer said. “As I move on, I will remain indebted to them for their service and the impact they have had on me as a leader.” Kommer added she will work to ensure a smooth transition at Commerce and is excited for the next steps in her career as a business owner.
A search for Kommer’s replacement will commence in the near term, and Burgum appointed Deputy Commerce Commissioner Shawn Kessel to serve as interim commissioner until a permanent replacement is named. Kessel, who is a past president of the Western Dakota Energy Association, North Dakota League of Cities and North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund, also served as interim commissioner prior to Kommer’s appointment.
Kommer has more than 20 years of experience in the private sector, leading human resource, operational and legal functions in the financial services, health insurance and energy/manufacturing industries. Prior to her appointment as labor commissioner, she had served as chief administrative officer and general counsel for Western State Bank. She is licensed to practice law in both North Dakota and Minnesota.
The Department of Commerce works to improve the quality of life for North Dakota citizens by leading efforts to attract, retain and expand wealth. Commerce serves businesses and communities statewide through committed people and partners who offer valuable programs and dynamic services. The department has four divisions: Tourism, Economic Development, Workforce Development and Community Services.