ThinkND Board

Karen Stoker - Chair

Karen Stoker is a mother of three and owner and creator of The Hotel Donaldson, a 17-room, full service hotel, restaurant, and lounge in Fargo. Karen is a community activist, serving numerous boards and and causes. She began her career at a 15-person software start up that went public in 1997 and was later acquired by Microsoft. Contact Karen at 

Dina Butcher

Dina has worked extensively in state government, serving as Human Rights Division director under Gov. John Hoeven, director of the Community Services Division under Gov. Ed Schafer, as well as director of his state Leadership Initiative and as deputy agriculture commissioner. She successfully led the recent statewide campaign to defeat Measure #1 and was named 2015 Woman of the Year by the ND Women’s Network. Butcher previously owned and operated Association Management Services, working as a lobbyist, managing associations, and launching businesses for various ag interests.  A former teacher, she is past president of the Bismarck Rotary Club.

Brad Crabtree

Brad Crabtree is a vice president at the Great Plains Institute, managing fossil energy projects in carbon capture and storage, power generation and oil and gas production. Brad serves on the National Coal Council, a post to which he was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Energy. Previously he was project director at the Consensus Council in Bismarck, and candidate for Public Service Commissioner.  He ranches with his wife and daughter near Kulm. A graduate of Georgetown University, Brad has an MA in history from Johns Hopkins University.

Jennifer Feist

Jennifer has worked for the Valley City-Barnes County Development Corporation for 28 years. In her role as the Director of Development, she is engaged in economic development, job creation, and building quality of place. She has a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Moorhead State University (Minnesota).  Contact Jennifer at  

Bruce Furness

Bruce Furness, a Bismarck native, is a graduate of Jamestown College and Montana State University. He was employed by IBM for 30 years, then elected to the Fargo City Commission in 1992 and served as Mayor of Fargo from 1994 to 2006.  Bruce is now semi-retired and serves as a trustee for the Sterling Real Estate Trust and the Anne Carlsen Center.  He's a member of the Board of Directors of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation and the Fargo Renaissance Zone Authority.

George Gaukler

George is a long-time real estate developer from Valley City with investments throughout North and South Dakota. He has been involved in economic development and many statewide issues throughout his entire career.

Ryan Taylor - Executive Director

Ryan Taylor is a former state senator and senate minority leader, and was a candidate for governor in 2012. A rancher, writer and public policy consultant, he most recently served as the appointed state director for USDA Rural Development in Bismarck for the final two years of the Obama administration. He is a graduate of NDSU in agricultural economics and mass communications, and was a 2013 Bush Foundation leadership fellow. He works from his family’s ranch near Towner where he lives with his wife, Nikki, and their three school aged children. Contact Ryan at