Dakota Download Governor Burgum's Weekly Update - January 13, 2024

Burgum hands out awards at 'We the People' State Competition

On Wednesday, Gov. Doug Burgum spoke to students who were participating in the "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution" State Competition at the North Dakota Capitol.

The intention of the “We the People” program is to better educate youth on the constitutional democracy of our country and how understanding its fundamental principles and values can develop the youths’ skills in a way that makes them more effective and responsible citizens.

Students participate in a simulated congressional hearing, testifying before a panel of judges acting as members of Congress.

"Take the knowledge you’ve earned here and use it as a steppingstone. Take your understanding of our nation’s founding and structure and apply it to the different aspects of your life. We all can be servant leaders, and your knowledge of our founding values gives you the ticket to be just that," Burgum said. "We are grateful for your commitment to this program. Your pursuit of knowledge and civic engagement reflects a mature understanding of the responsibility we all share in shaping the future."

Burgum ended the event handing out awards and congratulating the winners as they head to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national competition.

Burgum appoints Interim Executive Director Brad Hawk to lead North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission

Gov. Burgum on Friday appointed Brad Hawk to serve as executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, effective immediately, citing his proven track record of leadership within the agency and his strong commitment to building state-tribal partnerships and relationships.

Hawk has served as interim executive director of the Indian Affairs Commission since Nov. 14, assuming the role after the departure of former Executive Director Nathan Davis. Hawk was named deputy director of the Commission in January 2023 and previously served as its Indian health systems administrator since July 2013.

Prior to joining the Indian Affairs Commission, Hawk served for 11 years in various roles at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, including as associate vice president of community wellness from 2012 to 2013. An enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, he earned a bachelor’s degree in health administration from the University of South Dakota and a master of business administration degree from the University of Mary in Bismarck.

“For more than a decade, Brad has demonstrated his ability to work through complex issues to strengthen the ties between the state of North Dakota and the five tribal nations with whom we share geography,” Burgum said. “His deep knowledge of the history, challenges and opportunities facing our tribal nations will serve all North Dakotans well as we continue working to strengthen our state-tribal relationships built on understanding and mutual respect, with tribal engagement as one of our five strategic initiatives. We are grateful for his willingness to serve and for the small but mighty team in the Indian Affairs Commission office.”

The Indian Affairs Commission executive director serves at a cabinet level between North Dakota's state and tribal governments to address issues including education, the legal system, economic development, social services, gaming, energy, infrastructure and health care.

“I am humbled and grateful to have the support of Governor Burgum and Team ND to be selected as the next leader of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission,” Hawk said. “I look forward to improving tribal engagement with the work between the five tribal nations and state leaders. I’m confident using future collaborations to enhance current efforts will help address challenges and open new opportunities for tribal populations in North Dakota.”

The Indian Affairs Commission currently consists of Burgum; Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation Chairman Mark Fox; Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairwoman Janet Alkire; Spirit Lake Nation Chairwoman Lonna Jackson-Street; Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Chairman Jamie Azure; Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Chairman J. Garret Renville; and three at-large members, Leander “Russ” McDonald, Viola LaFontaine-Slater and Erica Thunder.

Burgum appoints former Texas HHS executive Wayne Salter to lead ND Health and Human Services

Governor thanks Stolt for leadership as interim commissioner

Gov. Burgum on Thursday announced the appointment of former Texas Health and Human Services executive Wayne Salter to lead the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), citing his more than 25 years of experience and leadership in human service programs, strategic planning and process improvement to better serve citizens. Salter will begin his role as HHS commissioner on Jan. 22.

Salter served as deputy executive commissioner of access and eligibility services for Texas Health and Human Services from September 2017 to June 2023, providing executive leadership to a workforce of more than 9,000 team members responsible for the administration of public assistance and community-based services and support programs. He previously served three years as associate commissioner for Texas HHS Access and Eligibility Services and 17 years with the Florida Department of Children and Families, including as deputy director of the Public Assistance Division.

“Throughout his career, Wayne has demonstrated a strong commitment to serving the needs of vulnerable populations and ensuring that essential human services are delivered efficiently and effectively, and that experience will serve North Dakotans well,” Burgum said. “His skill at leading large organizations, his deep understanding of complex social support programs, and his dedication to harnessing technology and implementing innovative solutions will help drive HHS into the future. We look forward to him bringing his capable leadership to the outstanding team at HHS as we continue working to improve services, become the healthiest state in the nation and ensure we’re meeting the health and well-being needs of all North Dakotans.”

Salter earned a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Phoenix and is a graduate of the Florida Center for Public Management at Florida State University.

“I am profoundly honored and grateful to Governor Burgum for the trust placed in me to serve the people of North Dakota as commissioner of North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services,” Salter said. “Together, we will steadfastly continue the mission to enhance the health and well-being of North Dakotans, with the shared commitment to making our state the healthiest in the nation.”

Burgum expressed his gratitude to HHS Deputy Commissioner Sara Stolt for her leadership as interim commissioner since Sept. 16, following the resignation of former commissioner Chris Jones. Stolt will remain as deputy commissioner of HHS.

The Department of Health and Human Services is state government’s largest agency, with an approved budget of over $5.7 billion, including federal funds, and a team of nearly 2,500 authorized FTEs.

Burgum appoints Grand Forks attorney Theodore Sandberg to Northeast Central District judgeship

Gov. Burgum has appointed Grand Forks attorney Theodore “Ted” Sandberg to a judgeship in the Northeast Central Judicial District, which is comprised of Grand Forks and Nelson counties.

Sandberg has practiced law for over 25 years. He joined the law firm of Olson, Juntunen, Sandberg, Boettner & Cobb Ltd. in Grand Forks in 2011 and currently is a senior partner at the firm, concentrating on criminal defense and general litigation. He previously worked in private practice in Grand Forks and Detroit from 2006 to 2010, and as a prosecuting attorney for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in Detroit from 2001 to 2006. Early in his career, he served as a law clerk for a U.S. magistrate judge in Alaska and a circuit court judge in Michigan.

Sandberg earned his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in Detroit and his law degree from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1997. He is a member of the State Bar Association of North Dakota, currently serving a one-year term as its president-elect, and the Greater Grand Forks Bar Association, serving as president in 2013-14. Sandberg has been a member of the North Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers since 2010, serving as its president in 2015-16.

Sandberg served on the State Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education Committee from 2013 to 2017 and is currently the association’s representative on the U.S. Court Federal Practice Committee for the District of North Dakota. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1988-1991, including as a radioman on the submarine USS Omaha, and since 2014 has served as judge advocate general for the North Dakota Navy League, a nonprofit civilian educational and advocacy organization that supports America’s sea services.

The Northeast Central Judicial District judgeship vacancy was created by the retirement of Judge Lolita Hartl Romanick. Four attorneys were named as finalists for the judgeship, which is chambered in Grand Forks.

Burgum to deliver State of the State Address on Jan. 23 in Dickinson

Gov. Burgum will deliver his 2024 State of the State Address at 11 a.m. CT (10 a.m. MT) Jan. 23 at Dickinson State University’s Dorothy Stickney Auditorium.

The address will also be livestreamed on the governor's website at governor.nd.gov.