Freedom Works Here

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Leadership

Kristi Noem

Governor

Kristi Noem was elected in November 2018 as the 33rd Governor of South Dakota. Kristi is a wife, a mother, and a lifelong rancher, farmer and small business owner, who will bring her experiences to Pierre to improve education and workforce training, take on the drug crisis, improve mental health, and increase transparency – all without raising taxes or making government too big.

Kristi continues to live on the farm and ranch with her husband, Bryon, and three children: Kassidy, Kennedy, and Booker.

Chris Schilken

Deputy Commissioner

Chris Schilken serves as Deputy Commissioner to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).

 

With a background and passion for economic development, Chris has overseen over 100 complex projects, valued at billions of dollars in capital investment for the state of South Dakota. His actions aided in the addition of 7,000 jobs and 150 projects in the past five years, making him a key ambassador for promoting South Dakota. 

 

Building upon Governor Noem’s “Open For Business” policies, Chris has implemented strategies to compete nationally which has led to transformational change for South Dakota, increasing the state’s ranking in projects per capita from 34th in the nation to 2nd

 

Chris and his wife Erika live in Watertown with their four children. 

Jesse Fonkert

Deputy Commissioner

Jesse Fonkert is the Deputy Commissioner for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).

Jesse has spent much of his professional life working in economic development. Before joining GOED, Jesse played a vital role in the 2021 merger of Sioux Metro Growth Alliance (SMGA), serving as President and CEO. Jesse’s leadership encompassed 16 municipalities across four counties during his time there.

Jesse’s dedication and commitment to the businesses and people he interacts with daily is visible in all he does. His insight and expertise will help further shape South Dakota’s economic landscape.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Jesse is a devoted husband to wife Kelsey and proud father to daughters Astrid & Katherine. Residing in Hartford, the family stays active in the community.

South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development

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